Riders reflect on Valencia MotoGP – Quotes and Images

Images by Andrew Northcott

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Jorge Lorenzo – P1

“It has been an incredible weekend with a perfect first few laps, the pole position, the fastest lap, and the victory. I arrived here in MotoGP at 20 years old, taking my first pole position on my first race. After almost ten years I leave with a pole position and a victory, I think I couldn’t have given Yamaha a better present than this for their support and their hard work during these years. We always had a competitive and winning bike. Now we will enjoy and celebrate these memories. Tonight at the party I will enjoy the last moments with my team. During the race you spend 45 minutes completely focused on what you are doing to dominate this bike, so when you cross the line you aren’t very emotional yet and you don’t think too much, because you need to recover. After two or three minutes I started remembering the best moments in my career and also the hard moments and in parc fermé it was very emotional with my team. For sure I will throw one of my biggest and craziest parties today because it’s a good day. We have to enjoy all of these experiences and especially this last moment with Yamaha.”

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Marc Marquez – P2

“We’re happy because we’ve managed to get on the podium and we’ve finished the season strongly. This is the most important thing. In the race, the start penalized us a lot as I had an issue with the clutch and lost several positions. Afterward I wasted a lot of time behind Rossi and Iannone. As Valentino said yesterday, overtaking is difficult on this track, so even if I was able to get close, to pass them was another story because I was losing under acceleration and was a bit on the limit under braking. I waited behind as the tyres began to affect performance, and step-by-step I continued improving until I found the opportunity to pass them. From then on I was able to improve my speed, and maybe if the race had lasted a little longer I might have reached Lorenzo. Anyway, he had an incredible race and I was not able to catch him. Congrats to him for this result. It hasn’t been an easy season but we were able to win the title in Japan and secure the Constructors Championship this weekend, which is great. Now we’ll work hard starting from the next test to try and improve our bike even more.”

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Andrea Iannone – P3

“Today it was a great race. I got a really good start and then had an incredible battle with Marquez and Rossi: I feel sure that everyone watching today, either in the circuit or at home on TV, must have enjoyed it a lot. I’m pleased because, even though the final part of the championship didn’t go exactly the way I had planned, in my last race for the Ducati Team I was able to get onto the podium, despite a rather difficult situation to manage. Even though after four years unfortunately we go our separate ways, I want to thank Ducati, to whom I have always given 100% and from whom I have always received the maximum of support, and all its engineers, mechanics, team personnel, fans and Ducatisti. I will never forget this great big family, and part of my heart will forever remain in Ducati.”

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Valentino Rossi – P4

“I was pushing from the beginning to the end and the first half of the race wasn’t so bad because I was in second position, but I wasn’t fast enough to make a gap and after that I suffered on the second part. Marquez was very strong, so he arrived in second place and after that I had a fight with Iannone. Unfortunately he beat me because he was faster, so just fourth place for me today, but it was a good race. The 2016 season brought a lot of positive things; second place in the championship, a lot of podiums and front row starts. Next year I want to try to win more races, more than two, but we are always competitive. Unfortunately I made some mistakes and I was a bit unlucky with the engine in Mugello so I was a bit too far behind in the championship, but anyway it was a good season.”

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Maverick Viñales – P5

“It’s been a hard race. Honestly I was expecting a little more, I thought the podium was achievable, but at the end of the race it was so hard to keep the pace. I tried my best at the beginning, but then I had to cease position and hold to the end. At the end my feelings are for these two years with Suzuki, we did a very good job, if I think all the struggles we had last year and now we’ve been fighting for podiums consistently in the last part of the season. It’s a good sensation, and also I’m leaving here some people with which we created a very good connection. I’m proud of the job we’ve done together.”

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Pol Espargaro – P6

“It was my last race in black and green for Yamaha and the result today marks a positive end to my time with Tech3. This finish will keep my morale, as well as the team’s, up over the winter break and it’s a good way to end our journey together. We concluded the season as it began, which is in the top independent rider position, even if it has been a challenging year at times because unfortunately, we didn’t quite secure the best satellite placement in standings in the end. However, we always did our best and I have to thank the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team for giving their all in the years that we have worked together. Plus, I must say thanks to them for teaching me how to ride a MotoGP bike. We’ve shared some happy moments and some not so great ones. Our first year was excellent, but then we had a tough second one, yet in 2016 we have tried to handle the situations as best as we could. With regards to today’s race, I think the opening laps were crucial and sadly, we lost a lot of time there. After though, my rhythm was quite similar to the pace of the factory guys in front of me. For the entire GP, I had my brother behind me, but I was never sure if he was struggling to stay with me, or if he wanted to overtake. Fortunately, I kept him behind which allowed us to catch Dovi, who then acted as a barrier between me and Aleix and I made the most of this. Once again, I have to say thanks to everyone in the team for their work in the past three years and I will take a lot of memories of Tech3 away with me.”

