Dovizioso 'confident' despite poor record at Le Mans
Andrea Dovizioso is optimistic ahead of the French Grand Prix, despite having a poor record at the Le Mans circuit.
The Italian has never won the race, but believes his Ducati is likely to fare well at the track, at least in comparison to his fourth-place finish in Jerez last time out that cost him the lead in the riders' championship.
Dovizioso, whose 67 points after four races is his best haul at this stage of a MotoGP season, crashed while leading last year's event in France, which was eventually won by world champion Marc Marquez.
Weather could be a factor with wet conditions expected for Sunday's race, and Dovizioso wants to maximise any chance to challenge Marquez.
"I'm confident that in France we can ride a strong race," he said.
"At Le Mans we should be more competitive than in the last round in Jerez, at least on paper, even though last year in France the race didn't go as planned and the memory is not the best.
"Weather conditions always play a key role at Le Mans, and it's crucial to be able to manage this variable to your advantage. At any rate, I expect to have many fast rivals out there, so it'll be important to start off on the right foot since the very first session and prepare ourselves as well as possible for the race.
"The Ducati has some characteristics that we can take advantage of in France, but we need to iron out some details to maximise our potential and play our cards right on Sunday, which is when points are given."
When in Paris...— MotoGP (@MotoGP) 15 May 2019
On the Eiffel Tower’s 130th birthday, home heroes @FabioQ20 and @JohannZarco1 alongside @lorenzo99 made a pit stop in the City of Light ahead of the #FrenchGPpic.twitter.com/Yb31xcEBxf
Spanish riders have been dominant at Le Mans, winning seven straight races, but Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, who has four podiums in the past five years at the circuit, is another candidate to end that run.
The 40-year-old has highlighted progress made in the acceleration and rear grip on his bike at the recent Jerez test and is bidding for a first win in the French GP since 2008.
Rossi said: "The Jerez test was quite positive. I think we can also try something during the weekend in France. Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and our Yamaha is usually competitive there.
"The goal is to have a good weekend, work well from FP1 onwards, and be fast from the first day. We had a good race pace last year, so we want to start working from there.
"I'm hoping for good weather to work in throughout the weekend, so we can show our full potential. I want to get back on the podium, and we will do our best with the team."