Press releases from the Moto2 and 125 teams previewing this weekend's Catalunya MotoGP round at Montmelo:
Grand Prix of Catalunya
Barcelona, June 3rd – 5th, 2011
After a three-week break, the World Road-race Championship reopens at Montmelò, on the outskirts of Barcelona (Spain), on a classical, well-known and demanding circuit.
Alessandro Tonelli (Technical Director): "It is a beautiful and interesting track. To perform, you absolutely want a great bike, but riders must contribute with their skill. Experience and ability are a must. Weather forecast indicates rain on Saturday. Track and tarmac are first quality; obviously you must carefully take the surface condition into account and take counter-measures but, having said that, it is one of the best circuit, in this condition.
Taylor Mackenzie told me to feel in good shape. He knows the place, scheduled for the Rookies Cup. Simone Grotzkyj doesn't list it among his preferred, but nevertheless last year he came close to top ten, and is still progressing in his riding style. As far as Giulian Pedone is concerned, this is a track on which he can learn a lot".
CATALUNYA BECKONS FOR MARC VDS RACING TEAM
This weekend's Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya marks the start of an intense period of activity in the Moto2 World Championship, with Scott Redding and Mika Kallio determined to get the run of six races in eight weekends off to a good start with a strong showing at the Montmeló circuit outside Barcelona.
The two Marc VDS riders head to Catalunya fresh from enjoying the sights and sounds of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monaco, where they were guests of Total, sponsors of the winning Red Bull Racing Team of Sebastian Vettel.
Redding heads to Spain determined to get his championship campaign back on track, after being taken out of the race in Estoril and then finishing outside the points in Le Mans due to a bad tyre choice for the race. For the 18-year-old British rider a good result in Catalunya would provide a much needed confidence boost ahead of his home Grand Prix at Silverstone, which takes place just seven days later.
It's been a tough introduction to Moto2 for Kallio so far this season, but the Finn is hoping to turn things around this weekend at Catalunya, to finally get his championship campaign underway. The Marc VDS rider has enjoyed success in Catalunya before, finishing on the podium in the 125cc class in 2005, but this weekend his sights are set a little lower, with a top ten finish the ultimate aim.
The 2011 Gran Premi Aperol de Catalunya will mark the 20th successive year that the Circuit de Catalunya has been used since it was first included in the World Championship in 1992. The circuit is characterised by long, constant-radius corners that place the emphasis on a flowing riding style, as well as excellent chassis and tyre performance. A regular testing venue for Formula 1 teams, the track is notoriously bumpy in places, despite extensive resurfacing work carried out in 2005.
Scott Redding: #45
"Catalunya was a difficult race for me last year, but we learnt a lot that will stand us in good stead this time around. The bike is definitely better this year and the new tyres should work really well around this circuit, but it will still be a tough weekend. Everyone knows it's important you carry speed through the last two turns onto the straight, which is one of the longest at any racetrack, but you can also make and lose a lot of time in the stadium section, where good lines through the turns are critical to a fast lap time. Like I said, it will be another tough weekend, as the Moto2 boys don't hang about, but I'll be giving it everything as always."
Mika Kallio: #36
"I started the season with the aim of finishing on the podium, but after the last few races I'll be happy to get a top ten finish under my belt in Catalunya. The circuit isn't one of my favourites, but I have had some good results there in the past. For this race we have been working on the set-up of the bike, which will be very different this weekend to how it's been for the last two races. In Estoril and Le Mans we were around one second off the pace of the leaders, so we needed to try something a bit extreme to try and close this gap. I hope that the changes we've made will lead to the improvements we're expecting and that we'll be able to run a little closer to the front this weekend in Catalunya."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Manager
"It is imperative that we get this run of six races off to a good start in Catalunya, with both riders finishing the race in the points. For Scott it's doubly important, as a good result this weekend would see him head to his home race at Silverstone with renewed confidence. Mika has had a difficult transition to the Moto2 class, but since the disappointment of Le Mans, where a mechanical problem ruled him out of the race, he's been working hard with his crew to find a set-up on the bike that will allow him to close the gap on the front-runners. I know Mika's ultimate goal is a podium finish, but this weekend he needs to make the first step towards achieving his aim by finishing inside the top ten."
