Drum roll… we are back at COTA! The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas kicked off on Thursday with the pre-event Press Conference, with Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) joined by form man and closest challenger Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), King of COTA Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Misano podium finisher Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) and home heroes Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing), with plenty to talk about.
Here are some key quotes!
Fabio Quartararo: “I’m really happy to be back here and yes, it’s a track that I really like. Two years ago my first MotoGP season was quite good and since then we’ve taken a lot of experience. For sure we will go a lot better, but yeah it’s a track that I like and I think we can achieve a good goal. Of course we know the back straight will be difficult for us, but I think the first and last sectors will be important ones to recover.
“Honestly in Misano, behind Jack, I had some moments. But as soon as I overtook Jack and I saw Pecco in front, I needed to try. Second is ok for the championship and in the end that’s the position we finished but it’s the race I had more fun in this year. It’s a shame we didn’t get that place at the end, but the race was going super fast and I want more of this at the end. Of course I’m in a tricky situation, I will not push over my limit but if I can achieve something like Misano or something better, I’ll go for it.”
Francesco Bagnaia: “It’s a track that I like, I am always happy to come here to America. Austin is a place I like, and I think our bike will suit this track well. I won the last few races and my feeling with the bike grew a lot. I know it is not an easy track, the first sector hasn’t been easy in recent years. In 2018, I was not feeling great with the bike with the movements of the bike and the bumps, but this year, with the new surface it might be better. I think Yamaha will be fast, but Honda with Marc will be the fastest.
“This year we were fast at tracks that we struggled at in the past years. I think our bike suits better in all the conditions in all the situations of tracks. This first sector is very similar to Silverstone, maybe more difficult but similar, and we were fast there so I think we can also be very competitive here. We need a chance to stay in front so we have to be competitive.”
Marc Marquez: “I mean the approach of the weekend, for example compared to Misano and Austin is a bit different because I know that normally in this track I enjoy a lot and this year I will try to enjoy it, because if we take this season I’m suffering more than enjoying. Anyway we will see, it’s a tough track, lots of changes of direction and a lot of brake points, but luckily it’s on the left side, so this will help. And yeah, I’m ready to enjoy – if I enjoy it on the bike the result will arrive.
“As you see in Misano we tried the 2022 prototype, and it was a big difference. One of the biggest differences since I joined Honda. They are working very hard and I think it was very interesting. We improved our weak points but when you improve your weak points, of course if you improve the weak points then other problems arrive. But we already understood a bit, me and Pol, the comments were similar and with the new bike we were fast. The first contact was nice, it was good, but we need to keep working, try to understand in other race tracks and with less grip because the grip at the Misano Test was unbelievable, it was so easy to go fast, and yeah, now it’s time to keep working and try to prepare for the 2022 season.”
Enea Bastianini: “You know it’s very nice to battle with these guys and I think Marc is fantastic. Also riding the Ducati, it’s an incredible bike because you can brake very hard. Also, Misano, it’s easier for me because we tested a lot with the Panigale and it’s one of my favourite tracks. Here in Austin, it’s another world, another track. I have to understand more my bike and I think Marc here is incredible and we will see what we can do here on this track.
“Yeah it is possible, we can do another good race in Austin. I have never tried the Ducati at this track, step by step I’m arriving to my objective and also I am riding the bike more easily. We will see if we can do another step. The top six is possible but not easy!”
Joe Roberts: “It’s just amazing to be back here honestly. I think, pretty thankful to MotoGP and Dorna for making this happen to come back to America, as an American rider it’s crucial that we race in America. Even just last night flying in and coming into the airport and seeing fans already, coming up and saying hi, it’s amazing. Austin I’ve always said it’s one of my favourite cities, I’m a big fan of music and stuff so, they’ve got Austin City Limits this weekend – not that I’ll make any shows! – but it’s pretty cool to be here. I hope for a great showing, we have a great race and the fans really enjoy it.
“It’s been a bit of a difficult season I think. Not the season me and the team expected. Started out pretty decent you know, running out front, but for whatever reason we’ve hit hard times I would say. But I don’t know, I think it’s something that can happen in this class, this class is unpredictable, the class can be like that sometimes. We wanted to stay together because I believe in the team and the team believes in me, I feel that we can get back to where we should be next year and even finish this season really well.”
Cameron Beaubier: “It’s like Joe said, it’s pretty special coming back here and racing at COTA and we haven’t been here since 2019, and we were here in 2019 with Moto America so yeah, it’s going to be nice on Friday rolling out on the track I know. In front of the hometown crowd and everything like that yeah, it’s been an amazing season so far you know, it’s been really, really tough this Moto2 class. I mean just the level of talent across the board from Moto2, Moto3 and obviously MotoGP is incredible so yeah, looking forward to this weekend and see what the weather throws at us.
“It’s hard to say exactly my target is, I want to finish the year strong. The beginning of the year it started out OK, I got a couple tests at some tracks that we went and raced at. I was more competitive than what I was now but I think the biggest thing with my new crew chief, Stew, he’s just telling me focus on the gap to the front rather than the position because you know how tight Moto2 is! It’s incredible so just trying to kind of focus on that. I’m really excited going into the offseason the next year just getting all the tracks you know, learn and relearn because I haven’t been in Europe in 11 years so that’ll be really cool, and yeah, see where we stack up.”
Now the talking stops and the flag drops. Tune in as Free Practice begins on Friday morning, before Sunday sees the lights go out for MotoGP™ at 14:00 (GMT -5)!