Marquez, Rossi, Lorenzo and more talk Misano

Dovizioso, Iannone and Bagnaia joined them in the pre-event Press Conference on Thursday

Bikes will soon be on track for the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, and after it was confirmed we’d be racing at Misano until at least 2021, it was time for some talk in the pre-event Press Conference. Reigning Champion and points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was joined by local hero Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), fellow three-time Misano MotoGP™ winner Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), his Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Moto2™ Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) as the grid got ready to rumble.

After meeting the Pope on Wednesday, will there be any extra luck for Marquez who remains firmly in the driver’s seat in the 2018 Championship fight? “Everyone was disappointed to not race at Silverstone but safety conditions weren’t ready to race,” explained the number 93, who then turned his attention to this weekend: “But now in Misano we’re leading by 59 points, and 71 and 72 points ahead of the Ducatis. The target is to increase the advantage, try to attack…we know they tested here a couple of weeks ago so maybe at the start we’ll be a bit far but we’ll try to bring passion and work hard for Sunday.”

Rossi, meanwhile, hasn’t raced at Misano since 2016 – having missed last season due to injury. As could be expected, he’s happy to be ready to race at the venue again.

“I’m very, very happy to be back at Misano! It’s the most important race of the season, together with Mugello, the most special for the fans,” says the ‘Doctor’. “This one maybe even a bit more because it’s so close to my house and last year it was a great shame, it wasn’t easy to follow it from home!”

Despite some struggles this season for Yamaha, Rossi is currently P2 in the standings – and their recent test at MotorLand Aragon was positive.

“Aragon was an important test for sure, because it’s always a difficult track for me and Yamaha. But we’ll have to see at the ‘real’ weekend with all the fast guys to understand our ‘real’ level…”

Both Rossi and Marquez were asked about their off track relationship in the pre-event Press Conference, with the latter offering to shake the hand of the nine-time World Champion...

Next to speak was Lorenzo: “Misano is one of my favourite tracks, I’ve more or less always been on the podium since 2008 and we arrive here in good shape, very strong with quite a bit of experience with the bike – including the test here a month ago where we were very competitive,” says the number 99. “But let’s see about the weather as well, tomorrow it looks like it will rain, and Saturday, but we hope after the practice! And we’re hoping for a dry Sunday.”

Teammate ‘DesmoDovi’, meanwhile, was first asked about his record at Misano – which so far has been one of his more difficult circuits. “I think it was more about the technical side. It’s not my best track but we’ve struggled, but now we’re in a different situation, especially after the test we did here. I felt so good. The grip was good but it was very hot, but the speed was really good."

Iannone, who had a difficult race of it last season, is hoping for more in 2018: “Racing at home is a special race for us, it’s big motivation for me and for the team because most people in the garage are Italian guys – for sure it’s an important weekend for us. It’s interesting because last year I had a good feeling with the bike but we didn’t have good speed. I want to confirm a different situation this year.”

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team, Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini

Finally, it was time to hear from Moto2™’s home hero and Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia. Only three points ahead, the pressure is on – but ‘Pecco’ feels positive.

“At Silverstone I was strong, I was to start on pole and Miguel was in P23, and in the wet it would have been difficult for him to recover the gap but safety comes first. Just three points is the gap here and it’s a track I like, it would be positive to be in front of him, we’ve been here a lot to train and it could be a positive weekend for us!”

Find out who will take to the top at Misano on Sunday, with Moto3™ racing at 11:00 local time (GMT +2), Moto2™ at 12:20 and MotoGP™ at 14:00.

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