UNFINISHED BUSINESS FOR NICO TEROL AT MONTMELÓ
BANKIA Aspar rider determined to continue 125 dominance and make up for a crash when fighting for the podium last year
One of the most demanding periods of the World Championship season is upon us as the Continental Circus embarks on a whistle-stop tour of some of the most famous circuits in Europe. It is a key part of the season for the riders, who have to stay fully focused if they want to carry their championship aspirations into the second half of the season. The first of five races in seven weekends for the minor category takes place this Sunday in Barcelona, the second Spanish race of the season, with Nico Terol defending his series lead from the challenge of a host of hungry compatriots.
With just three corners to go last year Terol's podium challenge ended up on the floor and a resultant injury left him out of the next race. As he did last year the BANKIA Aspar rider arrives at Montmeló on top of the standings but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and he currently sits 36 points clear of his nearest challenger after just four rounds. Héctor Faubel has been fighting for the podium in the last three rounds but it has proved elusive so far, whilst the team's third rider Adrián Martín, who joined his team-mates for a test at Aragon last week, is also hopeful of improved fortunes at their second home race of the year.
Nico Terol: "I love Montmeló and I have great memories of the circuit, although obviously not last year because I crashed on the last lap when fighting for the podium. It was probably my biggest mistake of the season but it gives me added motivation going to the same race this time around. I want to do it for the fans and for myself. My objective is to fight for the win. We went to Motorland last week to test a new exhaust and chassis setting. I ended up with a really good feeling and we fulfilled our objective so I am looking forward to getting to Montmeló and confirming the work we did. I am going to leave everything out there this weekend. It is a technical circuit where you need to have a good set-up. The fast section through the last two corners is great fun and you can make up a lot of time. You also need the engine to work well because it has two very long straights."
Héctor Faubel: "I had my best race of the season so far at Le Mans and after finishing just short of the podium I am ready for anything at Montmeló. Hopefully I can repeat my performance from Jerez, when I was fighting for the win, but with a different outcome. Myself and the whole team are working really hard, in fact we went to Motorland last week for a test and the conclusions were really positive. Montmeló is a circuit. It has two long straights so you need an engine with plenty of power so that you don't lose time. Hopefully we can confirm the work we did at Aragon and perform at 100%."
Adrián Martín: "I travel up to Montmeló determined to get a good result. Things went really well for us in Portugal and at Le Mans everything went well except the race. We were unlucky there but we went to Motorland for a test, which was great for us because we had chance to find some of the solutions we were looking for. I think we can be in the top eight this weekend and that is what we're fighting for. Montmeló has never been particularly good to me but the same could be said for France and my feeling during practice was fantastic."
MAPFRE ASPAR RIDERS PREPARE CATALUNYA CHALLENGE
Julián Simón and Xavi Forés target podium and points repectively in second home race of the year
The Grand Prix of Catalunya takes place this weekend exactly one month earlier than last year as the fifth round of the 2011 season and the first of a run of five races over the next two months. A handful of Moto2 riders took advantage of the two-week break since the last round in France to complete a test session at the Motorland circuit in Aragon, with every tiny improvement a potentially decisive factor in the closest category in World Championship motorcycle racing. Stefan Bradl continues his quest to open a gap at the top of the standings this weekend although he will no doubt have to contend with a highly motivated 'Spanish Armada.'
After following up his podium finish at Estoril with an excellent fourth place at Le Mans, Julián Simón heads to Barcelona as the German's closest current rival in the overall standings. The MAPFRE Aspar rider is on course to become a serious title contender after making progress in recent weeks but last year's championship runner-up is desperate for more. Having finished on the podium here last year he is determined to be there again on Sunday, if possible on the top step. The goal for his team-mate Xavi Forés is to score points at all costs. This is a circuit he knows perfectly and the rookie is hopeful it can be the scene of a top fifteen finish at last.
