The pitlane is not only the hub of the action but also the hub of all the very latest MotoGP™ gossip. Whether it’s who’s moving where or which team is trying what, our own Simon Crafar is across it all and now you can be too with this round-up of every interview from the first day of the HJC Helmets Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland
First, Crafar caught up with Monster Energy Yamaha Team Director, Massimo Meregalli, during MotoGP™ FP1. He started by getting his thoughts on Yamaha’s first win of 2019 in Assen: “The feeling was complete opposite than Barcelona. We finished the race with Quartararo. It’s a really good boost because in the end when you work, work, work and get the result, it’s very welcome and it gives you a really good boost to keep going and working.”
Valentino Rossi’s run of three straight DNFs: “Unfortunately, we just arrived at Warm Up with a feeling that he liked for the race and here we are starting with that setting. It looks like he’s performing well, it’s only the beginning but he’s already at the top.”
Yamaha testing a 2020 prototype at the upcoming tests in Brno and Misano: “Yeah. It’s definite that we will test a different bike at Brno, and we will check it in Misano.”
First words from Petrucci after signing Ducati deal
Then, Crafar spoke to Ducati Corse Sporting Director, Paolo Ciabatti, firstly on Danilo Petrucci extending his contract with the Ducati Team for 2020: “We are obviously very satisfied; it was the natural choice. Some people were expecting to sign before but it’s never so easy when you have to deal with the money side of an agreement. I think the target was to reach an agreement before the summer break and we reached an agreement on Wednesday so Danilo will stay with us, he deserves it.”
The possibility of there being four Ducati GP20s on the grid next season: “That’s in the plan. Obviously, we need to finalise still a few issues with Pramac but hopefully, we will sort it out this weekend.”
Ducati’s recent Sachsenring woes: “As you know it has not been the best track for us in the recent past. Even though Danilo with the Pramac bike had a great race and lost the 3rd position on the last lap (last season). It looks like again it’s a Marquez track, but you know we want to play our cards, we know we need to start winning races again. Maybe this isn’t the place for us, but we want to fight for podiums and that’s the target.”
Ducati's Dutch TT performance: “In terms of the race we were simply not fast enough, the group of Maverick, Marc and Fabio, they went ahead in front and after 7 odd laps we simply couldn’t keep the pace, that’s it.”
A lap of the Sachsenring with Simon Crafar & GoPro™
After Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) injured himself in a bicycle accident in the build-up to this weekend’s German Grand Prix, Crafar went to speak with Crutchlow’s Team Manager, Lucio Cecchinello: “Well the injury was unfortunately very unlucky because it was off the bike, he was checking something on his bike, his bicycle, and then unfortunately he crashed his knee on the asphalt. Of course, we’ve made all the checks on his knee and it seems like there is some problem on the ligament on the knee. What’s fortunate at the moment is that it looks like he can ride the MotoGP bike this weekend so that’s quite a relief for us.”
Takaaki Nakagami’s condition following his crash at the Dutch TT: “Well as you know the crash was pretty nasty. He hurt his left ankle and also his right shoulder. Let’s say the biggest problem is in the left ankle, he hasn’t broken anything but there was some kind of dislocation, so he has some damage in the ligament. For the moment he’s on some pain killers and he has some strapping around the ankle. He was using a bigger boot, but he just asked to use the standard boot so he has some problems but I’m confident he can race this weekend too.”
Quartararo arrives to challenge the 'King of the Ring'
Following back-to-back podiums in their rookie MotoGP™ season, Crafar caught up with Petronas Yamaha SRT Team Manager, Wilko Zeelenberg. Firstly he asked about the condition of Fabio Quartararo’s arm: “Yeah, actually it looked horrible but it’s much better than basically what it was, for example, in Mugello because then he really had arm pump and he couldn’t hold the handlebars. In Assen, he suffered from halfway through the race so basically gave up the fight for the win. He could hold on to the bike and could keep the pace but it’s a recovery situation so after every practice the arm swells up a bit more than we expected but Dr. Mir said it’s a normal situation, we have a week’s rest and after this race, we will get that.”
Franco Morbidelli matching his best MotoGP™ finish with fifth place in Assen: “Yeah, he was very happy, he was able to fight until the end and at the end, he said yeah, especially the bike behaved very well compared to the Ducatis. He was able to pass and grab fifth place, his best position like in Austin. He was really happy and we’re looking forward to seeing him at this track because he likes this track.”