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Andrea Dovizioso – P7

“I’m a bit disappointed because I had hoped to finish the season fighting for the podium again, but I had a problem with the front from the first lap: the feeling with my bike was different to what it was in practice and I wasn’t able to brake the way I wanted. It was a pity because I really wanted to fight for the podium at Valencia, which has always been a tough track for me, and I think that today it could have been within reach. In any case finishing fifth overall was my aim, and if you think that I was eleventh at the fourth round, I have to be satisfied with our final place. I’m also happy to form part of the Ducati project for the next two years, because now we want to try and fight for something even more important.”

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Aleix Espargaró – P8

“I had a bad start and then I had to recover some positions, but I struggled in doing it. It was really difficult to overtake, but also I didn’t want to take too many risks at the beginning of the race. Then the pace was good, but couldn’t do better than eighth; it’s not what I hoped but it’s ok. I really enjoyed the race, although my feeling with the front was not perfect. I’m proud of having been a part of the history that we’ve written with this team for Suzuki, the whole team was amazing with me and we really created a family. Also, the bike now is a really good bike, so I’m proud I gave my contribution. I feel I’m not leaving with a complete work, I missed the podium, but all in the team know that I’ve put my 110% every time I wore this blue leather. This weekend has been a really emotional one for me, I’m leaving some good friends and a project that has grown very positively.”

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Bradley Smith – P9

“It was a tricky race, but I gave my all, and to finish in 9th is quite a positive way to end the season after what we’ve been through. We never really found the solution to my issues throughout the weekend, even though, of course, we tried everything that we could. However, for the GP, we definitely had the best setup. When it started, I pushed hard to try to stay with the Espargaro brothers and Cal. It looked like Pol had a bit more pace, especially in the second quarter of the Grand Prix and unfortunately I wasn’t able to remain with him. Although it may have been a bit of an ambitious aim, I was hoping to fight with Pol in our final race with the team. Anyway, at the midpoint, Crutchlow fell and after that, it was a case of finding as much rhythm as possible on my own because there was around a ten-second gap back to P10, plus Pol and Aleix were out of reach. Nevertheless, my main objective was to try to recover as much as possible before Valencia, so that we could get close to where we expect to be, which I feel we achieved with a solid top ten. I’d like to give a big thanks to the entire Tech3 team for all of their work in the past four years in MotoGP and two additional years before that in Moto2. I wish the guys the very best with the new riders for the 2017 season and I’ll come and say bonjour again in the future.”

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Alvaro Bautista – P10

“In the second half of the season, we began to reap the fruits of a lot of hard work, much of which done last year as well. We went in the right direction for development. Aprilia did a great job and the materials worked the way we expected them to. We improved a lot and now I wish all the best to Aprilia and the team with whom I experienced two years of hard work, but great satisfaction in the progress the bike has made. I always gave it my all, but I must thank my engineers and my mechanics, because they did an exceptional job, always seeking to provide me with the best solution. The race today was good, if you consider that, starting from behind, we went from almost six seconds from the race leader in the first lap to finishing with a dignified gap, especially considering that this is one of the most difficult tracks for the RS-GP”.

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Hector Barbera – P11

“We always said that our target was to finish the championship between fifth and tenth, but being realistic, this was almost impossible. If we look how many factory bikes are on the grid, we should be 14º or 15º with our bike. We finished with 102 points, and this after missing two good opportunities when I was replacing Iannone in the factory Ducati team. Without that we could be ninth overall. But anyway we did a great job this year, and some riders like Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro or Bradley Smith are behind us. We had a third division bike, but the team was playing in the premier league. I always did my best, I got two fifth places, one fourth place, sixth… really good results. The word team was very important this year, I learned a lot and I also matured as a rider. On Tuesday we will start a new year, an even better year. I want to thank everybody that believed in me and all those who made this possible.”

