Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
French Grand Prix
Le Mans, France
13, 14 & 15 May 2005


The Gauloises Yamaha Team returned to Europe last week in tired but contented
mood after continuing its excellent start to the 2005 campaign with another
victory at the first ever MotoGP event in China.

The historic trip to Shanghai wielded a second 25-point haul of the season for
Valentino Rossi and extended his lead in the current World Championship
standings to the same margin. Another determined ride against the odds from
Rossi's team-mate Colin Edwards consolidated Gauloises Yamaha's supremacy in the
teams' and manufacturers' standings after three eventful rounds.

With the bikes and team equipment taking the direct route to France in readiness
for this weekend's eagerly-anticipated fourth round, the past week has provided
the riders and staff with a welcome opportunity to take a brief rest and prepare
for another assault on the podium at Le Mans. The Bugatti circuit has taken on
an extra significance for the entire team as they look to improve on Rossi's
comparatively disappointing Le Mans result of fourth place from last season and
confirm the recent progress of the 2005 version YZR-M1.

Its advantages over last year's machine have already been made evident by
winning performances from Rossi at Jerez and Shanghai, as well as a solid second
place in mixed conditions at Estoril. A repeat podium performance at Le Mans
would not only extend the team's principal objective of defending the
championship lead at every round but provide definitive proof that the YZR-M1 is
in better shape than ever to continue dominating until the end of the season.

The historic Le Mans circuit first opened its gates to the MotoGP World
Championship in 1969 and has been home to the series intermittently since then.
Circuits at Albi, Rouen, Reims, Clermont-Ferrand, Paul Ricard, Nogaro and
Magny-Cours have also played host to the French Grand Prix in the past but the
Bugatti circuit has been a fixture on the MotoGP calendar for the last five


Valentino Rossi has a score to settle at Le Mans, one of only five tracks at
which he missed out on the podium last season. The performance of his updated
YZR-M1 machine in all manner of conditions during the opening three rounds of
the season, particularly the progress made with the wet set-up in Shanghai, has
given the World Champion extra confidence in its ability to adapt to any
circuit, in any weather.

"The changes we made to the M1 on the morning of the race in Shanghai benefited
us and helped us to win my first wet race with Yamaha," explained Rossi.
"Basically we made the forks softer, less rigid, and I think these changes will
benefit us in the dry as well.

"Le Mans is not one of my favourite tracks, I had a difficult race there last
year and only finished fourth. I hope we leave there having resolved our
problems, whatever the conditions are, and I have a feeling that we will. It can
be quite tricky there if the weather is bad, so I really hope we have a bit of
luck and it's dry, but at least if it rains we know we are in a much better
position than in the past."

Whilst Rossi has dominated the championship standings ever since taking victory
in the opening round at Jerez, his nearest challenger has changed with every
Grand Prix. After Sete Gibernau and Alex Barros, the man now closest to the
World Champion after three rounds is his young compatriot Marco Melandri, who
lies some 25 points adrift.

"To beat Sete Gibernau and Alex Barros in those conditions at Shanghai was the
most incredible thing," admits Rossi. "Melandri did really well - also in the
dry he is doing a good job. For me to be so fast in the rain was fantastic. I
had never won in the wet before with Yamaha, so it was very special and the
points are so important.

"We were a bit worried over the Shanghai weekend because Gibernau was so fast.
Gibernau and Barros are always positive in these wet conditions and I'm sure
they expected to beat me in the wet, so the win is also great for our morale!"

However, Rossi admits that his biggest threat this weekend could come from an
entirely different source, with home favourite Olivier Jacque set for a second
appearance after finishing just 1.7 seconds behind the race winner on his return
to MotoGP in Shanghai. "I am a bit worried about Olivier Jacque now because
before the Shanghai race he said that he was only riding in China as a kind of
training to learn the bike, and then he could concentrate on racing in Le Mans.
He finished second in China so who knows what might happen in France!"


Colin Edwards makes his way back to Europe via the same route he headed out to
China, having dropped by his home in Texas for a brief visit before completing a
journey halfway around the world. The American heads to France hoping for an
upturn in the fortunes that have marred his start to the season, the latest
being a gear-shifter problem that limited him to eighth place despite a spirited
ride through the pack from the fifth row of the grid in China.

"It's been a funny season for me so far and I'm just hoping everything comes
together in France," explains Edwards. "China was very similar to Estoril in
that I showed I had the race pace but, through a series of circumstances out of
my control, I didn't get the opportunity to push for the podium.

