MotoGP: Riders arrive in Aragon as Rossi maintains narrow championship lead
Friday, Sep 25th 2015 – The stars of the 2015 MotoGP™ title fight lined up in front of the world’s media to kick off the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón.
The official Press Conference marked the start of round 14 of the MotoGP™ World Championship at MotorLand Aragon. Movistar Yamaha’s main title contenders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were joined by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Moto2™ championship leader Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport).
The first to address the assembled journalists was championship leader Rossi. His fifth placed finish at Misano last time out means he now holds a 23-point lead over his teammate Lorenzo but Aragon is one of only two tracks on the current calendar, along with Austin, where the Doctor has not won before: “This track for me is difficult in the past, but in the last years we’re coming better. I got a podium in 2013 but it was special, as Dani crashed and I was far from Jorge and Marc. I think last year I could have done a good race; I was fast on Sunday but maybe too fast as I did a mistake in braking with Dani and I crashed. I don’t know my potential for the rest of the race. It’s a difficult track but very good, it’s so exciting when you ride so I need to find the right speed.”
After crashing out of the San Marino GP Lorenzo arrives at Aragon determined to fight back and reduce Rossi’s advantage heading into the flyaways. The Spaniard has not been off the podium at Aragon in the last four seasons and won last year’s flag-to-flag race despite it traditionally suiting the Hondas more: “Aragon is not a Yamaha track historically from 2010 till last year. Last year in strange conditions I managed to stay in the dry fighting for the win and then in the wet, I was faster than I could ever remember. I found myself able to win for the first time; usually it’s tougher though. I believe this year with our improvements we can be much more competitive.”
Marquez trails Rossi by 63 points in the standings but is on a run of form that has seen him win 3 of the last five races. The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion won at Aragon in 2013 from pole, but crashed out of last year’s race while in the lead: “Misano was good and we did the right strategy. But you know, maybe here will be the same and I’ll do the wrong choices. It was an important win for me but here we’ll see as Yamaha have done five days of testing so they will be strong from the start, especially Jorge. But yeah, we will try to push from the start and stay fighting for the win. The podium is the target again and if we can win we will try.”
The San Marino GP saw Bradley Smith return to the podium for the first time since Phillip Island in 2014. The British rider leads the Satellite standings by 42 points, and finished fifth in last year’s race: “Misano was a fantastic result for me and the team. Like I said there, it makes it more special because for Satellite riders there haven’t been so many podiums. If you look at the numbers, I think Cal had a podium in Argentina and Danilo in Silverstone; it’s tough for us guys to be up there on the podium. It’s nice when it does happen and it’s given me more points to fight for fifth in the championship. I didn’t expect to be in this position, after nine or ten races realistic I was just trying to hold onto the top satellite bike but after another five we’re still battling in there so let’s see what we can do in the final five.”
Another hero of Misano was also present in the form of Smith’s compatriot Scott Redding. The Brit scored his first MotoGP™ podium at the San Marino GP and has enjoyed an upturn in form that has seen him score 32 points in the last four races compared to just 30 in the first nine and seems to like the track: “You have a lot of ups and downs, fast corners, tight corners and it’s quite exciting especially in MotoGP. I look forward to heading out in FP1 and seeing the feeling with the bike and hopefully I’ll keep improving. Going into Q2 would be a good start.”
Runaway Moto2™ World Championship leader Zarco was also present. The Frenchman has a 97-point lead over his nearest rival Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and if results go his way, could end up lifting the title at Aragon this weekend: “It’s pretty good to be in this position, but there can be some pressure to fight for the title. Every race my advantage has grown but I can’t really feel the pressure. For sure there are a lot more interviews and journalists asking about the title but I must remind myself the main thing is the title, not where I get it. I repeat it a lot to keep calm and we’ll see how the weekend goes. I just want to go out on the bike and fight for victory.”
Before the Press Conference Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Loris Baz (Forward Racing), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) took part in a traditional Iberian ham carving master class. The riders were shown how to cut, prepare and display this amazing Spanish delicacy, and it was Bautista who demonstrated the best carving skills.
After the Press Conference Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo unveiled his design for the trophies that will be presented to riders on the podium at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón. Lorenzo was given the honour to collaborate with renowned award designer Marc García Rojals on the design of the award, making it the first time the trophy for a MotoGP™ Grand Prix has been styled by a rider. The designer asked Lorenzo to define which features came to mind when he thought of the Alcañiz circuit and the Spanish rider answered without hesitance that it was the iconic stone wall. The sportsman and the artist considered various shapes for the design, before settling on a statuette representing a fragment of the wall of the circuit on a pedestal.
The Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón on-track action kicks off today at 9:00am local time with the first two Free Practice sessions for all three classes.