Riders and Team Managers reflect on the Japanese Grand Prix

Motegi MotoGP 2019

Marc Marquez – P1

“It wasn’t an easy race. I was pushing from the beginning, the strategy was clear – I had to try to open a gap. I felt strong and with the team we had calculated a pace of 1’46 low but then I was able to ride in 1’45 high – good news for me but I had to slow down a little bit. I worked on riding as smooth as possible and I was able to open the gap to two seconds but in the final two laps we were getting a little low on fuel because Motegi is always very demanding. There was a little bit of pressure to win the Constructors Championship in Japan, but I love the pressure and it is great to win it here for Honda because everyone works so hard. All the Repsol Honda Team did a great job to find the best setting and strategy for this race.”

MotoGP Motegi Honda Marquez Celebrate
Marc Marquez

Fabio Quartararo – P2

“I’m delighted with the weekend because the goal we set ourselves at the beginning of the season was to be best newcomer and we’ve already managed it. We have 163 points, which is an amazing achievement considering we were targeting between 50 and 90. We’ve been a big surprise to everyone, and it’s nice to be able to officially say that I’m Rookie of the Year. When I look back to last year when I was fighting for top 15 finishes in Moto2, I only think about how much I owe everyone at Petronas Yamaha SRT and Yamaha for putting their trust in me. I’ve done my maximum to help them believe in me, and together we’ve done an amazing job. We’re still fighting for good positions in the championship but trying not to think about it too much, so we’ll take the remaining races as they come and see what happens.”

MotoGP Motegi Quartararo Rookies
Fabio Quartararo

Andrea Dovizioso – P3

“At the end of the race my feeling with the bike was really excellent, so much so that we did our fastest lap on the penultimate lap. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pass Quartararo, who I saw was in a bit of difficulty in the final stages, but I think I could have overtaken him if there had been one more lap. I’m quite disappointed with my first part of the race however, because despite having good grip we were unable to be fast enough. We’ll now have to analyze the situation in detail to understand what the problem was and be ready for the race at Phillip Island.”

MotoGP Motegi Dovizioso Vinales
Andrea Dovizioso

Maverick Vinales – P4

“Actually, for me it was a very positive race. At the start I did a lot of fighting with Cal and Dovi. I tried to overtake quickly, but it was very difficult. At the end I found a very good rhythm on the last laps, trying to fight for the podium with Dovi, but somehow I couldn’t overtake. We made the most of our bike in this race and we’ll try to do more in Australia. I will do my best in Phillip Island, I will try to push and start from the front row, I think that’s very important. If we had started from first row today, we might have been able to fight for the race. We need to keep working, we’re very close, we just need a little bit more, which we’ll find for sure. Phillip Island is a track I really like, but anyway I will go there with the same expectations as I had for here, trying to work very hard and to be on the podium again.”

MotoGP Motegi Dovizioso Vinales
Maverick Vinales chasing Dovi

Cal Crutchlow – P5

“Today was a good result for me and the team. We are happy this weekend, we qualified fifth and finished fifth with a strong race. I wish my pace would have been a little bit quicker in the early part of the race, but I had to manage the situation with the bike to make sure that I finished the race and I was pleased to be able to catch some riders in the end, have a good battle and finish fifth on the line. It was a good Grand Prix for Honda with Marc (Marquez) winning and me inside the top five and I want to congratulate HRC for clinching the Constructors’ Championship here today. After a tough weekend in Thailand, we’ve bounced back to be able to get a good result here today. I want to thank my team for their hard work and we now look forward to Phillip Island with some great memories from the past and some not such good memories. I also want to wish Taka well with his surgery and hope he recovers well and is back stronger than ever next season.”

MotoGP Motegi Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow

Franco Morbidelli – P6

“It’s a good result, we showed a lot of strength this weekend, and hopefully, we can bring the potential that we had here into the next round in Australia. That said, I’m a bit disappointed because I was expecting more from the race, but I understood as soon as it started that I didn’t have the same grip as I had had all weekend. We still managed to get the sixth position, which is good considering the feelings I was having on the bike, especially towards the end of the race. The big positive from Motegi is the speed we showed, so we need to find a way now to carry it forward.”