"Nobody is more disappointed about that than myself and I certainly don't expect
to be battling it out for eighth place even at this early stage of the season.
The main thing is, though, that the positive signs are there and the whole team
is working hard. All we need now is a little turn in luck and we'll be there.

"I don't mind Le Mans as a circuit too much - last year was only my second time
there but I set provisional pole position and finished fifth in the race. It's a
real 'stop and go' track, as everybody says, with hard braking, tight corners
and hard acceleration. We'll have some work to do with the set-up of the bike
but we've made a lot of progress over the last few weeks so hopefully we can
make it count."


Gauloises Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio's insatiable thirst for racing
action took him to Pesaro in Italy this weekend, where he was taking part in a
round of the Italian Rally Championship as co-driver to Valentino Rossi's father
Graziano. For Brivio it was a welcome chance to take a break from the intensity
of the MotoGP paddock as he predicts another highly competitive weekend from his
team in France.

"The bikes and all the equipment have been flown straight to France from China
so the past few days have been a good opportunity for the team to get some rest
after an intense start to the season," explained Brivio. "China was a very
important weekend for us; we worked very hard and made some good progress with
the setting of the bike in the dry and we completely solved the problems we have
had in the past in the wet. Now we are hoping to take advantage of that at Le

"Le Mans is one of the circuits we didn't do so well at last season, so we want
to make up for that with a victory this time around. It was a similar situation
at Jerez in the first round of the season and we managed to win there, so it
would be really nice to do the same thing in France. Valentino has been able to
take advantage of the improvements we have made to the bike in the last few
rounds and, if the bike is good again this weekend, we should see Colin join him
at the top."


Whilst the Le Mans circuit and the rain were two of Yamaha's most challenging
obstacles last season, a combination of both proved to be anything but a problem
in the factory's first win at the Bugatti circuit almost two decades ago. The
eighth round of the 1987 500cc season saw Randy Mamola streak to a convincing
victory over Honda's Pier Francesco Chili by some 34 seconds, his second wet
weather win that season after taking the opening round at Suzuka by an even
bigger margin.

"The YZR handled really well and it was always fast through the chicanes, so it
was perfect for Le Mans," remembers Mamola, who went on to finish second in the
championship that season to Wayne Gardner. "I'd been on the podium twice before
for other factories at Le Mans so to get my first win there with Yamaha was a
special honour.

"Because of its history it is hard to think of another track so synonymous with
racing as Le Mans and in the modern day nobody works harder than them to create
an event around the Grand Prix. The fans there are incredible and the feeling
you get as they cheer you into turn one is an unforgettable experience -
especially if you are leading the race!" 

Mamola raced for no fewer than 14 years at the top level of Grand Prix racing
and admits that signing for Yamaha's factory squad, run by his boyhood hero
Kenny Roberts, was one of the highlights of his career. "When I was a
14-year-old I earned a contract with Yamaha USA and my first race bike was a
Yamaha TA125. At that time Kenny Roberts was the leading dirt-tracker in America
and he was my hero. I used to ask him to sign posters for my bedroom. In 1986 I
got the chance to ride for Yamaha in the World Championship and be a part of his
team, so it was a dream come true for me."


The 4.180 km Le Mans circuit is an archetypal stop-go track, with the added
complication of one of the highest speed curves of any circuit on the calendar,
just after the short start-finish straight. There are several hairpins and
chicanes, calling for not just balance and control under hard and repeated
braking, but a neat and swift transfer from full braking to full acceleration on
the exit of the corners. With nine right-handers and only four lefts, the track
is also particularly hard on one side of the tyres.

Firmer front fork settings and spring rates are usually needed to handle the
frequent braking demands, whilst a slightly softer rear spring, with a higher
than normal pre-load, is adopted to allow the machine to hold a line exiting
corners, due to the reduced ride height which will be necessary to help the M1
remain stable under hard braking.


Age: 26
Lives: London, UK
Bike: Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1
GP victories: 70 (31 x MotoGP, 13 x 500cc, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
First GP victory:  Czech Republic, 1996 (125cc)
First GP: Malaysia, 1996 (125cc)
GP starts: 143 (51 x MotoGP, 32 x 500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
GP Pole positions: 36
World Championships - 6 Grand Prix (1 x 125cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 500cc, 3 x
Le Mans 2004 results (Yamaha): Grid: 4th, Race: 4th


Age: 31
Lives: Conroe, Texas
Bike: Gauloises Yamaha Team YZR-M1
GP victories: -
First GP: Japan, 2003 (MotoGP)
GP starts: 35
Pole positions: -
First pole: -
World Championships - 2 World Superbike
Le Mans 2004 results (Honda): Grid: 1st, Race: 5th