The 2014 MotoGP Championship headed directly to Australia’s Phillip Island following last weekend’s Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi.
The Australian GP is the second of three back-to-back rounds, a grueling stretch that challenges both the minds and bodies of the riders. But during the traditional pre-race conference held Thursday at Phillip Island, nothing was phasing the Spaniard who clinched the 2014 MotoGP title at Motegi.
This man – 21-year-old Repsol Honda pilot Marc Marquez – has won 11 of 15 rounds, and has much confidence ahead of Phillip Island.
“I feel really good, less pressure, more free. The championship is done, but you are more tired after all the commitments and everything. Of course you can enjoy it a lot after winning a championship and the confidence is high,” Marquez says.
“On Sunday night we celebrated with the team, a dinner with the Japanese staff and then just with the team. Phillip Island is a special place and it is one of the best circuits we come to. It is really nice to ride here.”
Marquez was joined at the conference by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, Monster Energy Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, and the two riders vying for the Moto3 Championship, Marquez’s younger brother Alex Marquez and Jack Miller.
Lorenzo arrives in Phillip Island as the victor of the last two rounds, and favors Phillip Island.
“For me it is always a pleasure to come here. Not only Phillip Island but to be in this wonderful country. I love the cities Melbourne and Sydney and the area around Phillip Island is fantastic. It is my favorite place we come to,” the Spaniard Lorenzo says.
“We just needed to put the pieces of the puzzle together. We are competitive now and strong. It is not going to be easy to keep winning races, because there are four riders in very good shape. But our level is high.”
Dovi took the pole at Motegi last week – the second of his premier-class career. The Ducati GP14 performed extremely well at Motegi, and the Italian is hoping for the same at Phillip Island.
“We are so happy, especially for the pole position, that is something special. The weekend in Motegi was good we were fast in every practice. We are getting closer and closer. In the race in the early laps we were with the front group,” Dovizioso says.
“We have to focus on the positive things. Last year we were far behind and now we are close to the podium. I am excited for the project next year. We tested here at Phillip Island last winter and our lap time was close to the fastest rider.”
As for Smith, he finished ninth in Japan: “I believe what we did in Motegi was respectable, third position in terms of the satellite bikes. I was pleased with the outcome of the weekend.”
He then discussed his second year so far in the premier class: “Our championship position doesn’t look outstanding. But sometimes the table doesn’t tell the whole story. Our performance level has been better than last year. Some of these guys alongside me here are taking the championship to a higher level and we have to keep up with that. I am comfortable with the M1 but there are still some techniques which I continue to learn.”
The younger brother of Marc Marquez – Alex Marquez – is the current Moto3 points leader. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 pilot is all about focus: “I am focused on winning the championship. We have a good package and three races to go. I will ride in the same way as I have done all through the year and try to treat them like normal races. We need to go race by race, try to win all the races and try to be competitive.”
But Alex will have much challenge from the home favorite, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miller. With three rounds remaining, Miller is 25 points behind.
“To come to the home race it couldn’t have come at a better time after two difficult weekends. We have been competitive at those last two rounds but it hasn’t quite come together in the race. There are 75 points to be won and we need to try and close the gap,” Miller says.
Earlier in the day a group of World Championship riders were given a surf lesson by Phillip Island local surf school ‘Island Surfboards’ at Smith’s Beach. The riders learning to surf included Pol Espargaro, Stefan Bradl, Yonny Hernandez, Broc Parkes, Ant West, Ricky Cardus and Brad Binder, MotoGP reports.