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Danilo Petrucci – P12

“I did a few mistakes in the first lap which forced me to push harder to recover positions. In the last seven laps I could not stay with Bautista and Barbera to fight for the Top 10 and then I preferred not to risk and bring home some points. It is not a race I will remember, but now I just want to think about the new bike. I will have to commit and work hard to stay ahead in the next season.”

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Stefan Bradl – P13

“It was a very exciting race, especially in the second half when I was able to push and overtake Redding, besides the fact that it is my last MotoGP race. Speaking of the race, unfortunately, after the warm up we had to replace the clutch and I was unable to make a good start, which did not make things simple. We decided to start with the soft front tyre, which we had not used in the afternoon sessions, and that meant that I had to adapt a bit, especially in the first laps. From the mid-race point on things improved, but the gap was already too big to strive for a better position. In any case, we finished in the points and, on a track that is difficult for us, that result was not a given. I wish to thank all the guys and Aprilia. This experience has helped me to grow as a rider, taking on a new challenge made up of testing and developing a new project. We can be satisfied with the work we have done and I wish them the best of luck for the future”.

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Scott Redding – P14

“We had so many difficulties. This morning I felt the front closing twice and I nearly crashed in the warm up. It was not a problem with the bike, but it was a lack of feeling between me and the bike. Early in the race, I felt pretty good but as the rear tire started to lose grip on left corners, it was really tough. I must say that I am satisfied with my season. I have shown I can make important results. Now I want to improve.”

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Jack Miller – P15

“This is not the result I wanted but I struggled right from the beginning of the race with a full fuel load, I just couldn’t push as hard as I wanted. The guys ahead got a gap and by the time I got some pace mid-race it was too late. Towards the end I struggled with wheelspin and also the downshifts into turn one. But I’m happy to bring it home in the points and go to the test on Tuesday and try some new parts for next year.”

Jack Miller at Valencia - Image by AJRN
Jack Miller at Valencia – Image by AJRN
Eugene Laverty – P16

“We just missed out on the points. I wanted to get fifteenth on the last lap with Miller but I was just lacking a bit of pace. It has been a great two years with the Aspar Team and I wanted to finish on a high. We tried our best this weekend and even though the result wasn’t our best one I think we can be happy with our effort. I think thirteenth place in the championship is quite respectable, if you look at the points we have scored compared to last year, and the fact we have finished above two GP15 Ducatis. As a team we can be proud; we improved from last year and that’s always the aim.”

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Tito Rabat – P17

“My priority was to not crash and finish the race so it has been a positive end to the season for me, I have learnt a lot. I had good feeling after a couple of laps and was able to make a good pace but as the tyres went down I lost some feeling. But I had a good battle with Kallio, Baz and finally Laverty and we touched a couple of times in the final laps. But I stayed calm and confident and understood where I can make improvements in the future. Now I’m looking forward to the test here on Tuesday to begin preparations for next season.”

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Loris Baz – P18

“It was a really difficult race. In the first half I struggled with the front end, and then towards the end, it was the lack of grip on the rear what made things difficult for me. I also finished the race exhausted. Positive is that what we found yesterday seems to work. Anyway, we need to work so I can ride the bike without fighting in every lap. I’m looking forward to test on Tuesday and to start the new season. But I’m also ready to get surgery next month and be completely fit and ready for next season. My body is tired after this season and I need to start the next one in full strength. I learned one thing this year, and it is that being fast in the winter doesn’t count, the races are the important thing. I need to build my confidence and improve step by step before the championship starts in March at Qatar.”

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Dani Pedrosa – DNF

“It’s a shame about the crash. I started well and was taking things calmly since I didn’t feel perfectly good with the tyres. Unfortunately, after just a few laps, on the entrance to turn 2, without pushing, the rear stepped out, and at the same time I also lost the front and couldn’t avoid the crash. I don’t know what went wrong because I wasn’t riding at the limit. It was a pity not to finish the race, which was our intention. We’ve come to the end of a difficult year, but we’ll try our best to do better next season.”

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Yonny Hernández – DNF

“It is strange because all of my crashes have been the same. I was pushing hard, I was on the right line and when I let go of the brake I lost the front. It is a crash that has been repeated a lot this season. I was looking forward to finishing the race and the season with a good result. Now it is time for me to look ahead to next season and turning my fortunes around.”

