After seeing his podium and perhaps victory hopes scuppered by a fall in Catalunya, Valentino Rossi's first target at this weekend's French MotoGP is to recreate the speed that kept him in Fabio Quartararo's wheeltracks in Barcelona.

"For sure, the final result in Catalunya was a pity, but the positive thing we take away from it is that we are fast enough to battle for the podium, and I think we can also try something during the weekend in France," Rossi said.

Little can be taken for granted this season, but on paper Yamaha (7) and Honda (5) have been exchanging victories at Le Mans since 2008.

The most recent M1 victory in France came in 2017, when Maverick Vinales held off team-mate Rossi. The Italian was the factory's lead rider last year, in fifth place but only 3.1sec from victory.

"Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and we are usually competitive there," Rossi said. "The goal is to keep up the work we did in Catalunya and battle at the front again. We will do our best to fight for the podium.

"Let‘s hope for, if not good, at least some consistent weather, so we can be fully prepared for Sunday‘s race."

Vinales also had a race to forget in Barcelona, crossing the finish line in just ninth place.

But while Rossi's title chances look to have expired after a third non-score, the Spaniard remains in the championship hunt, 18 points behind Quartararo and 10 from Suzuki's Joan Mir.

"We have left what happened in Montmeló behind us now and continue to focus on the job at hand. I‘m feeling positive," said Vinales, who lost ground at the start and then, due to a lack of engine performance, struggled to overtake until his rivals lost grip late in the race.

"We know that Le Mans is a circuit that can suit our bike if we work well. I actually really like that track too. I‘ve gotten some good results there in the past, so I think we can do well again this weekend.

"But, as always in Le Mans, the weather can be a decisive factor for how the race weekend plays out, especially now we come to this circuit much later in the year than usual. I'm curious to see what we can do there."

Vinales and Rossi are both riding R1 superbikes at Portimao prior to heading for Le Mans.

 

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