2012 Japanese Grand Prix
A few MotoGP stars met for the typical pre-race conference Thursday ahead of the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi, which begins a hectic triple header for the 21-rider grid.
Many of the series top riders were present, including points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing), and the man who trails him by 33 points with four rounds remaining, Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda). Also present were the returning Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda), Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden.
Lorenzo began the conference, citing the importance of racing with his head as the season nears its finale.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “These three races are going to be really important for the championship and for the points, and our goal is to keep in the same line as the whole championship; always trying to fight for pole positions, and for podiums and victories. This is my goal, and if it is possible to win the races I am going to try, and if not then podiums will be OK in the last four races.”
On Repsol Honda Team’s Stoner returning from injury and possibly taking valuable points away, the Mallorcan says: “This is something that you cannot control. If Casey is fast enough he can win, and can take points off both Dani and me. One thing we can control is our performance and this is what we will try to control over these races.”
Finally, discussing his chances at the Motegi track, Lorenzo says: “Normally here for Yamaha it is not so simple because we have some difficulties in acceleration, but we have good braking and corner entry, which are our strong points. Last year we made second place and finished not so far from Dani, and this year with the 1000cc we are a bit more competitive so we will try to be even closer.”
Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa, who has looked in scorching form recently, knows that he needs to continue this to stake a title claim.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “As I have said, it’s important to have fun and enjoy. We are doing good races and it’s good also for the team because we have been doing progressively better during the championship. We are just trying to do the same, to keep focused and to ride well.”
Stoner, keen to end his MotoGP career with some more wins, is rearing to go after a frustrating lay-off.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “Everyone has been asking me how the holiday at home was, but it’s certainly been no holiday. You’re lying up resting and you can’t really do anything, even training was difficult so keeping ourselves fit for when we did return was tricky. Obviously it’s really good to be back – it’s not the way I wanted to finish my last season with the injury and having to sit out some races and not having a shot at the championship. It was definitely pretty disappointing for us to get the result that we did but we’re here to do the best job we can from now until the end of the season. I feel good and fresh and we’ll have to see how I get on with the bike tomorrow. Having this much time off it could be tricky for the first day.”
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who is looking to consolidate fourth spot in the championship, says: “This track is good for my style and it will be really interesting to see how it will be with Yamaha. For sure Dani is really fast at the moment and especially at this track, but my goal is to try to be in the middle of the battle of Dani, Lorenzo and maybe Casey, I don’t know how fast he can be with his injury. I’m really confident and we have to start to be able to see our level.”
Completing the line-up was Ducati Team’s Hayden, who shortly before the race was diagnosed with having picked up another injury in his heavy Aragón crash.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP12 MotoGP) says: “Certainly I was lucky to get away with not having any more damage, but I did pick up another little injury in my wrist. My hand is pretty much healed but now I have this little issue. I have pretty good strength in it so hopefully it won’t be a big problem at this track. Motegi for me has never been my best track. It’s a track that I like but still I’ve never really got on well with it with the Ducati. Hopefully this year we’ll change it around a bit.”
For a preview of Motegi MotoGP, click here.