Colin Edwards, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Randy de Puniet were present for the official press conference at Le Mans on Thursda (pictured), ahead of this weekend's French MotoGP.

Current title leader and reigning world champion Lorenzo, kicked off proceedings and the Yamaha Factory Racing rider is anticipating another competitive weekend at a track at which he has won for the past two seasons.

"It's a track that is normally good for the Yamaha but we will see what happens this year because the competitors are really strong, they have improved their bikes a lot," said Lorenzo, who is set to make his 150th GP start this weekend.

"We are leading the championship, we are also competitive and at the Estoril Test we tried some parts that will improve the front feeling a little bit, so I'm excited to try this here."

He added: "I love the track, it's very flat and has a lot of chicanes, which is one of my specialties. Also you have to carry a very fast corner speed. This suits my riding style.

"The circumstances can change a lot so we start here with an open mentality, hope and with a lot of excitement."

Dani Pedrosa trails his fellow Spaniard by just four points in the standings after his victory in the previous round at Estoril, and the Repsol Honda rider's confidence is evident following his improved physical condition.

"I hope I can do well here because I will ride with some pain still, but I think there is nothing abnormal about this after having [collarbone] surgery and rehabilitation," said Pedrosa, who has two premier-class podium finishes at Le Mans to his name. "Right now I'm still sore but I hope I can improve during this weekend."

"It's a track I've had some MotoGP podiums at and some poles, so I'm happy to be here. To finish on the podium for the opening three races with that kind of [shoulder] problem was, for me, very good. But the Championship is very long, and we must try and maintain the rhythm in every race."

Valentino Rossi has a strong record at the circuit, having stepped onto the podium seven times in the premier class, three of which have been victories.

The factory Ducati rider has a best finish of fifth place so far this season in his debut campaign with the Borgo Panigale factory, and was encouraged by the chassis and engine developments at the Estoril Test.

"We had some new materials to try, especially in the front of the bike and with different settings. I'm happy because we improved our performance. The distance from the top remains too big but we will see this weekend," said the Italian.

"We have big changes on the frame of the bike. We have a small modification in the engine but we have to wait for the next engine due to the regulations, so I don't know when we can use that."

Speaking about Le Mans, he continued: "The track is not one of my favourites, because it's very difficult and has a lot of hard braking, chicanes, but I've had some good results here in the past. Also some bad luck, like in 2006 when the Yamaha engine broke while I was leading.

"The Yamaha is always good here, but the Ducati was too with Stoner so we hope to be strong enough. We need to improve, and the first target is to get on the podium as soon as possible.

"But from where we started, especially with my condition, at the first test [on the Ducati] I was last. Now we are fourth in the championship, so we have to continue in this way."

Randy de Puniet will want to improve on his best MotoGP result of seventh (from last year) in front of his home crowd. The Pramac Racing rider took four consecutive podiums here in the former 250cc class, and would love to kickstart his 2011 season with a strong result on home soil.

"It's been a very difficult start to the season compared with last year, but that is life and I need to manage the situation," said de Puniet, who missed the Estoril Test due to pain from the same knee he recently had a screw removed from.

"I didn't finish the first two races and then in Estoril I had a lot of problems with my knee and also the bike. I took six points but it was not a good race for us. I was too far behind.

"After Estoril I was in a lot of pain, and was not too confident about this weekend, but since Monday I've been without pain and now I'm at 100% physically which means I can focus on the bike."

"I really want to have a good race here because it's important to start the season now. I'm quite confident, I hope the weather stays good, the bike is good, and I'll give my best to be the first satellite rider even though I know Colin is very fast here," he concluded.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Edwards has had a good start to 2011, and is keen to impress at his team's home GP.

"Jerez was a bummer - running third and the bike breaking with a lap to go - but other than that with a new chassis, electronics and engine we've had this year the bike has been going well, I'm looking forward to this weekend and staying back on pace," said Edwards, who has twice stepped onto the rostrum at Le Mans.

"I have no idea why I like this track, I think it's just because the bike likes it! But it's very competitive out there and will be again this weekend."

First free practice takes place on Friday morning.