Howdy, Texas! The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas is ready for action and the Sheriff is back in town. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who has earned that name thanks to his seven wins from eight at the track, is back, and the Spaniard was joined in the pre-event Press Conference by Argentina GP winner Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), podium finisher Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™).
How does it feel to be a winner and World Championship leader?
Aleix Espargaro: “Sounds good, sounds good. Feels strange for me to hear that but I’m very happy. These last few days have been fantastic, I feel happy but at the same time relaxed because I had the confidence I didn’t have in the past. In the past I dreamed I could win, now I know I can. It’s not going to be an easy weekend for me because last year we suffered a lot in this track, it was one of the most difficult, but this year is different. We have new asphalt, the bumps will be a lot better, the 2022 machine is a lot better than last year and we arrive in a completely different position. I can’t wait to go out on track and see how fast I can go.”
How confident are you the new RS-GP will make the situation more positive this weekend?
AE41: “I have no doubt that it will be completely different. I was very happy to win in Argentina but what made me happier is that we showed in the first three rounds that we are very competitive, I feel good with the new bike, the new bike is a lot better. The proof was that I was also able to over Jorge on the Ducati in the straight, so it means that overall the Aprilia has grown up a lot and this gives me a lot of positive energy for this round. I know it’s not going to be an easy one, I’m sure in Portimao and Jerez it will be easier for me and my bike but this is a challenge. This weekend is a big challenge for me, I love a challenge so I cant wait.”
How much are you looking forward to trying the new asphalt?
AE41: “I tried it already yesterday with the bicycle and it looks like they did a good job. Sincerely last year was very very tricky and looks like the new asphalt is quite good, for sure a lot better in the past. Let’s see about the grip, when you put new asphalt for sure you improve the bumps but you have to also see how the new tarmac grip is. I cant wait, it looks like it’s gong to be a very windy weekend so we have to deal with this. And yeah, let’s see tomorrow.
It’s been a difficult and inconsistent start to the season. What are your expectations this weekend? Is it hard to know your level?
Fabio Quartararo: “Not an easy start. In Argentina our pace was not too bad, but first few laps we struggled, and I was far back. It was difficult. It was difficult to overtake. I felt our pace was great but then we couldn’t make our riding style and our grip was less. It was not an easy race. But, last year wasn’t so bad here so I think we can make a great result.”
Last year you were second behind MM93… but now it’s different circumstances, then you were thinking about the Championship. Can you now be more aggressive than October?
FQ20: “Yeah I was in a completely different position to now so yeah I will be more relaxed. Let’s see how the new asphalt is and if there is more grip. I hope it has grip, it could predict our weekend. Looking forward to it, could be a great weekend.”
Are you surprised by how unpredictable 2022 is?
FQ20: “Of course, it was totally different to last year because we have nine different podium finishers. I think it’s great for the fans. Let’s see if we can make a great weekend!”
How much confidence has the result in Argentina given you?
Jorge Martin: “Yeah for sure after a really good weekend in Argentina I’m really confident for this weekend. All year we’ve been super competitive but I was missing to finish a race because starting from pole in Qatar, second in Indonesia, and again in front in Argentina is good, but finally finishing a race in Argentina was a good boost of confidence. Also last year here I was super competitive, I was close to the podium but I had the Long Lap at the end so I couldn’t finish there, but I think we van do a great race. How we worked in Argentina, we need to focus here in the same way and yeah we will also be really competitive here.”
What do you think the new Ducati will be like around this track?
JM88: “For sure this year’s bike is much easier to turn and I think it will be much better than last year. For sure we’re missing some place where we were strong last year and now we’re not, so w e need to focus on those sides too as on the straight we lost a bit of speed. I’m confident in general because the base of the bike is better than last year for this track.”
How curious are you about the resurfacing?
JM88: “Well let’s see, in the end it will be the same for everyone, I’m not really thinking about the surface. I’m not so enthusiastic about the conditions because maybe we go on track and there are bumps, I’m expecting a bit of everything. We just need to get focused really quickly.”
Great to have you back after another difficult period. How relieved are you by the quick recovery?
Marc Marquez: “Of course after Mandalika was really hard week, but lucky for me that the vision injury was less than last time. Even for Argentina, I almost came back but didn’t feel motivated to take that risk, and I didn’t want it. I spoke with the doctor and we decided to stay at home and relax and then train again in a good way. This week I had another doctor’s check and the vision was fixed. I tried a bike as well and let’s see. I’m not arriving in the best way here in Americas GP but we will try to do a great FP1 and start a great weekend.”
It’s the first time we’ve talked to you since the crash, can you tell us anything about it?
MM93: “Actually, I don’t remember a lot. I remember more from the images than what I remember. The Indonesian GP was one of the worst GPs in my career. I crashed too much, and some I didn’t understand. I had a new tyre and high-sided. It’s in the past and now it’s time to build the confidence and build again that process…it was hard what happened but the week after was harder. But lucky for me, I am here so that’s positive.”
You have a great record here in COTA. What’s your target? Are you here to win? Is it possible?
MM93: “It’s possible, but not the way to approach the weekend. We are coming from the Indonesia GP where I struggled, I crashed a lot and had a huge highside. I only just started training again a few days ago so it’s not the approach this weekend. Just trying to build the confidence and let’s see…”