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Article: Remembering LS39 and Andreas Perez as Lorenzo, Marquez, Mir, Rossi and Crutchlow Talk Catalunya Challenges

As we remember the fallen rider of Luis Salom, we were also remembering Andrea Perez who tragically passed away in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship last week. It was also the stamping of Salom’s presence with a graffiti mural at turn 12 where many riders were out to support the former Spanish rider. In MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3, it is like a big family and any trauma experienced is shared, discussed and a support network established. That is the beauty of having such a strong paddock of riders and teams. As we look forward to the 2018 Spanish Grand Prix, the talk was centred around the rider market and how contracts have been signed with some impressive changes. These included Dani Pedrosa leaving Repsol Honda, Jorge Lorenzo signing up with Repsol Honda to partner Marc Marquez and Joan Mir joining Team Suzuki Ecstar as a new rookie. The contractual announcements were somewhat expected and unexpected. No one caught wind that Lorenzo could be talking to Honda, except the crew at Formula Magazine had inklings that if he did not stay with Ducati, he would look to partner Marquez. Lorenzo is so talented. It would have been an injustice to see him out of the sport or on a satellite bike. He deserves and has earnt a factory seat. Marquez showcased a positive attitude to Lorenzo signing up and in fact, we think it will be a dynamic duo. Marquez: “It will be a big change inside Honda, another teammate and a new riding style. I’ve learned many things from Dani when I arrived, he was riding the Honda so well. But Jorge is a strong teammate. I am happy that I am inside the Honda Team. He will be tough to beat.” The Spanish Champion is well aware of how good Lorenzo is and looks at the partnership as a learning experience at the same time. In the meantime, both riders are now set to enjoy 2018 and race with complete confidence as their contracts are done and dusted! The best thing for Honda is to have strong, determined and passionate riders. Both MM93 and JL99 fit that brief. Right now, Mugello has been forgotten for Marquez, he is fresh and ready to shake things up on track.

As the media waited to hear from Lorenzo, he appeared excited and still on a high from becoming the King of Mugello. Valentino Rossi agreed that everyone involved in the deal did a superb job in keeping the deal a secret and announcing it when they did. The Doctor had no idea and in fact was quite shocked at the announcement though is excited to see how it all comes together. Rossi: “There were no rumours around. Both sides did well to keep a secret. I did not expect Lorenzo in Repsol Honda”. Lorenzo is a dynamic rider and has proved himself on board the factory Ducati in more ways than one. It is a real shame to see Ducati lose the talent and dedication of Lorenzo. Unfortunately, it was just a bit too late to make a change. Lorenzo: “I did not say anything to anybody. It is easy. My goal and my first priority as I always say was to stay at Ducati, until Le Mans, then I realised that maybe Ducati wanted to swap me, change me or put another rider… then we started to plan another way towards my future. Until Le Mans, I wanted to wing with Ducati, races, the Championship if possible. Next year, I will be competing with another manufacturer. Everybody is looking at me…I entered the Championship when I was 16. They know how fast I can be. I won with Derbi, I rode for Honda, Aprilia, Yamaha…Ducati. Sooner or later, I have this talent and capacity to go faster on a motorcycle. I work a lot of hours; millions of hours and I have this capacity.

I know what I am able to do with the bike and for sure it will be a challenge, but this will be the future, I am a person of the now and I don’t look so much in to the future. Now, I still have a lot to do with Ducati. Like everybody knows, like I did with Yamaha – until the last race I tried to win and do the best for the team. I will do this with Ducati.” The feelings of being at Ducati until the end of 2018 will be a story on its own as Lorenzo looks for more race wins and success alongside Andrea Dovizioso. JL99 is in a sweet period of time with Ducati and he will be a threat this weekend in Spain. His mindset and concentration are at an all-time high. Lorenzo: “The bike has a good package and we have worked hard to improve the bike each month. It looks like a good package for all Ducati riders. We have some pieces that helped me a lot to keep the constant pace till the end. We arrive to a good track after a good test. It looks like a good weekend for us. We have to go well”.

One key area of the race this weekend will be the asphalt and bumps. In 2017, riders complained and questioned the integrity of the circuit. As a result, it has been resurfaced. There will be fast riders and interesting tyre choices based upon the changing weather conditions. DesmoDovi is just focused on doing a good job in amongst comments are his 2019 teammate Danilo Petrucci. Dovi believes Petrucci will be an asset as he knows a lot about the bike and has a good working relationship with his fellow Italian. With the changes in 2019, the Championship is looking to be thrilling from garage to garage. In particular, Cal Crutchlow is aiming to write better history at Catalunya. Last race, Cal was weighing up chasing versus finishing the race. He did not want to put the bike in to the gravel trap. He settled for points. Mugello was a good indicator of what is to come for the Honda rider and he feels confident coming in to the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend. The aim is a podium finish. Crutchlow was asked about Lorenzo of course based on his personal experiences of racing with multiple manufacturers. Crutchlow: “I think Honda have played a very good card there, they’ve taken on a great Champion and a guy with a lot of speed, but I’m as interested as anyone in the paddock to see if he will adapt to the style of the Honda. It will be great as Marc has said to have another Honda rider who has ridden another manufacturer bike. For the last four years I think, all the guys in Honda were always Honda riders except me. You start to get more information for someone the same as me who has ridden the Yamaha and the Ducati and now comes Jorge from there as well. He will be able to bring some input to the table I am sure”. We totally agree with Cal in this regard and know that he will charge at Lorenzo as competitor whilst supporting him as Honda riders stick together in chasing Yamaha, Ducati, KTM and Suzuki.

On the opposite side is Joan Mir who enters MotoGP in 2019 with no experience in the premier class. This was an interesting choice by Suzuki whom have two very young riders on board their machines next year. We thought Andrea Iannone was doing a stellar job to date and wished he had of been given a chance considering the success he has achieved in such a short time span. However, in MotoGP, you can be winning and losing very quickly. Iannone was what some would call replaceable and he now heads to Aprilia who have struggled to make an impact on the premier class. The pressure will be on for Mir and he is talented. Can he handle the journey to MotoGP and be rewarded with the glory? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, we begin watching practice, followed by qualifying, warm up and then the race. Be sure to tune in because the gloves are off and teams ready to battle! Mir: “I am really happy to join MotoGP. It is a dream for me. If you say to me three years ago, I will be racing in MotoGP, I would say you are crazy!”

Credit: www.motogp.com

Credit: www.motogp.com

About The Author

Myanna Wedes

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.