The current rules for each situation (start of the warm up lap, start of the race, and after the race start) leads to some confusion for the teams and grid marshals who must make a decision at a critical time as to what they are allowed to do. There is also potential unfairness as a rider may have marshals nearby who are able to assist him, whilst another stalled rider may not have marshals nearby to assist. In all classes the bikes are now difficult to push-start, leading to the risk that team mechanics may attempt to re-enter the grid with starter engines to assist their rider which, for obvious safety reasons, cannot be permitted.
Australia’s Miller records fourth fastest time on Friday.
Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) has set the pace in practice at Circuit of the Americas’ third stop on the 2019 MotoGP World Championship calendar.
Upsetting the odds, Vinales denied reigning champion and six-time victor at the venue Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) for the top spot, the number 93 ultimately settling for second.
P3 was credited to Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) ahead of Australia’s Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) in fourth, while Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) completed the top five.
In Moto2, Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP) topped the category ahead of teammate Tom Luthi and Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), as Australian contender Remy Gardner (SAG Racing Team) was 10th fastest, fresh from claiming a maiden podium two weeks ago.
The Moto3 class saw VNE Snipers’ Romano Fenati emerge fastest ahead of SIC58 Squadra Corse duo Tatsuki Suzuki and Niccolo Antonelli, who closed his advantage down to 0.275s at the last minute to end the day in second and third respectively.
Sykes fastest in Friday practice at Assen WorldSBK
Krummenacher and Gonzalez top WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 classes.
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team’s Tom Sykes has topped Friday practice at Assen’s fourth round of the 2019 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) in The Netherlands.
Just 0.031s separated the top five, however it was Sykes who lodged a quick-time of 1m35.414s, narrowly edging out Kawasaki Racing Team duo Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam.
Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was fourth ahead of home favourite Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official, as championship leader Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was sixth.
In WorldSSP, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) set the pace ahead of teammate Federico Caricasulo, who was less than a tenth behind, while Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) concluded the top three.
The WorldSSP300 class saw round one winner Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) recorded the fastest time over Robert Schotman (Kawasaki Motoport) and Scott Deroue (Kawasaki Motoport), as Australians Tom Edwards (ParkinGo Team Kawasaki), Tom Bramich (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) and Jack Hyde (2R Racing Team Kawasaki) wound up in positions nine, 29, and 42 respectively.
While most riders were realpolitik as usual, Aprilia Aleix Espargaro broke ranks to call the COTA surface a ‘disaster’ and ‘dangerous’. The Spaniard was 14th quickest but let loose after the session, saying just what he thought about the Circuit of The Americas.
Aleix Espargaro – P14
“The asphalt is a disaster. It is very bumpy. On the corners it can be managed with difficulty, but the real problem is on the straight where, at more than three hundred km/h, you risk losing control of the bike. It is really very dangerous. This is MotoGP, not motocross. Our problem is that we are unable to get the most out of the new tyre. I feel like I am in great shape and I also have a good race pace. We know that this is certainly not the best circuit for us. I give it my all, riding aggressively, but we are unable to exploit the grip of the new tyre. With used tyres, we are always around sixth or seventh place, but when we all put on the tyre to do the time, we lose a lot of positions.”
Most other riders kept their criticisms a little more private and got on with the job and after the two sessions less than a second split the top 12 MotoGP riders.
Marc Marquez’s love affair with the Circuit of the Americas showed no signs of stopping as the six-time winner led Free Practice 1 from his first fast lap. The pattern continued into Free Practice 2 as Marquez improved his lap time on just his second flying lap. With the track at 41°C and the sky clear above, Marquez produced a 2’03.901 to end the day as the second fastest rider in Austin after a tense final five minutes of on track action that saw Marquez bettered by countryman Maverick Vinales.
Maverick Vinales – P1
“I think today it was very important to work on the basic set-up, because in Argentina we misunderstood some things. I think we worked quite well here today. I tried to be very competitive, especially on the first laps, but we still have to improve. We have to be more precise in the first laps and I need a little bit more grip, especially on the rear, because I still didn‘t feel that I‘m at my best. It’s important to be at the top today, because I think tomorrow it‘s going to rain, and we need to start at the front. The track is very bumpy. It was funny, when I was pushing I made a big lateral slide, but honestly I was lucky I didn‘t make a big highside. For sure, I‘m expecting to be fast in qualifying. In Valencia I finished at the top in the wet. It‘s true that I also crashed, but I was one of the fastest on the track. I have a good feeling, and when you have a good feeling it doesn‘t matter what the conditions are like.”
