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Strong threat: Yamaha & the weather to cause an Island stir?

Changeable Phillip Island conditions look set to prevail this weekend – and could it be Yamaha’s year again in Australia?

Ahead of this weekend’s Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, seven riders were present in the pre-event Press Conference to preview the track action. 2019 Champion and Motegi winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was joined by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Rookie of the Year Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), milestone man Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), home hero Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), the returning Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and future KTM MotoGP™ rider Iker Lecuona ( American Racing).

Pre-GP Press Conference: Australia GP

The weather was a big talking point. Forecasts suggest rain could be on the way during Friday and Saturday as unpredictable Phillip Island conditions look set to prevail. And last year’s Australian GP winners Yamaha are being tipped for another strong weekend, with Marquez highlighting both of these points as he spoke to the media after claiming victory number 10 of 2019 last time out in Japan.

“The target on Sunday is to fight for victory. It’s a circuit you need to feel, you need to feel that you can because it has a lot of high-speed corners, this means a lot of risk, it’s a circuit that if you don’t feel, you need to stay calm, try to finish on the podium or try to finish the race,” began the reigning Champion. “Apart from that, today we have a summer day, tomorrow we might have a winters day – you never know. This is where we will try to work in a good way to try and sight against Yamaha and Suzuki, I think they have a bike here that is working very good, very stable in the high speed corners. It will be tough to beat them but we will try.”

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As well as being a stunning track, Phillip Island is known for being a place like no other. The circuit itself, coupled with the weather, make for a completely unpredictable weekend. Second in the Championship Dovizioso is hoping to be on the rostrum for a second year running, but the experienced Italian knows he needs to tackle the conditions and strong competitors if he’s to spray the bubbly on Sunday.

“Optimistic is a bit too much. Last year we did a really fast and good race, so I hope to be on the podium again,” commented Dovi. “I think it will be hard because of course Marc and the Yamaha riders will be strong, Rins too, so it will be hard. Last race at the end we were quite fast we have to understand something about that because it’s happened too many times this season, I think there’s a technical reason. But here is completely different track. Like Marc said, the conditions are always quite strange and it will affect everyone. The tyres but also the wind, which way it’s going. We’ll wake up tomorrow morning and see the conditions.”

Quartararo, despite never being at the circuit on a MotoGP™ bike, will start as one of the early favourites. Nothing has fazed the Frenchman this season, and this weekend will be no different.

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“I think the Yamaha suits this track really well but we will see the conditions. Like Marc said, today we have nice weather but it looks like it will be quite tricky for the weekend. We don’t need focus a lot on the victory, just do the same work that we did from the beginning of the year, step by step, and feel the temperature of the tyres. It’s a track that I really like, fast corners, the Yamaha looks good, so we’ll do our best and our best will be good enough.”

A full of confidence rookie was followed by a nine-time Champion who isn’t quite riding the crest of a wave on his way to Phillip Island. 400 Grands Prix will be notched up on Sunday for Rossi – can he challenge for a sixth premier class Island victory this weekend?

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“Yeah it’s a long, long time, a long road,” said The Doctor, in regards to reaching 400 GPs. “Like you said it’s good to make the 400 here in Phillip Island. It’s an iconic place for MotoGP, all the rider love the circuit because it’s something special compared to the rest. So it’s one of the best places. We pay, everybody pays for a weekend here like this, the blue sky and the fantastic weather, but unfortunately the good weather arrived too much in anticipation so we will have to fight the weather in Phillip Island but anyway, it’s a pleasure.”

And no one will be counting Aussie Miller on home soil. Being a local, Miller knows exactly what conditions can be like at Phillip Island, but the Ducati man also knows how quickly they can change.

“We’ll give it a go. It’s a place I love to ride at first of all, like everyone else. I think it’s one of the best circuits on the calendar and fortunately for me, it’s my home Grand Prix. I’m looking forward to getting out there. Like the boys said, the weather isn’t going to be ideal but for me here at Phillip Island there’s no point looking at the forecast. If the wind changes, we’ll have either beautiful sunshine or freezing cold. So, we’ll wait until the morning and make a plan from there. Feeling really good, it was a shame about the race in Japan, but we had good pace there. Looking forward to my weekend at home, I’m normally pretty strong and with the form we’ve had this year I think I’ve got a chance of taking it to these guys.”

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The weather and Yamaha: how will everyone deal with both elements this weekend? Mother nature can’t be stopped, but Marquez, Dovizioso, Miller and plenty of others will be hoping they can beat Quartararo, Rossi, last year’s winner Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) in Australia.

Tune in for MotoGP™ FP1 at 10:50 local time (GMT+11) on Friday morning. Remember to check the time schedule ahead of the weekend’s track action.

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