Having secured a solid double podium in Aragón a little less than three weeks ago, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo shape up for the triple-header overseas, starting at the home of Yamaha with the Grand Prix of Japan.
Yamaha Jets to Japan for Motegi Round
Rossi thoroughly enjoyed the close racing in Aragón and expects to continue his podium streak at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit as one of the key protagonists. The Italian has been successful at this track numerous times before. In the premier class he has been victorious in 2001 and 2008, scored second place in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2015, and secured third place in 2010 and 2014. This weekend he has made it his mission to fight with the front-runners again to bridge the 52-point gap to the championship leader.
After closing the Aragón weekend strongly, teammate Lorenzo is also eager to get back into action at the Japanese track and he will aim for another top result this weekend. Over the last seven years, the Spaniard has climbed the Motegi podium seven times, winning the Japanese Grand Prix in 2009, 2013 and 2014, finishing in second place in 2011 and 2012, and securing third place in 2006 and 2015. This year he hopes to add another win to his tally and close the 14-point gap to his teammate.
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit was built in 1997 and two years later it was first visited by the MotoGP championship for the first time. The 4.8 km-long circuit instantly became one of the most exciting events on the calendar for motorsports fans thanks to thrilling racing action made possible by its stop-start character, tight hairpins and slight elevation changes over six left and eight right corners. Motegi was added to the MotoGP calendar in 2000 as the Pacific Grand Prix until it replaced the Suzuka Circuit as the host of the Japanese Grand Prix in 2004.
Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“We are now starting the last part of the season with the first of the three races overseas before the final round in Valencia. The team is looking forward to visit Motegi, it’s a very special Grand Prix as it is Yamaha’s home race. Motegi is a fast track with a stop-start nature. Vale and Jorge have both done very well here in the past, so we expect to be fighting for the victory again this weekend. As always we aim to fully prepare the set-up of the YZR-M1 on Friday so we will be ready for the battle on Sunday. The three fly-away races are always challenging for the team, we will be pushing non-stop these upcoming three weeks and we can’t wait to get started.”
Valentino Rossi – Championship: 2nd, 196 points
“I love the three overseas races, these circuits are fantastic. On paper we are strong with the Yamaha, so I hope to fight for the victory. I’m especially happy to go to Japan because it is the home of Yamaha and I will do my best to make it a good Grand Prix. I like the track and the atmosphere. I’m in good shape and I’m ready for the three races in a row!”
Jorge Lorenzo – Championship: 3rd, 182 points
“We now kick off the most different part of the season and maybe the most exciting because we face three races in a row and they are all overseas, so physically and mentally it asks a lot from you. On the other hand it is a nice adventure every time we go there. First on the list is Motegi and this track gives me great memories. I love Japan and I like a lot this circuit because of the people and for Yamaha and the other Japanese manufacturers this Grand Prix is so important. This is the real home race! The end of the championship is still quite far away so we need to continue to ride in the best way possible, be competitive and try to win again. It would be fantastic to do that at Yamaha’s home Grand Prix!”
Motivated Tech3 duo head east for Motegi showdown
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith confidently look on to the forthcoming Japanese Grand Prix where they will aim to kick-start the triple flyaway races in a positive manner. The pair will battle at the legendary Twin Ring Motegi circuit, which has produced many memorable duels over the years and they will seek to ride to success at Yamaha’s home GP in the round 15 fight.
Pol Espargaro will continue his quest to reclaim the top independent position in the World Championship by finishing as closely as possible to the factory MotoGP riders in front of his loyal Japanese fans. The young Spaniard, who currently sits in joint 8th in the standings, returns to Japan full of optimism, after winning the Suzuka 8 Hours event for the second year in succession in July.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith will get back in the saddle of his YZR-M1 after sitting out the past three MotoGP races due to a knee injury that he sustained in August. However, after a heroic recovery in such a short space of time, the Briton will aim to meet the chequered flag in a solid position in the 24 lap Motul Grand Prix of Japan on Sunday in order to begin the final races of the 2016 season positively
Pol Espargaró – Championship: 9th, 96 points
“As always, I am excited about going to Japan and I fully intend to score a strong result to repay Yamaha on their home soil. The Japanese fans are special to me and I have had many good times in the country, such as the two victories in the Suzuka 8 Hours event for the Factory Yamaha Racing Team and also sealing the 2013 Moto2 World Championship after winning the GP that year. Therefore, the race in Motegi always has a special place in my heart and this year I will give my all again. We have had a bit of an up and down time recently, but with two weeks off after the Aragon GP, which I finished in 8th, I feel fully prepared and confident. The Motegi circuit is a demanding one, especially with regards to braking, but the Tech3 team and I will get straight to work and I am sure that we can have a solid opening day, which will set me up for a strong result at the end of the weekend.”
Bradley Smith – Championship: 18th, 42 points
“I am excited about jumping back on my YZR-M1 and even though I know it will be a challenging race, I am determined and I will do my very best. It will be the first time that I can ride a MotoGP bike after seven weeks and even though I am almost fit, it will take me a bit of time to fully adjust to being back on the Yamaha. This will be the initial goal of the weekend, but I am confident that I can quickly get up to speed again. Japan is a special place, with it being the home of Yamaha and also the country where I won the Suzuka 8 Hours event last year. Plus, the fans are fantastic and really supportive which will motivate me even further. However, I know this weekend will be physically demanding due to the stop and go nature of the circuit, plus, there are a lot of hard braking corners but I am certain that we can start the flyaway races positively before we head to Phillip Island.”