MotoGP: The British GP pre-event Press Conference welcomes a special guest from the International Space Station
Before lift off for track time at the GoPro British Grand Prix it was time to talk about the weekend ahead, and Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was joined by Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and teammate Andrea Dovizioso, as well as home hero Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team), who had an announcement about his future. But the talk wasn’t all the everyday chat before the engines turn on – some of it was out of this world in an incredible motorsport first.
But before the star visitor, Marquez was first to speak about the weekend, asked whether his 59-point lead means he’ll be racing to win and attacking – and the answer was a yes. “That philosophy is my style, when I feel good I attack and attacking is the best way to defend.”
After his battle with Lorenzo last time out, though, the reigning Champion has hit the reset button. “Now we forget Austria, we’ve here in Silverstone with a new surface, the weather forecast is good but you never know…then we’ll try to be there on the podium on Sunday, and if we can, try to win.”
Winning is something Marquez did in 2014, before it was Rossi in the rain in 2015. Despite that, the nine-time World Champion says he’d prefer it dry – and that Silverstone is a special venue.
“Silverstone is a great track, full of history,” says the ‘Doctor’. “In the last few years there have always been great races. Last year was a good race, and last year it was unbelievable weather for England! This year it looks more tricky, but we hope it will be dry as much as possible.”
That was echoed by Jorge Lorenzo, the winner last time out, when he took the mic – with the number 99 hoping for sun at least on race day: “It’s a good track, I’ve loved this track from 2010, I was very quick. Sometimes I’ve had more difficult years but I love the track, and hopefully at least we’ll get a sunny day on Sunday.”
Something else of note is where the Spaniard has won this year – so far, the same races as teammate Dovizioso last year. “Some journalists told me yesterday I’m winning this year where Andrea won last year…and it would be nice to have six victories by the end of the season!” says Lorenzo. So will Silverstone now offer him chance to continue the pattern? “We arrive here in a sweet moment, from the victory and a good test at Misano…” Lorenzo is also the only man on the grid with three premier class wins at the venue.
Dovizioso, last year’s winner and most recently the winner in Brno, also expects a good weekend, however. “At the moment we are very fast, more or less at every track, so I expect to be competitive at this track. It’s long and there is new asphalt so no one knows, but our bike is working a bit better last year, we had a good test and I’m sure we can start from a good base.”
The Italian says overall the package is better – not in big steps but in small improvements – and he’s ready to try and take back the top.
Next to speak was home hero Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow, who was on pole at the venue in 2016 and has been on the podium, was also arriving into the weekend after an announcement – with the Brit confirmed at LCR Honda Castrol on a HRC contract for another two seasons.
“It’s great to come to Silverstone,” begins Crutchlow, “and with the announcement today, there’s no better day to share the news! HRC and LCR have supported me for the last few years and now we have another two. I look forward to the home GP and I hope we can have a good weekend. Like everyone says, the weather could be a bit iffy but we’ll see.” The Brit, a winner in difficult conditions in the premier class, also thinks Friday track time will be “pivotal” for the weekend.
Finally, there was more news for Thursday – Alvaro Bautista will be joining Aruba.it Racing – Ducati in WorldSBK.
“A lot of people have been asking about my future but I didn’t decide. This season has been tough and the performance wasn’t what I expected, I couldn’t go fast like I wanted. But when I started to feel better with the bike and be more competitive, there were no places in MotoGP. So I’ve waited the maximum time possible but it isn’t possible. I had some offers to move to other categories and I feel very motivated and strong now, I’m enjoying the bike a lot so I want to keep riding. So for me next season will be a new challenge and I’ll move from this Championship after 16 years and be in World Superbike with Aruba.it Racing – Ducati factory team. I thank the confidence Ducati have put in me, and I think we can have fun, I look forward to the new challenge and I’ll try to enjoy my last races here in MotoGP!”
Then it was time for the Press Conference to really take off – with the ISS patching in not long after. Astronaut Andrew Feustel talked to the riders and the tables were turned, with each of the competitors present getting their chance to pose some questions. Subjects ranged from what astronauts eat in space and how they exercise to how far away the ISS was – with Feustel doing some zero-gravity aided acrobatics during some answers. An avid fan for years, he was also at Brno last season and he and Crutchlow had a catch up of sorts – with the Brit going a little off-piste to ask if Feustel knew how everything in the shot worked. “We know a little about a lot, rather than a lot about a little,” was the response with a smile.
Now it’s time to gear up for Friday practice and hope the weather holds out, with bikes on track from 9:00 (GMT +1) – and an extra special fan sure to be tuning in all the way from orbit, doing over 17,500mph!