Riders excited by first European round at Jerez
Marco Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi were present at Thursday’s Jerez press conference, as they previewed the second round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship – the Gran Premio bwin de España.
Formalities for the Gran Premio bwin de España got underway on Thursday afternoon at the Jerez Circuit, where reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was joined by early Championship leader Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi at the official press conference.
Stoner, who has just a single podium finish in the premier class at the circuit from 2009, was the first to speak as he emphasised his anticipation for the first European GP of the 2011 campaign having gotten off to a winning start in Qatar.
“It was good to get the first race done, and I think at this track we will get a clearer idea for the rest of the season,” said the Repsol Honda rider not only in reference to himself, but his rivals too. “We’ve had the best possible start to the season, but I’m now very excited to start the European Grands Prix.”
“Jerez is definitely a circuit I haven’t gone too well at in the past, but there’s always time to turn that around. It motivates me and I’m hopeful after this start (to the season). I am confident in the bike and want to continue getting good results and keep in touch with the Championship.”
Lorenzo won last year’s race at this venue and has winning form from his 250 days as well, but the Factory Yamaha Racing rider knows that will count for little when the weekend’s proceedings get underway with Friday morning’s practice session.
“I do have lots of experience at this track, but this is another Championship with different circumstances,” he said. “I come here happy after Qatar but we’ll see tomorrow how the bike is really working.”
A constant desire for Lorenzo from his M1 since the latter half of last season has been improvements in power, and with the Honda’s step up in pre-season and at Qatar the Spaniard is still aiming for more. “Let’s try to improve the bike. It can be improved a lot, and that’s our goal. Everything is possible,” he said, before stating when he expects to receive some new updates. “I think at Estoril we could have something to try, but maybe it will be later, around the fifth or sixth race.”
It was confirmed earlier in the day that following this race to try and finally correct the issue still hanging over from his collarbone injury, sustained last October at Motegi.
The Repsol Honda rider said: “We finally found out what was wrong, and I’ll have the operation on Monday or Tuesday. We’ll do the best we possibly can to finally fix the problem with the doctors, and then try to recover as fully as possible before Estoril.”
Focusing on the race, in which Pedrosa has always finished inside the top two when riding in the premier class, he added: “Jerez is always special. I won’t think about this injury and will try to do the best possible. I’ve had good races here in the past, the crowd is always great with their support, and I hope for a good weekend and result.”
Valentino Rossi is the most successful rider at the circuit having won six times in the premier class at Jerez but he is another rider also dealing with physical issues, his being a recovering shoulder.
“It’s a difficult moment because we have different problems, the first is me and I need time to be at 100%, the second is the bike. I need to be in a better condition and to ride the Desmosedici in the best possible way. On the other side many of the other bikes, especially Honda, have taken a big step and we need to take that same step,” said the Ducati rider.
Asked whether his switch to the Ducati was proving to be the biggest challenge of his career, Rossi added: “Yamaha was also a great challenge. Now I think it’s a bit more difficult because the level is higher and also because of my condition. I need more time.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, he concluded: “I like this track, love the area of Andalucia, and there are always a lot of people here. Here we will try to improve on the Qatar result of seventh.”
Completing the premier class line-up was Simoncelli, and the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider was open in his aims for the weekend.
“The start to this season is completely different to that of last year. I was happy with the first race. I’m confident here, like the track, and on Sunday I hope to do well. The target will be to have a good race, stay close to the front and if possible take a podium,” he stated.