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Spotlight on Qatar for MotoGP press conference

Spotlight on Qatar for MotoGP press conference

After a four month break, the MotoGP World Championship returns this weekend at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar. Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Karel Abraham all attended the pre-event press conference on Thursday.

Valentino Rossi, winner of the 2010 race at the Losail circuit, joined Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing), Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar pre-event press conference on Thursday.

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Lorenzo has had a difficult start in pre-season testing and admitted there are improvements needed to compete with his rivals.

“Everybody seems very strong and there are a lot of riders at a good level, who have been very fast and quick,” said the Spaniard. “We are not at our best moment, with the setting. We need improvements in the bike to be competitive and I know we can be faster than in the test. We start this evening with the first practice session. To be honest, the rivals have improved a lot and Yamaha hasn’t, not a lot. At the moment, we not only have a problem with the maximum potential, but with the set-up. I am sure we can improve and then be closer.”

Casey Stoner dominated the final pre-season test in Qatar and has an excellent record at the Losail circuit with three consecutive premier class race wins from 2007-2009.

“I couldn’t have asked for any more from pre-season. The tests were very productive and at the moment everything is going very well,” said the Australian. “However, testing and racing are two very different things. We’ve seen it before where things have gone well in testing and then changed when the season starts, so we’re keeping our feet on the ground. I think when we get to the European circuits, we will really see where everyone’s level is. For me, people have been putting themselves on the line more than before. Everyone has been more consistent with their lap times and I think riders will be up there who I didn’t expect to see before Christmas.”

Nine times World Champion Rossi shared his excitement about the season commencing, as he prepares for his Ducati adventure.

“I’m very excited, it’s like the first day at school!” the Italian told reporters. “It’s always a great emotion to change bike. In the testing we’ve not been so fast, but we have worked on the bike and my riding style and I do feel quite ready. The shoulder has been a big problem and a long one. It has improved a lot, but it still lacks power and resistance. Now it’s just a question of time. I worked all through the winter on my fitness and I think I need one to two more months before being 100%. For the first half of the season we’ll try to do as best as we possibly can, and then push on. I think we’re better than 13th (Qatar test position). This will be a tough race.”

The Ducati Team rider also expressed his sadness over the recent events in Japan, an event which has united the MotoGP world in its wishes of support for the country. “We have all followed it on TV and from the beginning it was clear it was quite incredible. From day to day it’s looked like the situation has gotten worse. We have a lot of Japanese in MotoGP, a lot of them friends of mine who are worried. We hope things get better as soon as possible and improve. I would say good luck to everybody and don’t give up. I hope we can all do something.”

Dani Pedrosa finished second in the final pre-season test at this circuit and was pleased to be fighting fit the season opener.

“Almost every year I’ve had an issue with fitness, but this pre-season has gone quite well. So this is a big step compared to previous years. We made some improvements and have done some good testing, now I hope we can continue this against our rivals on track. It will be a tough race and I hope for a good practice to be able to do well. Everybody is going pretty well. We have to see how this first race goes, as I’m sure everybody will push harder than in the Test.”

MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham admitted it was not going to be easy making his debut in the 800cc class, and is focusing on what will be a steep learning curve.

“It’s a big step and it’s not been easy to adapt. It will take some time but we can definitely do it. Testing has not been so bad, the first one in Sepang was difficult with the heat and power of the bike and everything, but I learned a lot. The Qatar test was better for me, now we have to work hard and prove it. I’m learning every time I get on the bike. I hope it won’t be too long before we can achieve some good results.”

Thursday evening is when it starts for real with the first free practice sessions of 2011, for all three classes of the World Championship. This is unique as the race weekend will be held over four days so that all riders can practice in night conditions. The 125cc riders kick off proceedings at 18.00 local time, followed by Moto2 at 18.55 and MotoGP at 19.55. There is a change to the schedule for the practice sessions for this weekend, so the 125cc and Moto2 classes return to the track again, the same evening at 20.55 and 21.50 respectively, for their free practice 2 sessions.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2011, COMMERCIALBANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR

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