2016 Misano MotoGP Press Conference

Dorna CEO and Paolo Simoncelli retire the #58 from racing
Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and Paolo Simoncelli retire the #58 from racing

Ahead of the traditional pre-race press conference at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, a special ceremony was held by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and Marco Simoncelli’s father, Paolo. As a tribute to the 250 World Champion, Marco’s #58 was retired. Simoncelli, who died following a crash at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix, was from nearby Coriano.

[Visit the Ultimate Motorcycling MotoGP Page]

Following this, the attention immediately turned to the San Marino Grand Prix, which is also a home circuit for nine-time World Champion who lives Tavullia. Unlike the mixed weather conditions at the British Grand Prix, where Maverick Vinales awarded Suzuki its first win since 2007, weather should be dry and warm throughout the three-day GP.

First to talk was Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez, who finished fourth in the UK. Heading into San Marino MotoGP, round 13 of 18, Marquez leads the points with 210, 50 ahead of Rossi and 64 ahead of the reigning MotoGP Champion, Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

“Of course Silverstone was not the best final result, but we lost only 3 points and I’ve still got 50 points of advantage,” says Marquez, who won at Misano last season. “We’ll see, but here in Misano it looks like the weather will be more stable so we’ll work throughout the weekend as always. Michelin also have brought a new front tire so that will be new to find the limit with that again.

“Misano is a completely different track compared to Silverstone, everything is tighter and smaller…there are hard braking points and three hard points of acceleration, but it looks like we can manage that better now, so we will see…”

Misano MotoGP: Simoncelli #58 Retired, Rossi Ready for Home Race
Misano MotoGP Press Conference

Rossi, who finished third at Silverstone, was next to talk. His fans will be out in full force, turning most of the area into a sea of yellow.

“This race is something special for me and other riders from this area. Here, you can feel the taste of motorcycling. It’s a good atmosphere with a lot of fans and people…I can’t wait to start. We’ll see,” Rossi says.

“There’s a lot of differences to Silverstone, the track is much tighter. But the weather seems like it will be better and we’ll have more time to work and choose the tyres; to make the right choices for Sunday. We arrive from a good moment with two podiums in a row, but it will be important to get underway well on Friday, because last year I struggled a lot and wasn’t in contention for the victory.”

Last year Lorenzo suffered a DNF, and he had a rough race at Silverstone, finishing eighth.

“This track has been great for me historically, even in 2008 – also with Michelin – when I was down on confidence I was on the podium,” Lorenzo said. “Then I had three victories in a row and last year is the only year I’ve been off the podium or out of the race. We’ll see if we can be at the same level as we have been in the last seven years.

“This year you don’t know what’s going to happen for the next race…so let’s see how we are here. Marc has been very consistent this year and there’s only 6 races to go, but until it’s mathematically impossible you still have a chance. We don’t think about the championship though, we think about getting back in the fight for the victory.”

Last week’s winner Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was also present. He hopes to replicate a similar performance at Misano.

“I hope we can bring all the positive things we learnt in Silverstone to here,” Vinales says. “Last year was a difficult race for us, so we hope we can improve. The victory was not only my victory, it’s the team too, so it’s really great for everybody. We did a test here before and felt great, and then the race here was difficult. But we will see if we can improve.”

Also present was yet another Italian, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who finished sixth last weekend at Silverstone. He suffered a crash and twisted his knee during some private Misano testing earlier this week, but will be hoping to entertain the Ducati home crowd.

“It’s a big race for Ducati and for me,” Dovizioso says. “I had my first race here in 2000 and won it so it’s a great place for me! We did a test recently but there were no competitors to check lap times so we don’t know where we’ll be. I think the speed is there, we just have to work the best way to get ready for the race. I don’t think my knee will affect my riding style – we’ll see over the weekend but I don’t think it will be a problem.”

Cal Crutchlow was next to talk. The LCR Honda pilot made history at Brno, becoming the first Brit to earn a MotoGP win since Barry Sheene in 1981. He also finished second at Silverstone before his home crowd, and begins his 100th GP start this weekend. That’s more than enough incentive for another podium.

“I didn’t know it was my 100th Grand Prix!” Crutchlow says. ”But I’m really pleased and it’s great that it’s here in Misano. I’m excited and looking forward to it after a good weekend and a good battle in Silverstone. It’s nice to come here to Misano in good shape, so we’d just be happy with a strong weekend. I have a good feeling with my bike and the team at the moment…but I do think Misano will be a little more difficult for us.”

The riders will be on the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli Friday for the opening two free practices. The track goes hot at 9 a.m. local time with Moto3 action.