Hear from Bagnaia, Martin, Bezzecchi, Binder, Zarco, Aleix Espargaro, Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro.
We’re back in Barcelona and ready to rock’n’roll at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, with the second half of the season now really about to heat up. And ahead of track action, as ever, it was time to talk shop.
The first Press Conference on Thursday comprised Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), before the second saw Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) joined by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3).
LINE UP 1: BAGNAIA – MARTIN – BEZZECCHI – BINDER
FRANCESCO BAGNAIA: “I feel that I’m enjoying and that I have a great feeling with the team honestly. We are working a lot and improving our situation, starting every time not in the best way on Friday morning but every time we are improving and in Austria we discovered something that helped me a lot to improve our situation, our performance and I’m very happy.”
Is it a track you like and why haven’t you got results here?
“It’s one of my favourite tracks, I always love to be here. I’ve never had a good result, the best was P6 in 2020 and for sure it’s something to improve. Last year I was competitive, I was starting on the front row, the pace all weekend was fast and everyone knows what happened at the first corner. As always if we work well we can be fast and competitive to fight for the top positions.”
America’s Cup experience:
“For me it was incredible. A bit less for some people on the other boat who were feeling the waves, they got a bit dizzy, but I was feeling incredible on the boat. The speed they can reach on the water is incredible. They did a big turn and the G-force is like an F1 car. I was not expecting it but it was really great. I also drove it, it was a bit scary because the wind and the waves are pretty unpredictable but I was feeling great.”
JORGE MARTIN: “I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a really interesting weekend, I feel. in terms of race pace I feel really competitive I’ve just been a little bit unlucky but yeah I’m just going to try and be focused and not make any mistakes because that’s the key to having a great race on Sunday.”
You need a big weekend to break Pecco?
“Well, I’m just missing a few podiums from a few podiums for a few races. I got third at the Sprint race in Austria, but it’s never enough. Hopefully, we can be back on the podium this Sunday, that will be important.”
Are you concerned about Qualifying?
“I think I’ve been quite unlucky because of crashes and yellow flags, or in Austria because of track limits. Now it’s really on the limit. I feel like what was my strongest point is now my weak point. So hopefully now I can get back to focusing again and I feel like I can do those amazing laps again and hopefully we can do it this weekend.”
MARCO BEZZECCHI: “Thank you first of all. It wasn’t an easy decision for sure all because when you have the possibility to get a factory bike it’s always interesting, but to be honest from my point of view the human side let’s say of the team was very important for me, I built a relationship with these guys for many years that for me is very important for me to perform in this way, and I was not sure I could build such a strong relationship with another team in a short time. In MotoGP we have to perform very quickly. So for me it was a bit easier to decide to stay in this team and also to see Vale so interested in me, pushing me to stay was very important because at the end Vale is Vale and he believed in me for many years. Without him it was probably not possible to arrive at the world championship so I decided to stay.”
How tempting was it to leave?
“It was tough but Ducati are supporting us in the best way we can. Ok we don’t have the new bike but the support from them is fantastic, they always try to help us and give us advice to help us perform in the best way. In the end I won’t miss out on any support.”
Keys to being fast here:
“I would kike to be competitive for sure. It’s a track that I like but last year unfortunately in the race I crashed, I was quite competitive but I made this mistake. This year I hope to continue in the way I was in the last races, in Austria I was very fast apart from the sprint, so yeah I hope to enjoy it on the bike. Finally to tomorrow we ride and it will be easier than media.”
Seat on Pecco’s plane?
“This time no!”
BRAD BINDER: “I’m coming into this weekend with a lot of confidence. We’ve had a good few weekends. It’s true, that this track has been a bit of a challenge for us in the past, but on every track we’ve gone to this year, we’ve been close to a second faster than we’ve ever been. So yeah, I believe we can be strong for sure. I’m really looking forward to getting started again. I think this track can be good for us. I’ve always been OK over one lap but never put the rest together, so I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of seasons and I’m looking to change that.”
How important is it to keep momentum going?
“I feel like the first half of the year I made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things I didn’t want to or shouldn’t have. The last few races I really feel like we’ve started to fall into our stride and things have been going well for us. I feel competitive, I feel good on the bike and the team’s done an amazing job, so let’s see what this weekend brings us.”
And the Championship?
“Well, I mean, if it’s been done before, let’s try again. Of course, Pecco is in incredible form at the moment and he has been throughout the year, but in the last few races he’s been super good. We’re here, we’re ready to give our best and if it’s good enough, fantastic, and if it’s not, we’ll keep working at it.”