Julián Simón: "I head to the Grand Prix of Catalunya full of hope and optimism, especially after the podium in Portugal and the good result last time out in France. The test we completed last week at Motorland was perfect for us and really helped me get confident with the bike. We found a setting that allowed me to be fast without taking too many risks. Now we have a home race to look forward to and personally I take a lot of motivation from racing in Spain. I love to feel the support of the fans and to go there lying second in the championship is another reason to be confident. We have to set our objective as the podium and maybe even our first win in Moto2. Montmeló has a lot of long corners, which I love, and you have to keep a good line so as not to lose time off your lap."
Xavi Forés: "We made a big step forward during practice in France and that gives me a lot of motivation for the next race. It is a circuit I love, I know it well and the crowd will be pushing us on. That is more than enough motivation to go for it and try to get a good result. Our objective is to finish in the points and now more than ever it is within our grasp. We will be giving everything from the first session to make sure there are no unwanted surprises in qualifying. We have already seen what a big setback it is in this class to be starting from the back. Montmeló is a long and wide track, it is well suited to my riding style and I think it could be a good weekend for us."
TAKAHASHI TARGETS VICTORY REPEAT IN BARCELONA
After finishing second last time out in the French Grand Prix Yuki Takahashi is targeting a return to the top step of the podium this weekend at the scene of his debut win in Moto2. The Team Gresini rider took victory in Barcelona less than twelve months ago and has made constant progress in his adaptation to the Moriwaki MD600 over the opening four rounds of 2011, leaving him ready to fight for a top result. His relationship with the team continues to improve in tandem with his confidence on the bike and the Japanese rider is ready to confirm his status as one of the leading riders in the intermediate category. Michele Pirro is looking to make up for a disappointing weekend at Le Mans by showing his true potential at the Spanish track. Pirro has everything in his favour to be fighting amongst the lead riders in the pack and is hoping to take another step forward this weekend as the team introduce some technical updates.
Yuki Takahashi "I go to Barcelona feeling full of motivation because I won this race last year and we are making great progress at the moment. We showed it last time out in France and I think we can take another step forward at Montmelò. I am improving and so is my bike and I think that my feeling with the Moriwaki MD600 is already good but we can take another step forward this weekend. I would love to repeat my result from last year and stand on the top step of the podium again."
Michele Pirro "We travel on the back of a tough race at Le Mans. I didn't like the track and I didn't ride to my potential. I haven't ridden at Barcelona since 2005 but I like the track and I am determined to put the disappointment of France behind us. There are none of the slow corners that I struggled with in the last race but we need to take a step forward with the bike in order to be more competitive. The team have worked hard over the last two weeks and I am confident we can bounce back from the result at Le Mans."
Fausto Gresini "Yuki won his first Moto2 race at Barcelona last year and after finishing second at Le Mans I am confident he can have a great race. The team have worked hard over the break and we will have some technical updates in Spain that should help us take another step forward. After some positive recent results Yuki has closed the gap to the top riders in the championship and if he can continue to improve he will soon be amongst them. Michele is really determined to do well and arrives in Barcelona looking to put his Le Mans disappointment behind him. The track suits his riding style and should help him perform to his potential. Michele is a fast rider and so far has not picked up the results he has deserved."
MAHINDRA RACING SET FOR CATALUNYA CHALLENGE
May 10, 2011: After two fruitful weeks on the test bench, the Mahindra team is facing the intensifying season ahead with enthusiasm. There are championship points on the table, and the two riders are eager to claim their share. Both earned points last year at Catalunya.
With a run of five races over the next eight weeks, this weekend's Catalunyan GP marks the start of the busiest time of the year for GP racing. Resources will be strained to the limit; nerves stretched tight.
The Italy-based Mahindra squad, the only one on the grid to make its own complete motorcycle, is ready for the fight.
