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Ahead of a crucial weekend which could heavily influence where the 2021 MotoGP™ World Championship trophy heads, current standings leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was joined by main rival Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas pre-event Press Conference alongside Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) and home heroes Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) to discuss Round 15 of the season.
48 points split Quartararo and Bagnaia in the Championship with just four races to go. To say this weekend is vital in the title race is probably an understatement, and heading into the weekend at COTA, both riders are in buoyant moods. It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see how Quartararo goes about his business with his healthy points advantage, and it’s a topic he touched upon.
Quartararo: “Yes honestly in Misano, behind Jack, I had some moments. But as soon as I overtook Jack and I saw Pecco in front, I needed to try. Second is ok for the championship and in the end that’s the position we finished but it’s the race I had more fun in this year. It’s a shame we didn’t get that place at the end, but the race was going super fast and I want more of this at the end. Of course I’m on a tricky situation, I will not push over my limit but if I can achieve something like Misano or something better, I will go for it.”
On the other hand, Pecco can’t afford to make any mistakes and has to go all out attack. Four races, 48 points – by no means impossible, but it’s certainly difficult. A Ducati rider has never won at COTA, however, Bagnaia is confident he can be very competitive this weekend.
Bagnaia: “This year we were fast at tracks that we struggled at in the past years. I think our bike suits better in all the conditions in all the situations of tracks. This first sector is very similar to Silverstone, maybe more difficult but similar, and we were fast there so I think we can also be very competitive here. We need a chance to stay in front so we have to be competitive.”
It’s the question on a lot of people’s lips going into this weekend. Marc Marquez is a six-time winner in Austin, but 2021 is different. While admitting the approach to this GP is certainly different to somewhere like Misano, Marquez is aware that COTA’s heavy braking zones and fast changes of direction might take their toll slightly. The eight-time World Champion’s goal? Enjoy himself.
Marc Marquez: “Yeah of course I mean the approach of the weekend, for example compared to Misano and Austin is a bit different because I know that normally in this track I enjoy a lot and this year I will try to enjoy it, because if we take this season I’m suffering more than enjoying. Anyway we will see, it’s a tough track, lots of changed of direction and a lot of brake points, but luckily it’s on the left side, so this will help. And yeah, I’m ready to enjoy – if I enjoy it on the bike the result will arrive.”
It’s safe to say both Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and fellow American Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) were stoked to be back on home soil for a Grand Prix. Both riders will be receiving heaps of support throughout the weekend, and who knows, maybe we’ll be hearing the The Star-Spangled Banner right around COTA at the end of the Moto2™ race on Sunday.
Roberts: “Yeah, just amazing to be back here honestly. I think, pretty thankful to MotoGP and Dorna for making this happen to come back to America, as an American rider it’s crucial that we race in America. Even just last night flying in and coming into the airport and seeing fans already, coming up and saying hi, it’s amazing. Austin I’ve always said it’s one of my favourite cities, I’m a big fan of music and stuff so, they’ve got Austin City Limits this weekend – not that I’ll make any shows this weekend – but it’s pretty cool to be here. I hope for a great showing, we have a great race and the fans really enjoy it.”
Beaubier: “Yeah, it's like Joe said, it's pretty special coming back here and racing at COTA and we haven't been here since 2019, and we were here in 2019 with MotoAmerica so yeah, it's going to be nice on Friday rolling out on the track I know. In front of the hometown crowd and everything like that yeah, it's been an amazing season so far you know, it's been really, really tough this Moto2 class. I mean just the level of talent across the board from Moto2, Moto3 and obviously MotoGP is incredible so yeah, looking forward to this weekend and see what the weather throws at us.”
The eagerly anticipated Grand Prix of the Americas gets underway at 09:00 local time (GMT+5) with Moto3™, before the MotoGP™ riders hit COTA for the first time in over two years.
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