“Faster than last year”: riders ready to take on Silverstone
Pre-Event Press Conference kicks off the British GP as Round 12 is go
Ahead of track action on Friday for the Octo British Grand Prix, the Pre-Event Press Conference got the ball rolling at Silverstone, with Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) joined by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), a Union Jack-wearing Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) and Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten). Talk focused on the challenge of the long, fast Silverstone Circuit, and a few questions about the weather – as always when touching down for the British GP.
First to speak was reigning Champion – and Championship leader – Marc Marquez, who first debriefed Spielberg before talking Silverstone: a difficult but good track for the rider from Cervera: “Austria was a great race and I was at home on the sofa watching it again and it was really nice to watch! Dovi was really fast there, he had a bit more than me but we tried until the end and I was very happy to take 20 points there. But now we’re at Silverstone, and we had a good test at Misano before. Last year I was close to the podium so the target is to stay consistent and try and get on the podium. Weather is always a question mark here! This is one of the most difficult circuits on the calendar, it’s demanding physically, difficult to warm the tyres…but I felt good since I came here with a MotoGP bike in 2013. I know here can be a weekend where Maverick will be strong but I’ll try and work hard in the garage and get ready for the race on Sunday.”
Andrea Dovizioso, who moved up to second in the standings after his stunning Austrian GP win, agreed it’s a tough circuit – but says he thinks it’s a great venue: “It’s a wonderful track. It’s very long, difficult, a lot of lines and bumps…and the English weather! But it’s really nice to ride in MotoGP. Last year was a strange race but I think this year it will be different; I think we are more competitive. But let’s see, we’re going into the race very relaxed. I hope it can be as close as Austria again - when I watched it again at home I was more nervous then! But I think this weekend there will be more riders who can be fast. It’s a different story every weekend and we’ll have to see, but it looks like we’ll have good weather and there will be time to work with the bike.”
Next up it was Maverick Viñales, who won the race last year, and has some extra-special memories of the track: “It’s always really nice to come here, with great memories in the smaller categories and last year. It’s really important to start pushing 100% here and giving the maximum. Friday, especially FP2, will be very important to decide which direction to take with the tyres. It’s tough now but that only makes us stronger, and when good times come we’ll make the most of them. And it was great to do the test in Misano before coming to Silverstone.”
Key rival Dani Pedrosa agreed on the need to maximise track time – and is also raring to get out the blocks and down to work: “The last two races were quite good for me. We’ve been working a lot since the last test, so hopefully we can maintain the same level. We were testing a few days ago and the level is good. We’ll work from FP1, at this track it’s important to get laps because we don’t come here often. It’s long, wide and you need to learn the bumps. You need to get feeling with the track. Everything from FP1 will be important, qualifying is obviously an important point, the start…but we need to focus to try the tyres and understand which is best for the whole race and which for the laptime. More settings and laps are always useful.”
Then, of course, it being the British GP meant the UK was well-represented in the Press Conference, with last year’s polesitter and podium finisher Cal Crutchlow the next man to talk. He expects a tough challenge this season, but is looking forward to putting on a show for the crowd: “I always look forward to coming back to Silverstone, putting on the best show for MotoGP and for all the fans who turn up. Having Brits in all three categories is always good to give fans something to cheer about, and hopefully we can be up there too. I’ve had some good results here over my career but it’s not a circuit I like a lot – it’s bumpy, and I think I’d have to be very lucky on Sunday to overhaul these guys here. I think it will be a lot faster than last year but I look forward to being in the mix again and we’ll see what we can do.”
Compatriot Scott Redding also agrees it’s a great weekend for the home riders – and that track time is vital: “I always like to come back here to my home GP. I look forward to the weekend! From the first time out if the temperature comes up a bit or it rains…we have to use as much track time as we can. That’s the plan, just try and get everything dialed in and do the best we can, like always. It’s been a tough year but it kind of doesn’t show, I’ve put myself in good positions, we’ve struggled in some races but now we’ve been working differently - and I think that can help me in the next races.”
Finally, after announcing his move to MotoGP ™ with EG 0,0 Marc VDS next year, Tom Lüthi joined the Press Conference; full of excitement about moving up, but ready to fight the Championship fight in the intermediate class until the end of the year – against future premier class teammate Franco Morbidelli: “It’s great to sit here and next to all these guys, it’s like a dream come true. It’s amazing for me and I want to thank the team for giving me this chance! Now everything is fixed, the future is clear and I think it’s important to get it out my head again and focus on Moto2. Morbidelli isn’t unbeatable, so we have to keep it up, try and be in front for Valencia and the last race… and then start a new story!”
Test of new MotoGP™ bike swap procedure
Trial of new bike swap procedure to take place following MotoGP™ FP2
There are some small changes to Friday’s schedule at the Octo British Grand Prix: the MotoGP™ grid will test a new bike swap procedure for flag-to-flag races at the end of their FP2 session. Moto2™ FP2 will therefore begin ten minutes later.
After the chequered flag comes out at the end of MotoGP™ FP2, riders will return to pitlane and swap bikes using the new, trial system. They will then exit pitlane to do one more lap of the track, and may do a practice start on that lap.
This new bike swap process will have signs on pitlane indicating the point at which riders may turn in, and a new bike position for all teams. It will also include a mechanic with a lollipop whose sole task is to observe pitlane traffic during the bike swap and ensure his/her rider is released safely.
Rossi makes history: 300 premier class starts
Nine-time World Champion will become the first rider to hit the milestone
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) has broken many a record during his career, and at Silverstone it will be time to make history once again: the ‘Doctor’ will be lining up for his record 300th premier class start. No other rider in history has reached that number – and the rider from Tavullia shows no sign of slowing down.
The first time the ‘Doctor’ won in the premier class also happened on British soil, at the British GP in 2000. Then, the stage was Donington Park – and Rossi most certainly played the lead as he moved through from the second row of the grid to take his first victory. The British GP is at Silverstone this year – but then Rossi is a winner there, too.
His Silverstone win came in 2015, when the nine-time World Champion's speed at the venue in the wet was invincible – and he’s been becoming a bigger threat every year in the dry. After some tougher races in 2017 of late, the mission will be the same as always: points for the Championship as he remains very much in contention. But it will also be to convert the awesome winning record of Yamaha at Silverstone into more silverware – come rain or shine.
Valentino Rossi: “We go to Silverstone after a day of testing in Misano and I want to go back on track immediately to find out if we have been able to find positive solutions to improve our bike. Silverstone is a very fun and beautiful track but also very demanding. This track is very long and there are so many changes of direction at high speed. It‘s important to find a perfect set-up of the bike, in braking and in the fast corners. It‘s a really nice track for me and for my riding style. I want to do a good weekend and fight for the podium!"