“It’s great to be back!”: MotoGP™ raring to race at Misano
The pre-event Press Conference gets the paddock in gear for another classic showdown on the Riviera di Rimini
Thursday, 16 September 2021
We’re back in business at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli and the pre-event Press Conference for the Gran Premio Octo de San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini saw Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) joined by home hero and recent winner Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), form man Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), MotorLand dueller Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and local legend Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – as well as the returning Franco Morbidelli as he moves to Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP.
Here are some key quotes!
Fabio Quartararo: “In Aragon something went wrong, we analysed everything and everything was quite clear. It’s good to have a back-to-back race here to forget last week a little bit and to know what to do the next time we go to Aragon. Here is a place I love, last year we had some struggles but this year with the new bike I’m feeling much more confident and I think we can fight for a great result.
The weather looks like it could be mixed…
“The weather will be the same for everyone. I will try to do my best of course and I’m hoping for the sun to stay until Sunday night.”
Francesco Bagnaia: “I’m happy first of all, last week was incredible, from the start I felt great with the bike and everything was clear from the start. My first victory, I was not expecting a first win like this because I never fought like this in MotoGP and to win my first race was very nice. I enjoyed all the weekend a lot but more the race because it was nice to have this type of battle.
“For this weekend, I’m really happy in front of our fans in the crowd so it will be nice to race like this. It’s a track where I was strong last year, I did a mistake in the second one, but first one I got my first podium. I’m just very happy and motivated to race here after last week’s win. I know it will not be easy. The level is very, very high. It’s very difficult to predict what you will do during a weekend but I’m sure we will fight.
What did he learn from watching MotorLand back?
“Just try to do everything well in the race. When you work a lot on your pace during a weekend, during the sessions, you arrive more prepared to the race. You can’t predict what your rival will do during the race. When Marc started to overtake, I just tried to not let him do any corners in front and this was the key I think, because I won.”
Joan Mir: “Let’s see on Sunday and tomorrow how I feel on the bike. This is a track I enjoyed a lot last year, in the two races we did I was able to be strong. We missed the fast lap a lot last year so that’s something we’ll focus on this Grand Prix, we will try to make the same step like we did in Aragon and where we are more or less. It will be difficult again to be fighting for the podium, but I will try, the bike works well here and we have some things to try, so let’s see.
“For sure we will try it (the ride height device), I don’t know, because we have to continue working on that. It’s true with the device we gain a lot of acceleration but we also lose a lot of time on the braking area, so we need an evolution. Let’s see what the team brings and if we are able to only get the extra acceleration without losing different things.”
Aleix Espargaro: “It is a different story to fight for the top 15 to fighting for the top 5. It’s a different approach to the weekend. I think we did a good job, not just in the races in Aragon and Silverstone, but in the practices, preparing the bike with long runs and used tyres. This is what it is all about. I will try do the same for this weekend in Misano. It’s an important weekend for Aprilia and the team, in the past it hasn’t been easy for Aprilia, but this year’s bike is another story. I will try to maintain the level, which won’t be easy, but I’ll try my best.
And the RS-GP has tested here lately…
“Let’s see, in the last months Dovi tried tests here and Maverick also three weeks ago. He was here learning how the bike worked so he didn’t try anything new or different that we could use. No big advantage from the test they did in Misano but the bike is working well without touching many things in the last races and that’s what we will do tomorrow morning.”
Marc Marquez: “Yeah of course Aragon has been a great weekend to come back on the podium and extra motivation to continue my progress. But it’s true here in Misano we will come back to our ‘real’ moment. It’s not very far from the top guys but still it’s a bit far and I can’t ride how I want, so I can’t say a lot. In FP1 I will understand straight away where I am, what I can do this weekend and yeah, the target is to be close to the top guys.”
Is the upcoming Misano Test vital for Honda?
“On Tuesday and Wednesday maybe it’s time to introduce some new ideas for next year. They are prototype bikes and it’s a constant evolution, so for next year we need to improve the bike but I need to improve my skills and performance, if we improve a little bit on both sides we will be able to fight for the Championship. If some of these sides we still struggle, then it will be more difficult.”