Rins: "We've got the bike really good"
His final interview of the opening MotoGP™ session was with Team Suzuki Ecstar Team Manager Davide Brivio, with Crafar’s first question on Alex Rins crashing out of the lead at the Cathedral of Speed: “Yeah, we feel like Assen was a missed opportunity to do a good result, I think we could fight for the podium but ok that’s done. The most important thing is that it looks to me and us that it’s not a coincidence that we were leading the race. It looks like for many races Alex is always able to stay in the top group and can fight for the top and this is what we have to say. It was a missed opportunity, we are disappointed, but we will try again.”
Whether Brivio feels Suzuki are closer to the top in 2019: “Of course. Winning the Championship is a big thing. We can try to fight and see what can happen. What we are doing now is kind of a practice for the World Championship. We will see, we need to be very good at improving the package and Alex is growing up race by race, let’s say, also Joan coming up as well. We have to try, it’s something very different and complicated but we have to try.”
Joan Mir’s performance at the Dutch TT: “Yeah, he had a great start and maybe he felt a little bit lost when he was in front of everybody. Yeah, it’s improving race by race and it’s already a few races he’s with the top guys and this is where you learn the most. Doing many laps together with Dovizioso, Petrucci, Alex, these types of riders you learn a lot so I think we can expect improvement and hopefully more consistent by the end of the season.”
The massive crash that forced Bagnaia out of FP2
In MotoGP™ FP2, Crafar first caught up with Pramac Racing Team Manager Francesco Guidotti following Francesco Bagnaia’s FP1 crash: “He will miss the session because of the crash in FP1. After the session he had some neck pain and then after a while a headache, so we’d prefer to do more checks and he’ll have a CAT scan here in the town, close to the circuit. I don’t think it’ll be anything special because he rode again after the crash and was even pretty fast. When the neck muscles got colder, he started to have pain.”
"66 degrees is too much"
Then, Crafar got the thoughts of KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer on Pol Espargaro’s injury: “Definitely he’s having a good year and he’s doing fantastic for us. We don’t really want to talk about an injury because there is not a fracture or anything in his hand. He just landed really hard with his wrist on the asphalt and there is pain everywhere: in the ligaments, in the muscle, in the joint. But we are proving and after the strong weekend in Assen where he pushed all weekend with quite a lot of pain, it became a little better, so that’s a good sign. So, he’s not pain-free but he’s better than last week.”
Johann Zarco retiring out of the race in Assen: “It was another tough race for us and him. He had a good, strong plan. He was sure he needed to pass many riders at the beginning and that’s what he did, but during the race, around halfway, somehow he had a mis-shifting, lost a little bit of time there and from then on it was like a click and he was just one second slower. With the setup, he burned the tyre quite hot in the first part of the race, so his tyre was definitely finished. He didn’t feel comfortable but neither did we watching this situation, but we have to take the few good laps we got and try to take more out of it.”
Hafizh Syahrin now using the carbon swingarm and setting the fastest KTM lap in Assen: “In Tech 3, they’ve had our level since Jerez, but since then we’ve been able to improve the bike again quite significantly, so Miguel got the swingarm last week, which helps our bike a lot. Hafizh now has one, so we decided not to fill up stock for the factory riders but just to give every single piece we could get ready out of this carbon oven, we handed it to the rider, so I think if you get it new there is some potential, like Miguel last week, there is some benefit but you have to change the setup of the bike a little bit to make it work. So, I think he will enjoy this much more this weekend and Hafizh starts now. He just did two runs on the old swingarm and the last one on the carbon. It will take time to bring all the guys to the same level, but we will keep on producing parts and bringing them to the race track.”
MotoGP™ FP2 in Germany: Who will top Free Practice Friday?
Finally, Crafar chatted to Reale Avintia Sporting Director Ruben Xaus on the team’s 2020 plans: “We’ve got a wish, as a team, we’d like to have a young kid pushing and pulling that bike in a top situation. Unfortunately today, Tito is not at the high level that we’d wished and thought. We expected and hoped that he’d come back to show everyone that he deserved the place but the team needs to work together on a strong situation for next year because the sponsors are pushing hard now we have good bikes, the team is working well in the box and as of today, Karel Abraham has a two year contract, so the only place we've not got secured today is Tito's side, so let's see. We are talking to young kids and things look really hopeful."
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