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COTA gets underway with press conference

COTA gets underway with press conference

The much-anticipated MotoGP™ at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend got underway with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Márquez, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, Ignite Pramac Racing’s Ben Spies, Yamaha Motor Racing’s Managing Director Lin Jarvis, as well as COTA President Steve Sexton, gathering for the pre-race press conference.

Lorenzo, winner of the inaugural race of the 2013, is hoping to bring the same form to the new circuit for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas: “In Qatar it was almost the perfect weekend, but the season is a long way yet. We were here one month ago and it was not easy for us. But it will be interesting to see how the track has changed in that time. I’m very excited to get out. It’s really difficult – one of the most difficult tracks in my career to understand. But we will have a big advantage over the teams that weren’t here to test.”

Márquez, who stunned fans with a great performance last time out and was fastest at the COTA test, is not getting carried away just yet: “We started the season better than expected. Here we will see, and we’ll have to forget Qatar. We’ll focus on race set-up and then do our best. We did a test here that was good for us, but now it will be different. Especially the first part of the track is important with the many changes of direction, as well as the last part with the long right-hander. It’s very important to have the right line.”

British hopeful Crutchlow has not previously been to the track, yet aims to continue the good pace shown in Qatar two weeks ago: “I managed to get here last night and do a few laps of the track [not on MotoGP bike] to have a look – it’s a great circuit and facility and the big incline to the first corner is great. I’ve taken away the positives from Qatar, especially as Jorge and Valentino [Rossi] showed the potential of the bike. But if you miss three days on these guys it could be near impossible [to challenge for a win]. My job is to be at the front of the rest.”

For Spies the COTA event represents him home race, although the Texan is unfortunately still feeling the effects from his bad shoulder injury last year: “I never thought it would happen…I got to drive my own car here and bring my own pillow from home. I have a lot of friends and family here this weekend, and I think it’s great for all the Europeans to come over and see what Texas has put on. We managed to do about 30 laps here on a street bike, but it’s really technical. There are so many drastic changes in the track - it’s world class.”

Yamaha Factory Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis was also present in the pre-race press conference to give his take on the new track and on his team’s good start to the season. He also commented on the effects of an unfortunate fire that broke out in the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 garage overnight that affected various teams: “For the team it was a superb start to the year. It [Qatar] really lit up the championship; not just the Yamaha riders, but also the battles with Marc, Dani [Pedrosa] and Cal.

“When we arrived here today we heard there had been a fire incident, and that the Yamaha garages, Abraham’s team, and LCR were under water. But if we hadn’t been here at this excellent facility [with fire protection], we could have lost six bikes! There was no damage to any people or the bikes, but computers, servers and spare parts have been flooded. We can race this weekend, but have to take everything to pieces and dry each part, to ensure we have no corrosion issues in the future. But it’s always tougher with electronic parts, as issues are not visible.”

With the COTA circuit hosting a motorcycle Grand Prix for the first ever time, Sexton cited his delight at welcoming the MotoGP™ grid to the impressive new facility: “We’ve got a fantastic team and they’ve done a great job. I’m very much looking forward to it, as we have a very unique circuit for riders and fans. This is an extremely impressive sport for people to watch. Ticket sales have been good, and we’re anticipating over 100,000 fans over the weekend.”

Also following the recent events at the Boston marathon where people lost their lives and were injured in a bomb attack, Sexton says that security measures are high: “We at the circuit have stringent security measures. Since F1 has been here, security has been further enhanced.” He pointed out that a minute silence would be held before the race on Sunday, not only to commemorate the Boston victims, but also those who died in an explosion in a nearby Texan chemical plant yesterday evening.


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