The 2009 FIM MotoGP World Championship participants arrived at the Sachsenring circuit in Germany on Thursday, ahead of the ninth race weekend of the year, with the premier class riders returning to Europe after their visit to California less than two weeks ago.
In the official Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland press conference World Champion and standings leader Valentino Rossi was the first man to speak, as he, Dani Pedrosa, Chris Vermeulen, Nicky Hayden and Mika Kallio evaluated their 2009 experiences to date and offered their views on riding at the German venue.
Valentino Rossi Speaks…
"It is always a difficult track for me personally but I have had some good victories here in the past, one in the 250cc class, one in MotoGP in 2002 and two in a row with Yamaha more recently. In 2007 I made a mistake in the race and lost a lot of important points in the championship, but last year was good in difficult conditions. It was very cold and there was a lot of rain but arriving in second position was an important result."
Meanwhile, Repsol Honda’s ‘comeback kid’ Pedrosa, who finally returned to full form with victory last time out at Laguna Seca, referred to his dramatic crash in 2008’s German round.
Dani Pedrosa Speaks…
"I’ve also had some good times here. Last year especially was not the greatest moment! It is a track where things are tight, the lap times are very close between the riders, so you have to work very hard to get on the front row."
Having missed the chance to make his Laguna Seca debut last time out due to a nasty finger injury sustained in Assen, Pramac Racing rookie Kallio confirmed that he is ready to ride again. Having lost a significant portion of the finger in question he is unable to wear his wedding ring at present, but joked, "I didn’t plan it like that!"
"There is not much of the finger left, but it is better than it looks. It is not painful any more and if it starts to get uncomfortable when I’m on the bike I’m sure it will be ok with a painkilling injection," remarked the Finn.
Earlier in the day, several riders had the opportunity to hone their racing instincts in a kart competition held at the circuit complex.
MotoGP talents Marco Melandri, Andrea Dovizioso, Niccolò Canepa and Alex de Angelis were the headlining riders in the karting contest, split into three groups to include 125cc and 250cc stars.
The race between the top qualifiers from the three groups was won by Balatonring substitute rider Aleix Espargaró, with Álvaro Bautista and Dovizioso completing the podium.
Free practice at the Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland begins tomorrow afternoon at 1.55pm local time for the MotoGP stars, preceded by the 125cc category and followed by the 250cc class.