The time is nigh and ahead of track action for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, Spanish GP reigning champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was joined by the fastest man in testing, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) to talk racing once again.
Marquez underlines that we are #RacingForThem.
"It’s great to be back to MotoGP racing but the most important thing is to try to help all the people that were affected, millions and millions and more will be. But all the small help that we can get to them is really important and we will do. Like you did, like many riders did and that people be conscientious that this virus is still there and we must be patient and also pay a lot of attention.
Viñales looking ominous in testing - before and after lockdown. He also sounds optimistic ahead of Jerez....
"Yes I feel fantastic, I mean the atmosphere inside the team is great, the harmony in the team is great. I think all the pieces are there. We need to keep going, we need to keep doing the job and what we were building last year. I can’t wait to be on the bike, I mean we left the bike in Qatar in really good form, yesterday I felt incredible since the first lap and the feeling was there.
"In MotoGP it’s important to be on the level every day and not just one race. It’s important to improve the consistency of the bike from track to track, for sure we need a little more top speed but we’ve made a good jump this year."
For Quartararo, meanwhile, it's now a sophomore season and he's returning to the track that saw him take his first pole last season. How is he feeling?
"After such a long time without riding a MotoGP bike, it was so fun to feel the speed. It wasn’t an easy day because the 2020 bike we only rode in Sepang and Malaysia and I was struggling in the first session because it’s so different to the last year’s spec that I had but I saw that yesterday the potential of the bike was really good and we need to adapt as quickly as possible because the other guys are also really fast.
"I think that, like Maverick said, the top speed is something we still need to improve but, honestly, I’m feeling really good with the bike. There are still some things that we need to adjust compared to last year’s bike but to close the gap with Marc we will need to do a really good job because we know that he’s fast everywhere and in every condition, so we will need to adapt quickly to every situation. In the rain he was so fast, like in Brno, in mixed conditions he was so fast, so we will need also to adapt as a rider in these conditions.
Rossi has also been making headlines but of a different kind. But first, the 'Doctor' debriefed the lockdown.
"It’s a very strange situation. Also, a long, long time at home is a different feeling because I raced in the world championship for 24, 25 years. It’s a different feeling because it’s strange for us to live without the pressure and adrenaline of the race weekend. It was strange at the beginning, a little bit boring also because we were close to starting and we stopped for 2 months. But then when you understand your rhythm and everything it’s also good to stay at home. I feel good. But I’m very happy to restart. I think that all the fans around the world and the people who work here miss MotoGP a lot, so it’s great that we’ll restart. Yesterday we were already on track to come back on the bike and it was a long time but it’s like one day with the same feeling, the same joy and tomorrow we’ll start a normal race weekend."
And the test?
"In the afternoon it was a bit more difficult. We have to work on the pace because we have to fix some things. But in general I was in P5 overall and it wasn’t so bad."
Finally, it was time to ask - is he returning for 2021? It would seem so...
"For me the situation changed the plan a bit because I needed to race in 2020 to decide if I was going to race in 2021 to see if I can still be fast and competitive but, in the end, I have to make my decision without racing. But I spoke a lot with Yamaha and I want to continue. It’ll be a big effort because when you’re old you have to work very old, but I want to be part of the game, also next year, and I already agreed with Yamaha and I spoke already with Petronas and everything is fixed. I haven’t signed the contract because it’s still not ready because we have to build the team and it depends very much if a lot of people will move from one team to the other because Fabio and I will switch position, but I think that we’ll fix it as soon as possible."
All the action will be LIVE on Eurosport SD and HD from the Spanish GP on July 18, 2020, Saturday from 4:00 PM (IST) with the qualifying race followed by the main race on Sunday, July 19, 2020 from 2:30 PM (IST).