Valentino Rossi announced MotoGP's arrival in France by riding through the streets of Paris on Thursday.
The Italian, chasing his 99th grand prix victory at Le Mans this weekend, rode a Monster-liveried R1 down the Champs-Élysees before entertaining fans with a burn-out underneath the Eiffel Tower.
Rain increased the potential for an embarrassing slip-up, but Rossi completed the event without problem, then travelled by helicopter to Le Mans - albeit a little later than planned - to take part in the official pre-event press conference later in the day.
“It was quite dangerous and slippery due to the rain, but I managed to do a little burn-out by the Eiffel Tower. I did try a wheelie too, but I was out on the roads with the police so I couldn't be too naughty!” said the Fiat Yamaha rider, who led an M1 one-two-three at Le Mans last season.
“Le Mans has always been very good for Yamaha, starting with 500cc two-stroke to MotoGP 990 and 800. Our bike always likes this track, and especially last year with the Bridgestone tyres,” added the reigning six time MotoGP world champion.
“This year we have the same package so we are quite confident, but you never know especially with the changeable weather here. We will also see if the modifications we did at Jerez will work here.
“The track is difficult. There are a lot of braking areas and downhills. The last part is very tight and it's difficult to find the right line, while turn one is very fast. It is a very different challenge to Jerez.
“We will have 15 minutes more in each practice session here, so it is possible to work on the bike more. It is a positive decision and all the riders are happy,” he said of the return to one-hour practice and qualifying sessions.
Rossi will start round four of the 2009 season with an eleven-point lead over nearest rival Casey Stoner, after taking his first victory of the year last time out at Jerez.
Weather forecasts predict some rain at Le Mans over all three days.