2o16 Mugello MotoGP Press ConferenceAfter four major MotoGP contract announcements this week – Andrea Dovizioso to remain with Ducati, Dani Pedrosa to remain with Honda, Andrea Iannone to join Suzuki, and Maverick Vinales to join Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha team – the 2016 Italian Grand Prix officially got underway Thursday at Mugello.Present were the reigning MotoGP Champion and current points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP); Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): Rossi, Vinales, Pedrosa, Iannone, and Danillo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati).
Lorenzo, who dominated in Le Mans, enters Mugello with a five-point lead over Marquez. He has only finished off the podium once at Mugello, and has earned five wins there.“There are tracks where you can find your limits or take more profit from your strengths. Mugello is obviously one of these and probably my favorite track where I have had the best results during these six or seven years starting in 2009 with second place and then with some victories and second places. But also the surface and layout of the track is my favorite with a lot of chicanes, it’s not only about the results but also about the way the track is done,” Lorenzo says.Lorenzo also offered further comment on his Ducati move, and his teammate, Dovizioso, who extended his Ducati contract through 2018.“A lot of movement during the last three or four days. I think it’s good to have Dovizioso as a teammate, for me he has always been a very clever and logical guy and I hear that he’s very good in testing the bike. But for me it would be OK that Iannone stays in the team, he’s very fast and his riding is very similar,” Lorenzo says.Marquez was next to speak – he won at Mugello in 2014, but crashed there in 2013 and last season.“Of course we know that we have another tough weekend ahead. Anyway, in Le Mans we suffered a lot but here OK, last year we suffered until Sunday, and then on Sunday we found something that was much better. We will try, we will try again to be there and see how the tires work here. After the mistake in Le Mans I want to come back with a great race,” Marquez says.As for contract news, Marquez is expected to remain with Honda, though the terms have yet to be meet: “Dani already signed a contract, I haven’t signed yet but I hope it’s close. Looks like we will keep the same team. I think it’s important.”As for Rossi, thousands of his home fans will head to Mugello to cheer on their beloved VR46. The 36-year-old Italian has nine wins in Mugello, making him the most successful rider there:“Always a special weekend and race here in Mugello. It’s one of the best and the atmosphere is always good. We have to try to be strong and competitive because in the last years I was never fast enough to fight for victory and I never had a good Qualifying,” Rossi says.Rossi, who won at Jerez two rounds ago, will also once again be part of the KISS Mugello campaign, which provides charity to local hospitals: “KISS is very interesting and we will sell the T-shirt for charity, for hospital in Firenze and try to keep Mugello sustainable and clean.”Pedrosa starts his 250th GP race this weekend, but first he discussed his contract news.“It’s true in the last two races there was a lot going on but finally it’s clear. Very happy because it’s been a long long career and I’m very happy to stay. It’s great news because the history is important and at this time with Repsol Honda we’ve been together so long and it gives stability and length. The future is looking good because we have a strong team and we’re always looking for the highest technology in the team,” Pedrosa says.“It’s true, 250 Grand Prix, it could have been even early because I missed some starts. Still it’s a high number and I’m surprised, in one way it’s positive and in another it reminds me that I’ve already done many races. But I still happy to still be here lining up with these guys.”Making major headlines today was Vinales, who after weeks of rumors signed with Yamaha to ride the 2017/2018 seasons. But he still has work to complete for Suzuki.“Finally I decided to move, to go to Yamaha factory and I think it’s a really important part of my career because I will grow up a lot. Finally I am really grateful to Suzuki because they trust me a lot and try to give me the best bike they can. They’ve done a great job,” Vinales says.With Dovi extending his Ducati Team contract, Andrea Iannone will move to Team Suzuki Ecstar for the 2017/2018 Championships.“After last week for me it’s a big, big change for me because for 2017 and 2018 I go to Suzuki. I’m very happy for this because I think it’s important for me to be the first rider in afactory and Suzuki show a good project. After four years it’s hard and in these four years I lived very great moments in Ducati and Ducati supported me from the beginning in 2013,” Iannone says.Iannone also revealed he did have an offer on the table from Ducati, but it was not to his liking.“I had the possibility to remain in Ducati but some parts of the contract didn’t satisfy me at 100%. I wanted to change some parts but it wasn’t possible and on the other hand I had a very good opportunity and proposal from Suzuki and for me at the end it’s better to come in this new adventure. But for now I want to focus at 100% in this season,” Iannone says.Last to speak was Petrucci, who returned from injury two weeks ago to complete his first GP of the year at Le Mans.“I only managed to stay up in the race, unluckily for the other riders there were a lot of crashes and I’m clear that if there weren’t a lot of crashes I would have been 12th. But my target was to finish the race because I missed a lot of time on the bike,” Petrucci says.“I miss all the riders because I enjoy a lot racing in MotoGP. I miss the riders, the paddock people, the mechanics and even the journalists! It’s like asking which is your favorite nightmare!”He even managed to see the funny side in his hand injury: “I have a weather forecast station with the hand getting more tense and some pain. But now I can say it won’t rain tomorrow because my hand is full of pain so tomorrow the weather will change so I have to focus on the positives of the injury!”The 21-rider grid will be on the Italian circuit at 9:55 a.m. local time just after the Moto3 riders finish their first practice.For a preview, visit 2016 Mugello MotoGP Preview – Lorenzo & YZR-M1 Clear Favorites.Photos by Alessandra Marovino