Marc Marquez – P2
“Today was not a straight forward day, the circuit has changed a lot since last year and it’s bumpy so we had to adapt to this. We also had some other areas to work on and some things to try to improve our pace. The rhythm and the pace is there so we are happy and we even tried the soft rear to get a good lap. Overall it was a productive day and we did what we needed to. Of course this weekend we also have Nicky Hayden in our minds, remembering a great champion.”
Valentino Rossi – P3
“Today wasn’t so bad, especially the third position is very good. I did a good lap, and this is very important in order to stay in the top-10. We have some problems with the pace, I’m not fantastic on the race tyre. We have to work on the balance of the bike, but for a first day it’s quite positive. The weather forecast for tomorrow is grim, but we’re hoping it’s wrong. Maybe the weather will be good tomorrow, but if it rains we will all start from zero again. We’ll need to try to understand the conditions and we need to find a good setting for the wet, but anyway we hope to have a dry race on Sunday.”
Jack Miller – P4
“Finishing in Top 10 is always the main goal on friday. That’s why I can say I’m satisfied also because the weather tomorrow could be a factor for the direct qualification to Q2. The bike is working very well and I feel comfortable. In the afternoon I had some difficulties because of the wind but the balance of the day is very positive”.
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“Today was a good day, we’re happy with the feelings on the bike. It’s really nice to be riding here at the Circuit of the Americas despite the track being in very poor condition. We look forward to trying some different settings on the bike tomorrow and qualifying, but at the moment I feel very good with the team and the bike.”
Alex Rins – P6
“I lost a bit of time stuck behind another rider, but I’m still quite satisfied with my lap times today, and I was fastest in Sector 1. We’ve worked well today and we tried a few different tyre combinations. Now I’m thinking about the race, it seems that I could already be in Q2 due to my time in FP2, which would help a lot.”
Franco Morbidelli – P8
“Today was a tough day because we had some small problems that I think slowed down our progress. Even so, we were able to be get into the Top 10 with only one quick lap at the end, which is a good result. I need to put in more kilometres here with this bike, because I feel like I haven’t done enough laps in a row to understand the track fully. We have to keep working because we still have room for improvement. The difficulty we encountered today were the bumps, of which there are a lot. Towards the end of the day we found a good line and we are going to continue working on that tomorrow. We’ll see what happens and if today’s time is enough to qualify for Q2.”
Fabio Quartararo – P9
“We are not officially into Q2 yet, but today the most important thing was to finish in the Top 10 because we know that tomorrow it is likely to rain. I made some mistakes on my two fastest laps, so I’m pretty happy because we only had one tyre to set our flying lap. It’s very good to finish in the Top 10 on the first day here in Austin. This circuit is very physical, but I felt ok on the bike. I think it’s one of the most demanding circuits of the year and we know it’s a good test of our fitness, although I think we’re in pretty good shape. We will see in the race, but it is a hard circuit.”
Pecco Bagnaia – P10
“I’m happy because this morning I had a lot of trouble riding over the many bumps of the circuit. We worked well on the setup and the feeling improved a lot in the afternoon. I was quick in the time attack but especially in the race pace with used tyres. It’s a very difficult track for me and that’s why I’m very satisfied”.
Andrea Dovizioso – P11
“We knew we would have struggled a bit more than usual on this track but, all in all, we’ve been competitive enough with a race setup. This afternoon, in particular, our pace was decent. In retrospect, I think we didn’t choose the best front tyre for the final time attack in FP2. I couldn’t put together the lap that I wanted, and it’s a shame because tomorrow it’ll probably rain. Looking at the positives, going through Q1 could represent an advantage to have more feeling on the wet in Q2. We’ll have to see what the weather is like tomorrow. Conditions may make a big difference in terms of grid positions and, consequently, the race itself: we’ll have to be ready for all scenarios.”
