Espargaró arrives in France after very positive improvements he made in Spain. After a tough start to the season, he has found confidence back in his GSX-RR, and at Jerez, finally got back to his normal competitiveness. He is also determined to put last year’s Le Mans event behind him, when he suffered a bad crash in FP3; which affected his overall performance.
Viñales, in contrast, had positive feelings about the track last year and he is now eager to test the GSX-RR’s improvements at such a tight track. The recent race in Jerez left him the desire to further improve, as he is getting closer-and-closer to the fastest riders on track. The progress made so far has given him hope for better results, and Le Mans holds good memories; a circuit where he has tasted victory in the past.
Built in 1965 around the existing 24-Hour racetrack, the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit is a tight track dominated by first-gear corners that place the emphasis on late braking, which is an aspect of the GSX-RR that was tested and improved last Monday in Jerez during the test day following the race. The track is 4.2 km long with an average width of 16 metres and with a 674 metre-long straight.
Last year’s race at Le Mans saw Espargaró suffer a huge high-side in FP3 that prevented him taking part in the time attack that could have given him direct access to Q2. He qualified 10th for the race despite fighting with pain from the accident and in the race, a clutch issue took him out of the game on the second lap. Viñales missed Q2 by just 0.027s in FP3, but struggled in Q1, finally qualifying in 13th, while in the race he recovered positions to finally score ninth position.