Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Cal Crutchlow and Jonathan Rea at a pre-race press conference.
The MotoGP contingent is back together again after a three week absence for the Gran Premio Aperol di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, and it was Yamaha Factory Racing’s championship leader Jorge Lorenzo who was joined by Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi and Jonathan Rea at Thursday’s press conference to kick off proceedings.
Lorenzo, who currently lies 13-points ahead of his rival Pedrosa, is hoping he can extend his lead at the Italian track: “This year we’ve been very constant, always in the first two positions. The last three races we couldn’t win, but were very close. Now we arrive in this track, which for us has been pretty good for the last four years I think. I was in second the first three years, and last year I could finally get the victory. In Aragón [test] we found something that gives us a little bit more speed – actually we found it in Brno – but we can’t use the last engine, so we’ll have the same engine and bike as in Brno. We’ll wait, but in this race we’ll try to fight for the win and maybe in the next race in Aragón we’ll have a better bike.”
Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa, who currently looks like the man on form, is not getting carried away: “It’s been good in the last two races. I’m pretty happy about that, but sure we have to keep working the same, trying to ride well again here. It’s important always to stay focussed. We were also testing in Aragón. It was important to do this test for the final stage of the championship. We tried to improve some things on the grip, which we may use or may not.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow is heading into the round a more relaxed man after breaking his podium duck in Brno, yet is now looking for the next step: “Going into the last quarter of the season’s going to be tough. I’m looking forward to continuing the rest of the year. Now we’ve got the monkey off the back with the podium, hopefully we’ll be up there challenging from now on. If we can reduce the gap a little bit I’d be pleased. Coming into Misano as a strong contender for podium fights now, there’s no reason we can’t be up there.”
MotoGP riders from all classes took to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli on bike to honor “SuperSic.”
Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, for whom this will be the last race with Ducati on home soil, is keen to get a good result for his fans: “Two weeks ago we did a test here with some new stuff, and they were two good days with quite good performance and feeling. But now we have to understand if we have improved and how much, together with the other guys. It’s a new chassis and a new swingarm with some modifications in the size and the position and the stiffness. The comparison in the test was better than the bike I used in Brno. We have a lot of different races [until the end of the season] where we can try to improve the bike. Our target is to do some good races from here to the end.”
Repsol Honda Team’s Jonathan Rea, standing in for the injured Casey Stoner, will be making his MotoGP debut this weekend, and is looking forward to heading out on track competitively for the first time on a MotoGP bike. He said: “First, I’m sorry that Casey can’t be here. I don’t know Casey very well, but I’m a big fan of his talent, his riding style. But for me, just to arrive in this paddock and to race against some of the best riders in world on the best machinery in the world it’s like a dream come true.”
With this the first time rider coming here since the circuit has been renamed after the late Marco Simoncelli, who lost his life in the Malaysian race last year, the riders expressed their sentiments, led by Rossi, who said: “When you come here, with the circuit named after Marco, there is more feeling about his loss. We have to try to do a good race for Marco and for his family.” Pedrosa added: “It compensates a little the sad feeling inside. Of course for Shoya Tomizawa the same [who died at Misano in 2010].”
Lorenzo mirrored these feelings: “He was one of the stars of the championship. A very good rider, charismatic, he moved a lot of people, he had a lot of fans. I think it’s a good thing that they changed the name of the track. He deserves it. With Tomizawa, we were also very sad when this dramatic thing happened in 2010. We still have memories of these two guys. We always remember them.” And Crutchlow summed up the re-naming of the track by saying: “It’s a great honour for Misano to be able to name their circuit after Marco. Not the other way around. You have to look at the fans, all wearing the t-shirt, to see the character he was.” While Rea, who may not have raced with Simoncelli, but knew him, cited the impact such events can have: “When you’re a rider and you hear this news it affects you in a different way. It’s such a negative to think about that as a rider, it’s great to bring a positive out of it at the end of the day.”
In addition to the word said at the press conference, riders from all three MotoGP classes took to the recently renamed Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli on bicycles in memory of the local rider who tragically lost his life last year. The hard charging Simoncelli, often controversial but universally popular, is being commemorated by all riders, who took to the track named after the Italian to show that his legacy still lives on in everyone’s memory. Many thanks go out to BMW M and the Teknobike Store in Riccione, who helped make this event happen by supplying a large number of bicycles for the ride.
On the same day, NGM Mobile Forward Racing confirmed that it will be continuing its partnership with Colin Edwards for next year, albeit not conforming on which bike. The team did however state it will see out the rest of the season on the Suter-BMW, which is now also being used by Came IodaRacing Project.