MotoGP™ stars gather on eve of Qatar opener

MotoGP™ stars gather on eve of Qatar season opener
Wednesday, 3 April 2013

On the Wednesday evening before the 2013 MotoGP™ season opener at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, teammate Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda Team duo Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl all gathered at the pre-race press conference to share their thoughts ahead of the first race.

Lorenzo, who will aim to defend his crown this year amid fierce competition, was a winner in Qatar last year after a hard-fought battle. Commenting on his chances this year he said: "It’s always very important to start in the best way possible in the first race, as it gives you confidence for the next races. But the competition will be very strong. Marc has come from Moto2 and Vale is again in the Yamaha team. We are four or five riders that are favourites for the title. But there are three of four others that can also stay with us."

After having his best ever season in MotoGP™ in 2012 and pushing Lorenzo all the way until the final race, Pedrosa will look to carry through his momentum into the season opener and start on the right foot: "We did some good tests during the winter and I’m really exited for the first race. Really looking forward to the race. It looks like it’s going to be an exciting season. Fitness wise and general preparation - I’m ready to go!"

Having shown some glimpses of old form during pre-season, many eyes will be focussed on Valentino Rossi as he returns on his Yamaha. Speaking of his task ahead the Italian commented: "I’m happy about my performance in the winter tests, as I was quite strong in Sepang and Jerez; I had some problems in Austin. But for sure the races are quite different from the tests. I like to ride the M1, I’m quite fast, but the level is very high. It will be a great motivation trying to raise my level and speed and fight for the podium."

Bradl, who was the 2012 MotoGP Rookie of the Year, hopes to take his career to the next step this season and secure his first ever premier-class podium: "I think every year in MotoGP is interesting and important. I have one year’s experience, which is not so bad. I hope it’s going to be positive. I’m ready for the first race here. Our priority is to be constant and fast, and not lose time when the tyre was older, which was my advantage last year. I think it’s possible yes [to fight with the factory riders]. It will be of course very, very, difficult. It will also be a challenge to be the best satellite rider. But we will try to play with the factory riders."

Hayden, who remains with the Ducati Team for 2013 will be hoping that his hard work over the years will pay off as the Italian outfit continues to search for a turnaround in its fortunes. The American said: "It hasn’t been an easy off season, especially the first Sepang test. Since then we’ve improved, with weight balance and some things. The bike started to improve on corner entry. We know it’s not going to be easy, especially with these guys; and the level very high. But it takes time. I’m happy to start another season, and am starting to see some positives coming. There’s already been some big changes with personnel, but on the bike I’d say there haven’t been major changes. One little change doesn’t make the difference, it’s everything. Ducati’s built competitive bikes before - I have no doubt they can deliver."

Hyped as the most exciting prospect to enter the MotoGP™ class for some time, Márquez will be looking for a successful debut under the floodlights. The youngster commented: "Sure I will be little bit nervous. Here will be the first time of many things. The first race in MotoGP! Tests are very different from a race in MotoGP. I don’t know how a MotoGP race is. I’ll try to enjoy it and do my best, and enjoy. From the beginning I felt good on the bike. I was a little bit surprised. From the team, Honda and Repsol I don’t have pressure, but the general expectation is quite big. With the experience Honda has it’s a big help for me."

And about the possibility of him winning his maiden race, the youngster said: "Sure it will be so difficult. If you’re mentality is that [you can win the first one] it could be dangerous. But we don’t discard anything, as nothing’s impossible."

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