OCTO British Grand Prix: Pre-event MotoGP press conference
The Octo British Grand Prix has kicked off at Silverstone Circuit, as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Eugene Laverty (PULL&BEAR Aspar Team), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and recent winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) gathered for the Pre-Event Press Conference. As always when the paddock returns to England, talk largely centered around the pivotal and changeable Great British weather – with the forecast looking like it could throw up some surprises over the course of the different sessions. That could make the race an interesting one as the Silverstone circuit can punish mistakes in the setup, and less track time in the same conditions as the race can always prove a talking point.
Championship leader Marc Marquez was the first to speak in the press conference, and the Spaniard immediately tackled the subject of the weather. “I hope Sunday is like today,” smiled the points leader after an afternoon in the sun at the Day of Champions. “On this circuit in the dry I feel good, every year I’ve been competitive. I know Jorge is fast too but we’ll focus on us, in our garage. If it’s wet, then we’ll try and manage how we have in the recent races.”
Marquez and defending champion Lorenzo are the only two men to have won in the dry since the British GP returned to the track in 2010 – Lorenzo 3 times and Marquez once – and as such each is the only man to have beaten the other in the dry at Silverstone. With such a good record for Movistar Yamaha rider Lorenzo especially, the Mallorcan is confident in the dry and looking to find some more solutions to his lack of feeling in the wet, if the race turns out to be so.
“From the beginning in 2010, I felt very good here,” explained the reigning champion, who took victory in 2010, 2012 and 2013 at the British GP. “Last year in the rain I was fourth – but not so far from the win so it wasn’t a bad race. Silverstone is a good track for the Yamaha, and I think also for my riding style. Very long and with different corners – so let’s see if this year with the Michelins and the new electronics we can be as competitive as in the last few years. I think we have potential to win in the dry, and little by little we’ll focus on improving my feeling in the wet.”
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) overtook Lorenzo into P2 in the title chase last time out in Brno, but the Italian has had more difficult races at Silverstone than his key title rivals. In 2015, the rider from Tavullia took a stunning victory in the wet but regardless hopes for a dry race in the UK; taking aim at the podium. “This track is one of the most difficult for me during the season,” explained the Italian legend. “In 2010 I wasn’t here, it was difficult with Ducati and the feeling with the track wasn’t fantastic – but it’s getting better year by year. Last year the victory was good but it was in the rain, and in the dry Marquez and Lorenzo were faster than me. So we need to understand the track and the secrets. In the last years I was always quite strong in the wet, but personally – like the majority of the riders – I prefer the dry. Also because it’s more fun!”
With two Independent Team winners already in 2016 with Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) in mixed conditions in Brno and Assen respectively, opinion was split amongst those present as to whether they would prefer dry or wet conditions.
“I like England because I got my first win here,” explained Independent Team points leader Hector Barbera, “but I also love Silverstone. Maybe in the wet it would be easier for Independent Team riders…so maybe wet would be better for us. But I have more confidence in every race as my confidence is coming back, and I think nowadays I’m a faster rider.”
PULL&BEAR Aspar rider Eugene Laverty, who recently announced his return to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship for next season, was another Independent Team rider whose best interests were invested in the wet. “Brno was great, to just be a few seconds behind Marc and in sight of the podium was fantastic,” says the Irishman of his wet weather exploits in the Czech GP. “So here I want it to be wet, because you never know what could happen. This is one of my favorite tracks in the UK, it seems to suit my riding style and combined with the Ducati engine I think we can be strong.”
Cal Crutchlow, who won the last race out in the wet and is also an Independent Team rider, was the man to disagree and side with his factory counterparts. “Hopefully this weekend we can get a good result,” smiled the Englishman. “This year there are a lot of people who can be competitive in wet and dry…but I hope it’s dry. Everyone thinks now I want a wet race but I really hope it’s dry!”
Crutchlow had another occasion to celebrate after the recent birth of his first daughter ahead of getting his first MotoGP™ win in Brno – a first British win for 35 years – but the Brit explained that there hasn’t been a party: reality is definitely back ahead of his home round.
“I came back to reality when I had to go home and feed the baby!” grinned the LCR Honda rider. “No partying, with the test the day after the race in Brno too…but I’ve turned up here at Silverstone and it seems created a lot of chaos after the win! It’s fantastic for the riders and the championship to see so many people coming to the race.”
Moto3™ head the line up as they head out on track at 9am (GMT+1) on Friday morning for FP1, before MotoGP™ follow soon after as the track action gets underway in the Octo British Grand Prix.