Any of the big four - Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner - could secure their second win of the season at the French Grand Prix, but the 2.597 mile circuit and its uncertain weather can provide surprises.

Last year Chris Vermeulen took full advantage of the soaking wet conditions to secure his first and so far only grand prix victory for Rizla Suzuki. The year before Italian Marco Melandri won for Honda Gresini while the likes of Loris Capirossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Tony Elias have won smaller class races at the legendary circuit.

Nevertheless, it will be a real upset if one of the championship top four doesn't win on Sunday.

Title leader Pedrosa has won 125 and 250cc races at Le Mans on route to world titles in those classes. The Repsol Honda rider returns in 2008 with a seven point lead over arch rival Jorge Lorenzo, who is fighting to regain fitness after a huge during practice accident in China.

Lorenzo, who won the 250cc race at Le Mans last year, celebrated his 21st birthday in China with a brave fourth place to keep him in contention in his battle with Pedrosa.

But both the Spanish riders will be keeping a wary eye on 29-year-old Italian Valentino Rossi who secured his first win of the season, and first ever with Bridgestone tyres, with a breakthrough ride at Shanghai. The seven times world champion has won twice at Le Mans and now trails Pedrosa by just nine points.

The only rider in that top four not to have won at Le Mans is reigning world champion Casey Stoner. The Australian was third last year for Ducati and would really benefit from a win on Sunday to close that 25 points gap to Pedrosa.

Fifth place in the world championship is being shared by James Toseland and Loris Capirossi, 23 points from Stoner. MotoGP rookie Toseland is currently the top satellite rider and embarks on just his fifth grand prix looking to give Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 Yamaha team a strong showing in their home event, after a tough 12th place finish at Shanghai.

Grand prix veteran Capirossi has impressed the Rizla Suzuki team with his never-give-up attitude, but - like team-mate Vermeulen - is desperate to get the 2008 GSV-R into the podium fight.

Americans Colin Edwards, who started from pole of the Tech 3 Yamaha in China, and 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden are currently seventh and eighth in the standings, but losing touch with the leading group. With Sunday's race marking the start of five grands prix in just six weeks, Le Mans would be the perfect place to start a fight back.

The Kawasaki duo of John Hopkins and Anthony West really struggled in China, while the French pair of Sylvain Guintoli and Randy de Puniet will be looking to kick start their disappointing start to the season with some strong rides in front of the large partisan home crowd - having each led in the wet one year ago.

The 250cc World Championship has a similar scenario to MotoGP with the likes of former Le Mans winners Yuki Takahashi, Thomas Luthi and Sergio Gadea looking to upset the riders who are leading the way this year.

Two wins on the KTM has given Finnish rider Mika Kallio an impressive 21 point lead over the Polaris World Aprilia of Mattia Pasini with Hector Barbara a further 12 points adrift.

Despite crashing out in China, Italian Simone Corsi still leads the 125 World Championship after wins at Jerez and Estoril riding the Jack and Jones WRB Aprilia. Spanish veteran Joan Olive and Corsi's team-mate Nicolas Terol share second pace nine points adrift.

18 year old Italian Andrea Iannone will be out to prove his impressive win in China was no flash in the pan.

 

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