The 2015 Grand Prix of Argentina at Termas de Rio Hondo circuit officially got underway Thursday with the pre-race press conference.
Present during the conference were a few fan favorites – nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, two-time MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow, Aleix Espargaro and Yonny Fernandez.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Rossi has the championship points lead with 41 – one ahead of Ducati Team’s Dovizioso. The 36-year-old Italian won at Qatar, and finished third in Texas last weekend at one of his least-favorite tracks, Circuit of the Americas.
He began the conference by discussing his performance so far: “It is not very important to lead after just two races, but it is for sure the best way to start, especially because I have already won a race and that’s the best feeling. To have 41 points after Austin, which is a difficult track for us, is good. And now it’s the third Grand Prix, and on paper this track is better for the M1.”
Rossi then discussed the importance of front-tire wear at Termas de Rio Hondo, and the passion of the Argentine fans: “The passion of the fans is unbelievable, sometimes it is a little bit difficult, but it is great to see the popularity of MotoGP in Argentina.”
Next to talk was Dovizioso, who finished runner-up in Qatar and Circuit of the Americas – something that hasn’t happened for Ducati since 2010 (Casey Stoner). The Italian also spoke of his season so far: “What a start for us, it has been almost perfect with two second’s places meaning we are second in the Championship.
“The feeling in team is different, now we have a lot of energy to fight and to work in a right way to develop the relation in the right way, we know each other better. When the pace of the bike is good, everything changes, as you can work in a different way over the weekends.”
At the end of COTA MotoGP, Dovi’s bike, which was forced to run 22 liters instead of 24 liters of fuel per MotoGP rules, appeared to run out of fuel. When asked, he said: “We didn’t run out of fuel, we had a problem with the tank and we cant talk about it…!”
The reigning MotoGP Champion Marquez returned to his normal game in Texas, winning his third-straight race there from pole. He began the season off very un-Marquez like with a fifth, saying: “My worry was that after Qatar I needed to come back strong and get back in to the Championship race, and now we are only five points behind.”
Last season, Marquez took the win in Argentina ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa, who is currently sidelined due to arm-pump surgery. But he thinks more challenges will be present this year due to the progress of all other teams: “Last year I felt good here but this year, as we saw in Austin, everyone else has improved so we have to work hard to be at the same level.”
This will be CWM LCR Honda pilot Crutchlow’s debut in Argentina; due to injury, the Brit was forced to miss last year’s inaugural GP at Termas de Rio Hondo.
“It is great to finally be here for the GP in Argentina, we get such a good welcome when we come there are so many fans! Even though last year I watched it from home, it was one of the great Grand Prix of the year,” Crutchlow says
“I hope to make the most of Free Practice as I didn’t race here last year, and we are at a disadvantage. When I tested here there was no grip, so while its good I know which way the track goes, we still have a lot of work to do but I am looking forward to racing.”
Team Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro was next to talk in Argentina. He set the third-fastest lap at COTA, though his GSX-RR is drastically underpowered compared to the other prototypes. He thinks things can improve in Argentina: “We would have preferred a better placed finish in Qatar, but we took points, which is good when we suffer a lot on the straight. We are happy with the job we are doing but we need to work hard and we hope to closer and closer to the guys at the front.”
Pramac Racing Ducati’s Hernandez will be a crowd favorite; he is the first Columbian to ever compete in MotoGP, and will seek redemption due to crashing out in Austin: “I am so happy to be here, it is like a home race and I want to get in the top ten and make a good result for my fans and my people.”
Hernandez will wear an Argentine flag on his helmet during the weekend: “This is a special edition helmet for the race, as I feel at home here and it is especially for all Argentinians and Latin Americans.”
Free practice gets underway Friday in Argentina. For a preview of the race, visit 2015 Argentina MotoGP Preview.
MotoGP says that while the press conference was underway, runner-up in last year’s Moto3 Championship Jack Miller decided to take his CWM LCR Honda RC213V-RS out on to the Salinas Grandes salt desert in Jujuy.
The spectacular setting of the Salinas Grandes salt desert, normally a quiet and serene place, instead bore witness to the flame spitting power of a 250bhp motorbike as Miller rode his Honda RC213V-RS on the unique surface, MotoGP reports.
Located in Northern Argentina at 3,500 m above sea level, the Salinas Grandes is a large salt desert that spans over 6,000 square kilometers. Salt deserts and lakes around the world have traditionally been used for land speed record attempts over the years, but never before has someone attempted to ride a fully-fledged MotoGP bike on one, MotoGP reports.