MotoGP movers and shakers ready to fight for French glory

Published: 11 May 2015

It's been a tremendous start to the 2015 season with all three classes serving up superb racing – and plenty of surprises. That looks set to continue in France this weekend.

Last weekend saw Jorge Lorenzo back at his best and only an idiot would rule him out of making a serious title bid as the season starts its European stint.

Lorenzo finds his stride

Factors outside of Jorge's control have contributed to his slow start to the year but a confidence returned in Spain and there's now a sping in his step.

Lorenzo was super-fast in Qatar, sick in America, off the pace in Argentina and superb in Spain. We don't expect to see this type of inconsistency from the Majorcan but if Spain is indicative of what to expect going forward, and I believe that it is, we should have a classic season on our hands with the internal battle at Yamaha being a key talking point.

When everything is working for him Lorenzo is the best rider in the world. Give him a bike that lets him ride with his natural style of flowing from one corner to the next and he is unbeatable if he can get to the front of the field.

Le Mans is next on the calendar and while Jorge has won there three times in the premier class he hasn't stood on the podium the last two years. It used to be a stomping ground for Yamaha but it's now much more neutral territory.

Rossi and Marquez - a rivalry for the ages?

Rossi and Marquez fighting for a world championship and we're going to see plenty of fireworks through the season.

Their clash in Argentina was a simple case of two riders battling hard and Marquez refusing to admit defeat. Marquez was foolish to try and fight on for the win once Rossi was past and he should have admitted defeat and banked a safe 20 points. This year is incredibly competitive and every podium will be hard-fought, even for the uber-talented Marquez, and those lost points could be key later in the year.

Rossi and Marquez are such an interesting rivalry because they aren't the contrasting fire and ice rivalries that we've always seen in racing-Rainey against Schwantz, Roberts and Spencer and Hailwood and Agostini. Rossi and Marquez are far more similar than the standout rivalries that have punctuated racing history and that's why it could be one of the most intriguing that we'll see for a very long time.

The longevity of Rossi's career is the most impressive aspect of his story. Being able to constantly find the motivation to train at the level required in MotoGP is impressive but being able to relearn his skills and change his riding style over the last 18 months is hugely impressive. 

The scene is set for the Marquez and Rossi rivalry to be one of the most compelling in history. Add a resurgant Lorenzo and determined Ducati and this really could be one of the greatest title fights in history.

Will Pedrosa be back on track at Le Mans?

Dani Pedrosa has sat on the sidelines for the last three rounds but hopefully he'll be back in the saddle this weekend and able to ride at 100%. 

Pedrosa tried to comeback at Jerez, he tested a Supermoto bike before the race, but decided to stay on the sidelines and give his body an extra fortnight to recover from a highly invasive surgery.

Redding needs to up his game

There is plenty of pressure on Scott Redding to perform this weekend after a dismal showing in Spain. The Marc VDS rider spent the Monday test trying to get a greater understanding of how a bike changes over the course of a long stint so that he's better prepared for races. 

The French venue is where Scott claimed his first Moto2 victory and if he can get close to the top five he'll have shown significant progress. Scott has always shown that he's got the speed but having been patient throughout the winter testing programme and tried to learn step by the step he now needs to step it up significantly.

Crutchlow has asserted himself as top satellite rider

Throughout the winter Cal Crutchlow said that he wasn't bothered about being the top satellite rider and that he was only focussing on doing as well as he could. The results from the opening four races have shown that he's adapted well to the Honda.

A podium in Argentina and a fourth in Jerez have shown that he's the closest to the Factory riders at the moment and with HRC placing more and more trust in the LCR Honda rider, it's clear that this could be another strong season for Crutchlow.

His qualifying form needs to improve as he  has had the speed for the front row at pretty much every race this year, but mistakes have seen him qualify further down the grid and face a fight through the field.

He's given himself too much work to do on Sunday's and by the time he gets through the pack he's lost too much time and been stuck in a "no-mans land" between the leading group but ahead of the chasing pack.

Smith and Espargaro fight it out

The intra-team rivalry at Tech3 has been a key talking point for the last year. Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro know that they're riding for their futures and Smith, who is in his third year in the class, has been the more impressive so far in 2015.

Smith's start to the year has surprised many but consolidating that speed, and beating Espargaro, at this weekend's race will be an important step for him to make.

Laverty showing some potential

Eugene Laverty has impressed many with his turn of speed so far in 2015. Circumstances have played against him - electronics, tyres and arm pump-in recent races and he's keen to set the record straight and go out and get the kind of results that his performances warrant.

This weekend Laverty is confident that the arm pump problem won't rear its head again. He said: "I know what caused it and I'll have it taken care of."

The biggest issue for the rookie is that he still hasn't been able to exploit the full potential of his Open Honda's electronics this year. The Traction Control system on his Aspar has been impossible to use and Laverty is having to ride the bike without the electronic aids.

The problem was at its worst in Texas when the bike couldn't differentiate between a left- hand corner and a right-hand corner and since then Laverty has effectively switched off the aid and only used the bare minimum.

There are plenty of MotoGP questions still to answer, but maybe we'll get a fewafter Le Mans.