Down in pitlane: "We’ve definitely made a step"

Delve into what leading team personnel had to say when they spoke to pitlane reporter Simon Crafar during FP1 and FP2

As always,’s pitlane reporter Simon Crafar was on the ground during FP1 and FP2 Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragon getting the latest scoops of information about the respective teams and factories.

See below to read the numerous slices of gossip the team managers shared on Friday at MotorLand Aragon:

Wilco Zeelenberg – Petronas Yamaha SRT Team Manager:

“Well I think we did a great job, especially the riders as they performed amazing. Fabio, of course, with his second-place but also I need to say Frankie is a great example for our team. He’s working hard, he has the worst teammate you can have in the paddock, but he keeps working, focusing and concentrating without making big mistakes and improving, which is important to say. He’s a good example for the team on how we want to improve and how we want to work.

“It’s one of our problems I would say, especially because the long straight is before the start-finish so that doesn’t make it easy for us. We’ve always struggled here quite a bit. I don’t know if it’s because of the layout or the tyres but overall, we haven’t outperformed ourselves here at this track but I don’t know the reason.”

Massimo Meregalli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director:

“We worked in that area and in the last races Maverick has made some good starts. We did a lot of practice and worked on settings to try to give him the feeling he was looking for. On the race results, we were expecting to fight for the victory, but Maverick suffered with rear grip issues on acceleration, so he had to push the front and he lost the front a couple of times. Especially when Fabio passed him, he had a moment, so he had to reset his mind. The gap was already quite big between him and Marc. He was able to recover it, but he managed to finish third.

“Vale more or less he suffered the same problems as Maverick but starting from seventh it took him time to overtake some of the other riders. Once he got in front, the gap between him and Maverick was too big so he couldn’t do more than that.

“It’s a track that I like but for different circumstances, especially last year it was tough for us. This is a really good test for us because we want to see if the improvements we’ve made at the last races will work here and apparently after the first run I might say we’ve definitely made a step.

“It’s been an improvement, Valentino put together all the package during the test. Maverick started comparing some new and old stuff, but he wanted to be focused on race results. Here we are starting to again compare because we need to think about next year and those items are also very important because of next year’s bike.

Davide Tardozzi – Ducati Team Manager:

“In Misano there was obviously something a lot different from the previous year when we won. Here it’s exactly the same, the asphalt is the same. Last year we were fighting for the victory so we expect this year we will fight for the podium again.”

Davide Brivio – Team Ecstar Suzuki Team Manager:

“Both riders struggled a little bit with the front end so we couldn’t push as we would’ve liked to. Alex was especially struggling. He spent a lot of time trying to overtake Pol and then there was a crash. The race was then finished. Joan had a good comeback race, finishing eighth, that’s what he asked of him. It was the target to finish inside the top ten and do a steady race, so it’s okay let’s move on.

“Last year we had a very good race with both riders. Alex had a problem with the front tyre but finished fourth, two seconds from the winner so it seems to be a good track. Year by year things change, competition changes, now it looks like the Yamaha is getting stronger so let’s see here. But Alex likes the track, Suzuki likes the track so we will try to be back in the top positions.

“The bike is exactly the same as Misano, we’re just working on setup.”

Herve Poncharal – Red Bull KTM Tech 3 Team Manager:

“The first thing I’d like to say is that we’re really happy because the fact he’s been riding after a small crash during the Misano race that we thought would be a backward step in his recovery but that wasn’t the case. He’s been working with the doctors and he says he’s feeling better. I haven’t spoken with him during the session but yesterday he said he had less pain and more power. He’s doing much longer runs and when I saw him talking to his technical guys, he didn’t have the same face as at Misano and wasn’t moving it too much. I don’t think he’s 100% yet but hopefully, we’ll see him closer to the top guy than in Misano.

“Without telling you a big secret, but still it’s a big secret, we might have some new engines parts for him from Thailand. Everyone in KTM wants to give him the feeling that he isn’t left out in the cold. We know how important the Asia Pacific rounds are for him so I’m pretty sure that’ll help him a lot and I hope he’ll be happy and make good use of it. Right now, we have a new rider in the KTM group in Mika Kallio, so far, he’s been quite impressive in his first Grand Prix for many months. I think he’ll be a good benchmark for Hafizh. It’s not the same bike as he’s doing a lot of development together with Dani Pedrosa but I believe it’s something Hafizh should look at to try to see the glass as half full.

“Right now, we must not forget that our lead rider Miguel is doing his rookie season. So far, without you thinking I’m being politically correct, I’m really happy with what we have. We got a big update in Spielberg, we’re trying to help Miguel learn the MotoGP class, we’ll have the 2020 prototype at the Valencia test. Right now, what we have is more than enough for us and we’ll let Mika, Pol and Dani do the development work, we’re happy with that.”

Alberto Puig – Repsol Honda Team Manager:

“This is nothing special (Marquez’ lap time). They already did this laptime in the past. He tried because we were not clear with the weather situation, so he put on a soft tyre in the end that he doesn’t usually do in FP1. So, I think maybe the other guys didn’t use another tyre at the end but that’s it. I don’t think tomorrow for the grid it’ll be any different.”

On Jorge: “Frankly speaking, this morning wasn’t so good for him. He didn’t find any confidence at all with the bike and it’s more or less what’s happening in the last races. I’d like to say there’s progress. Physically he’s improving, he’s feeling better on the pain side but, regarding the performance, it’s still not there. Let’s hope he can find the connection with the bike he needs.”

Francesco Guidotti – Pramac Racing Team Manager:

“We are happy to be back on track quickly after the tough Misano weekend but this morning we had good feedback from the track; we have good grip, good feeling, Pecco has good comments, even though it’s his first time here with MotoGP. So, we’re looking forward to having a nice weekend like we had before Misano.

“Tomorrow the weather forecast says there will be rain most probably, so we have to do the time attack for Q2 but we also have to find a way to choose the right tyre for Sunday because if it rains tomorrow we won’t have a chance to do a long run.”

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