Sylvain Guintoli may have led last year's chaotic French MotoGP at Le Mans against the odds, but returns to the Bugatti Circuit hoping that familiar surroundings can provide the kick-start that his 2008 campaign needs.

The Alice Ducati rider insists that he is expecting more from his home race this weekend, even though the first four races have not gone particularly well for either himself or team-mate Toni Elias.

"It has been a tough start to the year, but the positive is that we have made some big progress, especially in the post-Estoril test," Guintoli reported, "From the first time I stepped on the bike, I felt like everything was really different. The bike is so different to what I have ridden before. But I felt very comfortable with the Bridgestone tyres straight away - I had a very good feeling with the front and I had this confidence straight away."

Guintoli currently lies 17th in the MotoGP standings, with four points from four events and a best result of 14th from the Portuguese round - team-mate Elias is four places and eleven points better off - but the Frenchman is confident that the d'Antin operation is moving in the right direction.

"We are progressing and that is what we want to look at," he said, "We are working well together and the team is really keeping in a positive state of mind, so I hope that Le Mans will be another step for us.

"I like the Le Mans track and the atmosphere for us is always brilliant. It is going to be something special this weekend - and even more this year because of what happened last year, with me and Randy [de Puniet] both briefly leading.

"It is going to be an emotional moment to start the first practice there. There is always extra motivation when you feel people are behind you, when your friends are there, your family is there, and you know everyone is there for the show. The extra motivation and having all the fans there, all the French public pushing us, is going to be good."



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