News 3 Sep 2010

MotoGP: Stars meet again on eve of San Marino Grand Prix

Jorge Lorenzo may have seen his lead in the championship standings reduced by nine points as a result of Dani Pedrosa’s win last time out in Indianapolis, but the 23-year-old Spanish rider isn’t worrying just yet.

Lorenzo still enjoys a 68-point advantage over his compatriot and is keen to extend that further this weekend at Misano, where he’s looking to continue his unbroken run of podium finishes.

The Fiat Yamaha rider suffered in the extreme conditions at Indianapolis, but still managed to claim his 11th podium of the season.

“At Indianapolis I had a lot of problems with my physical condition,” explained Lorenzo during today’s pre-event press conference, where Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden and Loris Capirossi joined him. “Even on the Monday I didn’t feel completely fit, but I’m sure I’ll be back to full fitness ready for tomorrow.”

The championship leader’s track record at Misano is a good one; he won the 250cc race in 2007 and finished second in the premier class in both 2008 and 2009.

“I quite like this track. There is nothing particularly special about it, but everything is good. I like riding here.”

When asked about his future, and whether his agreement with Yamaha for next season was any closer to being signed Lorenzo replied, “I hope to have everything sorted for the 2011 season in the next few weeks.”

While Lorenzo will be happy with a podium finish this weekend, Dani Pedrosa needs to beat the Fiat Yamaha rider once again if he is to further close the gap in the championship. Pedrosa’s victory in Indianapolis marked the first time that the Repsol Honda rider has won more than two races in a single season and he arrives in Misano determined to challenge Lorenzo once again this weekend.

“It would be great to carry on this weekend where we left off at Indianapolis, but we know this is a hard track for us, so we need to work hard from Friday onwards,” declared Pedrosa. “The beginning of the season was not so good, but now we’ve improved little by little and the results are coming better. We just need to carry this momentum for the rest of the season now.”

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi has won for the past two years at Misano and, despite missing three races through injury this season, is closing fast on Casey Stoner’s fifth place in the championship standings.

The 31-year-old Italian is just five points short of the Australian’s tally, a situation he is keen to reverse this weekend in front of the thousands of fans who’ll make the annual pilgrimage to Misano from his hometown of Tavullia.

“This is my home grand prix, because I live just ten kilometres away and I have spent a lot of time on this track, starting with the Italian Sport Production bikes,” explained Rossi.

“I’ve had two fantastic races here the last two years, so there is a lot of expectations from the fans ahead of this weekend. This race will be hard on the body with all the hard braking, but we must try very hard to make a good result.”

Rossi announced at Brno that he would leave Yamaha to ride for Ducati in 2011, but refused to expand on the subject when asked during the press conference for his thoughts on the move.

“Everything is all clear for the future, but we will have a lot of time to talk about the future in the future,” said the reigning world champion, sidestepping the question with his usual skill.

Misano hasn’t been the luckiest of tracks for Nicky Hayden. In the three years that the circuit has featured on the MotoGP calendar, the Ducati rider has never finished a race here.

“I’ve had some bad luck here, that’s for sure,” stated Hayden. “The first year I got caught up with De Puniet at turn one and went down, the following year I didn’t ride because of my foot injury and last year I got taken out in another crash at turn one!”

Hayden qualified on the front row of the grid for the first time this season, but was unable to capitalise on his starting position after losing a knee slider during the early stages of the race. The American is still looking for his first podium of the season, but admits that there is still something needed to get him on terms with the frontrunners in the championship.

“I’m still missing something. Qualifying on the front row at Indy was important and everyone in the team is doing a great job, but there is definitely still some room for improvement. From third down to seventh place in the championship remains very close, so it’s still possible for me to finish in the top five this season.”

With 99 grand prix podiums to his name already, nothing would please Loris Capirossi more than to rack up his century here at Misano in front of the Italian fans. Despite top five finishes here the past two years, it will be a tall order for the veteran rider, who has struggled to get to terms with the 2010 GSV-R so far this season.

“It’s easy to see that this season hasn’t been the best for us,” said Capirossi, who won the 250cc race at Misano back in 1993. “We have been working very hard all season, changing the bike to try and make things better, but with little improvement. There are still seven races to go in the championship, so I think it’s still possible to improve our position.”

When asked about his plans for 2011 and beyond, Capirossi replied, “It’s no secret that I want to ride a 1000cc MotoGP bike again, but to do that I need to be here for the next two years. The situation for next year is not clear 100 percent, but I do have some options to stay in MotoGP, certainly for one more season at least.”

Earlier today Johann Zarco, Valentin Debise, Mattia Pasini, Colin Edwards, Jonas Folger and Sandro Cortese all did some uphill mountain biking in San Marino, the historical centre which has been recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage.

At the end of the ride, by a parliament building in the Plaza of Liberty, there was a presentation set up of different bikes including one from Max Biaggi and another one from Rossi.

The Misano round of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship was also brought in with a special pre-event yesterday evening in the Adriatic Coastal city of Riccione, as a selection of riders were paraded through the city centre in BMW convertible cars.

MotoGP fans turned out in force to see their heroes as premier class riders Aleix Espargaró, Álvaro Bautista and Nicky Hayden were joined by Moto2 stars Simone Corsi, Raffaele de Rosa, Andrea Iannone Valentin Debise and Mattia Pasini.

Also present were 125cc hotshots Marc Marquez, Pol Espargaró, Sandro Cortese, Simone Grotzkyj, Marco Ravaioli, Johann Zarco and Lorenzo Savadori.

When the riders arrived in the centre of Riccione they were accompanied by participants of the Miss Motosprint competition, and gave interviews on stage. The Espargaró brothers and Bautista then joined a panel of judges who crowned the winning candidate, who will be a Paddock Girl for the Pramac Racing team this weekend.

The fans were then treated to a meet and greet session with the riders who signed autographs and posed for photographs.