The French rider is joined by home hero Schrötter, Alcoba, Suzuki, Muñoz and Moto3™ points leader Garcia to race on two wheels and four near the Sachsenring.
It was a full gas Thursday ahead of the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, with some familiar faces heading for Arena E near the Sachsenring for their first showdowns of the weekend. Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) was joined at the event by home hero Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), his teammate Jeremy Alcoba, Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing), first time podium finisher in Catalunya David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports), and Moto3™ Championship leader Sergio Garcia (GASGAS Aspar Team) for two races: one on two wheels, and one on four.
Whenever there’s competition to be had, riders will find it and of course, on E-Pitbikes and in karts, there was plenty. After a practice session on the electric bikes, the field then headed out to race and get down to business.
Muñoz, after storming to that incredible rostrum on only his second start last time out, was out to make another point as the Moto3™ newcomer took on Zarco… and won. Full gas to the finish he was the first victor of the day, with the Frenchman forced to settle for second and Schrötter completing the podium on home turf. A headline grabber was a crash for Garcia as he overcooked it and skittled off, rider perfectly ok.
And so it was kart time. After another practice/qualifying session, Schrötter “somehow” started last, although he was adamant that was inaccurate, and the German was then further handcuffed off the start as three riders battled over the grass on the exit of Turn 1 and the other three all gassed it on the inside. After the chaos had settled a little it then became an Alcoba vs Garcia duel, followed by Zarco vs Suzuki and then Schrötter vs Muñoz. But the brutality of Garcia vs Alcoba allowed Zarco to catch the leading duo – and the Frenchman struck quickly to make sure he sliced past, kept it and took the flag. First win of the weekend in the bag, Alcoba took second and Garcia was forced to settle for third.
“Not more motivated – more focused”
The pre-event Press Conference kicks off the German GP with some quality soundbites.
Ahead of the Liqui Moly Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland, the pre-event Press Conference saw Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) joined by second on points Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), as well as Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller to debrief recent goings on and get in gear for the German GP.
How confident are you about fighting for the podium in each of the next two races?
Fabio Quartararo: “Especially Mugello and Barcelona were great, great pace in Barcelona all weekend – Saturday and Sunday – and Mugello was even better because I felt bad all weekend and just in the race we could achieve a really great race. This Sachsenring race last year was pretty good, we finished on the podium, and Assen is also a track that I really appreciate. So, of course, I am super-motivated and I hope to do well.”
What challenges does the Sachsenring pose to you?
FQ20: “It’s a really short track and the race here is one of the longest, because when you complete 15 laps and there are still 15 remaining, it’s super long, mentally. We are always turning left, and it feels like we are racing for two hours, but it’s the same for everybody and this track is mentally tough because it’s super long.”
Where do you feel that you have made improvements to yourself in 2022?
FQ20: “Basically, I think in Austin this year… in the beginning of the year, I was not really on it, because in Qatar and Argentina especially, I would say I was complaining too much and in my head always was the fact that the top speed is much slower than the others. But in Austin, I decided to really stop with this mentality because I will have the same bike all year, and just do the best with what you have. It’s basically really similar to last year, and we could achieve really great races, and I think the step I did mentally in Austin makes me not more motivated, but more focused. Since Portimao, I’ve always finished in the top five, so I think it was a great first part of the season, apart from a few races I’m not super happy about.”
Are you out to make amends after Barcelona?
Aleix Espargaro: “I will try to forget as soon as I’m on the bike, but this time I’ve struggled more to forget. On Sunday night I couldn’t sleep and test on Monday was very difficult. Tuesday, Wednesday I was training on the bicycle, the thing I love most, and I couldn’t stop being angry with myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about the mistake and I was angry with myself because I tried to repeat to myself that it is just a human mistake, it can happen, forget it, but I couldn’t. Then I decided at the last moment to do a trip to Euro Disney with my my kids. To forget the diet, to not train for two days and to have fun and it worked really, really well. I disconnected and now I’m back, I completely forget what happened in Barcelona and you know it was just a stupid mistake but when you are fighting for a for a title at this year… it’s everything bigger so hopefully I can get some points in Germany.”
Are you aiming for a front row?
AE41: “Germany has always been a good track for Aprilia and myself. I’ve been competitive the last two or three years I raced here. Last year I was fast in qualifying and I was fighting in the first part of the race with Marc, but then when the rain came I lost too much time. In the end I was two seconds off the podium which isn’t that bad. I believe that with this year’s bike, this can be a good weekend for us. I will try work well from FP1, then to have fun in qualifying and switch off the brain to put in a fast lap, and then yeah, try fight for another podium.
