Dani Pedrosa is aiming to increase his 2009 MotoGP podium run to three-in-a-row this weekend at Le Mans, but remains wary of rival machines.
Pedrosa, fighting to regain lost development time and physical strength after a pre-season accident, led the first half of his home Spanish Grand Prix on his way to a safe second position behind Valentino Rossi last time out at Jerez, round three of the 2009 championship.
It was Pedrosa's best showing of the season so far, but he was quick to warn that the RC212V needs to improve if he is to take victory.
Pedrosa and Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso seem in need of new chassis developments to suit the new Bridgestone control tyres, but it is not known what new parts may be available to them this weekend.
Nevertheless, Pedrosa has an impressive record at Le Mans, winning from 2003 to 2005, first in 125cc and then in 250s.
In 2006 Pedrosa claimed a podium on his MotoGP debut at the French track, having set pole position, and the Spaniard was on pole again last year - when he set the fastest lap of the race on his way to fourth, behind Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Colin Edwards.
“After the Jerez race I'm quite happy to be going to Le Mans because this is another circuit I like and I hope we can go well there again,” said Pedrosa. “It's a track where the weather is often quite unstable and this means we usually have a busy weekend because we have to be prepared to set the bike up for a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures.
“Still, we have 15 minutes more practice time in each session which should help us with this, and it'll be interesting to see how our allocation of 20 tyres copes with the extra time too,” he said of the return to hour-long practice and qualifying sessions.
“Personally, I've had some good results at Le Mans including few victories in 125 and 250, so it's a circuit I where I have quite a lot of confidence, so I hope to convert that into a good result this weekend."
Le Mans has traditionally been known as a Yamaha track, and Pedrosa hinted that he expects the M1 riders to be strong again this weekend, while Ducati's Casey Stoner was also fighting at the front last year until a technical problem in the closing stages.
“Some of our rivals machines usually perform well at Le Mans so we need to be really focused on getting our bike to work well here,” said Pedrosa.
Pedrosa will start the French Grand Prix joint third in the championship with Lorenzo, 24 points behind title leader Rossi.