Marc Marquez’s return, Aprilia on song, Quartararo hungry for a result and a “super competitive” Martin – the riders have had their say
Before track action at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas gets going on Friday morning, our latest race winner Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) team was joined in the pre-event Press Conference by Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and the returning eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to discuss what might lie ahead at the Circuit of The Americas.
Marc Marquez, the King of COTA, returns
After his huge Indonesian GP crash in Warm Up, Marc Marquez has been sidelined – first with a concussion, then with a return of diplopia that occurred on the way home from Mandalika. Thankfully, the double vision issue isn’t as bad as it was at the end of 2021, and the number 93 is back in action at a circuit he’s won at seven times in the past.
Marquez admitted that it was incredibly tough to be sat at home again with diplopia, but he’s back to race. And when Marc Marquez races, he races to win – like all of the riders.
Marc Marquez: “Of course after Mandalika was really hard week, but lucky for me that the vision injury was less than last time. Even in Argentina I almost came but didn’t feel motivated to take that risk, and I didn’t want it. I spoke with the doctor and we decided to stay at home and relax and then train again in a good way. This week I had another doctor’s check and the vision was fixed. I tried a bike as well and let’s see. I’m not arriving in the best way here in Americas GP but we will try to do a great FP1 and start a great weekend.”
Race winner, World Championship leader… a good week for Aleix Espargaro
It was a fairy tale weekend in Argentina for Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia. That win was a long time coming for both parties but now, the focus is firmly on the Americas GP – a track they really struggled at in 2021.
Aleix Espargaro: “Sounds good, sounds good. Feels strange for me to hear that but I’m very happy. These last few days have been fantastic, I feel happy but at the same time relaxed because I had the confidence I didn’t have in the past. In past I dreamed I could win, now I know I can. It’s not going to be easy weekend for me because last year we suffered a lot in this track, it was one of the most difficult, but this year is different. We have new asphalt, the bumps will be a lot better, the 2022 machine is a lot better than last year and we arrive in a completely different position. I can’t wait to go out on track and see how fast I can go.
“I was very happy to win in Argentina but what made me happier is that we showed in the first three rounds that we are very competitive, I feel good with the new bike, the new bike is a lot better. The proof was that I was also able to over Jorge on the Ducati in the straight, so it means that overall the Aprilia has grown up a lot and this gives me a lot of positive energy for this round. I know it’s not going to be an easy one, I’m sure in Portimao and Jerez it will be easier for me and my bike but this is a challenge. This weekend is a big challenge for me, I love a challenge so I can’t wait.”
500 GPs not out – a landmark occasion this weekend
This weekend marks the 500th GP that Dorna, IRTA and the MSMA have been running MotoGP™. In the Press Conference, the riders were asked about what their earliest memories were of MotoGP™.
Aleix Espargaro: “I remember many races but the one I remember further away was in Barcelona when I was following Alex Criville a lot and I remember he crashed at the first corner, and I was kid and I started to cry. In that moment I realised I had a passion for this sport so it’s an honour to be here for the 500 GP, and I think it arrived in a very cool moment because the competition is very high.”
Racing Together for 500GPs: “A show that’s better than ever”
Fabio Quartararo: “For me it was 2005 in Jerez, the fight between Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau. This is one of the races that made me want to be a MotoGP rider.”
Jorge Martin: “Yeah for me it was in 2006 in Valencia, it was the first time I went into the paddock. It was the Championship fight between Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi and I remember I saw Valentino and he touched my head, I didn’t clean my head for one week. This is the race I remember.”
Marc Marquez: “I remember many races but the one I have most in my mind was Calalunya 2009 when Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi fought until the last corner of the GP. I remember more races but that one I can say what happened on every lap.”
Does Aleix Espargaro feel he is a genuine title contender?
The MotoGP™ action gets underway at 09:55 local time (GMT-7) on Friday morning for FP1. Click HERE to check out the time schedule in full for this weekend in Austin. – www.motogp.com