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Cal Crutchlow – DNF

“I didn’t feel comfortable all weekend here in Valencia, we never seemed to get the right setting with the bike, although in the race I felt okay. After ten laps I settled into a rhythm and then I could start to push, but the front tyre pressure was way too high – higher than it had been all weekend. The tyre pressure went back down, but then I crashed out going over the limit of the package we have today. We have had an incredible season as a team, and I feel I’ve ridden well but I want to improve for next year. It’s bittersweet to end like this because we’ve had two fantastic wins and some great podium finishes. We’ve even had more wins than some of the factory riders, so that’s great! We have to take the positives from this season, and that’s them. The LCR Honda Team have done a brilliant job all year. It’s not been easy with our bike, even for Marc and Dani, but hopefully when we start testing on Tuesday and Wednesday it will be the start of new things to come with the Honda.”

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Mika Kallio – DNF

“Basically the start was more or less okay then I tried to choose a good line in the opening few corners and I think I gained a few positions. I was where I expected to be and I was fighting with the other guys in my group. I managed to stay on course in the first laps and this was positive, and I could also see the difference between my bike and the others – where we are okay and where we need to improve. After six laps I felt something happened on the bike going into the corner. I opened the throttle, the power went down and there was no acceleration. It seems there was a sensor problem and this affected the electronics and the controls. The rear tyre started to spin and the grip went down fast, so riding became more complicated and the other riders started to pull away. It was a shame because it would have been good to see what we could have done. Anyway up to the point we had the problems the feeling was good. I’m just disappointed we didn’t finish the race.”

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Luigi Dall’Igna – Ducati Corse General Manager

“Andrea Iannone’s race was really great and exciting and his podium was for sure the best way to say goodbye to us. Andrea raced with his heart in his final outing with Ducati and I want to thank him because, in the four years we have been together, he has helped us to improve a lot and arrive at our current level. I’d like to wish him all the best for his new adventure. It was a pity about Dovizioso, because I think that even he could have fought for the podium today, but in any case Andrea showed that he was really competitive this year, especially in the last few races, and he finished the championship in a good fifth place.”

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Lin Jarvis – Managing Director, Yamaha Motor Racing

“Taking the MotoGP Team Title for the second time in a row is a proud moment for us and a testament to our riders’, team members’, sponsors’, and technical partners’ hard work and the strong teamwork we have formed. I want to thank all those involved for their commitment and energy, and this also includes the fans and spectators, whose support is the driving force behind all our racing efforts as we strive to make motorsports exciting and fun for fans all around the World. This Team Title is the perfect conclusion to our nine-year run with Jorge which included seven years together with Vale during which we won five Rider Championships and five Team Titles including four ‘Triple Crown seasons’. It has been a very exciting and successful chapter in Yamaha’s racing history and I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and wish him all the very best for the future.”

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Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“It’s a great pleasure to celebrate Yamaha taking the Team’s World Title again for the second year in succession. To come out on top after such an interesting year with a strong field of riders, many winners and a high-pace throughout the season says a lot about our team’s strength, consistency and performance level. Saying goodbye to Jorge is a very emotional experience for the team, he has been part of the Yamaha family for nine years and Valentino has been riding alongside him in the same blue colours for seven of those seasons. Successfully defending our Team Title is the perfect way to sign off those incredible years together that have led to many memorable experiences. I want to take the occasion of the final race of the season to thank the entire team for the amazing job they have done this year. The Team Title reflects their dedication throughout the season. Lastly, I want to thank all sponsors and also the fans, because this achievement is something we can all take pride in. Their support and enthusiasm for the sport make all our victories, podiums and titles more meaningful.”

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Satoru Terada – Suzuki Project Leader

“With this race we finished a two-year period that took us back to the MotoGP™. First of all, I want to say thank you to our riders, to the team and to the engineers in Japan. They all contributed to develop the bike that now we see so competitive. Last year we had some struggles in making the machine well-performing, and this made the riders’ job even harder, but they trusted in our project and helped us to improve. In winter, at the beginning of 2016, we finally succeeded in delivering major improvements; a better-performing engine and the seamless gearbox, together with continuous improvement in chassis, set-up and electronics. This allowed us to get the first victory after less than two years, plus three podiums. This is an incredible result we are very proud of. Now Maverick and Aleix are leaving, and tomorrow we will welcome two new riders, starting a renewed challenge. Our commitment is to deliver them a more-performing machine, to continue and even improve the positive path we have started in the last part of the season, and so hopefully we will achieve even better results that can make proud all Suzuki fans, and us as well.”

