In the pre-event press conference ahead of the Motul Grand Prix of Japan on Thursday Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro, Hiroshi Aoyama and Maverick Viñales addressed the media as they prepare to embark on the first of the flyaway triple-header of races this weekend.
Repsol Honda’s young World Champion Marquez gets his first shot at retaining the title on Sunday. He was in a typically relaxed and confident mood as he reflected on a difficult race at Aragon last time out and contemplated the challenge ahead in Japan.
Marquez commented, “When you look back at the Aragon race on TV it looks like I was stupid to stay out on slicks, but when I was on track I was thinking there are only three laps to go. But the tyres cooled down and I crashed. It’s all about experience.”
“This weekend is the first chance to win the championship and I’m happy because there are still four races to go so that’s good for me. We will try to approach it like a normal race and push to be in the first positions. It is nice to have the chance at the home round for Honda, but I’m not nervous because my target is to win the championship and it doesn’t matter when.”
Like for Marquez, there was also a crash for Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) at Aragon, though in the case of the Italian the accident ended his race in Spain and saw him taken to hospital for scans after he was briefly knocked unconscious. The nine-time World Champion confirmed that he has recovered 100% and is ready for the Motegi battle.
He said, “It was a bad crash but I was already ok on the Monday after the race at Aragon, so I’m fine. In the past I have had good races in Motegi and I won the championship here in 2008. Last year I expected more here, but I made a mistake after a good start and I couldn’t stay with the top three. So we have to improve this year. This is an important part of the season and everyone is at their maximum.”
Aragon race-winner Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) will attempt to make it two victories in succession on Sunday, having triumphed for the first time this season in Spain last time out. Lorenzo won the MotoGP race at Motegi last year and was also victorious there in 2009.
He spoke of his current form, saying, “For quite a while now we have been in good shape, with good results. In the second half of the season I have more points than anyone else so far. Aragon was fantastic because I expected to be behind the Honda guys, but finally we won the race. Now I’m getting close to the second place in the championship. It is impossible to catch Marc now but my target is to finish in the top two places in every race.”
Following the recent announcement that he will become a Suzuki factory rider in 2015 as the manufacturer returns to MotoGP and on the back of his first premier class podium at Aragon, Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) stated enthusiastically, “The last weeks have been amongst the best in my life, especially with the race at Aragon.”
“Finishing in second place behind Jorge was like a dream. It is really exciting with this new project with Suzuki. It is not going to be easy because we have to do a lot of work with the bike, but I feel like I’m at the best moment in my career.”
Home rider Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar) spoke of his pride at representing Japan in the premier class at Motegi this weekend, saying, “I have been on the podium four times here so it’s a good track for me. Last year I finished 17th but this year I have a new bike and a new team and I know I can enjoy it. All my friends and family will be here.”
Like Espargaro reigning Moto3™ World Champion and current Moto2™ participant Viñales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) will ride with Suzuki in MotoGP™ in 2015. He arrives in Japan on the back of a superb Moto2 win at Aragon.
Viñales stated, “I’m really happy, I had the best weekend of my life at Aragon. I won the race and then the announcement was made that I will move into MotoGP with Suzuki. I’m really proud to be involved with the project.”
Also on the eve of the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, Aoyama and Viñales were joined by Hector Barbera, Johann Zarco, Takaaki Nakagami, Hafizh Syahrin, Romano Fenati and Danny Kent as they enjoyed the longest zipline in Japan, in the beautiful forests surrounding Motegi. At 561 metres in length the double zipline put the riders’ fear of heights and their courage to the test at 38 metres from the ground.
The adrenaline will continue to flow on Friday morning as the action commences on track at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan with FP1 for Moto3™ getting underway at 1100 AEST and MotoGP following at 1155 AEST, before Moto2 at 11255 AEST. The afternoon MotoGP sessions starts at 1605 AEST.
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