Valentino Rossi: “Misano is always a special weekend. I live very close, Tavullia is very close, but I also grew up at this track as a rider. The first time I tried a motorcycle was here in Misano, in 1992 I think so 30 years ago, and it’s always great and emotional and we have a lot of fans during the weekend. It will be very important to give the maximum to be competitive and be strong because this is the most important thing.
“We wanted to try see the race together with Pecco on Sunday, but we didn’t have the chance. I saw the race alone and it was a great race with a fantastic battle to the last lap. Pecco rode incredibly. We are very proud because Pecco and Franco will ride with two of the best teams with the best bikes and I think they can fight for the Championship so we are very happy and for sure I will follow next year from my sofa!”
Franco Morbidelli: “It’s great to be back. I’ve been missing quite a lot the sport, the people and the paddock. It felt like a long time. I’ve been trying to work at my best to recover, heal up and return as fast as possible to be here in Misano which is a track that I really like, and a track I have great memories on of course. Just great to be back. I feel quite ok right now with the knee, it’s not that bad, but I will have to see what happens tomorrow on track.
“First of all I have to thank my former team, we did a wonderful job together. I had two wonderful two and a half years with them, we did great things, we achieved great things together. And I had the chance to show and to put on track my full potential with them, so I have to thank them a lot. Now a new chapter starts with the factory team. It feels great, many, many people I know already, many people inside and outside the pit box working for you. Re-joining Fabio, that’s yeah a good thing as well. I’m happy. I’m just happy that I’m here again and start doing what I can do. A with these colours it feels even better!”
That’s a wrap on the talking, now it’s time for the racing. Tune in as Free Practice begins on Friday morning, before Sunday sees the lights go out for MotoGP™ at 14:00 (GMT +2)!
Dovizioso makes his return
This weekend also sees the return of Andrea Dovizioso to the MotoGP™ grid as the Italian gets back on track and debuts with Petronas Yamaha SRT. He sat down with the press on Thursday, here are some key quotes!
Andrea Dovizioso: “I said I wasn’t going to retire because I wanted to race in motocross haha. I wasn’t worried at the end of last year, I knew what I wanted, and if something crazy happened or important doors opened, I was open to consider it, and motorsport is like that. It happened. If this hadn’t happened maybe it would be hard, but I didn’t leave the situation in a worried way or angry, just relaxed and doing what I like at home.
“But you know what happened this year, and I’m really happy to be here in this situation. For sure it’s not the best to start in the race weekend, because after eight years with the same bike, it will take time. But on the other side I’m lucky because I’m able to do five races and two tests before next season, that’s what I’m looking for so I’m happy about that.”
On testing for Aprilia:
“I was very happy to do some tests with Aprilia, I think it was nice to do that for both of us. And it went well, I had chance to ride a MotoGP bike, and I was able to give some feedback because the relationship and atmosphere was good. But I knew what I wanted, something impossible at the start of the season, but it’s happened. I’m lucky and happy.”
On Maverick’s exit:
“Everybody was surprised, nobody knows the details. It was a long relationship and a lot of things have happened, but we don’t know it all. So it’s a big surprise, to end the contract but especially during the season.”
What is he expecting from the 2019 bike now, and then the 2022 factory bike?
“I can’t know how strong the bike is for the next five rounds, and I’m not worried about that. First because I don’t have to fight for anything in the Championship and the results. The important thing for our deal was to have a factory bike for next year, factory support, and we achieved that. The important thing this year is to feel good on the bike position wise, and to understand the bike. For sure I’ll have to ride in a very different way to the previous one, so it will take time, it will take time first for the position. I’m a bit more worried about that at the beginning than the bike, after that once I feel comfortable with the position I can start to push and give my feedback. MotoGP now, I think for a few reasons, is very tight. The last rider is very fast and close to the first, speed wise, so it’s very difficult. But I know that and I’m not worried about that at the moment, I don’t have to be worried.”