The stars of the MotoGP World Championship got together today for the pre-race press conference in advance of tomorrow’s start of the MotoGP season with the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and his teammate Valentino Rossi, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl were the guest of honor for the first pre-race press conference of the year.
Last year Lorenzo won the season opener and he starts the defense of his title at the same place – the Losail circuit.
“It’s always very important to start in the best way possible in the first race, as it gives you confidence for the next races,” Lorenzo said. “But the competition will be very strong. Marc [Marquez] has come from Moto2 and Vale [Rossi] is again in the Yamaha team. We are four or five riders that are favorites for the title. But there are three of four others that can also stay with us.”
After having his best ever season in MotoGP in 2012 and pushing Lorenzo all the way until the final race, Pedrosa will look to carry through his momentum into the season opener and start on the right foot.
“We did some good tests during the winter and I’m really exited for the first race,” Pedrosa said. “Really looking forward to the race. It looks like it’s going to be an exciting season. Fitness wise and general preparation - I’m ready to go.”
All eyes will be focused on Rossi as he showed during pre-season testing that he still has the speed to run at the front.
“I’m happy about my performance in the winter tests, as I was quite strong in Sepang and Jerez,” Rossi said. “I had some problems in Austin. But for sure the races are quite different from the tests. I like to ride the M1; I’m quite fast, but the level is very high. It will be a great motivation trying to raise my level and speed and fight for the podium.”
Bradl, who was the 2012 MotoGP Rookie of the Year, hopes to take his career to the next step this season and secure his first ever premier-class podium.
“I think every year in MotoGP is interesting and important, Bradl said. “I have one year’s experience, which is not so bad. I hope it’s going to be positive. I’m ready for the first race here. Our priority is to be constant and fast, and not loose time when the tire was older, which was my advantage last year. I think it’s possible yes [to fight with the factory riders]. It will be of course very, very, difficult. It will also be a challenge to be the best satellite rider. But we will try to play with the factory riders.”
Hayden is hopeful that Ducati can get turned around in 2013.
“It hasn’t been an easy off season, especially the first Sepang test,” Hayden said. “Since then we’ve improved, with weight balance and some things. The bike started to improve on corner entry. We know it’s not going to be easy, especially with these guys; and the level very high. But it takes time. I’m happy to start another season, and am starting to see some positives coming. There’s already been some big changes with personnel, but on the bike I’d say there haven’t been major changes. One little change doesn’t make the difference - it’s everything. Ducati’s built competitive bikes before - I have no doubt they can deliver.”
Hyped as the most exciting prospect to enter the MotoGP class for some time, Márquez will be looking for a successful debut under the floodlights.
“Sure I will be little bit nervous,” Marquez said. “Here will be the first time of many things. The first race in MotoGP. Tests are very different from a race in MotoGP. I don’t know how a MotoGP race is. I’ll try to enjoy it and do my best, and enjoy. From the beginning I felt good on the bike. I was a little bit surprised. From the team, Honda and Repsol I don’t have pressure, but the general expectation is quite big. With the experience Honda has it’s a big help for me.”
And about the possibility of him winning his maiden race, the youngster said: “Sure it will be so difficult. If you’re mentality is that [you can win the first one] it could be dangerous. But we don’t discard anything, as nothing’s impossible.”