Oct 11, 2012
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(From left) Andrea Dovizioso, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden. Photo courtesy of www.motogp.com
MotoGP™ at full strength in Motegi as title battle continues
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo was joined by title-rival Dani Pedrosa, the returning Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden at the press conference on Thursday marking the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi, which kicks off the busy MotoGP™ triple-header.
Lorenzo, who's championship lead was cut to 33-points last time out in AragÃ³n, cited the importance of racing with his head as the season nears its finale: "These three races are going to be really important for the championship and for the points, and our goal is to keep in the same line as the whole championship; always trying to fight for pole positions, and for podiums and victories. This is my goal, and if it is possible to win the races I am going to try, and if not then podiums will be OK in the last four races."
On Repsol Honda Team's Stoner returning from injury and possibly taking valuable points away, the Mallorcan commented: "This is something that you cannot control. If Casey is fast enough he can win, and can take points off both Dani and me. One thing we can control is our performance and this is what we will try to control over these races." Finally, discussing his chances at the Motegi track, Lorenzo said: "Normally here for Yamaha it is not so simple because we have some difficulties in acceleration, but we have good braking and corner entry, which are our strong points. Last year we made second place and finished not so far from Dani, and this year with the 1000cc we are a bit more competitive so we will try to be even closer."
Repsol Honda's Pedrosa, who has looked in scorching form recently, knows that he needs to continue this to stake a title claim: "As I have said, it's important to have fun and enjoy. We are doing good races and it's good also for the team because we have been doing progressively better during the championship. We are just trying to do the same, to keep focused and to ride well."
Stoner, keen to end his MotoGP™ career with some more wins, is rearing to go after a frustrating lay-off: "Everyone has been asking me how the holiday at home was, but it's certainly been no holiday. You're lying up resting and you can't really do anything, even training was difficult so keeping ourselves fit for when we did return was tricky. Obviously it's really good to be back - it's not the way I wanted to finish my last season with the injury and having to sit out some races and not having a shot at the championship. It was definitely pretty disappointing for us to get the result that we did but we're here to do the best job we can from now until the end of the season. I feel good and fresh and we'll have to see how I get on with the bike tomorrow. Having this much time off it could be tricky for the first day."
Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Andrea Dovizioso, who is looking to consolidate fourth spot in the championship commented: "This track is good for my style and it will be really interesting to see how it will be with Yamaha. For sure Dani is really fast at the moment and especially at this track, but my goal is to try to be in the middle of the battle of Dani, Lorenzo and maybe Casey, I don't know how fast he can be with his injury. I'm really confident and we have to start to be able to see our level."
Completing the line-up was Ducati Team's Hayden, who shortly before the race was diagnosed with having picked up another injury in his heavy AragÃ³n crash: "Certainly I was lucky to get away with not having any more damage, but I did pick up another little injury in my wrist. My hand is pretty much healed but now I have this little issue. I have pretty good strength in it so hopefully it won't be a big problem at this track. Motegi for me has never been my best track. It's a track that I like but still I've never really got on well with it with the Ducati. Hopefully this year we'll change it around a bit."
Preceding the riders' press conference, Dorna Sports CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta also held a conference to explain the recent announcement of the World Superbike Championship coming under the Dorna umbrella. He said: "Since the acquisition from Bridgepoint that the Infront Sports and Media, we have been having several meetings with Infront Motorsports to try to adequate the technical rules of both championships. This was the main aim of Bridgepoint, trying to thinks the two championships together, can have a lot of benefits running together, and also many synergies.
"We had several meetings during last year, first in Madrid then in Rome, then in Paris and finally in Donington trying to accommodate first of all the rules. And this has been impossible. And finally the decision of Bridgepoint has been to maintain two championships, two separate championships as two separate companies, but both under the umbrella of Dorna Sports.
"For 2013 the regulations (WSBK) will be the ones that have been approved between the FIM and Infront Motorsports. For 2014 we will obviously work together with the manufacturers and the different bodies involved to change the regulations. We think that a championship derived from production bikes that is using 39 engines during one season, and in the opposite in MotoGP you are using six to be honest it's not very correct, and we need to set up both championships with their own spirit. One is from bikes derived from production bikes, and another is for prototypes. This is something we will do with the FIM first, and then with the manufactures, who are involved in both championships."
Earlier in the day, an on a lighter note, Ducati Team's Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow all let their artistic juices flow at the Motegi pre-event as they each drew a Manga portrait of themselves.
The three MotoGP™ stars were given a crash course in the famous Japanese art of Manga illustrations by Ranka, one of the countries most renowned artists. The riders coloured in individual portraits of themselves drawn by Ranka as part of the official Motegi MotoGP poster, which has been very popular with fans and paddock members. Pedrosa was the first to finish his, followed by Rossi, while Crutchlow needed help from Ranka to get his done, after claiming he was the slowest in colouring because Pedrosa had been stealing all the pens. At the end of the session the riders got to take home their self-portraits, as well as a special one done for each signed by Ranka.