“One of my favourite tracks”: MotoGP™ returns to legendary turf
Riders ready to get racing as the pre-event Press Conference kicks the Motul TT Assen into gear
Thursday, 24 June 2021
We’re BACK! The pre-event Press Conference kicked off the Motul TT Assen on Thursday as the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship returns to the legendary venue. Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was joined Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing); second in the standings, as well as Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller, momentum man Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Sachsenring history-maker Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and legend Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), the latter fresh from announcing his 2022 MotoGP™ project, to talk about the weekend ahead and the one just gone.
Here are some key quotes:
Fabio Quartararo: “I’m so excited because it’s one of my favourite tracks. It’s totally different from the Sachsenring, the bike is going well. In 2019 I was so happy, it’s track I really like, it’s so fast and I think we can do really well, we feel great on the bike. Sachsenring was a tough one for us, I think the podium was the best we could have achieved on Sunday and yeah, really happy about that one.”
On summer break:
“Honestly, I like to have a break but five weeks will feel a lot. But yeah, it’s important to have a break, change your mind a little bit but already on the second week I will be nervous to go back on the bike, but I think it’s necessary for the body and mind.”
Johann Zarco: “I hope because it will be necessary for the Championship and before the summer break it would be good to catch a great visit here. As I’m always saying the Ducati has a huge potential and I think the bike has the potential to be on the podium everywhere now this season. Clearly I missed something in the Sachsenring but the weekend was quite interesting and also in the race the first half, I was pretty happy to see many things so I hope these things will be useful for this weekend and will make me strong to fight with Fabio, who I think will be one of the best and if I can be fast enough I think I will enjoy.”
On summer break:
“From my side I think I could continue because I like it when I do the GPs in a row, and don’t feel that really I need the break but I will take it as it’s coming and as a good thing, because maybe I don’t feel it but the body wants it. Five weeks will be long and that’s why it will be necessary to enjoy your break, but then we start to train well to be ready for the second half, that will start with the two Spielbergs in a row, that can be good for the Ducati. So, living day by day, I’m quite easy with it and I think I will take it in a good way, but the body could continue, because the results are good so the you are happy when you go in this way.”
Jack Miller: “For sure the memories flood back. It’s kind of been an up and down track through my career for sure that massive highlight in ’16 but it’s one I’ve never really gelled with in the dry. But I’m keen to get here again third year, I struggled a little bit in 2019 but as Johann said we have a bike that should be able to fight for the podium week in week out. It just wasn’t our day last week on Sunday, I felt mega all weekend just wasn’t able to put it together in the race. The boys rode well and we got out of there with some decent points, onto here and then the summer break so hopefully we can end the first half of the season on a high note, that would be nice and come into the second half of the season with more of a clear idea of what we need to do.”
On summer break:
“It’s neither long enough or short enough. I can’t go home, it’s not long enough to go home so I have to stay here and yeah, it is what it is. It’s nice to have a break, go away, do some other things for a couple of weeks rather than travel and whatnot. An extra couple of weeks wouldn’t have been too bad but can’t always get what you want!”
Miguel Oliveira: “For sure the moment that we are in right now is strong and we are motivated, we feel better than ever. Assen is a track where we come to discover with this new package that we have, that it’s promising. Every race track that we have been we could be straightaway competitive and we can at least show already, on Friday, our potential and of course tomorrow it’s going to be a key day for us also, to quickly find the way to set up the bike and again be competitive this weekend.”
On crew chief Paul Trevathan:
“With Paul it was quite easy to get back. We worked together in 2015, he was not my crew chief, but he was you know KTM track assistant in Moto3 and so we did this this year together in the same garage so of course I knew him. Also when I moved to MotoGP we were always talking a little bit and of course the relationship was quite natural so when I found him as my crew chief, I was very pleased I was happy that we could work together, also because I think not only him but the whole structure on that side of the garage is super! Everyone is great, but I’ve been working, obviously, closer to my side and I’m really pleased to be in a position where I am now, because I have a great team helping me to achieve these great results.”
Marc Marquez: “It was an important victory on Sunday, one of the most important, or the hardest moment, of my career. This victory arrived in a very important moment because we were in a very deep situation, especially to me but also to the team and to Honda, because it was a long time without a victory but I think here we will come back to our real situation. But anyway it was important that victory before the summer break, we will try to pass Assen and then more than one month to continue our programme, our process, and let’s see if we can ride in a better way than Mugello and Montmelo, but I can’t expect to be on the same level as the Sachsenring.”
On summer break:
“Of course the summer break will be important for me, the arm and especially the shoulder feels a lot, especially if you do too much. It’s strange because in Montmelo test I did many laps but if I do some laps, stop, some laps, stop, I can ride many times. But if the stress on the arm is for a long time like 30 laps at the Sachsenring, then the day after the performance goes down a lot. I feel a lot the weather change and the humidity, it’s normal, I had a phone call with the doctor and he says it’s normal, but the most important was that victory, then let’s see.
“The good news for me this week is that we will go to Austin. It’s a circuit I like. Bad news is we have already cancelled, or it looks like we won’t race at some tracks but more races on the calendar is better for all riders.”
Valentino Rossi: “Assen is a great place. It is the track that more or less every rider loves because, first of all, it is the track with the most history in motorcycle racing and was on the calendar from the beginning, and secondly, the layout is fantastic. Now it is modified but it remains the taste of the old Assen and the ride here is always a great pleasure. Yes and now it is official for next year VR46 will have a team in MotoGP and we are all very happy and very proud of this project that started 10 years ago with the riders’ academy and also with the team in Moto3 and Moto2. It has a lot of good people that work on this project and everybody is very excited. We will use the Ducati bike and we’re very happy with this. It is an Italian bike and Italian riders and also the team that is in Italy, in Tavullia. Yeah I think it’s good and we can enjoy.”
On the future:
“I still haven’t decided because I will think more deeply during this break. I also have to speak with Yamaha and with the team, but you know we want to try for better performance and better results for sure so. The start of the season until this moment was not fantastic, so from this point of view, I think that will be very difficult that I will race next year. Always the Prince pushes me to race next year in my team with the Ducati, but at the moment I think that will be very difficult.”
That’s a wrap on Thursday! Free Practice begins on Friday morning, before MotoGP™ gears up to face down the Geert Timmer chicane at 14:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.
Ahead of track action, it was also time for some videogame action. On Thursday afternoon at the legendary TT Circuit Assen, MotoGP™ rider Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was joined by home heroes Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), Moto2™ rider, and MotoE™ rookie Jasper Iwema (Pons Racing 40) for a play-off on the Starting Grid, with a very special guest too: Motul Super Fan Samuel Jaspers.
It was Rins who ultimately came out on top, beating the home heroes on home turf to start his Motul TT Assen on a high. How will the cards shuffle once the lights go out for real? Bendsneyder races at 12:20 (GMT +2), Rins at 14:00 and Iwema at 15:30 on Sunday…