MotoGP riders speak about Assen MotoGP
The entire MotoGP field have their say on the 2016 Dutch TT at Assen
Jack Miller – P1
“I don’t often say this but I’m lost for words. I feel incredibly emotional right now and it is hard to describe the sensation of winning for the first time in MotoGP. I felt confident and fast in the first part of the race but it was the right call to red flag it because the conditions were getting pretty dangerous.
“The track was really slippery for part two as well but I immediately felt comfortable. I could see a few riders making mistakes but I just kept my focus and concentrated on being fast and consistent without taking any silly risks.
“Once I passed Marc I just tried to block out the fact that I was heading for my first win and keep a clear mind.
“Coming out of the final chicane and seeing the chequered flag was just an unbelievable feeling.
“My family and I have made a lot of sacrifices to make today happen and it feels amazing. I can’t thank Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS enough. They have given me incredible support and never stopped believing in me.
“I must also thank Honda and their management for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to show what I can do at this level. It might take a while to sink in but I am going to enjoy tonight that’s for sure!”
Michael Bartholemy – Marc VDS Team Principal
“I am not sure where to start after a day like today but it is hard to describe the range of emotions the whole team has gone through. Many people have worked all of their life to experience a day like today and to win in MotoGP, so now it has arrived the elation and emotion is something very special. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I arrived in MotoGP in 2004 and sometimes you don’t think it will happen.
“But we’ve continued to believe and to push at our maximum to make it happen, and I actually still can’t believe it has! Congratulations to Jack because he was incredible today. Those kind of conditions always give an Independent Team a chance but you have to take the opportunity when it presents itself and Jack did exactly that. It was so easy to make a mistake but he was perfect. Those last few laps were so full of tension it was hard to watch at times, but to be the first non-factory team to win a MotoGP race since 2006 makes me immensely proud of the whole team.
“We’ve had a lot of criticism for taking Jack but I’ve never doubted his talent and we’ve shown the world today that together we can do great things. I must say a big thanks to Marc van der Straten for his energy and devotion to this project and to Estrella Galicia 0,0, Elf and Honda for their continued support. Let’s hope this is the first of many wins.”
Marc Marquez – P2
“Today’s race was one of those in which you can either lose many points or gain them, and you can face it with two mentalities: either you take a risk to gain a bigger advantage, or you focus on finishing the race in order to lose the fewest points possible. The latter is the mentality that the team repeated to me about forty times between this morning and today, and it is exactly what I did.
“I tried to stay in the top five so as not to drop many points to Valentino [Rossi] and attempted to not make mistakes in order to finish the race. At the beginning of the first race I didn’t feel comfortable and lost touch, but then I was able to recover. I think that stopping the race was a good decision, because it was very dangerous out there. In the second race I started off thinking about pushing a bit more, but everyone was very fast and I decided not to follow Rossi and Dovizioso because they were going too quickly. However, both of them crashed later on.
“When I saw Jack [Miller] stalking behind me, I knew that he would be going for his first win so I preferred to let him pass and keep a couple of seconds gap between us, as well as a cushion to third place. I did that because with Jorge [Lorenzo] so far back and Rossi out of the race, second place was as good as a victory. In the end, we leave Assen with a bigger lead.”
Scott Redding – P3
“It is a great satisfaction. It was a very difficult race. In a few moments, before the red flag, I could not see hardly anything. I drove by instinct and I managed to stay upright. The feeling with the bike was great and it was so even in the second half of the race. I am very happy for having given this satisfaction to the boys who have done an extraordinary job. We had so much bad luck so far and this weekend with the first row on the grid and the podium is a reward for having always continued to believe in what we were doing.”
Pol Espargaro – P4
“To come away from a tricky event like today with a 4th position in conditions that were completely wet, is like a dream for us. Of course there is a bittersweet taste in my mouth as I just missed out on the podium again, yet with all the crashes that we saw, I had to be careful and think about the Championship. In addition, Scott was clearly faster and able to push a lot more on the front tyre. In the second race we could use the softer rear compound and my feeling with the bike was much better straight away. Therefore, I can say that I believe I have been competitive in wet conditions for the first time since I’ve been in MotoGP.
“However my legs, arms, fingers, neck and whole body are now aching from the huge tension that we had while riding in these conditions. I must admit that I wished the GP was red flagged a bit sooner because it really was becoming dangerous to ride during the heavy rain. Anyway, the bike worked well, and the only issue we had to face was that, compared to the other manufactures, we struggled to get a feeling with the front tyre. The crashes from Valentino, my teammate and Jorge’s race underline how tough it is for us to find the limit at the front end, so it was challenging to fight with the Honda and Ducati riders. Yet, this result is another important step in the right direction for my standings in the Championship and we have started to open a gap on the other satellite riders and also reduce the gap to Vinales. So we will continue to push and we’ll remain focused so that hopefully, we can finish in a better position before the end of the season.”
