San Marino GP, Misano: Pre-event and MotoGP press conference round-up
After the classic Spurtleda 58 karting event got engines fired up ready for the Gran Premio TIM di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini on Wednesday night, a pre-event on Thursday morning gathered some home heroes together to enjoy some street art in the nearby town of Rimini. Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) were joined by Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Luca Marini (Forward Racing), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) and Sky Racing Team VR46 duo Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega to get creative and paint the town red – and a few other colours – with the riders’ murals then subject to a vote. The winning mural will then be the starting point for next year’s official poster for the San Marino GP, as the key inspiration for the 2017 artwork.
Later on Thursday, the pre-event Press Conference got underway at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli with a special ceremony led by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, as it was announced that the number 58 was to be retired from racing in tribute to the former 250 World Champion Marco Simoncelli. Simoncelli, who sadly lost his life in 2011 at the Malaysian Grand Prix, was from nearby Coriano and the Misano World Circuit also bears his name.
After the number was retired, talk returned to the upcoming Gran Premio TIM di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini – with weather again proving a talking point due to its expected differences to the previous round at the British GP. After Silverstone saw track time limited with differing conditions, the weather in Misano looks to be dry and warm – and consistent.
Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was the first to talk, looking back at Silverstone before talking Misano – with a new front tyre from Michelin proving a novelty for the San Marino GP.
“Of course Silverstone was not the best final result, but we lost only 3 points and I’ve still got 50 points of advantage,” said Marquez, who eventually finished in P4 in the UK. “We’ll see, but here in Misano it looks like the weather will be more stable so we’ll work throughout the weekend as always. Michelin also have brought a new front tyre so that will be new to find the limit with that again.” The points leader pointed out the big differences between the two tracks, although doesn’t expect them to prove too damaging to his chances of repeating another charge for the podium. “Misano is a completely different track compared to Silverstone, everything is tighter and smaller…there are hard braking points and three hard points of acceleration, but it looks like we can manage that better now, so we will see…”
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) comes into his home GP – with his hometown Tavullia only a stone’s throw from the track – fresh from another podium in Silverstone and feeling good, ready to enjoy the sea of yellow-clad supporters sure to invade the venue over the weekend. “This race is something special for me and other riders from this area,” said the 9-time world champion. “Here, you can feel the taste of motorcycling. It’s a good atmosphere with a lot of fans and people…I can’t wait to start. We’ll see. There’s a lot of differences to Silverstone, the track is much tighter. But the weather seems like it will be better and we’ll have more time to work and choose the tyres; to make the right choices for Sunday. We arrive from a good moment with two podiums in a row, but it will be important to get underway well on Friday, because last year I struggled a lot and wasn’t in contention for the victory.”
With Marquez having won in 2015, a DNF for Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) proved one blip on the record of the reigning champion at the track. Lorenzo had a difficult race in Silverstone, but counts on a good record going into the weekend as he looks to get back in the fight for the victory. “This track has been great for me historically, even in 2008 -also with Michelin – when I was down on confidence I was on the podium,” said Lorenzo. “Then I had three victories in a row and last year is the only year I’ve been off the podium or out of the race. We’ll see if we can be at the same level as we have been in the last seven years. This year you don’t know what’s going to happen for the next race…so let’s see how we are here. Marc has been very consistent this year and there’s only 6 races to go, but until it’s mathematically impossible you still have a chance. We don’t think about the championship though, we think about getting back in the fight for the victory.”
Also present was winner last time out Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), fresh from his historic win in the UK, which was his first and the first for Suzuki since 2007. After a difficult race in Misano in 2015, Viñales hopes everything learnt in Silverstone can get the team off to a good start a year later. “I hope we can bring all the positive things we learnt in Silverstone to here,” said the British GP winner. “Last year was a difficult race for us, so we hope we can improve. The victory was not only my victory, it’s the team too, so it’s really great for everybody. We did a test here before and felt great, and then the race here was difficult. But we will see if we can improve.”
As well as being a home race for many riders on the grid and throughout the lower classes, Misano is another home GP for mythical manufacturer Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who recently tested at the venue alongside his teammate Andrea Iannone in a Ducati private test, also has a good personal memory from the track and is hopeful his knee injury – twisting the joint during a crash at the private Misano test – won’t cause him any issues. “It’s a big race for Ducati and for me,” said the Italian. “I had my first race here in 2000 and won it so it’s a great place for me! We did a test recently but there were no competitors to check laptimes so we don’t know where we’ll be. I think the speed is there, we just have to work the best way to get ready for the race. I don’t think my knee will affect my riding style – we’ll see over the weekend but I don’t think it will be a problem.”
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), winner in Brno and on the podium in the UK, will also now have a special memory of Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, as the Brit makes his 100th GP start this weekend – although it wasn’t a statistic he had been aware of. “I didn’t know it was my 100th Grand Prix!” grinned Silverstone’s home hero. “But I’m really pleased and it’s great that it’s here in Misano. I’m excited and looking forward to it after a good weekend and a good battle in Silverstone. It’s nice to come here to Misano in good shape, so we’d just be happy with a strong weekend.” Crutchlow was more cautious than Marquez – who also rides a Honda – when looking ahead to the track itself. “I have a good feeling with my bike and the team at the moment…but I do think Misano will be a little more difficult for us.”
The next event of the weekend sees bikes on track, with Moto3™ heading the charge at 9:00 local time (GMT+2), before MotoGP™ follow them out soon after. With 6 races remaining and track time essential, the grid will soon be hard at work as they prepare for the Gran Premio TIM di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.