Ahead of the penultimate round of the 2013 MotoGP Championship at Twin Ring Motegi, many of the series’ top riders spoke Thursday at the pre-race conference.
Present at the conference was the current MotoGP points leader, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, who was joined by Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, Avintia Blusens’ Hiroshi Aoyama, Tuenti HP 40’s Moto2 title contender Pol Espargaro and Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami.
But before these riders spoke, there was some good news for those out with injury. In Moto2, Marc VDS Racing’s Scott Redding, who broke his wrist during a practice crash at Sepang. was declared fit to ride. In MotoGP, LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl will make a return. The German broke his right ankle during a crash at Sepang.
All attention was immediately directed towards the 20-year-old rookie Marquez, who was disqualified at Phillip Island due to coming in a lap late on the mandatory change-of-bikes pit stop.
Regardless of gaining zero points at Phillip Island, he continues to lead the championship by 18 points. With two rounds remaining, Marquez can clinch the title if he beats Lorenzo by eight points or more at Motegi.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “Motegi will be another race and I hope it will be much better than Phillip Island. Confidence is high. We’ll see the weather here because it doesn’t look so good, but I look forward to riding here with a MotoGP bike.
“I said at Phillip Island that the most important thing is to get the title, but it doesn’t matter when. Jorge is closer now and did a very good race in Australia, but now we’ll see how we can manage the situation. We have two important races so I hope to be there fighting for victory or the podium.”
With Marquez out at Phillip Island, Lorenzo took the victory, which was the 50th of his career. He will fight for a third MotoGP title, but explained his YZR-M1 could struggle under heavy braking if conditions remain dry at Motegi, though rainy weather is predicated due to a typhoon in the area.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “Before the race, we almost had the championship lost. With one mistake from Marc and his team, we don’t have the championship in our hands – because it’s still very difficult – but we have another chance and we have to play our cards in the best way.
“The weather could play either in our favor or against us. It’s true that braking is not normally our strong point, but we have good corner speed and acceleration. We have won here at Motegi in the past and this year the weather could play in our favor.”
Lorenzo’s teammate, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, could assist in Lorenzo’s fight for the title.
Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “We are now more or less at the end, with two races left, and this championship has gone very quickly for me.
“Last weekend everything happened and I was able to do a good result and work well in such a strange race. We arrive here and I like this track. It is very difficult and so demanding for the body and bikes, especially under braking. It could be an issue if it is dry, but the weather doesn’t look fantastic and everybody is expecting wet conditions. We will have the chance to run in the wet; I don’t think it has rained this year since Le Mans, so we’ve been lucky all season and now it looks like this weekend we’ll pay a bit for the weather.”
Japanese CRT pilot Hiroshi Aoyama has struggled with injury all season, but will look to perform well before his home crowd.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Avintia Blusens CRT) says: “I was injured earlier in the season and was a little bit down, but my confidence is coming back race by race and physically I’m getting better. This is one of my favorite race tracks and I have had good results here in the past. It is not so easy with a CRT to keep up with the MotoGP bikes, but who knows what could happen with the weather. We will see where we can finish on Sunday.”
In Moto2, Espargaro regained the championship lead, and can possibly take the title this weekend from Redding. But Espargaro is happy to see Redding return to the series.
Pol Espargaro (Tuenti HP 40 Moto2) says: “I found Scott in the hotel and he said that he is okay. He has pain in the arm but he will try; that is good for the championship, for him and for the people following him.
“I was not 100% happy in Australia because, although we got first position in the championship it was not perfect without him being there, but this sport is dangerous, you have to be very careful and one mistake can win or lose you the World Championship. It was bad luck for him in Australia but I’m happy to see him here in Japan and to know that he will try tomorrow.”
Other local Moto2 pilot, Nakagami, hopes to finally make a podium this season while racing at home.
Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Teams “Sure, this is a big chance. I have been waiting for Motegi since before the season started and now I’m here. After the summer break we had four second places in four races and I was very close to my first victory. Here, as always, I will push 200-percent and hope to be on the podium and maybe on the top of it on Sunday. We will see.”
On Wednesday, Marquez, Lorenzo, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, Italtrans Racing Team’s Julian Simon and Hiroshi Aoyama, as well as Dorna Sports, got together at the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo.
They were made Sporting Ambassadors of the Spain-Japan Dual Year, marking 400 years of exchanges between the two countries.