After 18 rounds of incredible racing in 2019, it’s time for the Circuit Ricardo Tormo to host the season finale. The pre-event Press Conference for the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana saw reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) joined by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) to talk shop – and share a few words on rival Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), who announced his retirement earlier in the day.
Marquez was first to speak. “Malaysia was not the best weekend for us but in the end we achieved a good result in the race which is the most important thing, we finished in second. At Valencia we will see, it’s time to finish the season in a good way, work hard next week for 2020, and there’s the team Championship where we’ll fight against Andrea and Danilo, and apart from that just try to enjoy it, the last race weekend and a home GP. Last weekend in my hometown in Cervera was amazing with my brother too, and I’ll just try to enjoy this, no pressure.”
Next up was Dovizioso, who also spoke of 2020… “We really would like to finish the season in a good way, we’ve confirmed a strong second overall, it’s not the Championship but we have to be happy with it. For sure we’ll have something to try at the test, and for sure we have to improve our situation if we want to fight with Marc so we’ll be focused on that.”
Then, Sepang winner Viñales talked through his recent form and geared up for Valencia. “I am really happy about the end of the season because somehow I felt we’ve grown a lot, especially with the team, and also with the bike and that was the most important; that was the objective of the last races: trying to going up and up with the bike, and it’s what we did. So, we arrive here in Valencia with the same mentality. I will go for everything. I will try to push myself and the bike at the maximum and then we will see, but I will give my maximum as always.”
Rins was next on the mic, and he’s facing down Viñales for third overall. “We have really good memories here in Valencia, last year in the rain but also in my first year I finished fourth here. So let’s see what happens, for sure I’ll try to fight, I don’t want to be focused on the final position overall, the important thing is that we’re getting information and experience for next year, so let’s see what happens. I’ll try and start tomorrow at 100%.”
After the Spaniard, the ‘Doctor’. Rossi has had ups and downs at Valencia, but he definitely arrives on the up after an incredible battle with Dovizioso for the podium in Malaysia. He missed out, but it was close… “We arrive from a good weekend in Sepang, so we have to try and continue like this. Valencia is completely different: the track, the temperature and the conditions are the opposite. It will be interesting to understand our speed and try and be competitive all weekend – and be strong on Sunday.”
Finally, we had chance to hear from Franco Morbidelli after he came home top Independent at Sepang. And it’s his first race on the Yamaha at Valencia. “In Japan and Malaysia I thought we had the speed to fight for the podium and we really don’t know why but in the race I struggled, I started to struggle a lot generally with lack of speed. So here in Valencia will be another important occasion to have good practices and try and have a good weekend until the race – and then try and maintain the practice speed on Sunday.”
Sunday sees the curtain go up for the final premier class race of the season at 14:00 (GMT +1) local time, with the Team Championship, third overall and top Independent Team rider still up for grabs – alongside another 25 points and a goodbye from Jorge Lorenzo. Don’t miss it.
Riders on Lorenzo: rival, and idol?
Marquez: “It was a surprise, even for his teammate. In the team, we didn’t know and it was a surprise. Especially the way he worked in the box – then the results can be better or worse – but the way that he worked was exactly the same as his first day in Honda. Just an hour ago I was with him in his truck to say congrats, obviously for his career but especially the way to take the decision. This is something that means a lot – how is Jorge? Because he is a real champion. The moment he feels he can’t be in the top places he decided to stop. A strong character on and off the track, and yeah, a real champion. I want to say congrats to him and wish him the best for the future.”
Dovizioso: “Jorge was my rival because I met him in the European Championship in 2001 and every year we changed class at the same moment, so we’ve always been rivals. He’s won a lot of races and championships, is I think he can just be happy about his career. Unfortunately this is the sport and sometimes it’s difficult to continue to be in that level, I think he had some crashes in the last two years, and it affected his mind, but I think what he did in the world championship is something huge.”
Viñales: “To win the Championship five times is not easy. He’s a great rider, a great talent. He showed every race that he was always at the top in each category, and that’s the most important. I think if he feels that now is the moment, it’s about himself, and I wish him the best luck for the rest of the life.”
Rins: “Yeah for sure when I started to watch the races on TV, he was my reference. I was pushing a lot for him. For me he is an idol, he won many races. He has a very big talent. I feel good to fight with him, not a lot of races, but to share a track with him.”
Rossi: “I think that he is for sure one of the most important MotoGP riders in the modern era. I think that we lose a very important part of our sport. He’s a great champion, he impressed me a lot of times for his speed and concentration. From when he arrived in MotoGP, he was always from the first moment very strong, from 2008, so more than ten years. We were teammates for a long time, a lot of years together we shared the same box and I think he’s, personally, one of the greatest rivals of my career. We did some of the best races together, that I remember in my history, so it’s a great shame that he finished but he’s good, he’s okay, and I wish him a lot of luck for the future.
Morbidelli: “Yes, I remember the first time…I remember where I was when I first realized about Jorge Lorenzo, which was Rio, which he won and then he stopped because he finished his fuel, he stopped in a very particular place. I remember very, very clearly because it gave me a nice feeling, so I remember very clearly where I was and what I was feeling. He had an amazing career, he had amazing results with a really particular style. I mean, he has his own style – riding style and also outside of the track. So, he’s definitely one of the biggest riders according to me in history. So, yeah, a pity because he stops, but if he’s happy with this decision then everybody should be happy.”