Promising results in the early races were spoiled with niggling electronic problems at the last round at Le Mans. The two-weekend break gave Mahindra the chance to resolve these issues, as well as to do further development work on the disc-valve single-cylinder engine.
For 20-year-old English rider Danny Webb, the Montmelo circuit outside Barcelona has some good memories. A top-ten finish last year contributed to his position of tenth overall; and he was in the points also in 2008.
"This bike is a new project, and we're getting stronger all the time," he said. "The last races showed we have the pace for regular points finishes, and we're getting better all the time at keeping that pace to the end of the race. I can't wait to try again."
Webb and team-mate Marcel Schrötter (18, from Germany) are working with a new rear suspension unit introduced at Le Mans. For Schrötter, it is a new step in his own progress of adjusting to the new bike.
"After some work at Le Mans we made the bike feel more like it was my bike," he explained. "This is what I need for my confidence, and we will carry on working the same way. I had a good race at Catalunya last year, and I hope for another one."
The Catalunyan GP, fifth of 17 rounds of the last 125 World Championship before the new Moto3 class is introduced, is the second of four rounds on Spanish soil. It draws huge crowds to the Barcelona area, well-served by extensive grandstands and banked hillsides, for a view of the sweeping 2.94-mile (118.18-km) circuit.
HONDA ON A ROLL AT CATALUNYA
The heart of the European MotoGP season begins this weekend with the Catalunya Grand Prix north of Barcelona, a race with a rich history and massive crowds that marks the first of six races in eight weeks. For the Honda riders who've been dominant this season, it's a decidedly mixed blessing. The rapid succession of races gives multi-race winner Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) plenty of chances to close in on the championship leader. But for Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) the timing couldn't have been worse.
Pedrosa has made the painful decision to withdraw from his home race to allow his right collarbone to heal properly. The Estoril GP winner suffered a broken collarbone in a racing incident with Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) during the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. Surgery was performed in France to stabilize the fracture with the hope that Pedrosa would be in fighting fitness for the race not far from his home in Sabadell. But despite a gap of two weekends between races, the collarbone isn't ready for the rigors of racing and Pedrosa will sit out Catalunya. No date has been set for his return.
Stoner rolls into Barcelona having won the previous race in Le Mans from the pole, as he'd done in Qatar to open his career with the Repsol Honda team. The Montmelo circuit has been good to Stoner, he's been on the podium at Catalunya every year of the 800cc era. It began with a win in 2007 en route to the MotoGP World Championship, and he's finished on the box every year since.
Stoner sits second in the world championship and could easily be in the lead when this flurry of races finishes. The week after Catalunya is the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Then comes a weekend off, after which the Dutch TT is run on Saturday, June 25, followed by the eagerly anticipated Italian Grand Prix at Mugello the following weekend. After another weekend's break, the series resumes at the Sachsenring in the former East Germany. The begins the summer break for the support classes while the MotoGP class flies off to Monterey, California for the last race prior to the summer break. All in all, six races in eight weeks. In order to make a serious run at the championship, a rider will have to be consistent and fit.
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso hasn't had the highs and lows of his teammates. His season has been more steady, but not at the level that he expects of himself. Catalunya may be the setting where he can showcase his skills. The 25-year-old Italian won the Catalunya race and finished third on two different occasions while racing a 250. In both of his first two MotoGP appearances, he finished just off the podium.
Dovi's most recent form has been his best. He arrives in Catalunya having finished second in Le Mans after qualifying a season high third.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) has had a tumultuous few weeks. It was the tall Italian who was involved in the incident with Pedrosa in France. Race direction believed the pass was too aggressive and Simoncelli had to serve a ride-through penalty. Earlier this week, it was announced by the FIM that he'd have to meet with race direction in Catalunya to further discuss the incident.
After a steady progression in his rookie campaign, Simoncelli has blossomed in his sophomore season. He's been at or near the front in every race and led in Jerez before falling on a wet/dry track. In qualifying, he's been no worse than fifth. In almost every race this season he's been a legitimate podium threat, though the promise remains unfulfilled.
