Hayden & Rossi Highlight Laguna Seca MotoGP Press Conference
2013 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix Press Conference
Ahead of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, many of the series’ top riders were present Thursday for the traditional pre-race press conference.
Speaking before the press were the current MotoGP points leader, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, along with Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi and NGM’s Alex de Angelis, who is substituting for the injured Ben Spies in the Ignite Pramac Racing Team.
For American fans, the biggest news was arrived from Hayden, the 2006 World Champion (Repsol Honda). The “Kentucky Kid,” who won at Laguna in 2005 and 2006, reported this will be his last season with Ducati.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP13 MotoGP) says: “The first couple of years here went to plan, and especially the first year was a dream. We’re not coming here in our best moment, but hope to do something good before the summer break. I’m not coming back to Ducati in MotoGP™ next year – I’m not really sure what I’m going to do. I’ve got some options that are interesting.”
Hayden was then asked about his options, and he joked “I’m not sure Repsol Honda’s going to come and knock on my door. Of course MotoGP is where my heart is, but I’ve got to weight up the options. Unfortunately results haven’t gone as planned over the years, but it is what it is.”
Hayden’s fellow American Edwards said he was also uncertain about his future, and said, tongue-in-cheek, his team should sign Hayden and make a “Team America.” When asked about his progress of his team, Edwards says “It seems like step-by-step we’re getting there. In Barcelona Bridgestone brought a rear tire I like and we’ll have the same here, which I like. I don’t have anything either [for next year], but the team is working on something which should improve performance [verbal agreement for Yamaha engine lease].”
Edwards, the oldest rider in MotoGP, was also asked about his motivation to stay with the class. His response? “I love poppin’ wheelies!”
Next was the 20-year-old rookie Marquez. The Spaniard is coming off his second win at Sachsenring, which propelled him to the points leader. Marquez, who is two points ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, spoke about Laguna Seca’s tricky layout.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “I expected less blind corners. It looks like a very different track, but we’ll see on the bike. Especially the banking corners will be interesting.” And responding to questions about how he felt about being the championship leader, he added: “For sure it’s good for the show, but it’s quite close. Only 37 points back to Valentino in fifth.”
As for nine-time World Champion Rossi, he is known at Laguna for his famed battle with Casey Stoner and 2008, and his pass at the Corkscrew. VR46 took his third podium of the season at Sachsenring (third), and is still riding momentum from his win at Assen. Rossi also spoke of Laguna’s layout.
Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “I like the circuit a lot. It’s special and different. In the past it has not been one of my best circuits, except in 2008. Sachsenring was a good weekend for me, but on Sunday I was not fast enough, so here we need another step. We need to understand the level of Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo] – me and Cal are not so far, but we are a step back.”
Crutchlow, who suffered some heavy crashes at Sachsenring MotoGP, will be looking for yet another podium finish at Laguna Seca.
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “It’s been a good first half of the year, and without my crash in Barcelona it would maybe have been even better. Last time out in Sachsenring was a strong result, and I hope to keep that momentum going.” Regarding his fitness he said: “After the crash I felt quite sick, and every time I’ve eaten since I’ve felt quite sick. So I’ve had some more checks, but everything is recovering quite well.”
De Angelis was happy regarding to opportunity to ride for the injured Spies aboard the Pramac Racing Desmosedici.
Aleix De Angelis (Pramac Racing Ducati GP13 MotoGP) says: “This is a great chance for me, but it will be a very hard weekend! Thanks to Ducati for calling me, and thanks to NGM for the chance. It is special to work with Ducati, and my aim will be to improve my lap time ever time I’m on track.” He had some time on the bike previously in Misano, and commented: “It’s the fastest thing I have ridden in my life.”
MotoGP reports that the press conference was a light-hearted affair, with many questioning whether Marquez had secretly tested here at the track on a private bike. He responded a firm no, whether Crutchlow joked that if he is fastest early on, “we’ll know he was here two weeks ago.” Further adding to Marquez’s growing status among the experienced riders was Rossi’s advice to him about this weekend: “My advice to Marc is to go very slow this first year, learn the track, and then come back fast next year.”
Another amusing fact was the coincidence that the track doctor, who will be the one declaring Pedrosa and Lorenzo either fit, or unfit to race, is called Dr. Rossi. When asked about this, Rossi joked: “For me they are clearly unfit!” But added after that he was no relation, MotoGP reports.
For a preview of Laguna Seca MotoGP, click here.
Photos by Ara Ashjian