The French Grand Prix this weekend sees racing resume in Europe for round four of the 17-race championship. Respol Honda riders, Max Biaggi and Nicky Hayden will be looking for a result at the Bugatti Circuit around 200km south west of Paris.

The 4.1km track is made up of lots of second gear hairpins linked by straights, so is a very 'stop-and-go' venue. Much of the recent focus in development work on the Honda RC211V has been concentrated in the deceleration area and the Project Leader of the machine, Koyichi Yoshi, will be hoping that his team's work will pay dividends at the famous venue. Riders will also experience the fastest corner at a MotoGP track over the year when they'll hit the gentle curve at the end of the start/finish straight at 290kph/180mph.

Biaggi has seen success in the past at the French venue and will be hoping of a repeat of previous performances. The 32-year-old has secured three podium finishes over his last four visits and currently holds the lap record of 1m34.088 set in 2004 on his Honda RC211V. By his standards the Italian hasn't had the start to 2005 he would have wished for but has battled hard during the previous races from unfamiliar starting positions to finish creditably. He now lies fourth in the rider's championship after three rounds.

Hayden has raced at Le Mans twice and finished outside the top-ten on both occasions. The 23-year-old American and his crew-chief Pete Benson will want to build on his speed from the start of the weekend where Hayden has often begun well in Free Practice this year but has failed to see his efforts rewarded in race results so far this season.

Max Biaggi

"Le Mans GP is a nice appointment. I like the atmosphere and French motorcyclists' philosophy. They have a romantic way of living with motorcycles and I'm happy to see it every time I'm at my house in Monte Carlo. Of course I like the circuit too and the way its organization works. Here I won in 500
class, in 2001, and I wrote several fastest lap records. The track is narrow, technical and it doesn't allow big differences among the riders: here it's always an exciting challenge. I go to Le Mans to finally do a good race. Certainly, the season didn't start the way I wanted, but I hope that from the French GP, my team and I will be able to express our potential and be ahead again."

Nicky Hayden

"I sure hope we can get the season back on track in Le Mans. We'll be back in Europe and the year is moving by fast now and it's important we get a result soon. I want to give my boys something to smile about; they're working real hard and there's a great spirit in the team but so far nothing really to cheer about. The waterlogged sensor in China was bummer as it was real disheartening to go backwards at the end of the race but at least we found out what the problem was. I haven't had the best time in Le Mans in the past but I hope to be changing all that come the first Free Practice on Friday morning and will want to put it all together for Sunday."

Source: Repsol Honda Team Press Office
Photo: Honda Pro Image

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