Ahead of track action kicking off at the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, World Championship leader Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) joined his three main title contenders in the pre-event Press Conference to preview a potentially Championship-crowning weekend. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) chatted about their feelings coming into the penultimate round of the season, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) joining the quartet.
With a 37-point advantage, a podium finish hands Mir the title – no matter what Quartararo and Rins do on Sunday afternoon. Understandably, the Spaniard was in high spirits but remained calm, noting that this Championship is by no means over yet.
“Well I feel great honestly, it’s a special weekend because we have the first match point. It means we’ve done a great job this season, like you said we have a good advantage in the points but for sure it is not done. There is a lot of work to do here in the second race and a lot of riders will improve their performance because it’s the second weekend on track. We have a bit of margin but let’s see,” stated the number 36 rider, who brilliantly picked up his first MotoGP™ win at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo last weekend.
He’s going to take some beating, there’s no doubt about that. Both Quartararo and Rins know this but the duo are going to fight tooth and nail to try and take the title to Portimao. Teammate Rins is now level on points with Quartararo after his second place finish last Sunday, and knows it’s going to be win at all costs if he’s got a sniff of the title.
“For sure if we want to reduce the advantage to Joan, the unique thing is to try and finish P1. As he demonstrated this season he is very consistent, so let’s see. First of all, in my case, improve the setup because we were struggling a bit in the last part of the race. I hope we can do a great race,” said the number 42, who is currently on a run of three consecutive podium finishes.
Quartararo was singing from the same hymn sheet as Rins: this is a must-win weekend. The Frenchman and Yamaha as a whole haven’t enjoyed their time in Valencia so far, but the 21-year-old seemed relaxed and wanted to go out and enjoy himself this weekend, even if winning is “the only solution” in the title race.
“I think it’s the only solution. Of course, we had tough times but we need to enjoy it, that’s the most important thing,” said Quartararo. “When you enjoy it, everything comes easier and the last few races have been more of a struggle. I think it’s important to have a great mindset and think about Sunday. We need to qualify better and then fight for victory. If we want to take it to Portimao, that’s the only solution.”
Viñales is four points behind both Quartararo and Rins in the overall standings and knows his chances are incredibly slim. The most important thing to come out of last weekend’s race was he and Yamaha now know where they need to improve, according to the man himself.
“I think that the most positive thing was that I had a clear answer to the guys of where we need to improve, that was the clear thing from the weekend. In the wet you can see a lot of things on the bike, so it was very important to concentrate during the race on where we need to improve and riding on my own, I was able to understand everything clearly. We have some direction now,” began the Spaniard, who concedes that his title hopes are all but done for 2020. Now, attentions turn to 2021.
“For sure, the Championship is now won. Joan only needs a few points and for sure he will do it. Right now, our mindset is on improving for next year, because we can’t continue with these irregularities on the bike. One weekend with grip we win, the next we struggle a lot, so it’s important for us to improve that. We have two races at two different tracks, so I think it’s a good opportunity to make an improvement and with it being race time it’s the best time to improve and test, it’s not like at a test when the grip is high and everything is working well. We always see that when the Yamahas have grip it’s hard to beat us but without grip, we struggle a lot, more than our competitors, so we need to focus this weekend and try to find these improvements. These two races will be without grip for various reasons so it’s crucial for us to stay focused and work hard.”
Mir has one hand on the trophy, but this is MotoGP™. Anything between FP1 and the race can happen, the title race is by no means over as the tensions now start to rise ahead of the second Circuit Ricardo Tormo instalment. Tune in for the opening MotoGP™ Free Practice session of the weekend at 10:55 local time (GMT+1). – www.motogp.com