“I have the feeling these two races are very very important. Now I have more than 30 points to third in the Championship but Fabio has 22 more than me. I hope in these two races I can achieve a good amount of points to go into the summer break. Anyways, the first 10 races have been like a dream for me. I will try to fight for the podium here and in Assen to have a good summer break, but I believe I deserve a good holidays anyways!
How much are you looking to putting Barcelona behind you after your misfortune?
Francesco Bagnaia: “What I want to say is that I tried to feel different, and I want to feel that Barcelona is the past. The test was good, I enjoyed it a lot, it was great to forget what happened the day before, and I want to look forward to the upcoming races. This track last year was quite difficult but in the race, I started to be very competitive – I finished fifth, and I was riding very well. So, I think it could be a good weekend for me, for us, and Assen, for sure, will be a bit more difficult, but let’s see. I hope that the work that we are doing, that is great, will help me in these two races before the summer break.”
Why has Ducati struggled in the past here and how confident are you that the GP22 will be more competitive?
FB63: “We started a different type of work last year. It was the first time that me and Jack were in the factory team, and I think we have helped Ducati to change the mentality a bit on where we were before with the standard setting. So, in one year, the bike started to the bike that was turning more, that was accelerating more. So, we have done a great job and in this track that was a difficult track for us, it was great. Jack was up the front all weekend and I think we have been a big help to Ducati to improve the bike that was the same from the year before. So, I think that, at the moment, we don’t have any more tracks that we struggle on, but it’s difficult to say now, but I hope that the work done will help us.”
Will it be difficult to beat Quartararo in the championship now?
FB63: “Yes, but if last year, the mission was to win the championship, to recover 70 points in five races, now this year I have 11 races. The ambition is high, I know what the potential is like. Fabio, at the moment, is the greatest on-track, I think, because he is riding his bike perfectly. I think we can be a great opponent to him, and recovering 66 points at the moment is not easy, but we still have the possibility.”
So… thoughts on KTM?
Jack Miller: “First and foremost, very happy to have that one done and to be here for another two years! You guys have to put up with me for a little bit longer but no, really, really happy! Excited for what is to come. I mean an amazing opportunity for for me too to have a bit of change of scenery and try something different. You know I’ve been at Ducati now for quite some time, five years, and had an amazing experience. We’ve done a lot of a lot of good races together, a lot of highs, and a lot of lows, but you know super thankful for everything that they’ve taught me throughout the time and to have the opportunity to not only ride at Pramac and go through that whole program there, but then also to step up into the factory team and be able to have two years here. It’s been an amazing experience and yeah something I wouldn’t change at all. Going forward, looking forward to another decent project and you know with a lot of hungry people so it looks good.”
How hard will it be to say goodbye?
JM43: “I mean it’s kind of weird because you know announce all this stuff and I said early and then you are still there for the end of the year, so I mean you sort of like light the Wick and then you wait. I mean it’ll be good, you know, before the announcement came out and everything like that you know I went round to all the management staff and even to Pecco and just had my little words with them and told them basically about what was going to happen and where we were at and I mean it’s already been a little bit emotional. I mean also wearing this Ducati red is something that I wanted for so long and to get it, and then to go away from it, is emotional but as I said we’ve got some exciting times ahead of us and and like you say 12 races to go still, I i still get to be a a factory Ducati rider for another 12 races.”
And what happened in Mugello and Barcelona?
JM43: “Your guess is as good as mine to what happened the last few weekends. It’s not for a lack of trying. Ever since that podium in Le Mans, we’ve been struggling a little bit. We had a good test on Monday in Barcelona, that couldn’t have come at a better time. Stemming all from the winter, and the work we did throughout the winter, I think we’ve been on the back foot a little bit and the tracks where we’ve had a lot of or decent grip I’ve been alright, but then the grips been down, like with the temperature and everything in Mugello, and even Barcelona where the grip was extremely low, I seem to suffer a lot especially in the front end. We were able to on the Monday, yeah it’s different sort of situation because there’s a lot of Michelin rubber on the ground and the tracks really, really fast, but I feel like we were able to find a little bit headway we sort of played around quite a lot with the geometry of the bike and position and I feel it was a really successful Monday test. Normally I hate those things, but I was really happy to have that one.”
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