On the eve of the 2010 AirAsia British Motorcycle Grand Prix (18-20 June) Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta praised a ‘stunning’ Silverstone Circuit as the Northamptonshire venue officially opened its gates to Britain’s round of the MotoGP World Championship.
With 50,000 fans having purchased tickets in advance and excellent weather forecast for the weekend, Silverstone is gearing up for a bumper crowd with a range of tickets still available on the gate.
“We are delighted to be here at Silverstone”, commented Ezpeleta. “The sun is shining and the whole venue looks stunning. We are very impressed with all the work they have done and are looking forward to a fantastic weekend’s racing on the new circuit. The British fans are some of the most knowledgeable in the world and we expect a great atmosphere.”
Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said, “We’ve had a fantastic response to MotoGP coming to Silverstone. Advance ticket sales have been excellent, but anyone still wanting to come can turn up on the day and purchase tickets on the gate. There is space in the grandstands, so we have made arrangements for fans who have already purchased their tickets to upgrade on site.”
“This is the first motorcycle racing event to take place on the new circuit and it should deliver some spectacular racing. We’ve had a great crowd here today for Riders For Health’s ‘Day of Champions’ and, with 50,000 tickets already sold in advance, we’re expecting strong crowds over the next three days. A huge amount of work has gone into delivering this event and we can’t wait for it to start tomorrow.”
MotoGP Press Conference
Jorge Lorenzo may have arrived at Silverstone for the Air Asia British Grand Prix with a 25-point lead over Dani Pedrosa in the championship standings, but the Fiat Yamaha rider was quick to point out during the pre-event press conference that the championship is not something he’s thinking about at this point in the season.
Jorge Lorenzo says: “For me it’s better not to think about the championship and focus more on enjoying each race and improving my riding, because we know there are improvements to be had,” explained Lorenzo.
With Valentino Rossi missing from the MotoGP grid this weekend following his Mugello practice crash, Lorenzo’s will be the sole Fiat Yamaha on track this weekend at Silverstone, a track that is new to all the riders. The Spaniard thinks that his normal approach to practice, with long runs aboard his Yamaha M1, will give him something of an advantage when it comes to learning his way around the 5.902km circuit.
“I like to do a lot of laps in practice, which will help with learning the circuit, but we won’t be taking any risks tomorrow, as the track looks a little dirty at the moment. The track will clean up with each session, so the fast lap times will only come on Saturday. From a quick look around the circuit on a scooter the track looks very long and very wide, with lots of different types of tarmac, but I guess we’ll only see how it feels on the bike tomorrow during free practice.”
Lorenzo was joined at the press conference by Marco Melandri, Casey Stoner, Rizla Suzuki Team Manager, Paul Denning, and his closest championship rival, Dani Pedrosa.
Pedrosa proved with a flag-to-flag victory in Mugello that he has the form to be a contender for the win here in Silverstone, while the Repsol Honda RC212V has already proved to have something of a speed advantage over the opposition at some of the faster tracks this season. As it proved to be in Italy two weeks ago, this combination may well prove difficult for Lorenzo to defend against this weekend.
Dani Pedrosa says: “The last race was good for us,” declared Pedrosa. “With the bike we are improving little by little and we’ve had two good and two bad results so far this season. Hopefully this weekend will be another good one. This is a long track, without the short cut back the pits that we had in Mugello, so it will be important to make the most of each lap during practice and qualifying.”
A revitalised Marco Melandri will be looking to carry the momentum from Mugello into this weekend’s race at Silverstone. The Italian, who is currently lying seventh in the championship standings, seemed to find a set-up that suited his very precise riding style last time out at his home race. Melandri brought his San Carlo Gresini Honda home in a season best fifth place after a race long battle with Stoner and the LCR Honda of the leading privateer in the championship standings, Randy de Puniet.
Marco Melandri says: “It’s been a tough winter for me this year, because I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike, but after Qatar this started to improve,” said the Italian. “The bike was certainly better in Mugello, but I’m still not 100 percent happy. There are still improvements to be made and I hope we can continue to make them here at Silverstone this weekend. The track looks amazing and I hope we will be able to put on a good race for the fans on Sunday.”
Casey Stoner has had a difficult start to the season, with crashes in Qatar and Jerez. In Mugello the former World Champion struggled again, after a crash and then set-up issues lost the Ducati Marlboro rider valuable time during practice and qualifying.
Casey Stoner says: “We didn’t have the start to the season we wanted, but we thought we could be competitive at Mugello because it’s a track we’ve gone well at before. To arrive there and have problems like we did was a real shock to the system.”
Stoner bounced back in the race to take a hard fought fourth place, his best finish of the season so far, but the Australian needs to be back on the podium this weekend if he is to keep his championship hopes alive. Stoner is one of the few MotoGP riders to have raced at Silverstone before.
The Ducati Marlboro rider contested the British 125cc Championship at Silverstone in 2001, but was quick to point out during the press conference that this was on a very different circuit to the one on which he will race this weekend.
“I raced here nine years ago, but I think that there are only four corners still in use from that time with the new track layout. I certainly don’t think this counts as circuit knowledge, so it definitely won’t give me any sort of advantage this weekend.”
For Paul Denning, Team Manager of the UK based Rizla Suzuki team, the British Grand Prix is a big weekend indeed. The former racer said that, while it hadn’t been the start to the season that he and Suzuki were hoping for, he remained confident that the best was still to come from the much-improved Suzuki GSV-R.
Paul Denning says: “We made some big steps with the bike over the winter, but then we had some issues at the start of the season with Loris’ confidence in the bike and also with Alvaro’s injury. Where we are right now obviously stinks, but when the riders are both fully fit and confident then I think we can be up there. I’m not saying we’re suddenly going to start challenging Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa at the front, but the potential for much better results is definitely there.”
The Thursday of the British Grand Prix weekend is traditionally given over to the Riders For Health Day of Champions event, and that tradition was continued today at Silverstone. Thousands of MotoGP fans took advantage of the glorious sunshine to enjoy a packed schedule of entertainment at the circuit and to meet their favourite MotoGP stars, all of whom enthusiastically support this very worthwhile charity.