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The 17th edition of the MotoGP™ Podcast is ready and this week’s cast comes in the form of Podcast regulars John Hopkins and Simon Crafar chatting about the talking points from Mugello, with hosts Matt Dunn and Fran Wyld catching up with Le Mans Moto3™ winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Pramac Racing’s charismatic Federico Capelli about life as a MotoGP™ team Press Officer.
After Mission Winnow Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci picked up and emotional first Grand Prix win, former Grand Prix racer Hopkins discusses the unique dynamics between the Italian and teammate Andrea Dovizioso in the factory box.
“We’ve seen it all throughout preseason testing and even in the offseason, they spend so much time together, motocrossing and training – and Petrucci has said, it’s been no secret, that Dovizioso has shared all of his inside information that he’s gathered at Ducati over the multiple years he’s been there,” begins ‘Hopper’.
“Being able to share information like that with your teammate is extremely crucial like we’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, like me and Vermeulen. It’s really rare that you get a teammate that you can really work together with, of course the first person you want to beat is your teammate because he’s the one on the same machinery but when you’re able to work together and get that bike and yourselves up to the pinnacle and the very point of competition, and then race it out amongst yourselves, I think that’s the perfect combination. And it’s really rare to find a relationship and teammate like that but I think they have that within themselves.”
Petrucci managed to stop Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) from claiming victory in Ducati’s back yard, with Hopkins saying this would have been on everyone’s mind on Sunday.
“That was on everyone’s mind that was up at the front and in the fight for the front, to not let Marquez get away. And everyone was doing their bit to make their passes and make sure he didn’t get away because as soon as he gets a bit of a lead and breaks the draft, especially at a track like Mugello, he’s able to just crank the laps away and get away.
“Fortunately, it was a team effort between Dovizioso, Petrucci, Miller, everyone in the beginning. They all did their bit to make sure Marquez couldn’t get away. And the good thing was as well, they didn’t fight amongst themselves and let little groups separate – they did smart racing within themselves just to allow them to stay in the pack and not let Marquez get away.”
Hopkins was a Suzuki rider between 2003-2007 in the premier class and on Sunday, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins produced another fantastic ride to keep tabs on Petrucci, Marquez and Dovizioso until the chequered flag. A sterling effort from Rins who had to make up all his time on the twisty bits, with the GSX-RR down on horsepower compared to the Ducati and Honda bullets on Mugello's home straight.
“He did everything he possibly could to stay there with the guys, let’s face it the guys on the Ducati and the Honda had more horsepower right to the end, but he gave it a heck of a try,” said Hopkins.
“And I know first-hand, especially in 2007 going up against the Ducati and Honda, I was under horsepower…it’s so frustrating when you come out of the corners and you’re just able to get into the draft and that’s it, you’re stuck and you’re not able to make any moves. The only opportunity he had to make passes would have been to dive bomb – fortunately, he didn’t because it would have been a bad move – but it’s a shame. His ride was really good. At a circuit like Mugello, he did everything he could.”
Meanwhile, McPhee discusses in detail his career so far, including his big move to racing in Spain in 2011: “Massive, absolutely massive. It’s difficult, you can be a frontrunner in the British Championship – in 2010 I won two races, two academy cup races, I was competitive, at one point challenging for the title before I injured myself – so I was strong in 2010, and I turned up (in Spain) in 2011 and I was racing against guys I’d never heard of, never seen before and didn’t know who they were, and they were absolutely smoking me.
“In the first race I was nowhere! I was like, ‘Oh my god! This is a different level altogether!’ At that stage in my head, I thought that the World Championship wasn’t realistic because I was just so far away. But then quite quickly things started to change, race by race guys I was finding a struggle I was beating easily, guys who seemed miles away suddenly I was on their tail and it didn’t take long at all until I was challenging in the front pack, in the front group, and I realised: ‘You know what, I can win races here as well.’”
Hear more from Hopkins and McPhee, as well as Crafar and Federico Capelli, in Episode 17 of the MotoGP™ Podcast! Follow this link to listen to it.
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