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Dakar 2014
Endurance 2013 Bol d'Or

Maiden track run for Renaud Lavillenie

The French champion pole-vaulter Renaud Lavillenie has kicked off his preparations for the 77th Bol d’Or for which he has been entered as reserve rider for Team AZ Moto Expert. Last week saw him try the N°63 Suzuki at a two-day test that was marked by delicate weather conditions.

Renaud Lavillenie would no doubt have preferred milder conditions for his first encounter with the N°63 Suzuki GSXR1000. Instead, he had to cope with the incessant rain, wind and bitter cold which marked last week’s visit to Magny-Cours, France. It was by no means easy, but at least the pole-vaulter was reassured by the experience.

“I felt good,” he commented. “The Suzuki is a big step from the Gladius I raced at the last round of the 2012 Twin Cup series. It is competitive and well prepared, so I was able to get on with my task and put the weather to the back of my mind. I enjoyed every lap…”

“Renaud is a surprisingly quick learner,” noted AZ Moto Expert rider and Renaud’s coach, Stéphane Mezard. “He found the correct position at once and spent two days riding in the wet, but he took the track conditions in his stride. The next step will be to test the bike in the dry in order to explore his limits. Renaud is very strong mentally and that should help him progress by taking things one step at a time. He needs to work on the way he shifts on the bike and how he brakes.”

Braking was effectively the biggest difficulty faced by Renaud. “I had trouble braking hard,” he admitted. “I lifted too soon and easily lost one or two seconds in places. I don’t have enough confidence in the tyres and bike yet. I prefer to take my time because I don’t want to fall. I will also need to learn the track so that I can fine-tune my style and lines…”

Hopefully, the Frenchman will get a chance to continue the familiarisation process in better conditions at Issoire, near Clermont-Ferrand, and at Magny-Cours during a three-day tuition course. “I need track time to improve the way I ride. The Bol d’Or is looming fast and I can’t wait. I’ve already worked at the race and now I will get a chance to lap with the discipline’s top drivers. I intend to make the most of the opportunity before the pole-vaulting season begins again.”

You can watch a video of the complete interview with Renaud Lavillenie at:

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