After securing a third place at the Mugello circuit, being serenaded by the Italian crowds, and simultaneously taking over second place in the championship rankings, Valentino Rossi is ready to commence the championship battle in Barcelona.
The Doctor has a 23-point margin to the leader in the standings and hopes to strengthen his position as a title contender this weekend at a circuit that he knows like the back of his hand. He holds an impressive 13-year podium streak there, that lasted from 1997 to 2009 and was spread out over various classes (MotoGP, 500cc, 250cc and 125cc). He has secured the victory at the Montmeló track ten times in total, seven of which whilst competing in the premier class (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2016).
The Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya is also a round Maverick Viñales looks forward to. He previously achieved four consecutive podium finishes there in the lower classes, with a second place in 125cc (2011), a first and third place in the Moto3 championship (2012 and 2013), and a second position in Moto2 (2014). He is yet to climb onto the MotoGP rostrum in Barcelona and has made that his goal for this weekend.
Though the previous rounds demanded considerable effort from the Spaniard, the youngster still holds third place in the championship rankings, just five points behind his teammate.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has featured on the MotoGP calendar for more than 25 years now. It soon became a crowd favourite after hosting its first MotoGP race in 1992. The Catalan round is known as one of the most atmospheric and thrilling races on the calendar. This was further highlighted when the venue won the IRTA ‘Best Grand Prix’ trophy in 2001. However, the recent tragic passing of Andreas Pérez after round four of the Moto3 Junior World Championship, held in Montmeló last weekend, will cast a shadow over the upcoming GP. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team’s and Yamaha’s thoughts remain with the family, friends and team of Perez this weekend.
Championship: 2nd – Points: 72
“I hope I can be stronger at the Catalunya circuit, I think our potential there is better than it was at Mugello. At the test in Montmeló we found something. The new track surface is better for us, the new asphalt helps the Yamaha. We were still suffering in some places, but we have to stay focused, not give up and try to gain points.”
Champtionship: 3rd – Points: 67
“Montmeló is a very special track for me because it’s my home Grand Prix. There is always a beautiful atmosphere there, with so many enthusiastic fans. Despite the result in Mugello we are in a good mood and very motivated. We will try to obtain as many points as we can to continue going upwards in the way we’re approaching this championship. I would love to be on the podium in Montmeló, that would be great for me and for the team. They are working hard to find the best set-up for our bike in every GP, so let’s keep focused and we´ll show the best side of us for our fans.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“After an important and useful test in Catalunya a few weeks ago, we now return to the circuit of Montmeló for round 7. We’ve already been able to try the new asphalt, so we have a basis set-up in place for Friday. The team is looking forward to getting this weekend started, because the track’s lay-out generally suits our bike and also Valentino and Maverick have had their fair share of success there. Valentino has scored two consecutive podium places at the previous two rounds and is determined to keep the momentum going. Maverick is also fired up to get a good result at his home GP and is 100% committed to produce a good show for the Catalan crowds, who always strongly support us.”
Zarco and Syahrin Focused on Catalunya Battle
With excellent memories of a very positive day of testing at the newly asphalted Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 pair heads to Montmeló for this weekends’ Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya highly motivated.
Following a difficult round in Mugello where Johann Zarco took home as many points as possible, the fast Frenchman is eager to return to his accustomed top positions, while Hafizh Syahrin is on the mission to defend his rookie top spot, after he reclaimed it during the Italian Grand Prix. The challenge is set to commence with the first Free Practice session on Friday at 9.55 local time.
Championship: 5th – Points: 64
“The Catalunya circuit is a great track and I’m happy to come back there. We had the test with the team and it was going pretty well. I hope to find this good feeling straight again and be strong all the weekend to fight for the podium or even the victory, if the dream would come true. After two difficult races, especially in Mugello, where I was struggling, I would truly enjoy to be back in a great place with the top guys.”
Championship: 16th – Points: 17
“I’m looking forward to the Catalan GP, which is like my second home race, because I’m based in Spain for quite a long time already. The track is my favorite, too. We’ve already done the test here and after this and the race in Mugello, I have a really good feeling with the bike and understand the setup. I can’t wait for this round! I want to do a decent race again and fight for the top rookie spot. Physically I’m quite strong now, so I’m well prepared to arrive in Montmeló.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 – Team Manager
“I believe everybody at Monster Yamaha Tech3 is eager to arrive in Montmeló to start the first practice of the Catalan Grand Prix. Mugello has been a tough weekend, although we knew before, that it’s going to be difficult, unfortunately we were not surprised and like it was the case last year, the track was tough for Johann and the M1. The good thing is, that we’ve been testing in Montmeló straight after Le Mans and this test has been really positive. Both, Johann and Hafizh got good feedback and not only for one fast lap, but also regarding their race pace. Right now, Johann is inside a very tight group of the provisional ranking, which means he misses only eight points to P2. Cleary, we are in a very important moment of the championship, we need to score in every race. We saw how tough the DNF in France was and the struggling in Italy has been, so we need to keep our heads down and hope to be back in the front group in Barcelona, which is the main target. Hafizh has another fight to master, battling against his fellow rookies for the top spot. Overall, we are just eager to come back to the level we had before arriving in Mugello. Barcelona is a place we all like a lot, which is good for the MotoGP circus and last year we had some strong results there. Obviously, we hope to repeat this great performance, especially as now this will be the first race in 2018 where we are 100 percent sure of our 2019 line-up, so it’s one worry less in my head and certainly also one less for Hafizh. I believe, when you saw his performance in Mugello, it’s very easy to see that he deserves this contract and factory support from next year.”
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