Having been crowned as the 2010 MotoGP World Champion just four days ago at Sepang, it was a visibly more relaxed Jorge Lorenzo who attended the pre-event press conference at Phillip Island this afternoon.
Clinching the title in Malaysia hasn’t, however, dampened Lorenzo’s determination to win the remaining three races in this year’s championship, starting this weekend with the Iveco Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
“The situation now is completely different, there is no pressure as I don’t need points for the championship,” declared Lorenzo. “I want to end the season by winning races, so I will be pushing to the maximum this weekend.”
Valentino Rossi took the win last time out in Malaysia, returning to the top step of the podium for the first time since the opening race of the season in Qatar and ending the longest victory drought of his MotoGP career.
Rossi, who lost his World Championship crown to his Fiat Yamaha teammate at Sepang, arrives in Australia still undecided about the timing of essential surgery on his injured shoulder, but hopeful that it won’t prove to be a hindrance as he tries to deny Casey Stoner his fourth successive win at Phillip Island this weekend.
“I hope I can race at 100 percent here in Australia,” said Rossi. “On paper it looks good for my shoulder because although there are many fast changes of direction there isn’t so much heavy braking here. We will see.”
“The Phillip Island track is great; something different compared to other tracks. It’s so fast and it’s important to find the right line. Here it is difficult to find the right balance between the fast and slow corners, but it always makes for great racing, especially in MotoGP.”
After crashing out of the Malaysian Grand Prix on the opening lap, Casey Stoner is looking to make amends in his home race, at a track on which he has dominated in recent years.
The Ducati rider led every single lap bar one on his way to three consecutive race victories at Phillip Island, a performance he is keen to repeat this weekend as he looks to overhaul Rossi – who he trails by a single point – in the championship standings.
“Three races ago this race wasn’t looking good for us because the bike wasn’t working in the areas that you need it to work at Phillip Island. But, during the last three races we have made improvements, so we come into this weekend looking pretty good.
“It’s good sometimes to race in the cooler conditions we get at Phillip Island, but the best thing about this track is definitely the fast corners!”
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso has found a rich vein of form of late, finishing second to Stoner in Japan and taking second again in Malaysia, this time behind Rossi.
Currently lying fifth in the championship standings, his recent form has seen the Italian close to within one point of Stoner in fourth and two points of Rossi in third.
Dovizioso is confident that he and the Honda RC212V are a competitive package and that his elusive first win of the season is not so far away.
“Our target is to win,” declared Dovizioso. “We did a good job at the last two races and were able to fight for victory; it was really close.
“It’s going to be hard to get the win here because Casey is so strong at Phillip Island, as is Lorenzo, and Vale is now competitive again, but I will definitely try.”
Toni Elias joined the MotoGP riders at today’s pre-event press conference, after wrapping up the very first Moto2 World Championship title in Malaysia.
The Spaniard, still the only rider to have taken victory in 125cc, 250cc, MotoGP and Moto2 categories, took the title with third place at Sepang after Julian Simon crashed out of the race just before the halfway stage.
“For the first time I know what it feels like to be a world champion; it’s been very nice,” said Elias about this world championship win.
“It’s also been a lot of work, especially the press, but I have found time to celebrate with the team and my family. Phillip Island is not one of my favourite tracks, as I suffered here in MotoGP, but I will be out there fighting for the win in Moto2 on Sunday.”
When asked what the future held in store for him, Elias replied, “My motivation is to go to MotoGP and we will see next week if this is possible.”
Earlier today British riders, Scott Redding and Danny Webb, joined Aleix Espargaro and brother Pol at the local wildlife park. The riders got to feed a whole host of wildlife native to Australia, including koala bears, dingoes, kangaroos and wombats.
After posing for photos with the animals, most of which had Danny Webb looking distinctly worried, the riders then interviewed each other about their expectations for the weekend ahead.
This afternoon players from the championship winning Collingwood team gave Jorge Lorenzo, Marco Simoncelli, Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden and Toni Elias an introduction to Aussie Rules Football.
All five of the riders got the chance to practice short passes with the Collingwood players, before then attempting to kick a goal. Elias was the closest but Lorenzo and Hayden’s attempts repeatedly fell short.
Having had the rules explained to him, more than once, Simoncelli declared that Aussie Rules Football was a difficult sport for Europeans to understand!