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Before go-time for the GoPro British Grand Prix we had a full house of seven riders in the pre-event Press Conference, with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) joined by Austrian GP winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and the returning Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team). The new surface, the competitive field and how good Silverstone is meant there was plenty to talk about.
After losing the epic Austrian GP battle, Championship leader Marquez will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways on UK soil. Silverstone – like many others – is a track the number 93 likes, and he’s hoping the new surface has ironed out the bumps from previous years.
“Yeah of course, looking forward to the Silverstone GP and this weekend because as you know I have some good luck and I was unlucky some years,” began Marquez, who was a winner at the Northamptonshire layout in 2014.
“Anyway, we’ve done great races, it’s a circuit I like, one of our weak points on this race track was the bumps but looks like they’ve resurfaced in a good way, it looks nice on the bicycle but tomorrow we will check on the bike and yeah apart from that try to concentrate, stay focused and try to fight on Sunday for the best position.”
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Marquez began a run of four different winners on four different manufacturers at Silverstone between 2014 and 2017, with his rival Dovizioso picking up a win for Ducati in 2017. Still high from his colossal victory last time out at the Red Bull Ring, Dovi hopes he can be top dog again at the British Grand Prix – a circuit he describes as “one of the best” on the calendar.
“Yes for sure the last race was amazing, a really nice battle from the first lap to the end with Marc, so we are so happy about that, we needed that victory,” said DesmoDovi, who can’t wait to get going at Silverstone.
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“I’m happy to be here, I think it’s one of the best races on the championship, the track is really nice. Hopefully, without bumps, it will be even nicer so I’m excited to try the new asphalt.
“I don’t like the weather so much! But I have always had good luck in this country, I’ve been pretty fast in England most of the time, I don’t know why. Donington was a special track and a special first victory but in Silverstone I’ve always felt good, it’s a really difficult track but I enjoy riding here.”
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Rossi is another rider in the Press Conference to have won at Silverstone recently. ‘The Doctor’ is also eager to get going on a circuit he really enjoys as Yamaha tend to suit the fast, flowing nature of the track, compared to the likes of Austria.
“Silverstone is a fantastic track. It’s a great track, it’s a big track, everything is very fast and technical. Everybody is waiting for the asphalt tomorrow,” commented Rossi. “If they make a good job with less bumps and good grip, it will be very fun to ride here. And also we wait for the weather because in 2017 it was a fantastic weekend, a great weekend. Last year, unfortunately, it was a lot more difficult. We hope it’s similar to 2017.
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“In the past I had good races and arrived on the podium, so this is the target. About the top speed we know we’re not fantastic but on paper in Austria it’s more important than here. The important thing is to find a good feeling with the bike, a good balance, and be ready for Sunday.”
Rookie Quartararo will be one to watch this weekend, and the Frenchman is ready to face up to Silverstone on a MotoGP™ bike for the first time: “Really happy about arriving here at a track that I really like. Like Valentino said, I think everybody is waiting or the new tarmac, I think it should be a good track for us. Suits us better than Austria so I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Fresh off a contract extension, Miller is also hoping to get a good weekend under his belt having let a potential podium opportunity slip away in Spielberg: “Yeah definitely coming into this weekend with a different mindset that’s for sure. Thursday has been easier, let’s just say that. It’s been nice you know, the Day of Champions has been really nice to see all the fans but no it’s good to be back, like you say I had a chance to make it back to back podiums last weekend, I had really strong pace all weekend but threw it away a bit too early.
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“It’s not the best track for me to be honest, I always hated it until last year, with the new asphalt it was like different track and I loved it. And I’m looking forward to it now with the reviews it’s had, I can’t wait to get out there. Should be a good weekend.”
And what about home hero Crutchlow? The sole British premier class representative has always been strong around Silverstone and on what will be his 150th GP start, the Coventry-born rider is looking forward to three days at a sunny Silverstone.
“Yeah, only got told at the last race that it would be my 150th Grand Prix start – I didn’t think I’d done 150 Grands Prix, I definitely haven’t finished 150. I’m looking forward to it, Silverstone is a good race for me, I’ll give my all for the 20-lap Grand Prix.”
Finally, Lorenzo chatted to the media. The number 99 returns from a lengthy injury layoff but lands at a Silverstone circuit he’s always gone well at. How is the five-time World Champion feeling ahead of the British GP?
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“Yeah happy to be back. Finally, after a long time. A very long time, no? I’ve never spent so long out of racing competition for about the 17 years I’ve been here. I’m back. What was very difficult at the beginning, the first two weeks were very difficult, I wasn’t recovering fast, it was slow. Luckily after three weeks, the recovery has been faster, I have been able to do some physical training again. With some pain after the work during the night, every time the pain was less and less. I think this is the right moment to come back to the bike because you can lose a lot of speed, a lot of pace if you stay so much time out of competition.
“Honestly my injury theoretically you need three months to recover completely, I’m about two months on now from the crash and obviously I still have some pain, but I feel ready to ride again and to try. I’m not here to fight for the win or podium or top five, but as soon as I go on the bike I want to start getting the pace I need to get good performances again, like I started to show before the crash.”
A bumper Press Conference shapes us up for what will hopefully be a bumper weekend of racing on Silverstone’s silky new asphalt. It’s a rider favourite, and you can expect Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki all challenging for a win in 2019 – just like they managed to do in ’14, ’15, ’16 and ’17.
The riders are ready for FP1 on Friday morning, so tune in to it live from 09:55 local time (GMT+2).
Pre-GP Press Conference: GoPro British Grand Prix