Joan Mir – P12
“I’m really happy overall because I made big improvement from the morning to the afternoon. I missed out on using a second set of soft tyres to try and push for a fast lap and get into the Top 10 today, but apart from that I feel confident and ready to build on my time further tomorrow.”
Danilo Petrucci – P13
“We were able to improve quite a bit throughout the day, but I still don’t have the right confidence. Despite feeling more at ease in FP2, we couldn’t seize the top 10 in the final minutes, which somewhat complicates our plans for tomorrow because the forecast says it’s going to rain. We don’t have one big issue to solve, and this makes the work on the setup a bit tricky. We need to improve in terms of grip and stability to be more consistent. I can’t say I’m satisfied with our position, but we still have ideas to try and I’m confident we’ll be able to make progress tomorrow.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P15
“We really struggled here on the first day in America, during FP1 we were not so competitive throughout the session. In FP2 we improved little by little, but we have work to do ahead of tomorrow. The gap (to the front of the field) is not huge, but it’s all about small details as this track is 20 corners and it’s impossible not to make any mistakes on a lap. But I feel we are improving and we understand where we are losing time, so we’ll keep focused and work hard tomorrow. The weather forecast is not great, but we’ll try our best.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P16
“A tricky day today. First of all the track is very bumpy for everyone and we need to improve a little bit to handle this. The circuit for me personally is always very difficult so it is quite complicated but we won’t give up. We’re trying many things to improve the bike and still perfecting the ergonomics to feel comfortable when changing direction. It was very special to have the ceremony for Nicky today, we all miss him a lot.”
Andrea Iannone – P18
“The positive side of today is that we assessed the various tyre choices for the race, identifying the ones that seem to work better. This morning, we were rather competitive, whereas in the second session, we were unable to exploit the soft tyres on the flying lap and that kept us from improving. We need to maintain our concentration and stay calm, because getting the most out of the technical package we have available to us is fundamental.”
MotoGP rookie Miguel Oliveira had to learn one of the most demanding tracks in the calendar in Free Practice one this morning, the Portuguese rider lowered his fastest lap from FP1 to FP2 by strong 1.759 seconds. At the same time, Hafizh Syahrin made some huge steps forward from the first to the second session, improving by impressive 2.488 seconds to complete day one just 0.574 seconds behind his teammate. Both Red Bull KTM Tech3 riders are eager to find their way closer to the front.
Miguel Oliveira – P21
“It has been a difficult day to learn the track with the new bike, as COTA is a quite tricky circuit and it takes some time for me to understand how to ride and also how the bike can help me to ride the track better. At this moment, we are for sure not happy with the result we did today, but we need to learn and to understand that it’s maybe normal to suffer a bit more for the first time here. We just work hard as always to get the best result tomorrow. In Qualifying the weather is going to be critical, but we will manage it at our best.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P22
“We made a huge improvement on the time. This morning it was difficult for me, because the track was very bumpy and I didn’t have confidence while braking as the bike was moving a lot. But we made some changes and in the afternoon, I felt really good. We still miss something for the turning. I was already talking about it with the team, so we know where to work on for tomorrow, although it might rain, which can be good for us to learn to ride the bike in these conditions. In the beginning of the weekend we always start a bit behind, because we were on this track for the first time with the bike, so we needed to collect some data first, which we used in FP2 to step ahead. We keep working hard and pushing 110 percent.”
2019 Cota MotoGP Friday Practice Combined Times
VINALES Maverick 12 SPA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 2’03.857
MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.044
ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 0.146
MILLER Jack 43 AUS Pramac Racing Ducati 0.148
CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 0.261
RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.496
ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory .507
MORBIDELLI Franco 21 ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT 0.691
QUARTARARO Fabio 20 FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT 0.732
BAGNAIA Francesco 63 ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 0.733
DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Mission Winnow Ducati 0.857
MIR Joan 36 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.994
PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Mission Winnow Ducati 1.049
ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1.096
NAKAGAMI Takaaki 30 JPN LCR Honda 1.163
LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1.312
ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Red Bull KTM Factory 1.634
IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2.098
ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 2.305
RABAT Tito 53 SPA Reale Avintia Racing Ducati 2.347
“I’m not a guy who takes many poles, so always a pole is very welcome. I think the new rules are better for me. We have more opportunities to make one quick lap, so we have three laps now, a good three laps. I was closing in at Road Atlanta, more than other times, but today we were more ready and we did first pole of the year, so I hope some others will come. But, for the moment, we did a great job. The team is working perfectly. It’s going to be a difficult race for the tires. There’s no one tire which we are sure to make the distance. Some tires are difficult. Medium tires are very difficult. Good luck for everyone.”
