At the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky, the Press Conference brought some of the protagonists of 2020 so far together as we head into the first three in a row of the year – with plenty to talk about ahead of Brno.
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took centre stage as he comes into the event leading the Championship, joined by Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Here is what they had to say on the lead up to the Brno MotoGP race.
“I think Jerez is a track that was better for us, but like I said last year the Yamaha is going well in every track.
“It’s true this track has a lot of straights, uphill, but a lot of corners so at the end our bike is turning really well.
“We miss a bit of power but we can’t have everything.
“We will do our best, the same mentality, we will work really hard to see what our potential is for Sunday and tomorrow and Saturday we’ll be working on the pace.
“Honestly, after race wins, you always celebrate with your friends but it was quite strange.
“But when I arrived home, I saw nobody and always with the mask.
“I went back to see my family but I couldn’t even kiss my mum so I was a bit scared, especially after an F1 driver had the virus.
“I was a bit stressed honestly so we didn’t do something special, but stayed safe and always with the mask.
“Now we’re here and we can fully focus on racing.”
“Our objective was to be on the podium, so we achieved our maximum in Jerez.
“Now we’re going to tracks I really like; I love the layout of both Brno and Austria.
“We have a great opportunity, so we need to keep pushing and hopefully we’ll find something more for this race and get to the maximum again.
And is he worried about the Yamaha engine usage so far?
“We’re quite confident and comfortable.
“We know what our potential is, so we’re quite calm.
“We need to make it work as best we can, and that’s it.
“We need to keep going and, especially, we need to be as fast as we were in Jerez.”
“I can’t be too happy about my riding in Jerez in the first two races, but in the end the Championship points are not so bad.
“Happy to be in Brno.
“I think it can be a better track for us, but it will be important to fix my weak points.
“We studied a lot this week to try and be ready for this weekend.
“We will see during the practice, because just being on the bike you can feel if you have made some changes.
“Let’s see how the track is because its normally very difficult for the map and the grip.
“There is a new tyre so we will work in a different way.
“And let’s see the Yamaha.
“I expect them very competitive here, but I’m really interested to see if they are strong like in Jerez.
“For sure, there is an opportunity for everybody.
“But, you know, every year has a different story and the first two races say that the two Yamaha riders are stronger than everybody else.
“But, whether it’s just in Jerez in the really hot temperatures.
“The season is still really long with a lot tracks and different temperatures.
“It’s an important weekend because I’ve always liked Brno.
“Last race in Jerez, we changed something that gave me a better feeling and I enjoyed the whole weekend.
“To be back on the podium after a long time and a difficult period was a great feeling.
“So, it’s important to understand if I can also be strong here because the track is great, I’ve always liked it, but in previous years with the Yamaha we’ve always struggled a bit.
“It’s important to know our potential at another track, with different conditions, and also for the next races after this.
“In the summer of last year, I understood that I needed something different, so we changed the chief mechanic and we bet on a younger guy from Moto2 with no MotoGP experience.
“I liked a lot his approach because he was working in my team with Moto2.
“I feel very good, he can teach me a lot and he has a different way of working on the bike.
“We needed fresh ideas, and now we need time to work on our relationship and for him to understand what I need.
“But over these next races we will understand if we’re in a good way.”
“In Jerez it was special conditions.
“Really hot, the second race on the Sunday was my worst conditions.
“I was always behind and it was difficult to breathe.
“We’ve improved a lot from the first race, now it’s a different story and a different track.
“Not the same conditions as Jerez, I think Sunday will be hot but not like in Jerez.
“Nothing special, we’re working hard, the same as always.
“Marc is not here so I feel a lot of pressure from HRC but that is nice, I’m enjoying this moment so hopefully it’s a good weekend for us.
“Of course, when I saw the data compared to Marc, I can find some special riding from Marc.
“But absolutely not easy to copy.
“From HRC side they have helped a lot during the weekend, we checked Marc’s data from the first race and one thing I found that on braking he has a completely different way to stop the bike.
“I tried all sessions, it’s not easy to understand but I feel that when I saw the lap times it was always better.
“When I’m riding, I feel a lot more confidence and it’s easier to stop the bike.
“This is a lot of help during the race, Jerez, 25 laps, it was difficult to not make any mistakes.
“It was a lot of help. It’s difficult to explain but he has special riding under braking.
“It was tough and not easy, but we have to adapt all season.
“Now I have found the best way on braking, we’ll keep going like this and we will see on this track.”
“I’m so happy about the fifth position in Jerez.
“The most important thing after the first race was to finish.
“I had this on my mind during all the weekend.
“I think that here we can be a little bit more competitive.
“The weekend looks like it will be much colder than in Jerez.
“So, looking forward to it, so let’s see if we can improve our qualifying sessions, we are missing a little bit in that point.
“But I think if we improve in that area we can fight to be in front.”
Mir also spoke about the crash he had last year in the Brno test.
“This track doesn’t bring me good memories, like you said, but it’s always been a track that I enjoyed a lot.
“Riding here is so nice, but like you said I had a big injury last year, but anyway it’s best not to think about that, it’s better to think about the good feelings I have had here in the past and for sure let’s see if we can bring a good result on Sunday to help us forget last year!”