Top six the target for Rossi

Top six the target for Rossi
By AutoSport

16/05/2012 at 21:31Updated 17/05/2012 at 23:22

Valentino Rossi says the top six, rather than a repeat of his 2011 podium, will be Ducati's main target at the forthcoming French Grand Prix.

The Italian scored his only rostrum of the season at the Le Mans circuit last year, but he insists this year's focus is on making incremental progress - and therefore seeking only to better his seventh-place finish at Estoril.

"Le Mans is another place where the weather can be challenging, particularly at this time of year, but it's also the track where I had my best result with the Ducati last year," Rossi said. "We'll see how it goes, but we'd like to do a little better than we did in Portugal.

"We'll prepare for the race by working on the bike like we did at Estoril, starting from the base setup that we're now a bit more familiar with and trying to continue with the settings one step at a time, in such a way that we reach Sunday at the maximum of our current potential."

Rossi added that the rain-cancelled Estoril test had hindered Ducati's ongoing development work, but said that Le Mans would have come too early for any changes to be implemented anyway.

"It's a shame that we lost the post-race test in Portugal because we would have continued our development work, and as we had very recent data from the race, we could have made some interesting comparisons," he explained.

"Still, this won't influence us much from a technical point of view at Le Mans, as any updates would have arrived later anyway."

Rossi's stable-mate Nicky Hayden said he expected the Le Mans circuit to suit Ducati, even if the low grip levels could cause problems.

"I certainly wouldn't say Le Mans is my favourite track on the calendar, but there are some things that I like about it. Sometimes it lacks grip somewhat, which I don't like so much; on the other hand, it has a fair amount of hard braking, and I think some of those parts should suit our bike well," Hayden said.

"We'll get to France, see what kind of weather we get, and try to get a good result."

Ducati team manager Vittoriano Guareschi added that Le Mans will "give us an opportunity to check the work that we're doing on the GP12's setup: Valentino used it all weekend at the last GP, so we'll continue like that in an effort to also make progress."