The MotoGP season officially starts today with the entire squadron getting ready to throw the hammer down come Sunday. The riders, teams and crew are all set in Qatar for the first round of one of the world’s most intense motorcycle races at the Losail International Circuit. Some of the top riders gathered yesterday for the first press conference of the 2017 season.
Marc Marquez from the Repsol Honda team broke the silence with saying “It’s been a long winter…” Considering the dramas that most riders in the grid went through during all four pre-season testing sessions, the rest of the field would be probably agree with the Champion’s statement.
Joining Marc Marquez during yesterday’s pre-event press conference were Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales from the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP outfit, Jorge Lorenzo from the Ducati Team, Andrea Iannone representing Team Suzuki Ecstar and Cal Crutchlow from LCR Honda.
“It’s been a long winter but now we’re here! This preseason has been a bit better than last year, I’m happier and I feel more comfortable. I feel good with the bike overall. I look forward to starting the 2017 season with a good weekend. We’ve had some big changes, especially with the engine, but we’re still working hard to get the best setup – that takes time,” said Marquez in light of the pre-season testings.
When the spotlight moved to The Doctor, Rossi stated that “We have to try and stay in that front group coming from a difficult winter. We struggled to find the right setting and we have to work and try and improve – but I hope to be strong and competitive.”
The opposite could be said about the nine times World Champion team mate who’s new to the factory Yamaha M1 but was the fastest in all four pres-season testing sessions. Maverick Vinales explained that “At the moment it’s only been preseason but we’ve found a good setup in all tests, on all tracks. So we’ll just try to bring that into the season. We improved the bike a lot over winter! The riding style change from Suzuki to Yamaha isn’t so different.”
Jorge Lorenzo is probably going to be one of the most highlighted riders this year with his highly surprising move to the challenging Ducati and their Desmosedici. After having a few difficult testing sessions in trying to get comfortable with a brand new racing machine, Lorenzo added “It’s a new era for me so I’m really looking forward to starting. Step by step and little by little, that’s how the preseason has been going and here in Qatar we made a big step forward, but more on one lap,”
“So our main goal before the race is to improve the pace little by little. The first day in Sepang was a little bit of a shock because I was used to being competitive from the beginning and it takes time, but on the final day I made a big step and was quite competitive. Here in Qatar we’ve been much better so that makes me optimistic for the future.”
No more testing sessions. The switch has been flipped to “Race Mode” in preparations for the first and only night time race at the Losail International Circuit. The first Free Practice session starts tonight at 11.00pm (local time) with the Moto3 boys laying some rubber on the track all in the name of racing and speed. #2017StartsNow!
Image source: MotoGP