In the latest of his reports on, rising Motorcycle Grand Prix star Chaz Davies reviews round four of the 250cc series, the French Grand Prix, at Le Mans.

"The weekend didn't get off to a good start when, after driving for nearly four hours on Thursday (we usually leave on a Wednesday but I had a German GCSE exam to do), we arrived at Stansted airport to find our flight did not exist - but nobody had bothered to let us know!

"We then had to take a ferry from Dover and drive to Le Mans, arriving at the circuit in the early hours of Friday morning.

"The team had decided to use new settings on the bike to see if we could find a more consistent base setting. On Friday the bike felt really good in first free practice and I finished the session in 12th.

"During the afternoon first qualifying session I had a problem changing gear, which we thought was a faulty quickshifter, and by the end of the session I was in 16th. I think with a bit more time I could have qualified on the 3rd row but the 4th row was ok as it was my best yet!

"Rain was forecast for Saturday and they were right. It was really wet and we spent the day playing with the set-up for the rain. I didn't get much corner speed but my braking was very good. In fact a bit too good as I ended up crashing on the brakes in the final few minutes of final qualifying. I didn't hurt myself and the fall was fairly slow so not much damage to the bike.

"In warm-up the track was still damp in places but I was going well until the bike cut out with a dodgy battery. Meanwhile my teammate Dirk Heidolf also had problems - he crashed, fracturing his wrist and hand.

"The race was going to be held in dry conditions and things were looking good. At the start I initially got the best getaway I've ever had on a 250cc machine, but when the engine revved up it felt like there was oil on the clutch as it just kept revving with no drive. I put my hand up and thought my race was over, but I kept trying to get the bike to clear and after about half a lap it settled down and felt fine.

"By then I was in 25th position and needed to try and catch the field up as quickly as possible. I soon caught and passed several riders and my pit board was showing "P18" and "-7" to a group of five riders in front. I was catching them on average .5 of a second per lap!

"On lap 15 my rear tyre was starting to slide around more and more, I knew then I was not going to be able to catch all of them, but French rider Nigon was dropping back and my board was showing this. I knew if I could catch him I would at least finish in 17th.

"But then, as I was entering a corner with four laps to go, the rear end locked up and sent me into the gravel. I kept the bike upright and the marshals gave me a push to get the engine started, but when I tried to start on the clutch it kept stopping as if something was jamming up. I had no choice but to retire.

"My mechanics were not sure what had happened to the bike and are going to strip the engine this week to find out. The whole thing was a pain because my lap times were close to the riders in 9th position. Everyone in the team and my parents were disappointed.

"Dirk had tried to race but was in too much pain and had to retire on lap 8, so all in all my Aprilia Germany team didn't have a great weekend.

"I know if we can have some luck a top 10 is possible. We will see what happens in Mugello, but before the race - and after - I have to take some GCSE exams in a room at the Mugello circuit!"
Chaz #57