Valentino Rossi Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Ben Spies were all present at the official pre-event press conference in Valencia on Thursday, ahead of the 17th and final round of the 2009 MotoGP season; the FIM Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
While Rossi may have already wrapped up this year’s title with a race to spare, the Italian’s focus is still on winning the race as he looks to improve on what he believes was a difficult third place last year in Valencia.
“It’s a different approach to the race now for sure, it’s possible to think just about the result, and this weekend will be very interesting for us because last year I was on the podium but it was quite a bad race for us – I wasn’t able to get a good pace. The weather was a big problem also, with the rain. So we hope for better in terms of temperature and rain,” said Rossi. “The last time I won here was in 2004 so it’s a long time ago. We have to do better.”
Rossi is also looking forward to the test that follows immediately after the race weekend. He added, “It will be important. I think we’ll try the first prototype of the new bike for 2010, and it will be very interesting to try the bike here in Valencia at what is a difficult racetrack. I have to keep the motivation and the concentration for the test because it’s important.”
Stoner, who dominated the weekend in Valencia last year as he secured pole position, set a lap record and won the race, believes that despite two wins in his last two races he would not have challenged Rossi for the title had he not had a three-race absence due to fatigue.
“It has come late, but the way my season was going I don’t think the outcome of the championship would have been any different,” said the Ducati rider, who sits third in the standings. “A lot of people have been talking about ‘what ifs’ but to be honest we might not even have been able to fight for race victories again if we hadn’t sorted my health out. So I am very happy with the way the season has gone now, and things are looking good for us for next year. I think we will be a lot stronger in 2010.”
Lorenzo, who came closest to challenging Rossi for the title this year, said that he will go for the race win if the conditions were right. If not, the Spaniard will ride a safe race to ensure second place in the standings.
“We must understand our goal this weekend. If we can race a good race and be fast then we can try (for the win),” said Lorenzo. “If we’re not so fast then the cleverest thing is to think of the championship and finish second; after losing the fight for the World title second is a good position. Everyone wants to win the World title but sometimes it’s just not possible, and you have to appreciate what you are getting.”
Also taking place in Valencia on Thursday was the ‘Day of Champions’, as MotoGP’s official charity Riders for Health enjoyed its traditional end-of-season event at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit. Attendees watched a stunt show with Emilio Zamora, visited to the pit lane and paddock, and had a briefing with Randy Mamola. MotoGP riders were present at a fundraising auction giving away race memorabilia with all profits going towards Riders’ work in Africa assisting in the delivery of vital medical supplies.