KTM’s best result in dry conditions currently stands at ninth place but if Espargaro can continue his pace and form from today, there’s no reason why he can’t better that and more. Plus, after grabbing the factory’s first podium finish in wet conditions in Valencia at the end of 2018, who knows what he can achieve in qualifying, starting at 14:10 (GMT-5) on Saturday, if the predicted wet weather does arrive.
“We improve. We did revision and we improve in this area,” began the Spaniard, who looks like he’s earned an automatic Q2 place with wet weather forecast for FP3 on Saturday. “We are on the good position for tomorrow. It looks like it will be rain in FP3 so we need to also test in these conditions but other than that we had a good performance. We tried this afternoon something different with the tyres. It was good with the test with the hard on the front, but we need to continue working. For sure on one lap we improved a lot but we’ll see in qualifying.
A freezing cold and windy Assen played host to a close session that saw the top five riders covered by just 0.031s, Tom Sykes taking the BMW to finish the opening day at the TT Circuit Assen on top!
Tom Sykes – P1
“I am looking forward to this weekend especially if it’s going to stay dry, I feel if the rain comes there could be a lot of trouble with the temperatures and the rain tyre. Having said that the whole of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team are working really well, we have done a lot with the BMW S 1000 RR and got off to a steady start doing a few things in this morning’s FP1 and FP2 sessions. We now feel we have a strong pace in these conditions. Tomorrow we will look to refine our setting further, however we will keep an eye on the conditions during tomorrow’s 9am start… that being said I am looking forward to the races, I enjoy Assen and the layout of the track is fantastic so I hope we can convert this speed into some results.”
Having led the session in FP1, Kawasaki’s were on form at the famed Dutch venue. It was the reigning four-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea who consolidated a positive opening day with a second place as Friday concluded. The Ulsterman setting multiple fast times and eventually toppling his teammate. Rea will be hoping to continue his search for his first race win of the season.
Jonathan Rea – P2
“A very positive day to be honest. We have changed the bike set-up a little bit and gone back in a different direction from what we had been in the winter tests and the first few rounds. I have gained a little bit of agility on the bike set-up and I am able to do things a little bit differently. The bike is turning better in the longer corners and I am able to make the difference, so the window is a little bit bigger. With such a big change, step-by-step, I need to adapt a little bit more. Of course it is a learning process and I feel quite good, but here the temperatures are so low that it is important for us to analyse both the SC0 and SC1 option rear tyres for tomorrow. We need to understand exactly where the crossover in performance is, if any. Then we can find our race set-up. I feel quite positive after the work we have done today and we understand where we need to improve for tomorrow.”
Leon Haslam returned to the TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands with a fine third place. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ will be hoping to return to the podium for the first time since Australia.
Leon Haslam – P3
“I am really happy because I did not expect to be third quickest. Our plan was to do this morning with a hard tyre and this afternoon with a soft tyre and we did over race distance in both sessions. So to just use two tyres over the whole day I am really happy. Always Assen is close, one tenth here, one tenth there, and the race is always a close battle. There are a few areas I want to improve in still but so far so good. The biggest thing is to keep the tyre temperature up. Normally in these conditions the SC0 would never last but the new bigger profile tyre is lasting just unbelievably.”
Markus Reiterberger was one of the revelations on Friday, lapping multiple consistent times and eventually placing fourth overall. Reiterberger looking to improve on a best Superpole result of sixth, achieved in Sepang 2016.
