Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Head South for Second Overseas Race
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team continues its relentless pace this weekend as the paddock heads from the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan to Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia, for the second consecutive race weekend, the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Valentino Rossi looks forward to defending his second place in the championship from his teammate Jorge Lorenzo. As one of the most successful riders at the Phillip Island circuit, he will be using his experience to secure a top result and visit the Australian rostrum again. After taking third place in 2000, the Doctor enjoyed an impressive five-year winning streak from 2001 to 2005, followed by five more consecutive podium finishes in the premier class. He claimed second place in 2008 and 2009 and scored three third places in 2006, 2007, 2010. Rossi returned to the podium again three years later with a third place in 2013 and a first place in 2014, when he, teammate Lorenzo and Monster Yamaha Tech3's Bradley Smith made it an all-Yamaha podium.
Lorenzo is also prepared to take on the competition on Phillip Island, one of his favourite circuits where he got to lift a trophy after the race many times. He scored two second places in the premier class in 2010 and 2012. From that point on the Mallorcan has not finished off the podium, securing the victory in 2013 and two more second places in 2014 and 2015. Lorenzo aims to keep the trend going this year and is ready to enjoy the beautiful Phillip Island circuit whilst fighting for second place in the championship.
Phillip Island became a permanently constructed circuit in 1956, but was already staging motorcycle races since 1931. The circuit hosted motorcycle Grand Prix events until an extensive renovation took place in 1968. The 4.4 km Australian circuit made a comeback in 1989 and 1990 and became a regular fixture once more from 1997 onwards. Each year the track is a crowd-pleaser for both the MotoGP paddock and fans, who can't get enough of its fast and fluid corners (seven left and five right), exotic wildlife and stunning location right next to the ocean.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"After Motegi we headed straight to Phillip Island. Though we didn't score any points last weekend, we showed we are very strong and capable to fight for the win even under challenging circumstances. We will use this experience to fuel our motivation even more to deliver a good result. We already tried the Michelin tyres at this track as part of the pre-season testing earlier this year, so we hope to build on the data that we already have. As the track is very close to shore, it can be very windy and cold at this time of year. We hope the weather conditions will not play a big role in this weekend's racing activities so we can fully focus on getting a good result."
Championship: 2nd, 196 points
"The bad thing is that we took zero points in Motegi, but the good thing is that we showed that we are strong. Phillip Island is a fantastic track and a place that I like a lot. We have to try to be fast and strong there too. We already tested there with Michelin, but unfortunately we now go there after a very bad season, our worst season on paper. We hope that the weather conditions won't be very bad, because if it's cold it can be dangerous. We hope for good weather and we'll see."
Championship: 3rd, 182 points
"It was a shame in Motegi, but we were at least able to fight for the victory despite the wrong decision with the tyre. My crash and Vale's gave Marc the title but honestly he was the most consistent rider. Now we have to fight for the second position in the championship, though the important thing - and why we are here - is to be a champion. Phillip Island is going to be a bit strange because the fight for the championship is over, but I would like to do a great race and try to win. That`s my goal for the next three races and take the vice champion title as well."
Resolute Tech3 pair fired up for the fight down under
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith head to the Australian Grand Prix full of confidence and ready to battle, fresh from competing at the Motegi round last weekend. Both riders seek to complete the second back to back flyaway event solidly at the world famous Phillip Island circuit, which has produced many memorable duels over the years.
Pol Espargaro determinedly intends to seal the top independent riders honours in Sunday's race aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1, after achieving 6th at the previous GP in what was his 50th Grand Prix with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team. The 25-year-old currently sits in 8th in the World Championship standings and will be aiming to close the deficit to the leading satellite rider, by finishing as close as possible to the factory MotoGP riders in southern Australia.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith returns to the scene of his debut premier class podium in 2014, and he will seek to undertake another brave performance in Australia following his comeback in Japan after being forced to sit out three Grand Prix's due to a severely damaged knee. The British rider showed incredible resilience at the previous round and he courageously defied expectations by concluding the Motegi showdown in 13th, despite being limited by his injury. He resolutely targets completing the GP in the best possible position on Sunday in what will be another demanding race for him whilst he continues his recovery progress.
Championship: 8th, 106 points
"I'm looking forward to the Australian Grand Prix as always because I enjoy riding at the Phillip Island track a lot. It's a special place for me and I probably rode the best GP of my life there in the intermediate class, where I finished almost 20 seconds ahead of second place. Last year, our performance wasn't too impressive, but to be honest, the whole season was quite challenging. Yet, I am really confident that this time will be better because my 2016 campaign has been much more positive. The main ambition for the weekend is to put as much pressure as possible on Cal, who is ahead of me in the championship. He is also the leader in the independent rider battle, and it is still my goal to win that fight by the end of the year. Therefore, I will give it my all and I can't wait to get to get going in Australia."
Championship: 17th, 45 points
"Phillip Island is a unique circuit and completely different in nature to Motegi, but I am excited for the challenge and I will do my best, as usual. The high-speed demand of the track will be tricky, because, even though there are not as many corners as some other rounds, it is still quite physical. In addition, the cooler conditions that we get at this time of the year make racing a bit more complicated for MotoGP riders. However, I will go there with an open mind, and I hope that we can work in the same way that we did in Japan, in order to build up our pace over the weekend. Moreover, in the next few days, I will be off the bike and I am positive that my knee will improve a bit so that I can be better and stronger for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team."