The Official Press Conference to kick off the Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, round 16 of the 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship, took place on Thursday at the historic Phillip Island circuit. The two men battling it out for the title, Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, were joined by Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Jack Miller (LCR Honda) and Moto3™ championship leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing).
The first to address the media was championship leader Rossi. The Italian’s second at Motegi saw him extend his lead in the standings to 18 points over his teammate Lorenzo. The ‘Doctor’ is no stranger to success in Australia having won 8 times at the circuit before across all classes (1x250cc, 1x500cc and 5xMotoGP™), plus he knows he can afford to finish second to Lorenzo in the remaining three races and still lift the title: “Eighteen points can be a good advantage but it can also become a very small advantage. We have three races but now we have this track that I like very much. It’s always a good result and great memories here in the past but as always all the rivals are very strong, especially Jorge who is very fast here. From tomorrow morning will start another battle and the practice will be important to arrive ready for the race on Sunday.”
For his rival Jorge Lorenzo the task is simple. Win the remaining three races of the season and pile the pressure on Rossi, starting at Phillip Island: “Obviously now it comes to the final three races in the championship and we must win a lot if we want to recover the points and have the chance in Valencia to be World Champion. The championship is the goal we have, but we are not very focused on the result just to keep working in the same way on the bike, on the setting and on my riding and if we keep working like that we are going to be fast and consistent. This is our goal from tomorrow.”
In the last two races Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa has been on fire. A second at Aragon followed up by the race win at Motegi shows that will have a huge say in where the championship ends up: “Looking forward to these last three races and it’s been a little hard this year due to many factors but in the last few races it’s coming better and stronger. Just hoping for the last races to continue that way and try to finish strong again for the last three and end the championship well.”
Dovizioso’s return to form at Motegi saw him cross the line as the leading Ducati. The Italian is now focused on trying to secure fifth in the World Championship standings: “We’re still working a lot to try to improve the bike. This weekend will be very important for us as it’s a completely different track and difficult to find the right set up to manage the tyre and be fast in these difficult conditions. Lots of wind and long corners with a lot of slides but my feeling improved a little last race so I hope to be fast here.”
Local hero Jack Miller was also present at his home grand prix and announced that he will be joining the Marc VDS Racing Team for 2016: “Next year we’ll be campaigning with the Marc VDs squad and I’m looking forward to starting my next chapter in MotoGP with them. The bike looks awesome and the package those guys have put together looks really awesome. To see them in their first year in the championship is good. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone including Lucio from LCR Honda, they’ve put together a good squad for me and it’s a real shame we’ve had to cut it short but I thank them for all the support and look forward to the next chapter of my GP career.”
Moto3™ World Championship leader Danny Kent was also present at the Press Conference. Kent could become champion on Sunday if results go his way: “Yeah you know in Japan there was a chance to win the championship but we needed a lot of luck to come our way. Coming into this weekend the chances of winning the World Championship is a lot more possible for me to do. Motivation is high and we’re looking forward to it.”
Before the press Conference on Wednesday, some of the MotoGP™ stars swapped the noise of the track for the rather more tranquil setting of the Yarra River ahead of the Australian GP. Miller was joined by Marc Marquez, Danilo Petrucci, Johann Zarco, Alex Rins and Niccolo Antonelli as they got the chance to find out if they have as much ability on the water as they do on the race track, by taking to the iconic Yarra River in central Melbourne.
Members of the historic Richmond Rowing Club were on hand to show them how to use an oar instead of a throttle, as the riders exchanged their racing leathers for Lycra one-pieces to put their newfound ‘oar-some’ skills to the test. A number of exercises started the day as well as some on-land rowing lessons before it was time to take to the water.
The six MotoGP™ riders took to an eight, with two rowers from the Richmond Rowing Club in the boat to show them how it’s done. The boat was led by the club’s cox who kept it all under control. Try as the cox might, there some troubles communicating and coordinating all six riders to row at once. Many of the riders were more accustomed to battling on track, but eventually adjusted to working together on the Yarra River.
Then, on Thursday morning Kent was joined by Yonny Hernandez (Octo Pramac Racing), Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team), Anthony West (AB Motoracing), Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP40), Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Australian Rules Football Ambassador Travis Cloke as they got up close and personal with some Australian wildlife. The riders got to hang out with a host of indigenous animals, including koalas, kangaroos and dingoes at the Maru Koala & Animal Park in Victoria, having fun and making some friends along the way.
Friday’s Free Practice action kicks off at 10:00am local time at Phillip Island