MotoGP Motegi Morbidelli Miller Dovi
Franco Morbidelli

Alex Rins – P7

“I lost out a lot off the start, I really made a bad get away. But it was like that and there was nothing I could do apart from try to recoup positions. I stayed calm and focused and I was able to improve and move up the order. I was fighting with Crutchlow a lot and I’m disappointed that I finished behind him, because I felt I had potential for Top 5 but in the end we ran out of laps. I’m pleased to hold onto 3rd place in the standings, and it has been fantastic to be in Japan. Thank you to Mr. Toshihiro Suzuki for being with us all weekend and giving us a lot of support.”

MotoGP Motegi Rins Crutchlow
Alex Rins

Joan Mir – P8

“I’m really happy about my weekend in general, and my race. Although I didn’t improve my position compared with Thailand, I feel I have taken another step in terms of performance. All weekend I’ve felt good with the bike and I know I’m getting closer to the podium and the top guys. I lost a lot of time today while I tried to pass Petrucci and that was a shame because I felt I could’ve done even better and closed the others. Anyway, it’s been amazing to be here in Japan for the first time as a Suzuki rider and to ride in front of the fans, and especially the President.”

MotoGP Motegi Mir
Joan Mir

Danilo Petrucci – P9

“I can’t be satisfied with my result, even though I fought a lot in the race. Unfortunately, I struggled a lot in the early laps with the front tyre, which was heating up too much, but when I managed to get it back down to the right temperature I started to lap with good times and I was fast in the final part of the race. Something’s still missing for me to get back and race at the top, but I feel that I’m getting back to being close to my level at the start of the season. It’s clear that we must, and we want to do better and luckily Australia is only in one weeks’ time.”

MotoGP Motegi Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci

Jack Miller – P10

“Unfortunately after 7 laps, I started to have some problems with the rear grip and the situation got worse in the following laps. From that moment on I could only try to get to the finish line. It’s a shame because I got off to a good start and I thought I could follow Marc and Fabio to the end. We have to analyse the data and see what happened. I am disappointed and can’t wait to be in Australia.”

MotoGP Motegi Miller Rins Crutchlow
Jack Miller

Pol Espargaro – P11

“Not a great weekend but starting from 15th position and to finish 11th – almost in the top ten and four seconds from Jack [Miller] – is not too bad. We started well but then dropped back and it was hard to keep the pace. Not what we wanted but we’ll look to Phillip Island which is one of my favourite tracks and one of the best in the world. We were in the top ten all weekend there last year so let’s see if we can do the same and enjoy the race because the last few have been tough.”

MotoGP Motegi Rossi Espargaro Rins
Pol Espargaro

Miguel Oliveira – P12

“A fun race! It was a tough start for me, I couldn’t position myself very well in the first two corners so I lost a lot of time in the first laps. It took me a while to gain my pace but once I got a bit of speed I could manage to do a very good race and finish inside the points, which was again our target. At the end of the race, I felt much better than in Thailand, so physically it’s a good sign. I just hope to keep this good line and continue to work together with the team for the next race in Phillip Island.”

MotoGP Motegi Miguel Oliveira
Miguel Oliveira

Pecco Bagnaia – P13

“I can’t be too satisfied with the result. It is clear that I would have expected more but it was not an easy weekend. However, I have brought home a few points for the standings. I had a lot of problems in acceleration losing precious tenths of a second, especially in the straight. I want to congratulate Fabio on winning the Rookie of the Year award.”

MotoGP Motegi Bagnaia Espargaro
Pecco Bagnaia

Mika Kallio – P14

“If we take the whole weekend into account then I think it finished quite positively today. To fight for points was the minimum target and we managed that. We were not far from Pol and Miguel was part of the group. It was just a bit of a shame I could not find the way to fight against them. Maybe just by riding I can keep improving and step-by-step get closer; it was only my first race this season and I am getting closer to my teammate. Phillip Island will be a completely different track compared to here and hopefully with more grip.”

MotoGP Motegi Mika Kallio
Mika Kallio

Takaaki Nakagami – P16

“Thanks to the Japanese fans who came to the Twin Ring Motegi, I really appreciated their support this weekend. I felt a lot of energy from the fans and did my best all weekend. Of course, thanks to my team as well, they did a great job and gave me great support for my injured shoulder. This is not what I expected for the performance here, but it was the reality with my injury. But I want to congratulate Honda for winning the Constructors’ World Championship here today. The season is now over for me and now it’s time for surgery and to recover well for the future. I hope we can come back really strong for next season and I’m already looking forward to the Sepang tests.”’

