With MotoGP ready to kick off once again at Jerez, Thursday saw the usual press conference take place on the eve of practice. The conference featured Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Aspar Pagina Amarilla's Hector Barbera.
Apart from the usual platitudes uttered at every race weekend, about how the riders are looking forward to the race, and will once again give their all, and the genuine sense of anticipation and excitement at Jerez' unique atmosphere - so loud are the crowds, the riders say, that they can hear the cheering above the noise of the 130dB MotoGP engines, and through helmets and earplugs - the press conference did throw up one or two interesting tidbits.
Perhaps the most significant news was the extent of Valentino Rossi's injuries. The Italian revealed that he had been in more pain than he had let on, after crashing at the gravel quarry where he does all his off-road training. Rossi crashed in a left-hand turn, falling when the bike hit a patch of softer ground by the rain. He overextended his shoulder, nearly dislocating it, but cracking a bone and stretching ligaments and his rotator cuff. Rossi was treated by Dr Costa, but the injury would normally require three weeks to recover from. "It's been two weeks," Rossi said, "so one more week to go."
Rossi also said he has strength in his hand, but that some movements were painful. So far, he had been unable to test how painful actually riding would be, other than shooting up and down pitlane on his scooter. Rossi is due to try to ride on Friday without painkillers, to assess just where he stands. "We need to wait till tomorrow," Rossi said.
Despite being at his home Grand Prix, Dani Pedrosa was muted in the press conference. The Repsol Honda rider was cautious about his options at Jerez, and was much more focused on fixing the problems that continue to plague the Honda RC212V. Pedrosa has a new chassis to test, which he will be using both during the weekend and on Monday, during testing. The chassis is stiffer, to cure the violent shaking the bike demonstrated down Qatar's straights.
Pedrosa also said that the fact that Randy de Puniet and Andrea Dovizioso had no problems, while himself and the rest of the Honda riders did, was extremely confusing. "From the first day we got the new bike at Valencia, Andrea loved it, but I didn't," Pedrosa said. "Hiroshi [Aoyama] said the same as me, but Randy and Andrea have no problems."
Pedrosa also talked about the arrival of the electronics specialists from Yamaha, Andrea Zugna and Cristian Battaglia. When asked if their arrival had helped improve the engine response, Pedrosa said that had not been their main focus. "They have improved the endurance, helping make the tires and the fuel last longer," Pedrosa said.
The other big topic inside the paddock is the upcoming meeting of the Grand Prix Commission on Saturday, which is due to meet to discuss the 2012 regulations for MotoGP. Consensus among the paddock insiders both inside and outside the media room is that nothing will emerge from that meeting. The mood among the parties involved is pessimistic, with no one expecting the MSMA to provide a full set of technical rules. Discussions over the 2012 regulations look like dragging on for quite some time to come yet.