The traditional Thursday conference raises the curtain on the Motegi race weekend. The first to speak is Marc Marquez, current championship leader. In 2016 he was the race winner: “Last year we had a great Grand Prix – comments #93 - I was also able to win the title, celebrating in front of the Honda bosses. This year, we come to Japan after solid performances at Misano and Aragon. Unfortunately the weather is always an unknown at Motegi, you never know. I'll try to start strong right from FP1, looking for the right confidence”.
Despite his lead, #93 is not about to lower his guard: “On Thursday you never know who you're going to have to beat –he said - we need to see what our level is, because the conditions will make a difference. I think I have the right confidence with the Honda though, as I feel competitive in all conditions. So we'll try to retain the same mentality throughout the triple-header, pushing to the max”.
The Spaniard knows what he wants: “I'd prefer a dry race of course –he pointed out - as I've said, I can defend myself in all conditions. My lead is important, because if I were to make a mistake, I'm still in the running”.
Motegi, with its unstable weather, is something of a game of roulette: “Nothing is certain this season– stated #93- there are many factors that can condition the result, in fact we get to some tracks thinking we'll be fast and then the opposite is true”.
The five-time champ is feeling the pressure: “There's always pressure, and I think it's normal when the title is at stake –he concluded – of course I know that the title can be won just as it can be lost. The guy under more pressure is the man chasing, as he can't allow himself the slightest error”.
To his right, Andrea Dovizioso, 'the man chasing': “I'm looking forward to three great races – said the Ducati rider - I think it'll be a close run thing, more or less as if we were starting over from scratch. There are still many points to play for and anything could happen. Personally, I'm feeling relaxed, because I'm aware of the work we've done this year which has been great, almost perfect."
The Italian shows a certain confidence: “This is a great track for us, there are various hard braking points, and with the new fairing we can be strong in acceleration too – he warned - of course the weather's looking unstable and so we'll need to take that into consideration”.
The Borgo Panigale rider is also well aware of his particularly strengths: “Competing with con Marc and Maverick is not easy – he admitted – but if I'm fighting with them it means that I have cards to play and significant experience. This experience has allowed me to bring out the best in myself”.
Maverick Vinales listens from the other side of the table: “If I want to win the title I need to beat Marc and Andrea – said the Spaniard, who hasn't won since the Le Mans round - unfortunately I made the wrong tyre choice in the last race. It's going to be a tough final phase - added #25 - and if it rains it will all become more complicated. I like the triple-header though and am sure that the Yamaha can be competitive in all three races”.
Aleix Espargarò may also find himself in the mix. The Aprilia rider hasn't forgotten what he managed to do in the last race: “I had great sensations in the last race – said the Spaniard - I was able to build confidence lap after lap with the bike, and hope to do the same again. We've changes the weight geometry this season and have been more competitive as a result”.