MotoGP Motegi Nakagami
Takaaki Nakagami

Jorge Lorenzo – P17

“We made an improvement on the bike this weekend and my feeling was better. Today in the second part of the race I was able to enjoy riding the bike again and go much faster than at the start of the race. At the end we were closer to the front than any of the other races since my injury, a second from the fastest in the last laps. The problem was at the beginning, I couldn’t play with the bike as much as at the end and this is where we lost all our time. But towards the end I was able to little by little, brake later and go faster. With the pace at the end I could have been closer to the leader. Now we try to keep the momentum for Phillip Island.”

MotoGP Motegi Honda Lorenzo Syahrin
Jorge Lorenzo

Karel Abraham – P18

“It has been a difficult race although the meteorological conditions have been quite favorable. I had a problem at the beginning and I got last. I had some problems that made it more difficult to overtake riders, however I was able to overtake three. We have to improve in the first laps so we don’t waste much time. Finally, in this race there have been only been two crash which is rare and we were not able to win more positions. “

MotoGP Motegi Abraham
Karel Abraham

Hafizh Syahrin – P19

“It was a good race from lap one until lap 18 but after that I knew I would struggle to control. I’m really sorry for my team, as I wanted to stay with Nakagami. I passed him and he passed me back, so I believe we could have made a decent race. Overall, it’s not bad, but I’m very sorry for everybody that I didn’t manage to do better.”

MotoGP Motegi Hafizh Syahrin
Hafizh Syahrin

Sylvain Guintoli – P20

“This weekend has been good. I really enjoyed FP3 in the wet and I felt so good on the bike. During the race we focused on gaining as much useful information as possible, and everything went OK. After a difficult start I settled into a consistent rhythm. I’m pleased to have been with the team for this home GP.”

Valentino Rossi – DNF

“I had quite a bad start, not in the first corner but after that I was in the middle of the chaos and lost time. My pace wasn‘t good enough to gain positions fast. I managed to recover a few, but I wasn‘t very strong. On some laps my pace wasn‘t so bad, but everybody was fast, so that made it very difficult to challenge from behind. I haven‘t seen the data yet, but I think I made a small mistake at the end, in Turn 1, and I crashed. It was a difficult race.”

MotoGP Motegi Rossi Kallio
Valentino Rossi

Team Managers

Razlan Razali – Petronas SRT Team Principal

“For MotoGP it was a great race for both riders even if it was close for Fabio at the end with Dovizioso closing him down and a shame for Franco getting pipped on the line for fifth by Crutchlow. Nevertheless, Fabio took Rookie of the Year and we scored a lot of points in the teams championships. It’s slightly mixed feelings in Moto3, with John McPhee scoring good points and Ayumu Sasaki making strong progress but our hopes being for slightly better. Adam Norrodin did a great job in Moto2. His remit is to use this part-season as a learning experience and he took another step forward which is all we can ask. We head to Australia after a very good weekend overall and naturally pushing for more of the same!”

MotoGP Motegi Quartararo Rookies
Fabio Quartararo

Wilzo Zeelenberg – Petronas SRT Team Manager

“It was a very successful weekend for us and it’s great to see Franco stepping up his game, even though it’s a pity that Cal [Crutchlow] beat him right on the finish line. He’s seen the light now, understanding how to ride this bike in the best way. It was another great podium for Fabio with second place, his third of the year and his sixth podium. We’re on a charge now with three races to go, and we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished. Nevertheless, there’s still more we want to achieve before the season is over.”

MotoGP Motegi Quartararo Rookies
Fabio Quartararo

Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“We had hoped for more in today’s race. Maverick lost a few positions on the busy opening lap and it took some time for him to recover them. Looking at the pace he had during the race, it cost him a podium. Anyway, he scored important points that allow him to be a serious contender for third place in the rider standings, which he can continue to fight for next weekend in Australia. Today definitely was worse for Valentino. He was already further down the starting grid than he would have liked, on the fourth row, and on top of that he had a difficult start. Later his race was ended by a small crash in Turn 1, four laps before the chequered flag. Luckily, he was uninjured. It was a weekend to forget for him, but we get to start with a clean slate on Friday at the Phillip Island circuit.”

MotoGP Motegi Vinales Morbidelli
Valentino Rossi

Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki Technical Manager

“Alex did a lot of overtakes today but in the end he had to settle for 7th place, it was a difficult race. Joan also did well today with another good result. Both riders had a lot of potential today, but they couldn’t quite get the finishes they wanted. Of course, we will work hard and try to find a way to improve and be ready for next weekend. Thanks also to Sylvain and the test team who have helped us here.”

