Collective excitement for riders as MotoGP™ hits Europe
The first European racing of 2014 will take place this weekend and Thursday saw MotoGP™ riders Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow joined by Moto2™ standings leader Tito Rabat in the preliminary Jerez press conference.
Anticipating an exciting Gran Premio bwin de España weekend, MotoGP World title holder and championship frontrunner Marquez expects his rivals to be in good form and to push him hard throughout round four - as he competes in his 100th Grand Prix.
He stated, “It will be a special weekend to race in my 100th Grand Prix in front of the home fans at a circuit where I've never won. I know that Dani, Jorge and Valentino all ride well here and I think they will all be strong.”
From the other side of the Repsol Honda garage Pedrosa is also ready for another adrenaline pumped Grand Prix, at a venue which he counts as one of his favourites.
“It will be very warm here and the atmosphere is always great on race day,” noted Pedrosa. “I have a good record here and I hope to keep that going. I’ve made a good start to the season and I want to maintain the form in front of the home crowd.”
Meanwhile, as the most successful rider of them all at Jerez, Rossi is keen to return to the podium in Spain having missed the rostrum at the last two rounds.
Rossi boasts six premier class wins in Andalusia and cannot wait to get started on Friday, saying, “I had a good potential in Austin and Argentina and should have been on the podium but because of bad luck and some other factors we did not do it, so we have to put it right this weekend. We have been flying a lot already this year so now we have a run of European races to enjoy.”
For his Movistar Yamaha MotoGP colleague Lorenzo there is also a landmark weekend ahead at the circuit which has a corner named in his honour. Lorenzo turns 27 this Sunday and he is set to make his 200th Grand Prix appearance at round four.
Victory would be the ideal birthday present and Lorenzo enthused, “The 200 Grands Prix have come fast, with good moments and bad. Now we are here fighting in MotoGP at the top level. I felt happier and more positive in Argentina, but we still want to do better and we hope to do that here.”
Representing the Ducati Team once again this weekend, having missed Argentina due to a finger injury from Austin, Briton Crutchlow stated, “It’s great to be back. It was strange to sit back and watch it on television. I was sure I could have won it when I was watching! The injury was one of the most painful of my career and we have to see how my fitness is after FP2. I think I have enough strength to brake properly but I don’t want to be a danger to myself or the other riders.”
Last up on the microphone was Moto2™ title candidate Rabat who has 70 points from a maximum possible 75 so far this year. He commented, “It’s still so early in the championship and there is a lot of racing still to come this year. There are some strong rivals in Moto2 so we can’t relax. We know there will be a great atmosphere this weekend as there is always a big crowd so we want to enjoy it.”
On the news that Bridgestone will withdraw from their position as Official Tyre Supplier to MotoGP™ at the end of 2015, the riders gave their reactions, with Marquez commenting, “I’m surprised about it as they have been really successful and the tyres have been getting better and better over the years. It has taken time for Bridgestone to reach the level they are at.”
Rossi added, “I’m sad about this because I think Bridgestone’s tyres are at a great level. If the tyres change the sport changes. The bikes and the riding styles will also have to adapt. It’s difficult to have one tyre which works well for every bike.”
Crutchlow said, “The reality is for whoever comes in that the riders will always ask for more. One thing I would ask for is to have intermediate tyres for mixed conditions. I think Bridgestone have done a great job. The tyre is the only thing which holds you to the ground and all the bikes react differently.”
Earlier in the day MotoGP™ riders Hiroshi Aoyama and Danilo Petrucci were joined by Moto2™ trio Xavier Simeon, Luis Salom and Jordi Torres and Moto3™ regular Ana Carrasco, along with Moto3 wildcard Maria Herrera, in a visit to the Jose Estevez Bodegas in Jerez – where they learned how to serve wine from a barrel in the typical Spanish style. One of the wines poured was the well-renowned La Guita, which will feature prominently at the forthcoming Feria de Sevilla.
The Gran Premio bwin de España commences on Friday morning at 9am local time (GMT +2), with FP1 for the Moto3™ class.