Italian GP, Mugello: pre-event press conference
The Gran Premio d’Italia TIM in Mugello officially got underway today at the Thursday pre-race press conference, where Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa was joined by Yamaha Factory Racing duo Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, as well as Ducati Corse General Manager Bernhard Gobmeier.
Pedrosa is the form man at present, having won the previous two races in dominant fashion, and hopes to continue that winning streak in Italy: “The last races went very well, and Mugello is a track I like to ride. I hope the bike is working well and I want to have a good weekend.” And with wet weather already forecast and Pedrosa having proven a newfound prowess in the wet, he said: “I did improve riding in the wet these last years. I have better feeling and am more confident, but still need to be focussed.”
Lorenzo on the other hand is in a different position, as he and his team look to make amends for the result in Le Mans: “It was a big disappointment in Le Mans. But this happens in a race, and it has been a long time since it happened to us. We have to accept it and look to the future with optimism. We didn’t expect to start the way we did in Qatar, but we also didn’t expect Le Mans. But I’m very optimistic and looking forward to racing here.” Speaking about the reasons why he had issues in Le Mans last time out he reiterated his lack of feel with the rear tyre, but said: “The tyre gave a different feeling, but the ‘scientific’ reasons are difficult to explain.”
Cal Crutchlow will be an outside favourite for the podium if his present form is anything to go by, with the Brit coming fresh off his first podium of the year: “I was pleased for myself and the team – we did a good job in Le Mans. It looks like it will be rain here again, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be fast. You don’t want it wet! But there’s nothing to say if it’s dry here I can’t finish second.” He also spoke about his right shin, which still has a break at the top, saying that it doesn’t hurt unless he touches it or runs on it, yet joked that his team manager Hervé Poncharal’s dog “helped” the healing process by jumping on it.
For Valentino Rossi this is arguably his biggest occasion in years, as he looks to impress his home crowd once more aboard the M1: “The first race in Qatar was great, but since then we’ve been struggling too much; we expected to be stronger. This weekend is something special – the crowd, the track! I have extra motivation to be up at the front. But we have to work more, as we need to increase my speed and my potential. Now in MotoGP you need to be 100% in all practices, and more than 100% in the race.” When prompted about whether he thinks that the current crop of riders is at another level he said: “For me it is not right to talk about the ‘next level’ – they are the ‘new model’. The way to ride the bike has changed a lot, and now you need to do different things, [adding with a wry smile] which is difficult for and ‘old rider’ like me.”
MotoGP™ rookie Iannone has endured a tough season so far, with the Italian not only getting to grips with the Desmosedici, but also suffering numerous injuries. He commented: “The first four races were difficult for me, first with the problem with my arms and then with my knee. But Dr. Costa has helped me a lot. Coming to MotoGP is a very big difference because of the big power, and the brakes are very different. At the start it was very difficult, but it is getting a bit easier now.”
German Gobmeier, who has been given the challenging task of turning Ducati’s fortunes around, gave an insight into the progression so far and the expectations he has ahead of the race at the team’s home track: “I am confident that we have improved. For sure we have pressure [at the home race], but on the other hand it’s motivation – motivation to excel here. I think it was clear to everybody it will be a hard task, and of course we have to catch up. But other teams are making progress as well. We are content, and are doing it step-by-step, but we can’t promise anything – except that that we are giving 100%.”
And speaking about rumours of a brand new bike being tested in Catalunya in just over two weeks time, he added: “No, I don’t know where these rumours come from. On the ‘lab bike’ we change things to try them out, and then we wait until we know a step has been made before bring it into a race.”