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Independent Teams Talk 2021 And More At MisanoA one-off Press Conference gathers a number of key figures from the MotoGP™ class Independent Teams.

At the Gran Premio Nolan del Made in Italy e dell’Emilia-Romagna, some key figures from the Independent Teams in the MotoGP™ class sat down for a special Press Conference on Friday. Pramac Racing Team Principal Paolo Campinoti, LCR Honda Team Manager Lucio Cecchinello, Gresini Racing Commercial and Marketing Director Carlo Merlini, Sky VR46 Team Manager Pablo Nieto, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Herve Poncharal and Razlan Razali, Team Principal of Petronas Yamaha SRT, all gathered to talk present and future. Here are some key quotes!

Paolo Campinoti: “So far, we are very happy with the season and fortunately after many years to take a victory… we have been close many times and fortunately this year we got it. The team has made a big step, we have two very good riders, both very good and pushing each other, and it’s good we’ll have them next season too – so you can continue the journey we’ve started and continue to grow together with them. So I’m happy about the season and optimistic about the next one.

Johann is more mature as a rider and has a lot of experience, we don’t expect a huge difference, and Jorge is a rookie and has a great season as a rookie. So I expect next season with one year more experience in MotoGP he should improve again. We’ll really happy about the prospects for next year. Both of them are very good, there’s a good harmony in the team and I expect to continue like this!”

Lucio Cecchinello: “Definitely our results are below our expectations, so far for example we ended with Nakagami in 15 races six times in the top ten, with a highlight in Spain with fourth, and then Alex was five times in the top ten with a best of sixth in France. Both riders last year were able to fight for the podium, and this year we dropped a couple of positions for several reasons. Now we’re working and looking to finish the season the best we can and hopefully we’ll be able to be much stronger next year.

“Maybe it’s not always been visible but Honda has made huge efforts in the last few months to recover the gap to our competitors. The truth is that Marc Marquez injured for many months and out meant there wasn’t really a lead rider to bring up the bike development because we need to remember Pol joined this year, Alex moved teams and moved crew, and Taka from a previous bike moved to the current bike. So this affected the development but Honda is working massively, as well as on a prototype for next year, which is an important step, and we’re confident we’ll recover the gap.”

Carlo Merlini: “2021 has been a very difficult year for us, we started in February with the loss of Fausto which left an enormous empty space, from both sides – emotionally and professionally. The space left was so big we thought sometimes we wouldn’t make it, but after the family wanted to jump on board and push everything forward. The dream, the project, the legacy, and a few months later looking back on the other option, to stop… would it have been any better? I think everyone is happy now to see Team Gresini in the paddock, continuing the project. It was also really important for us to receive so much support and help from everyone, especially we’d like to thank Dorna and Carmelo, always close to us, supporting us and pushing us to continue, and the sponsor who kept trusting us. The results on the track have been good, and I’m sure Fausto would have loved to see Aprilia on the podium after seven years working together, and we were back winning in Moto2. So I hope he’s looking down on us and cheering what we’re doing for him.

“We’re very excited about next season and after seven years with Aprilia, who we thank for what they’ve done with us. A new chapter, a new challenge is also exciting. We’re happy to have announced in June the partnership with Ducati and to welcome back Enea who we’ve known for a long time, he rode for us in Moto3, and welcoming Fabio Di Giannantonio to the premier class.”

Pablo Nieto: “This is our first year in MotoGP, we made this agreement with Avintia and it’s important for us to learn, improve and see how the new category is for our team. Important to understand how it works because it’s completely different to Moto2, it’s different how you work with the manufacturers, with Ducati we have a very good feeling. The first year is hard but I think we’re doing a good job, and it’s important to learn for all the mechanics and the whole team and then we’ll have our own team in 2022.

“We’re excited about next year, coming in with our own team, completely from zero and starting a nice project. Everyone knows the riders already but this weekend is important for us, it’s Valentino’s weekend, and we don’t want to say about that but everyone knows who will be in MotoGP and Moto2. We have to learn, like I said, improve as it’s a new challenge for us, but I think we have really good support from Ducati and that’s important. We’re coming here to do good things.”