Markus Reiterberger – P4
“First of all I have done many laps around Assen. My first impression of the bike was not the best and we put this down to the rear tyre, despite this feeling we were still able to put ourselves into the top 6 during FP1 so we have to be happy about that. Going into the second session we didn’t expect too much with the results but we continued with some changes to the chassis and the electronics. I again struggled with the rear during the early stages of FP2 so we made a change of tyre to the SC1, this immediately changed the setting of the bike which was good step for me and I could consistently lap 1’35.00/1’36.00 times and finished the day in P4. I am happy with the setting change we made from today’s second outing, I hope we can continue this into tomorrow’s qualifying and race.”
In what was one of the closest sessions in recent WorldSBK memory, home-hero Michael van der Mark completed the session in fifth position, just 0.031s behind session leader Tom Sykes. The Dutchman was looking to put on a good show in front of a loyal home crowd and goes into Saturday full of confidence.
Michael van der Mark – P5
“It’s not ideal to be riding in such cold conditions as we had here today, not just for us but also for the tyres. It means you have to be a bit careful the first few laps but, overall, I’m quite happy with today. This morning I felt good on the bike and, on the last run, I improved my lap time a lot and it was clear what we needed to improve for the second session this afternoon. We made some changes to the bike for FP2, but this didn’t bring the improvement we were expecting, so we reverted back to a set-up closer to the one we ran this morning and I immediately felt better. I was struggling a little on corner exit, as the bike wanted to wheelie out of the turns, so we’ll need to look at that during FP3 tomorrow. The times are very close and I was able to put together some consistent laps, so I’m happy enough with the first day here in Assen.”
It wasn’t an all-conquering opening day for ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team, who struggled throughout the session. Alvaro Bautista languished for the majority of FP2, in the pits with his crew hard at work, implementing the settings needed to challenge at the front. The championship leader finished the session in sixth, with a flurry of fast laps towards the end of FP2.
Álvaro Bautista – P6
“Today was a bit of an unusual day. The temperatures were very low and we used a slightly different setting from the last races to try and be quick right from the start. Maybe it was because the track was too cold, but I wasn’t able to improve the way I wanted during the first session. In the afternoon session, after a few laps, we decided to go back to the set-up used in the last races. The mechanics were very quick to carry out the modifications required and the feeling with the bike improved immediately. Basically in two practice sessions, we only lapped without any problems for the last ten minutes. These things happen sometimes, but luckily we were able to finish the day with a good feeling. The times are all close together, but I think we’ve found the right direction for the weekend.”
Chaz Davies had a small crash at Turn 5, soon remounting but returning to the pits. The Welshman, who is looking to continue his search for a third podium of the season, finished the session in ninth position, ahead of his teammate for most of the session.
Chaz Davies – P7
“It wasn’t so bad today and the lap times were really close. We are in ninth place but only 0.4s away from the top and I felt like there is more on the table. I had a really small crash, because I’m struggling to do what I want in Turn 5; it’s quite cold and I don’t have full confidence there. As soon as I went on the track this morning, my Panigale V4 R was working pretty good so I’m reasonably happy and at the end of the day we definitely found our base set-up. I have a lot more confidence with the front of the bike, which has probably gone up from 60 to 90%, and I’m much happier than what I was in the early rounds of the season.”
Yamaha’s Alex Lowes suffered another crash in FP2 and finished his first day at Assen in tenth.
Alex Lowes – P10
“The track conditions today were really cold, which isn’t something we were expecting coming into this weekend, but it wasn’t too bad. This afternoon I stayed on the used tyres and did a long run, almost race distance, but then the front tyre wear towards the end was quite severe. I tried to keep going until the end, to give us more information but in hindsight, maybe I should have come in a lap earlier because I lost the front on the bump into turn one and crashed. If I’d have come in for new tyres then I felt like I’d have been quite strong at the end. Now we need to work out why we’re getting excessive tyre wear, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on tomorrow.”
Two Independent team riders once again squeezed into the top ten, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) in seventh, just 0.140s from the leading time by Sykes. One position behind the Turkish rider, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) was one of the biggest improvers and finished in eighth, as second Yamaha rider too.
