2016 Catalunya MotoGP Press Conference
Just ahead of Thursday’s press conference for 2016 Catalunya MotoGP, contract news surfaced for two riders – Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro.
As for two-time MotoGP Champion Marquez, the 23-year-old Spaniard will remain will Repsol Honda through 2018, continuing the relationship that began in 2013, his title-winning rookie year. “Like I always say, my heart is in Honda and it was the best option and the best feeling,” Marquez says.
The other contract headliner, current Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pilot Pol Espargaro, revealed he would join Bradley Smith on the KTM project for the 2017/2018 MotoGP Championships: “This MotoGP war isn’t easy, but first we have to finish this year with Tech 3 and go to Suzuka to try and win again. Then the new project comes.”
Besides Marquez and Espargaro, four other riders were present Thursday at the press conference: current points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP); Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi; Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar); and Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team).
Lorenzo arrives at his country’s track with a 10-point lead over Marquez. The three-time MotoGP Champion has finished on the podium at five out of six rounds so far, including three wins. He enters Catalunya MotoGP after a two-race victory streak.
“This year is the most close the championship has been for a long time. Four bikes, four factories with clear options to win races. I don’t think we’ve seen this in the last 20 years even. A lot of riders with very competitive pace,” Lorenzo says.
Marquez also responded to the closeness of the racing: “Before the start of the season it was really difficult and our target was to arrive here in Montmelo maybe 25 points behind him but we arrive only 10, so happy with this.”
Third in the points battle, 37 behind Lorenzo, is nine-time World Champion Rossi. He was forced to not finish two weeks ago at Mugello due to mechanical issues, huge white clouds of smoke pouring from his YZR-M1.
Rossi confirmed there were issues with the rev limiter that caused the DNF: “In motorsport it’s always like this, it’s always electrical or a part that’s just a dollar! In Mugello with the hill and the jump at the end of the straight, a lot of RPM, it looks like the rev limiter isn’t precise like last year and with the small jump on the hill maybe the RPM goes too high and breaks the engine. It was a great shame. I hope it doesn’t happen again!”
Both Espargaro brothers live near the Catalunya Circuit just outside of Barcelona. Aleix was the first to speak, his future not looking to bright for another contract with Team Suzuki Ecstar: “Last weekend was quite difficult for me, I realised I wasn’t as important in Suzuki as I think. In Mugello we started to think to maybe move to another team. We’re still thinking because I’m not sure I will continue in Suzuki, I will try to go somewhere they really love me and really want me.”
His brother Pol, on the other hand, knows what’s in store for the future with KTM: “Right now they are building everything, the team, the mechanics and even the bike. I’m looking forward to going there and seeing how they work. Where they go they win and we will try to repeat what they’re doing in Moto3.”
After a rough few rounds, including three DNFs, Ducati’s Andrea Iannone redeemed himself at Mugello with a third-place finish: “Now this is a new weekend in Barcelona and I like this track a lot, in the past I won 125 and Moto2 races. I think we have the possibility to fight for the top in all the races, this is the priority.”
Marquez was also present at the KISS Barcelona event, now in its third year at the track. Marc Marquez is an FIM Ride Green Ambassador and will help to promote best environmental practices among all the motorcycle fans. The Catalan GP will also feature a KISS Stand where fans can go learn about the environment and the various initiatives carried out in Catalunya. Marquez’s signature will also feature on special KISS re-usable cups sold at the circuit throughout the weekend, MotoGP reports.