After a short trip from Aragon to Misano it’s time for the paddock to get back into the swing of things as Round 14 of the season rears its head. As always, Thursday’s media day kicked off the weekend and joining World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) in the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini pre-event Press Conference was MotorLand winner Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and the returning Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).
Pecco and Mir strong at Misano
Both riders who are closest to Quartararo in the title race have displayed fantastic speed at Misano. Both claimed podiums last season, and for Pecco, it’s a perfect homecoming after his victory. It’s certainly crunch time in the 2021 Championship, can Bagnaia and Mir cut Quartararo’s gap this weekend?
Bagnaia: “For this weekend, I’m really happy in front of our fans in the crowd so it will be nice to race like this. It’s a track where I was strong last year, I did a mistake in the second one, but first one I got my first podium. I’m just very happy and motivated to race here after last week’s win. I know it will not be easy. The level is very, very high. It’s very difficult to predict what you will do during a weekend but I’m sure we will fight.”
Mir: “I don’t know, let’s see on Sunday and tomorrow how I feel on the bike. This is a track I enjoyed a lot last year the two races we did I was able to be strong. We missed the fast lap a lot last year so that’s something we’ll focus on this Grand Prix, we will try to make the same step like we di in Aragon and where we are more or less. It will be difficult again to be fighting for the podium, but I will try, the bike works well here and we have some things to try, so let’s see.”
Quartararo: Misano is a place I love
The title race leader suffered his second-worst result of the season last weekend at MotorLand Aragon, but the Frenchman lands at the circuit he’s much fonder of. Yamaha are the most successful manufacturer at Misano too, so things bode well for El Diablo.
Quartararo: “Yes of course because in Aragon something went wrong, we analysed everything and everything was quite clear. It’s good to have a back-to-back race here to forget last week a little bit and to know what to do the next time we go to Aragon. Here is a place I love, last year we had some struggles but this year with the new bike I’m feeling much more confident and I think we can fight for a great result.”
Morbidelli returns from injury in new colours
After missing five races since his knee surgery, MotoGP™ welcomes back Morbidelli. Winner at Misano last year and a home track of course, the Italian couldn’t have picked a better circuit to return to. The number 21 is looking forward to getting back on a premier class bike to see how he’s feeling with knee, as well as making his debut with the factory team alongside former teammate Quartararo.
Morbidelli: “Yeah it’s great to be back. I’ve been missing quite a lot the sport, the people and the paddock. It felt like a long time. I’ve been trying to work at my best to recover, heal up and return as fast as possible to be here in Misano which is a track that I really like, and a track I have great memories on of course. Just great to be back. I feel quite ok right now with the knee, it’s not that bad, but I will have to see what happens tomorrow on track.
“First of all I have to thank my former team, we did a wonderful job together. I had two wonderful two and a half years with them, we did great things, we achieved great things together. And I had the chance to show and to put on track my full potential with them, so I have to thank them a lot. Now a new chapter starts with the factory team. it feels great, many, many people I know already, many people inside and outside the pit box working for you. Re-joining Fabio, that’s yeah a good thing as well. I’m happy. I’m just happy that I’m here again and start doing what I can do. A with these colours it feels even better.”
Marc Marquez: back to more struggles than Aragon?
The eight-time World Champion threw everything in his locker at Pecco in an attempt to claim his second win of the season, but nevertheless, a second place in Aragon was an exceptional ride from Marc Marquez. However, the HRC star admits he expects to struggle a lot more this weekend than he did on home soil last time out.
Marc Marquez: “Yeah of course Aragon was a great weekend to come back on the podium and extra motivation to continue my progress. But it’s true here in Misano we will come back to our real moment. It’s not very far from the top guys but still it’s a bit far and I can’t ride how I want, so I can’t say a lot. In FP1 I will understand straight away where I am, what I can do this weekend and yeah, the target is to be close to the top guys.”
The penultimate home Grand Prix for The Doctor
Five races remain in Rossi’s glistening career, two of them in his backyard: Misano. The Doctor will be taking part in his penultimate home Grand Prix this weekend, and he's expecting an emotional weekend with fans trackside.
Rossi: Misano is always a special weekend. I live very close, Tavullia is very close, but I also grew up at this track as a rider. The first time I tried a motorcycle was here in Misano, in 1992 I think so 30 years ago, and it’s always great and emotional and we have a lot of fans during the weekend. It will be very important to give the maximum to be competitive and be strong because this is the most important thing.
Make sure you tune into the weekend’s action, which for the premier class begins at 09:55 local time (GMT+2) on Friday morning.