Quartararo, Rins, Aleix Espargaro and Marc Marquez gear up for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España
Catch your breath, because it’s already time to suit up for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España! Ahead of track action there was plenty to talk about in the pre-event Press Conference, with Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) joined by Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), who is equal on points with the Frenchman but doesn’t (yet?) have that first win of the year, as well as Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) as the number 41 remains a close third. Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completed the line-up in Jerez, aka his first home Grand Prix of the year.
How important was the first win to kickstart your title defence?
Fabio Quartararo: “It was an important moment. It was great for us to basically not have a lot of dry track, because we know that our base is very similar to last year. Straight away, I was able to be fast, and in the race, to make a 39.4 on Lap 3 was quite important. Of course, to fight for the victory after the tough start to the season is always great, and it’s even greater when you have back-to-back races, and I am at one of my favourite tracks.”
Do you feel a sense of payback is coming this weekend after last year’s arm pump problem?
FQ20: “Payback, I will say no, because basically it was not an issue with the bike, it was an issue from my side. I would say that I am arriving much more prepared. The surgery I had last year was perfect, so of course I feel we can go super-fast but we need to work on a normal weekend. I feel we have the potential to fight for the victory but we need do it step-by-step, first Friday and then we will see our speed.”
What do you hope your manufacturer will bring to Monday’s test?
FQ20: “I hope horsepower. To be honest, I feel super great on the bike. We can always find a little bit more, but the big thing we need to find is horsepower. I have not spoken to them about the test, but I think we have one swingarm and a few electronics things to test, but do not have much information about Monday.”
It was an incredible first lap in Portugal…
Alex Rins: “For sure it was not that easy to recover all those positions. We were lucky that I took the outside line and I was able to recover a lot of positions. I also took a risk because, usually, you can see some riders entering the first corner and going wide. So we were lucky that nobody was going wide and this one allowed me to keep with the same line and to arrive into the next corner. Then I released a little bit the brakes and I made some more good positions. It gives me good confidence. We are at a track that I really like. Last year, we had a small crash at Turn 6, so I did the race with just one wing. The pace was not that bad, so let’s see. Let’s see what awaits us this weekend and let’s try to do the same as last weekend.”
Fans return this weekend to Jerez:
AR42: “It’s nice. Yesterday I was cycling around the circuit and I saw some fans with their motorbikes, with their campers, making some noise, some sound. This is super good and for sure this is one of the tracks that a lot of riders will be fast at. It’s the first GP in Spain, so it will be difficult. Also, the level that we have in MotoGP is high this year. We will try to give our 110%!”
What are you expecting from Monday’s test:
AR42: “We don’t have many things to test. Just some electronic items, some suspension settings. Not many things to try. I don’t know exactly because I’m focusing on this weekend. If we have something that can help us now, I’d want to put it on tomorrow. So I prefer not to know.”
How satisfied are you to have taken 66 points from the opening five Grands Prix?
Aleix Espargaro: “I feel good, I’m really enjoying this season. Already in pre-season, I felt quite good with the bike. It was not easy to imagine that I would be able to reach this level, but I’m very happy, working and enjoying it a lot every time I go on-track. We know we have to improve in some areas, but overall, I’m satisfied, I feel good with the bike, and I can’t wait to go out on-track tomorrow in FP1 to see how the bike reacts in Jerez. Last season here was very good for us, we were quite close to the podium and the victory, so I hope with this year’s bike, that improves quite a lot, and we can be even more competitive.”
You must be really optimistic that you’ve got a great chance to get a podium on Sunday?
AE41: “Yes I am, but this year things have changed a lot for us, but also for the rest of the riders on the grid. The level is very high, and we know how tough this category is. I remember that in FP3 here last season, there were just three or four tenths covering 15 riders, so it’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to be very important to be focused from FP1. With the system of having the first three sessions to be in the top 10, we know it’s very important, and every session will count. I’m just trying to enjoy it from Lap 1 tomorrow morning, and see how prepared we can be on Sunday.”
What do you hope Aprilia has been working on in Noale for the test?
AE41: “We have quite a lot of things to try. Sincerely, I don’t know if we will have enough time on Monday because, for the engineers, everything is just an action, so they can put 100 laps, but we are not machines. Lorenzo Savadori is racing here again, like in Portimao. His bike is quite different to Maverick’s and mine, so hopefully everything he tries and feels is interesting, we will be able to try on Monday. But, it’s important to not lose the focus that the base of the bike is quite good. It’s always good to try to improve, there is always room to improve, but we have to be very careful as well.”
Thoughts from last weekend?
Marc Marquez: “We were far, too far in Portimao. You see sixth position and think not bad. But we were too far from the podium and from the victory. We struggled a lot in the race but anyway we will try to find a way to be faster here in Jerez. Of course, we have some ideas already to try. Not only for the bike but also for myself. I need to keep improving and we are working on it. We will see how we start in FP1 and from that point we can start to understand our performance this weekend.”
How soon can you find the improvements you need?
MM93: “This is the big question. It’s true that it’s a bike that in big circuits it’s working really well like we saw in pre-season in Malaysia and then in Qatar. But as soon as we arrive at a small circuit and you need to turn in a short time, that is where we struggle a lot. That’s where we need to understand some more. The solution is close or far? We don’t know, we don’t know. The potential is there. I believe the potential is there. But we need to find a way how to take profit from that potential.”
What do you expect from Monday’s test?
MM93: “We are in a different situation. My Monday test starts tomorrow. We will start with some things tomorrow, not new items. They have a good base and they are fighting for the championship for that reason. When you have a good base, you are able to be fast everywhere. That’s where we need to work. Try to find, first of all, a base where we feel comfortable. From that point, we can start to try new things.”