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Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager

“The final result in the race was not the best we could achieve, but both riders got a positive result and this makes the weekend a positive one. I still remember when we were here racing in 2014, our very first race after many years, and we were struggling so much; where we are now is an incredible result. We have made huge steps of improvement in these two years, and we must be very proud of our job. Of course, a big part of the cause is the two riders; Maverick and Aleix did an extremely good job with us, allowing us to improve the machine so much and also bringing us amazing emotions, with top qualifying, podiums and also a victory. I must say thank you to them, and also I want to mention the two crews that worked with them as well as all engineers. We can be proud of what we’ve achieved in these fantastic two years. Tomorrow we will start a new adventure with two new riders, it’s going to be an interesting challenge, but I feel confident with the package we have; they will find a performing machine, which can be still improved but which is also a very competitive base to start work on.”

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Romano Albesiano – Aprilia Racing Manager

“We finished a very important season for Aprilia. We brought our MotoGP bike to its début, taking it to the races straight away and developing it throughout the season. For the past few rounds our level has allowed us to stay consistently in the top ten, which was our goal. The bike has grown and the racing department with it. We are a strong and motivated team that still has potential for growth. In addition to everyone on the team, I particularly wish to thank our riders, who believed in our project and who have earned our respect. I wish Stefan and Alvaro all the best and now we will already begin thinking about next season, which will start in a few hours”.

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Fausto Gresini – Aprilia Team Manager

“Analysing the season, the first goal was to get through all the races without any technical issues keeping us from finishing, which is not a given for such a fledgling project. We demonstrated our potential to our rivals, growing consistently. We have a long road ahead, but we are moving in the right direction. We are proud of the results achieved and my thanks go to everyone: to Aprilia who has always given 100%, as well as to the team at the track and the riders. After such strong emotions, it is already time to reset and restart, with an even stronger desire to show what we are capable of achieving”.

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Michael Bartholemy – Marc VDS Team Principal

“A very difficult race for both our riders today and the result is a little disappointing because I was hoping for a better result for Jack. The main positive from today was that Tito made the same lap time as Jack and the riders in front of him. This was impressive considering he had struggled for pace all weekend.”

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Pit Beirer (KTM Motorsport Director)

“Despite the outcome, in principle I’m still satisfied because we understood the task, and nothing happened that we had not reckoned with. But what was extremely good to see was how the team reacted, because on Friday we simply didn’t have the speed that we had in the last test three weeks ago. They reacted overnight and prepared the bike so that Mika had a good feeling, times improved and we had the basis for the race today. In the race, the distance from the front was more or less okay. By that I mean we had no reason to be pleased but also none to be unhappy. Realistically speaking we are where we should be. I was happy with the way the team worked together. KTM is a family and no-one in the team is unhappy because we understand how difficult it is to be part of this elite class.”

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Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP)

“I’m really satisfied although it is clear it is not the outcome we wanted. But that doesn’t have anything to do with how well the team worked. Everybody made a real effort but when we are racing there was an occasional weak point and this was very clear, because it was the first time we had experienced a race weekend. Our wildcard entry was simply an important test for the next season. Mika was able to stick with the riders in his group in the first laps, and he did so right up to when the problem emerged. What is annoying is that we did the full race distance in tests. It was really a very small fault in a part that hardly costs anything, but it is a strong signal to everyone on the team that every single piece on a MotoGP bike must work perfectly.”

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Mika Kallio – Image by Sebas Romero
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP)

“As far as the reliability of the bike is concerned, except for the race, everything was without problems. But what counts was the painful learning curve of today. In principle we were satisfied with the performance here, and with the reliability, right up to the incident today.”

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Mika Kallio – Image by Sebas Romero

Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of Michelin MotoGP Programme

“This has been a very good weekend for us and we are extremely satisfied with the results we have achieved. We brought one of the new profile front tyres that we have for 2017 here this weekend and all the riders tried it, with many of them choosing to use it during the race. This is a clear indication that we are heading in the right direction for next year and the riders are happy with what we have to offer. Today we saw the lap-record and race record broken and yesterday the overall track record was surpassed, this also happened at the first race of the season at Qatar and at Misano, we are pleased to have gotten these results as it demonstrates that the progression has been throughout the season and not at just one race. We know we still have a lot of work to do and that starts on Tuesday with the first test for 2017. Overall we are quite pleased with how everything has gone in 2016, we have had issues to overcome and we believe we have faced up to all challenges and tried to find solutions for most eventualities. The whole Michelin team has worked very hard and I would like to thank them for their professionalism and dedication and we all look forward to more success next year.”

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