Sandro Cortese – P8
“I’m a little bit more relaxed after FP2, because this morning was a bit of a disaster for me. When I started FP1 it was like I’d forgotten how to ride a bike in the one week since Aragon! For the first time ever, I didn’t have a feeling for the bike but, obviously it was very cold this morning. We made some big changes on the bike to try and improve and we continued with this in the afternoon, but then we made the decision to go back to the base set-up we’ve used over the last three races, with positive results. This is how we need to work, rather than looking at what the other Yamaha riders are doing, as they are so completely different. I’m happy that we remained calm, stayed focused and made some good progression this afternoon. Of course, we are still missing a bit but if we look at the gap this morning, which was almost 2.5 seconds, and then compare it to the 0.2 seconds we’re missing now, I think we can be happy with the job we did. Now we just need to continue in this way.”
It was another difficult day for Melandri, with the GRT Yamaha rider again struggling to find a set-up on his R1 with which he was comfortable and that would allow him to rediscover the form that saw him finish on the podium at the opening round in Australia. Melandri and his crew will analyse the situation further overnight, in a bid to find an improvement ahead of FP3 tomorrow morning.
Marco Melandri – P14
“It was one more difficult day for me here in Assen. I’m still struggling with the same issue I had on the first day with the R1; I am trying to adapt my riding style and move my position on the bike to try and improve things, but it just seems to get worse. It’s difficult because we can’t go the way I’d like to with the set-up and, in the cold conditions we experienced today, the problem is even worse. The biggest issue is that, right now, I have no confidence and that means I can’t push as hard as I need to.”
In what was a phenomenally tight session, the leading 12 riders were covered by just 0.821s, with four Independent riders inside that gap.
The number 69 is synonymous with the late, great Nicky Hayden, and it will now forever remain that way after the 2006 MotoGP World Champion’s number was retired from the premier class of Grand Prix racing at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
It was an emotional occasion as FIM President Jorge Viegas and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta headed the ceremony, with Hayden’s father Earl and brother Tommy joining them on stage to share some words about the retirement of the number and the late Champion – as well as the significance of the number 69 to the whole Hayden family, as it has a history stretching back more than two generations.
The room was packed to the brim, with Hayden’s family and his fiancée Jackie Marin joined by friends, former rivals and former teammates to celebrate the achievements and honour the legacy of one of the paddock’s true greats.
Hayden won three Grands Prix, took 28 podiums and won the World Championship in 2006 during the course of his time in MotoGP and was often given the moniker ‘the nicest man in Grand Prix racing’.
In addition, upon his departure from the paddock at the end of 2015, the ‘Kentucky Kid’ was named a MotoGP Legend before his move to WorldSBK – where he also took the number 69 to the top step of the podium.
Tommy Hayden spoke on behalf of the Hayden family
“First of all I’d just like to thank everyone for joining us here, everyone who’s showed up to celebrate this special occasion with us. For sure we’d like to thank Carmelo and all of Dorna for this event and for all their support pretty much since Nicky’s accident they’ve gone way out of their way in every way you can imagine. Nicky loved MotoGP and I think he loved it for a reason, because there are a lot of good people there – starting at the top, and we want to thank everyone for everything. Nicky had a lot of success on track but I think we all agree he made just as big an impact off track. In everyone’s lives; those of his friends and family and all of his fans. That’s something that, as a family, we’re most proud of.
“The number 69 is a special number in our family. Before my brothers and sisters were even born, my dad raced with that number and there were other family members even before us my dad helped and supported who always raced with the number 69. My sister raced when she was younger, my brother Roger, myself, always raced with the number 69 throughout our childhood years and growing up racing. Nicky carried the number through his whole career, it’s very special and like I said it has a lot of meaning so to have it retired from MotoGP, the pinnacle of the sport, as you can imagine…it means a lot to us. So again I would just like to thank everyone for coming out, all your support and for helping us to keep Nicky’s legacy alive.”
“It’s a great pleasure to have Nicky’s family here, since we lost him we’ve thought this is something we must do,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. “We were talking about when we made Nicky a Legend in Valencia, and this time, since we lost Nicky in Italy, we were thinking we must do something because he was something special for all of us during his time with us. He touched everything here, his relationship with all of us was fantastic. We talked about that, we talked to the FIM, and for us to have the honour to retire the number 69 is something very important and I’m very proud to do it today. It’s a great honour for the Championship to have someone such as Nicky as part of our history.”