With only one point separating them, Honda’s Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau are set to have an out-and-out battle to decide who takes the championship’s early honours as MotoGP hits France this weekend.

With only one point separating them, Honda’s Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau are set to have an out-and-out battle to decide who takes the championship’s early honours as MotoGP hits France this weekend.

Current world champion Valentino Rossi is not high on the list of hopefuls to take the top spot at this Sunday’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Despite Gibernau winning the race last year on a Yamaha, Rossi still has much to prove after his surprise opening round win at Welkom and his fourth place in Jerez two weeks ago.

Rossi’s fourth place finish in the Spanish Grand Prix allowed Sete Gibernau to take the lead in the championship table for the first time ever and left Max Biaggi just one point behind with his two consecutive second place finishes.

Biaggi is currently the only rider in the field to have scored a premier-class victory at Le Mans since the series returned to the venue five years ago. He returns to the circuit to with the hope of adding another podium place to the 100 he’s already scored.

Alex Barros, who finished third at Jerez, will be looking for another podium finish on Sunday in a bid to close the growing gap between the top three and the rest of the field.

Another Honda rider desperate for some action should be the former superbike champion Colin Edwards who, after two races, already trails his team-mate by 23 points.

By far the biggest disappointment so far this season has been the poor performances of the Ducatis of Loris Capirosso and another former World Superbike champion, Troy Bayliss. Following the machines’ lauded debut last year, these riders just haven’t managed to perform as well on their overhauled machines this time round. At the same time last year, the duo was ranked at seventh and fourth place, as opposed to eighth and eighteenth place this year.

By contrast, Kawasaki has enjoyed a comparatively strong start to the season with Japan’s Shinya Nakano qualifying on the second row of the grid for both races. Nakano is currently in tenth place on the standings, three points ahead of former World Champion Kenny Roberts.

Roberts and team-mate John Hopkins race prospects will be boosted by the positive results coming from initial tests of the greatly modified version of their Suzukis.