Simoncelli's San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, hasn't been out of the top ten in his second year in the premier class and knows that he has to start faster on the weekend. The popular Japanese rider hasn't made the most of qualifying and knows that race success will only come when he can start closer to the front of the very talented field.
In his 250cc championship season of 2009, Aoyama finished second in Barcelona. This race will mark his MotoGP debut at the track. Last year he was forced to sit out the race in Spain because of a back injury.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP RC212V) is from nearby Manresa, which will give the 2010 Moto2 World Champion added motivation in his home race. Elias has vast experience in Catalunya, he was second in the 125cc grand prix as far back as 2001. That may not help him much this season, but a test prior to the race in Le Mans did. As will an updated 2011 chassis supplied by Honda Racing Corporation to Elias for Catalunya. The season hasn't been rewarding for the Spaniard, who would like the race to be a catalyst to greater things.
While the MotoGP stars had a break between Le Mans and Catalunya, some of the Moto2 set tested at Motorland Aragon with encouraging results, while Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Kalex) tested in Assen.
Bradl takes his dream season to Spain for the second time this year. Riding his Honda-powered Kalex, the 21-year-old German has earned the pole in all four races this season and won in Jerez. His finishes include two wins, a third, and a fifth. It adds up to a yawning 28 point lead over Spaniard Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2, Suter), 77 to 49, after four events.
Though Bradl's margin is definitive, the spots behind him are fluid; second through sixth in the points is covered by three points. Behind Simon is Andrea Iannone (Speed Master, Suter). Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2, Suter) are tied for fourth a point behind Iannone. Takahashi won the Moto2 race in Catalunya last year from Luthi, with Simon third.
Montmelo is one of the few race tracks to be shared by Formula One and MotoGP. The layouts are slightly different, mostly in the final sequence of corners. It's also a popular Formula One testing venue and all those laps do no favors to the track surface.
The long front straight is followed by a hard braking right hand first turn after which follow technical sections of fast and slow corners, and elevation changes. The track is biased towards the right with eight right-hand corners, fast and long for the most part, and five left-handers of lesser speed. The right hand bias wreaks havoc on the right side of the asymmetric rear slicks, while the lefts are far less taxing. One of the most interesting corners is the uphill right running to the middle straightaway. It's here that one finds audible evidence of the electronics that have taken such a prominent place in racing. The sophisticated electronics cause the engine to produce a sound that sounds unhealthy, but, in fact, guarantees perfect traction for the run down the track's second longest straight stretch.
The place to spectate is in the final stadium sequence. Riders arrive through a series of lefts that feed a looping right which runs into the double downhill rights prior to start-finish. Tyre temperatures here soar, as the riders are leaned over for three very long corners, and on the gas for the crucial run down the kilometre-plus front straight. Get the first part right and it's difficult to be passed before the finish line, though it can be done.
MotoGP Rider Quotes:
Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner says:
"After such a great weekend in Le Mans I'm really looking forward to going to Barcelona, it's one of the first Grand Prix tracks I rode on and I've always enjoyed it. It's a very flowing track and the Spanish crowd are amazing. In the past Dani has proven our bike performs well there, so hopefully we can get there and find a reasonably good set up, fast and be competitive because we really need to start taking back some more points. I am very happy to hear that Dani's operation went well and I hope that his recovery time is quick. It's a shame he cannot be riding in his home race, but I really wish him a quick return back to track."
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says:
"After France, I had surgery to stabilize the fracture on my right collarbone and hoped to be ready for Barcelona. I pushed myself as best as I could but I feel that my collarbone is not yet ready. I think I must stop for a while and recover properly. Since early this year I've had many problems and operations and I really believe I must stop now and let this heal properly.
