Marquez and Dovizioso ready to charge at Phillip Island
We have arrived on the island ready for the 2017 Australian Grand Prix. It is game time for the riders after a splendid Wednesday with sunshine and hot temperatures that kept everyone smiling. On Thursday, we had torrential rain and now the weather is exactly the typical Island mixture of cloud, wind and sunshine. Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso are pushing hard to win the World Championship and will not give in to the temptation of making a mistake. They are very aware of the pressures around them and also the importance of starting strong from the very first practice session. Marquez and Dovi are already talking about the final corner of the Island and how important it will be as the last two corners are not only the most challenging, they can be crucial to qualifying as well. Phillip Island is a circuit that the riders enjoy with some loving it more than others. It pushes the riders mental focus lap after lap and is physically demanding on the body structures of the varying riders.
During the press conference, Marquez was adamant that he will look at all options to ensure the weekend runs smoothly and he keeps an eye on the performance of Yamaha and Ducati around him. Dovizioso on the other hand is using the rational and irrational side of his personalities to charge at Marquez with everything he has in his toolbox. Marquez: “We are in a very important moment. Motegi was great and we only lost five points. This was important to. In Phillip Island it is normally a track that I enjoy more than Motegi. We will see about the level. We try like always to be in the top from FP1 and work well for the race. The weather is something interesting here in Australia. We have had some ups and downs here. We are fighting for the Championship. The approach for the race this year is very different. After qualifying and practice we can fight for the victory or if it is time to think of the Championship. Dovi is there, still I am aware of Vinales. It is not far ahead enough. We need to control a little bit more regarding Dovi. We push and if we can take one more point, we will try like Motegi till the last corner”.
The approach for Dovizioso is to work hard. “It was really nice last weekend in how we work, how we arrive for the race and we arrive ready for that race. We managed in the best way. The fight was nice. It is really important to continue like this and in the same way. It will be difficult but we enjoy the moment. We want to improve during the weekend like many weekends this season. Like Marc says the weather looks quite unstable, wind and rain and we have to go day by day. Yes for sure to win the race makes a big impact and for the team. From Mugello it was very important to win that race for me, myself but also for the team. We created a situation inside the box that is really good, smooth things and we are now fighting for the Championship. No one expected this. The last race when I watched it on Monday, I was happier about the speed I have during the race. It was not just about recovering points. We will see during the last three races what we can do.” Dovizioso has already put a great foot forward in FP1, as did Marquez. The strength of these two riders is really showing as we get down to the final races of the 2017 season. It has been an impressive display by the Spanish Champion of Marquez and the Italian Stallion trying to win his first title.
On the other side of the fence is Maverick Vinales who appears to be out of the title race though not giving up. “We arrive here in a totally different way and with a different bike so we will see. It is a track that I enjoy and I love to be on. In Motegi it was a difficult race and we tried everything. We have to forget the pressure now and continue riding. For sure it will be tough to challenge, as it is not in our hands. However, our rivals would need to make a mistake. Right now we are just trying to enjoy and go to the maximum level. We hope for a dry race where our bike is more competitive and in the wet we have to improve. For next year, we need to make an improvement. We have been struggling a lot in the last races. We can improve.” If you compare his performance to Danilo Petrucci’s in the wet it is very intriguing to see as Petrucci excels on the Ducati in those conditions. If it is wet on Sunday, the dark horse is Petrucci for sure. He is confident and calm in those conditions. Whether he can win is something for the circuit and bike to decide. “I think I could be one of the happiest guys if Sunday is going to rain. I do prefer a fully dry weekend as I suffer cold in Motegi during the session. Jokes apart, I am very happy to be here and it is one of my favourite tracks. To arrive here five days from my last podium is a good thing. I have nothing to lose so I have not so much pressure. I enjoy a lot this track and want to stay at the front part of the classification. I had the absolutely the best seat for watching the Motegi race and I really enjoyed the last six laps especially because in Motegi at this point I decide to quit my race following Marc and Dovi, so I decided a podium finish was good. The race was incredible. Dovi in front was incredible. It was very funny and yes I got a gold seat to watch the battle. I am not obsessive by the victory, I am really enjoying staying in the first part of the classification and I think the win is going to arrive when I will not think about it. It is a normal progression to my growing up. I am happy”.
Finally, Jack Miller spoke about his leg. It was one of those things where his leg got hit in the wrong way. “It has been a very busy time for me. I decided to miss Japan and focus on here, Malaysia and Valencia. I want to finish strong for my team and Honda. I am really happy to be here at the moment. It is a great race for me and I enjoy the fans where some of them are crazy. The weather is crazy. Looking forward to the track after testing here. I know the circuit really well.” At this point, Jack had not even been on board his bike and in FP1 managed to get third fastest which is seriously impressive after breaking his leg two weeks ago. Time to enjoy some more trackside action!