Andrea Iannone – P5
“Overall I think it’s been a positive weekend for us, because in the dry we were always competitive and we had a good chance of finishing the weekend well despite the rain, which until yesterday was a problem for me because I didn’t have much confidence, as well as the fact that I had to start from last place. In MotoGP it’s never easy to recover from the back, but I am pleased with both of my starts: in the first after the opening lap I was eleventh and shortly after already up to sixth, and maybe starting a few rows further up I could even have fought for the podium. I was right at the back of the grid again in seventeenth place in the second start, but I managed to recover well and cross the line in fifth place. In the end today’s result was quite positive for us and we managed to bring home some important points.”
Hector Barbera – P6
“I’m really happy with this result because the first race was a disaster. I decided to use the harder rain compound for the rear and it had no grip at all, with the bike spinning even on the straight. Just pointing to the corners, the bike was sliding and I did not enjoy riding in this conditions. In the second race, we used the softer rain tyre and the bike changed completely. But the difference was so big that it took me some laps to get used to it. After such a difficult weekend, with mechanical issues and two crashes, this sixth place is a reward for everybody in the team. I want to thank my team for their support during the weekend, because they react quickly to the problems and they push me to keep my motivation high.”
Eugene Laverty – P7
“I rode so slowly on the sighting lap because I didn’t want to be the idiot that crashed… but I did! The tyre just felt like ice, it was so slippery. I had to run back for the other bike but I didn’t think it was too bad because starting from the back of the grid was not too far from where we qualified. Then when I arrived at the end of pit-lane I could feel there was a problem with the front brake, which was stuck. That was why I struggled so much at the start of the race and dropped so far back. The second part of the race was good, I made a really good start and made up a lot of positions but from lap two to around lap six I kept losing the front, I almost crashed so many times and with so many other riders crashing out around me I had to be really careful. Over the last five laps the front tyre started to come better again and I was able to go really fast, we just ran out of time to catch the guys in front. Seventh place after so much drama is a good result.”
Stefan Bradl – P8
“It was definitely a race that will spark a lot of discussion. Race Direction took the right decision. The track was really getting dangerous. I was riding with confidence and I felt good in the saddle even if it was definitely not easy to go fast. Unfortunately, once I was back in the garage, we had a small electronics problem so I had to restart with the second bike. The geometry was slightly different and the feeling was not perfect, so I managed the race, in any case bringing home an important result. This is a good calling card for my home race at the Sachsenring”.
Maverick Viñales – P9
“Unfortunately the rain was not a big deal for us, we lack in experience and today we paid the biggest price. We were pretty competitive in the dry, but when rain arrived we couldn’t find a proper set-up to have a machine that could make me comfortable. I suffered a lot during both legs of the race, and I’m sad for this because I felt we could have had a good chance in the dry. Unfortunately, we still have a lot to learn and grow when we are in rain conditions, we are all learning, but for sure this result is under our expectations; although being well into the points is a positive thing.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P10
“In the first race I was in 19th place and the last rider. I was even thinking about stopping because the conditions on the track were terrible, but I kept riding and they stopped the race. We restarted the race with less water on the track and a soft rear tyre and, though I was one of the last ones and there were many crashers, I gained more confidence than I had in the first race. These are important points for the championship, in the first race I would not have scored any. Marquez also scored a lot of points today, but Rossi, who could have recovered points, lost a lot. Ultimately we were able to save a difficult weekend. Before Le Mans we were also around 24 points behind and now we are more or less in the same situation, after two difficult races, so we have to think positive and keep in mind that we still have a lot of races to recover the gap to Marquez.”
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Unfortunately it was clear at the start of the race that the weather would be a big factor today. As always the team worked hard to give both Vale and Jorge the best possible set up for the race, but none of the practice sessions were as wet as it was today. With the weather changing every couple of minutes it was a real gamble for the riders to decide how hard they could push. Jorge struggled to find a good feeling in the wet and did the best with what he had and has been able to take home some important points. Vale did well in the first race and also excelled at the restart of the race, despite the chaos. It was a real pity that he wasn’t able to finish the race, because he has been strong in all these extreme conditions. It’s a shame that our results here don’t represent our potential, had the weather been a bit more consistent. We’ll leave this weekend behind us now and focus on the next round at the Sachsenring!”