I would love to be in Montmeló with all the fans that follow me but for me if I'm on track, I'm there to fight for victory and offer them a good race. I feel that is not possible at the moment and therefore the most sensible thing is not to compete. It is a big shame what happened. Despite all the problems I had earlier in the season, this year I felt very strong and I was aware that I could beat my opponents. I want to say thank you to you all for your support and hope to be back in full shape as soon as possible to continue giving my best."
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso says:
"I'm happy heading to the Catalunya Grand Prix after my second position at Le Mans. This is one of my favourite circuits, it suits my riding style and it's a good track also for the Honda RC212V. It's a long track with fast corners and it's a great feeling when you find the right flow and link one turn with the next. I have always had good results here and after the podium achieved in the last race we arrive competitive and motivated to repeat a good performance.
The atmosphere at this circuit is fantastic, there are always many spectators who are truly passionate. With the Catalunya GP starts a very demanding period of the season with six races in eight weeks. Personally, I like having two races in a row because you keep working on the bike without a break and it's good also as a rider as you spend more time on the bike. I'm very sorry
for Dani and I hope his rehabilitation goes well."
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli says:
"I have had time over the two-week break to think about the race at Le Mans. I am still disappointed with what happened to Dani and I hope that he has recovered from his injury in time for this weekend. I am also disappointed because Honda were unable to celebrate having four bikes in the top four positions at the French Grand Prix. Overall on reflection I have realised where I have gone wrong and in the future I will try at certain times to evaluate the situation better and be a little more cautious. I know that I'm probably not going to get a standing ovation at Barcelona, but I hope that if I am criticised it is done in a civilised manner and not in the way that has happened in other sports in the past. In any case I just want to put the controversy behind me and get out there on my bike and start working towards a race that I am sure the team and I have the potential to do well in."
San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Hiroshi Aoyama says:
"I am still pretty satisfied with the way my season has started. I have been solid and consistent and we have picked up important points. Now in Barcelona I want to kickstart the next phase of my MotoGP development. I am determined to be more decisive during practice and make sure of a good grid position so that I don't have to make up ground in the races, as I have done so far. I know that with the help of my team and the feeling I have already established with my bike I can do it. Barcelona is a circuit I like so hopefully we can meet our objectives."
LCR Honda MotoGP rider Toni Elias says:
"Honestly my situation is not the one I was expecting for my home race, but I am not worried about that. I do not feel the pressure. I just want to continue my progression trying to fix the bike step by step. In the last three rounds we have found some small improvements, but my overall package is not perfect yet, so we will continue our set-up work to take a step further on my home soil. I want to thank Honda for their support so far and for the new 2011 chassis they gave us for this weekend. I will do my best to obtain the best result for me, the team and my fans."
Moto2 Rider Quotes:
Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Kalex rider Stefan Bradl says:
"I am glad that the weekend is a race again. We had since the last race a little break and now I want to once again sit on the bike. Assen earlier this week was a little taste. At Barcelona, I remember with pleasure; here it was actually always quite good. The Spaniards will be strong here, for it is their home race, but I know what I can not do and that is let me put under pressure."
Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2, Suter rider Julian Simon says:
"I head to the Grand Prix of Catalunya full of hope and optimism, especially after the podium in Portugal and the good result last time out in France. The test we completed last week at Motorland (Aragon) was perfect for us and really helped me get confident with the bike. We found a setting that allowed me to be fast without taking too many risks. Now we have a home race to look forward to and personally I take a lot of motivation from racing in Spain. I love to feel the support of the fans and to go there lying second in the championship is another reason to be confident. We have to set our objective as the podium and maybe even our first win in Moto2. Montmeló has a lot of long corners, which I love, and you have to keep a good line so as not to lose time off your lap."
Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki rider Yuki Takahashi says:
"I go to Barcelona feeling full of motivation because I won this race last year and we are making great progress at the moment. We showed it last time out in France and I think we can take another step forward at Montmelò. I am improving and so is my bike and I think that my feeling with the Moriwaki MD600 is already good but we can take another step forward this weekend. I would love to repeat my result from last year and stand on the top step of the podium again."