Herve Poncharal: “Fortunately I’ve been here quite a few seasons and I know what happens today won’t always be what happens tomorrow. We ended 2020 in a dream, pole position, lap record, leading from Lap 1 to the flag but I knew that wouldn’t be exactly the same on the grid in Qatar 2021. We changed a few things, some important things – the riders! – and this season, I would say, has been a tough one but you have to look at the results and the amount of work. We’ve been working very hard, together with KTM, we’ve had ups and downs – all of us, KTM factory team and Tech 3 – and we enjoy the relationship with Danilo and Iker. The results weren’t what we or they were expecting, but there are a lot of explanations. The competitive level of the MotoGP grid is incredible. Sometimes you’re a few tenths behind and you’re not in the top ten so you can’t go through to Q2, etc etc. So it was a tough year but we still have things to enjoy, and I’m glad to see neither are left without anything. Danilo is opening a new chapter in his career on an official KTM at the next Dakar Rally, which is his dream, and I’d like to thank Stefan Pierer for giving him that opportunity. There’s no announcement regarding Iker but we all know he will have an interesting ride next season and his career will move on and he’ll be able to grow. He’s only 21 and he’s a real talent. So that was 2021!

“It’s more than a little excitement about next year. We can feel and see how gifted we’ll be next year. I know Remy, I worked two years with him in our Moto2 team. I’ve been following Raul since he joined the World Championship and I think with have two incredible talents, two really nice guys. I wouldn’t like to be in Ajo’s shoes, I’ve been there when we arrived in Phillip Island with Nakano and Jacque with a few point between the two. I think both Remy and Raul deserve to be Champion this year in Moto2. But we know we will have the World Champion and the runner up in our MotoGP team next year! We had the chance to have the two here in Misano on the MotoGP bike and we saw already after a few laps they were on an interesting pace, the comments were amazing, and we’re very excited, impatient to be in Jerez and 2022 looks like a very exciting season. I think we’ll give everyone around us a hard time.

“The level of the Independent Teams has been increasing a lot, a few years ago, maybe a decade ago, we were here to fill the grid so to speak and the manufacturers saw us like a weight on their shoulders. They did it to have a proper grid. You got the stuff that was supposed to go to the scrapyard: ‘give us some money for it, you do your job and we’re fighting for the Championship.’ Now, we won races last year, Razlan did it last year, Paolo this year, Lucio in the past. We can see the work we’ve done with Dorna and IRTA, pushing MSMA, has been so productive. Now we don’t have satellite and factory riders, most satellite riders are contracted to factories. I have ‘Factory Racing’ on my jacket and it shows everything we’ve been working for over the past ten years has been maturing and we’ve reached what we anted to reach. I’d like to thank everyone for that this is a different scenario now. it’s not crazy to think a Independent Team rider could win the Championship any time.”

Razlan Razali: “Where do I start? We’ve gone through everything in our short three years as Petronas Yamaha SRT. We tried to carry our momentum from last year with Valentino and Franky, unfortunately that didn’t materialise as Valentino struggled, we saw glimpses from Franky after Qatar with fourth and a podium, and after that he had an unlucky injury. from then on, our season has been the way it is. So we just tried to survive the year to do the best we can. Then we had the bombshell that Petronas decided not the continue, and subsequently Sepang Circuit had to stop. So that’s our life from 2019 to where we are now! But we are excited for the future.

“We like to do something different, that’s what we did in 2019, and we have a combination of experience and youth is something we think is a good balance. With a couple of races for Andrea this year I think he should be up to speed next year on the latest factory spec, and with good guidance from the team and Andrea, I think we can put Darryn to be in a similar situation that we had with Fabio in 2019, we hope. We’re excited by the balance of experience and youth, let’s see what happens!”
Top photo L-R: Cecchinello, Poncharal, Campinoti, Nieto, Merlini and Razali

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