MotoGP Motegi Mir
Joan Mir

Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager

“Alex and Joan did a good race. Today it was difficult to finish higher than they did, because starting from 11th and 12th on the grid made it tricky. But they both recovered well, and their pace was actually very good. We know we have to pace so we just need to try again next time. This result is consistent, and we’re pleased. Sylvain got a lot of information for us too. Thank you to everyone from the factory who has been visiting us and supporting us this weekend.”

MotoGP Motegi Espargaro Kallio KTM
Pol Espargaro and Mika Kallio

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager

“The result of the race is not too bad with three riders in the points but we wanted one in the top ten. However, since the beginning of the weekend it was tricky to get to this stage. FP3 was wet and so was qualification and this did not help us to get set-up for the best performance. We will take the result and the points today. Everybody was pushing hard. Let’s go to Phillip Island and try again.”

MotoGP Motegi Espargaro Rossi
Pol Espargaro

Hervé Poncharal – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Manager

“Altogether this has been a very positive weekend for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team here in Japan. It was a tough weekend for everyone, cool temperature on Friday, rain and a damp track on Saturday meant difficult conditions to master, a dry Warm Up this morning and a bit of a gamble for tyre selection. We run soft-soft in Warm Up and we knew it was going to be a bit warmer in the afternoon, so clearly, we decided with the medium front and rear, which was something we never tested the whole weekend. We told Miguel to be a bit cautious in the beginning of the race and this is what he did. The start was ok, but the pace was a bit average on the first laps, but when he understood the tyres and pushed them to the right temperature, he had a really strong pace. He did some good overtaking. We were a bit scared about his should towards the end of the race, but he made his fastest laps at the end, he was catching the guys in front. I’m truly proud, he was finally catching Bagnaia, who is a tough contender in his rookie season. This was a strong race. There was only one DNF ahead of us, so I think we can be proud of this top 12. We are not so far behind Pol (Espargaro) and clearly, we improve together with KTM. I’m very happy about what all the team, KTM and Miguel have done. We were also very excited to see Hafizh fighting and passing Lorenzo and Abraham. For once, he was right behind Nakagami, catching him, but when he was about to pass him, he made a big mistake and that was the end of our hope. But I would like to thank him also, because maybe this is one of the best races of the year for him, he was fast, some laps quicker than Miguel and he didn’t get a great reward because of the single mistake he did towards the end, but this is still a positive weekend. Let’s pack now and fly to Australia, which will also going to be an interesting weekend, as the weather seems to be difficult to handle. We’re ready to pack, enjoy a good night and then it’s off to Down Under!”

MotoGP Motegi Start
Motegi MotoGP 2019

Massimo Rivola – Aprilia Racing CEO

“This is a difficult moment. I feel like I need to send a message, first and foremost to ourselves. After qualifying and warm up, expectations for the race were high. The start was good but we realised straight away that something wasn’t right. In fact, Aleix was unable to replicate the pace he had demonstrated in warm up. When he came back to the garage, he complained of a lack of power. We need to look into the cause. Andrea also crashed, but after a technical problem. These are problems that happened to both on new engines and it is our duty to figure out these problems.”

Piero Taramasso – Michelin

“We came here with very high hopes of setting some fast times and breaking some records, but the weather intervened and didn’t make that possible. We are not disappointed though because the different conditions gave us plenty of opportunities to see how the tyres performed as the asphalt changed. It was cold on Friday, so the choice was really to go with the soft and medium slicks only, then we had heavy rain on Saturday morning, which meant we were able to use the full wet tyres. Then as it dried all the riders started to switch to slicks, this showed the amount of grip our tyres supply in those conditions as the best times were just outside race lap-record pace and no-one crashed in such difficult circumstances. Today for the race the track was not in a good condition, as it was slightly warmer, but the humidity increased, making tyre choice complicated. In the end just the front and rear soft and medium slicks were chosen, but it showed they all worked as each one was on the podium, in three different configurations and on three varying manufacturers. Overall it has been a positive weekend despite the weather and now we must focus on Australia and the added challenge of a test within the race weekend.”

MotoGP Motegi Start
Motegi MotoGP 2019

MotoGP Results/Standings

Source: MCNews.com.au

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