LINE UP 2: ZARCO – ALEIX – MARC MARQUEZ – POL
JOHANN ZARCO: “I’ve got good energy, a full week to get the time with the decision I took and see that everything is going well. It’s been a good week, training and resting well, for sure taking this decision in Spielberg and then when you take the decision, in the night you swallow the decision and in 24 hours you have a free mind to race. (..) I was feeling like things were going better at home in the mind and body, and here in Barcelona I have good memories. I guess it’s a better track for my style because it’s almost the opposite than Spielberg. I have been struggling more than what I could have expected on the Sunday and I was disappointed. Let’s see what I can do, the bike is the winning bike at the moment and I would love to use it perfectly.”
What is it about Barcelona that you like so much?
“I love the long corners like 3 and 4 and also the last two corners. It’s also a good flow, not many braking points or tight corners, so I can handle it better. There’s also a problem with the heating of the rear tyre and when I’m feeling good I can control it well. So that’s many points why I got good results here in Barcelona. I’d love to repeat it, we have maybe tricky conditions, I can adapt quick.”
This is your 253rd GP start, tying you with Randy de Puniet as the French riders with most starts?
“Many races. I’m quite proud that in that time I just wanted to be a fast rider, now doing 253 GPs I have been fast enough to do all these GPs and to repeat it it’s a 15 year career I think. I remember after the first 100 races I said I hope I can do better on the second 100, and I got much better podium stats for the second 100 that I did. Now try to do as well as possible all the time, but I’m really happy that when I look back I lived many things and get these experiences and it’s so useful to enjoy some different moments in life. Quite happy but clearly feel fresh to do more things!”
Can you get that first podium in Barcelona after what happened last year?
ALEIX ESPARGARO: “Can you get that first podium in Barcelona after what happened last year?
Yes. I mean, it’s not about revenge I did a big mistake last year. At the beginning, it was really, really difficult to keep going, but at the end it’s a mistake and as a human I can make a lot of mistakes. So that was one big one last year here. I mean it’s already passed and I was very, very fast last year here. I lead all the sessions ahead of the race so that’s good and I can’t wait to go on track because the 2023 Aprilia is better than last season’s one, so I could see how far we can go.”
What does your helmet say?
“Yeah, it says one more lap.I will. I will remember. So like this I will remember.I want to say that the marshals have to be careful because when I see the chequered flag I’ll keep pushing one more lap so, just in case haha. But we have to try to focus. For sure, I can make many mistakes, but this one I will not repeat again.”
Where do you think you can make the difference?
“I love this layout because it’s more about fast corners. Like Silverstone Malaysia, Assen, and Argentina. In Austria, it was completely the opposite was just stop and go. I’m not really competitive in these types of corners. And neither is the Aprilia because I’ve been riding it for a long time, so I’ve adapted it to my style. I think the structure really good ’cause you can just release the front brake and arrive at the apex, so I think it’s a good place for us to try to shine.”
Different mentality or a change?
MARC MARQUEZ: “No the same as Silverstone and Austria. Give 100 or 95% but always understand the limits of our project now. It’s a circuit I struggled with in my best years, so this year I will struggle even more but now we have 8 races in 10 weeks so it will be demanding and it will be important to stay on track and keep going.”
Less changes this weekend to the bike?
“Straight away in FP1 it will be a big difference because I will try the new wings and some back-to-backs because in a different circuit they would like to try them. The weather looks unstable on Saturday and Sunday, especially Saturday, and we will decide. If I need to try something I will because we are at a point where we must do.”
There was a test in Misano, have you spoken to Stefan Bradl?
“He was testing in Misano more or less with the bike I raced with in Austria and he was also testing in Motegi. I don’t know if he is but yeah, looks like we are trying to improve, step by step and altogether I think we can do it.”
How much of a boost was last weekend for you confidence?
POL ESPARGARO: “The exciting thing was that I kept Aleix behind me the whole race. The winner of the last GP, you know, it was an exciting race. I knew that from the beginning of the weekend that that was my race, actually told my team and my guys that that was the moment that I wanted to be fast because I knew that I was more or less fresh to compete for 1/2 race distance. And actually, everything went well for sure. The thing that happened at the first corner helped me a little to gain some positions, but then the rhythm and the speed were really fast and I was I could keep Aleix behind which was really amazing. On Sunday I struggled. I was pretty tired and the bike was very different compared to Portimao. So I need to adapt quickly, but everything is happening so quickly Then the new schedule and everything’s quite different and stressful, together with my physical condition. I’m just getting used to everything, so here we go.”
So many memories here now you’re in MotoGP™ with your brother:
“Yeah. I don’t know if it’ll Alex remembers, but when we started to race here at the circuit of Catalunya. We weren’t allowed to do the full track and there was a shortcut in the middle of the straight after the chequered flag that cut to corner six, I think it was. So we weren’t even doing the full track. So for us stopping and looking back, you just see what you achieved here at MotoGP with these guys who are the best in the world and you need to feel really proud and happy of what we have achieved. But hopefully the best is yet to come!”
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