Valentino Rossi – DNF
“It’s a great shame considering our great level of speed and competitiveness this weekend with our bike at this track. We could have gotten some important points for the championship after a difficult weekend and we could have taken second place in the championship over Lorenzo, but unfortunately I made a mistake. In the second half I pushed too much while I already had a good advantage. On that lap I was trying to push to understand my level. In the second part of the race we started with a soft rear, which provides very good grip, but unfortunately I entered turn ten too fast. I think we had a good chance today, but with my mistake I threw away a lot of points. The distance, especially to Marquez, is quite big, but we need to continue working hard like this and try to be competitive also next time.”
Tito Rabat – P11
“It was a very difficult race and tricky conditions but I am happy to score more points. In the second race I’d got into the top 10 and felt I had a very good pace. I’m not normally so confident in the rain conditions but I felt really comfortable. I tried to pass Bautista because I was quite a bit faster than him in the last two sectors but I carried a bit more lean angle at turn 11 and it was a huge mistake because I crashed. I was lucky to be able to rejoin the race and I’m happy to finish and gain a lot of experience of the bike, tyres and electronics in the race. I want to say big congratulations to Jack and the whole team for the victory today. He rode an unbelievable race and deserved his victory.”
Dani Pedrosa – P12
“It’s been a pretty tough weekend but races like today are a lottery. In the first race it seemed that the strategy of running the soft tyre had gone well. At first, when the track was drying, I went slowly, but when it started to rain I upped my pace very quickly while others were at a disadvantage. However, that was when the Race Direction decided to stop the race. I felt unlucky, because it turned out that thinking ahead or trying to pick a different strategy wasn’t beneficial. In the second race I crashed on the first lap, because I had a new rear tyre without too much grip. It has been a difficult Grand Prix but we will try to find better solutions for the next race and regain our feeling in order to go faster.”
Bradley Smith – P13
“It was an eventful day and with the challenging conditions, it was tricky for everyone to not make any mistakes. We started with the harder option rear tyre, which was the first time that we tried it all weekend and it took me a long time to get a general feeling. Yet, I could see Pol just in front of me on the track and I thought that I had made the right decision to go for the full distance, because 26 laps is a long time. Then we had a lot of rain and to be honest, it would have be nice to stop a few laps earlier because it was quite unsafe. It’s always difficult for race direction to understand the right moment but this is something we need to talk about in the future at safety commissions. Then, in part two, I felt a lot better because we were able to start with the softer compound of rear tyre, and twelve laps gave us that chance. I immediately made up a lot of positions in the opening lap, and in fact, I would say that it was one of the most competitive laps that I’ve had this season. Then unfortunately, like many other riders, I fell because I lost the front as it was pushed too much by the extra grip from the rear. Even though it’s another disappointing weekend, it was nice to finish and get some points because the team has worked really hard. We will continue to soldier on and do the best that we can. Right now, if we look at the championship we’re not where we want to be, but hopefully our fortune will change at some point this season and we’ll be back to where we belong.”
Hervé Poncharal – Tech 3 Team manager
“What a weekend in Assen! We got the typical Dutch weather and it split the event into two incredible races for the fans. Race direction made the right decision to red flag the GP because there was far too much water on the circuit and it was unsafe to ride. Anyway, our two guys remained steady on the track in the first part which I think was the best decision because the asphalt was very slippery. After the restart, we knew there was a good chance of a strong result, and they ended lap one in two solid positions. Unfortunately Bradley, like many other riders crashed but he bravely recovered and managed to finish. I have to say thanks to him for doing his best and always pushing for any points. On the other side, it was a marvellous day for Pol. Last year he struggled a lot with the wet conditions on the MotoGP bike, but this season, he seems to be more comfortable. I think this is because of his efforts and also his adaptation to the Michelin tyres. We believed that a podium could have been possible and Redding stayed behind Pol for quite a while, however when he did overtake, he had a better pace and Pol was clever enough to not do anything too crazy. I want to thank him for being the first Yamaha in the field and hopefully there will be a podium before we end our collaboration with him. Now, Pol will head straight to Japan to test for the Suzuka 8 Hour race which, of course, we wish him luck with. We will be back on track soon and if we can complete the first half of the season one step higher in Germany, it would be the perfect way to head into the summer break.”
Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager
“For sure this has been a hard weekend for us. Maybe this is the typical Assen weather, but for us it’s not been a big deal. Until FP3, in the dry, we were going very well with both riders in Q2 and consistently performing among the top, especially Maverick with a very good pace. But after rain came, our troubles started to get bigger and we struggled to find good settings. In Sunday’s race we were taunted by the weather, and with the race split into two legs, we struggled in both as we couldn’t find proper set-ups. Here we have understood that our machine still needs to be investigated further to take the best out of it, it can be performing in any conditions if compared to other bikes, but we still have a lot to learn on how to take this good from it and take profit. I want to see the positive side of the weekend; today we have gained much experience and collected a lot of data, which will be very useful for the next time we have a wet race.”
DNF – Danilo Petrucci
“I am very disappointed. We went very fast throughout the weekend, the team did a superb job. I was convinced that I could be among the first even in dry conditions. I felt good in the race, everything was going the right way, I was very motivated because I felt that this was the right time to bring home the victory. Unfortunately, that problem has ruined everything. I saw the dash go off and I thought even that would hinder me. But the engine stalled. I am disappointed but also aware that we have done an extraordinary job. I would have deserved this win but I am sure we will have other opportunities. Starting from Germany!”
Cal Crutchlow – DNF
“I’m not happy as you can imagine. Everything in a race like today is going to be an if, but or a maybe, but I felt great in the first part of the race. The tyre wasn’t working properly at the start and I was struggling to get heat into it, but then as soon as it started to dry I was the fastest man on the circuit. I feel I would have won the race. Then it started raining again and it was a disaster. In the restart I chose the softer tyre and crashed out, simply because I had too much grip in the rear tyre. I had no experience on the tyre apart from in the qualifying session yesterday, and the conditions were so different. I got caught out with a cold front tyre, and honestly I am so disappointed. Take nothing away from the guys on the podium, especially Jack, but I felt there was an opportunity to finish the race on the podium and maybe win it. Jack took that chance, and I’m really pleased for him. If there was anyone else on the grid I’d want to win apart from myself, and it would be him.”
Aleix Espargaró – DNF
“It’s a pity because we did a real improvement and my feeling was good. After the first start I felt very uncomfortable on the bike, I couldn’t deploy the power to the ground and also had issues in turning, but in the time between the two legs of the race my crew applied some modifications that finally proved to be very effective. After the second start I had a collision with another rider at ‘Turn 1’ which sent me into the gravel, but I didn’t crash and I could re-join the race. After this the improvements to the bike allowed me to feel confident and recover to the riders ahead, but unfortunately I crashed. It’s a pity with the result, but I am finally satisfied for the job we have done and for this experience under the rain and it will be useful for the future in case of another wet race.”
Alvaro Bautista – DNF
“In the first part of the race I was riding well, despite the difficulties. At the restart I stayed calm, trying to figure out the track conditions lap after lap and setting my pace. I felt good, even when Iannone overtook me, opening up a little gap, I managed to close it back down. In the last lap I was very close to Andrea. His line went slightly wide on a turn and I moved in to overtake him. Unfortunately I fell, but in those situations the rider’s instinct is always to aim for the best possible result. I’m sorry, first of all for the guys on my team and for Aprilia. Now the only thing to do is to look forward and keep on growing”.
Andrea Dovizioso – DNF
“Obviously I am very disappointed because we had a great weekend and I was leading the first part of the race in very difficult conditions, but then too much rain started to fall and it was right to stop the race. What actually happened on the second start is that everyone fitted the soft rear tyre, which had a lot more grip but which created even more problems at the front, the reason for all the crashes yesterday and today. Valentino and I both knew that we were the fastest riders out there and we pushed ourselves on to be as fast as possible, but in the end we both made mistakes. There aren’t many excuses when you crash, because it means that you have made a mistake, but when there are so many crashes in two days in the wet it’s important to understand the reason why.”
Yonny Hernández – DNF
“I felt sure I could win the race, I didn’t feel like I was on the limit and thought I had everything under control. However, I felt the front tuck a little and even though I tried to save it on my knee it wasn’t to be. It is a shame because our main objective today was to finish the race and we didn’t manage it. It was a great race for us up to that point, I am happy that I have led nine laps of a MotoGP World Championship race. Hopefully I get another opportunity like this and don’t make the same mistake again.”
Michele Pirro – DNF
“This weekend was really difficult for me, I think one of the hardest of my career. But this is racing. I fell sorry for the team, because we had the chance to fight for the seventh place in the second race, but I crashed. I had no warning and the limit was so narrow that I couldn’t save it. I feel bad for the team because today we could have achieved a good result. These two races were a great experience for me, but to be honest I hoped to get better results. Thanks to Avintia for this opportunity, I hope it will go better next time.”