Valentino Rossi has called for improvements to his Yamaha in order to be 'really competitive' and, by extension, defend his place at the top of the MotoGP World Championship.

Rossi clung to the title lead despite sinking to tenth at the Spanish MotoGP, but is now just two points ahead of team-mate Maverick Vinales (who also struggled at Jerez), four clear of reigning champion Marc Marquez and ten in front of the other Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa.

"After the difficulties during the Jerez weekend, Le Mans will be very important," Rossi said. "It is true that we are still first in the championship standings, and this is nice for us, but we need to improve the bike to be really competitive.

"The test in Jerez was important and we understood some positive things. Now we will have to work well from the first session in Le Mans and we have to try to be immediately competitive.

"We are feeling positive and we want to get back to working on the bike right away. I also hope that the weather conditions will be good, we need to test the bike in dry conditions."

Rossi's 62-point tally is the lowest points total for the rider leading the premier-class standings after four races since the current scoring system was introduced in 1993. The Doctor is also the first rider to head the MotoGP standings after four rounds without winning a race since Nicky Hayden in 2006.

But Le Mans has been a favourable circuit for Yamaha in the past, including a one-two finish for Jorge Lorenzo and Rossi last season, when Vinales also claimed a debut rostrum for Suzuki.

Prior to Jerez, Rossi and Vinales were among the riders that got to sample the new Le Mans asphalt in a private test.

Team director Massimo Meregalli said: "We're back in Le Mans after fifteen days when we came here for a test, organised by Michelin, of the new tarmac. In the meantime we've been able to work on the bikes' setting that's most likely going to be our base set-up for Friday's FP1.

"Le Mans has been a track that suits our bike well. We are fully committed to confirm this over the upcoming weekend and this will help us come back strong from the Jerez race. It will be important for us to be prepared for both dry and wet conditions, because Le Mans is known to be a place where the weather plays a big role."

Rossi has claimed three premier-class victories at Le Mans (2002, 2005 and 2008), plus six second places (2003, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and three thirds (2000, 2001 and 2011).

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