The 2009 French Grand Prix was one that nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi would rather forget, having been plagued by a catalogue of mishaps and visits to pit lane before limping home in 16th position.
That was due to the changeable weather and Rossi's previous record at the famous French track is far more favorable, with three wins and five podiums in the premier-class.
Crucially, the two weeks off have given the Fiat Yamaha star time to fully recover from the shoulder injury that hampered him in Jerez, when he nonetheless finished a close third behind home riders Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
"My shoulder is more or less recovered now so I hope I will be back to full strength in Le Mans,” Rossi confirmed. “Despite the disaster of last year's race, Le Mans is a good track for me and the Yamaha always goes well there. The biggest problem is the weather, but after last year I think we deserve a sunny French GP!
“We've made a good start to the season, with the win in Qatar and then another podium, but we have also struggled with the bike in some areas and so we need to try to improve our performance. We had a good test after Jerez so I hope that we will be able to use that information to start strongly here,” he added.
After 1-3 race finishes in the first two rounds, Rossi will start the French GP second in the championship, four points behind team-mate Lorenzo.
“We have started the championship very strongly and our aim now is to continue this trend and remaining close or at the top by taking as many points as possible,” said Rossi's team manager Davide Brivio. “We really hope to do well here in order to put us on a good footing for the busy period of June and July, when the championship will really start to take shape."