Whilst news of Nicky Hayden’s renewal for 2010 with Ducati meant he was in an understandably good mood in Thursday’s Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini press conference, Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were still at the centre of the amassed media’s attention ahead of round thirteen.
Rossi, Lorenzo and Hayden were joined by Marco Melandri and Alex de Angelis at the press briefing – with last weekend’s events at Indianapolis leading to the obvious questions about a revived title battle between the Fiat Yamaha riders.
However, Rossi was perhaps playing mind games by talking up the chances of Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa this weekend, when he stated, “It will be very difficult to try and stay in front of Jorge here. It is already a good target just to stay ahead of Dani because with the acceleration points here the Honda and his riding style will be good. We will aim for the podium and just to take some important points and then afterwards we will look at the other races.”
Meanwhile, asked whether his confidence had been significantly boosted by halving the championship deficit to 25 points on Sunday, Lorenzo tried to play things cool and look at the wider picture, saying, “My confidence is actually just the same. We are fast at every track and things just change when you have bad luck or you take too much of a risk. We are competitive at every circuit and we are still just learning from the experience.”
Previewing his biggest race of the year San Marino rider De Angelis commented, “Of course this race is very important for me because I am at home and the podium which I got at Indianapolis has given me a big lift. We know that it will not be easy to be on the podium again here but I will do my very best.”
Melandri, meanwhile referenced his two recent DNFs at Indy and Brno before giving some technical details of the challenges he currently faces with his prototype during races. The Italian rider explained, “At the last two rounds I have had some bad luck but I think this track (Misano) could be good for me if we work hard during the practice. I would like to achieve seventh or eighth, but it is hard for me at the beginning of races with my bike when it has a full fuel tank as it’s aggressive and it’s hard to keep good corner speed.”
The last word went to a beaming Hayden, who has had a great week, with his home podium at The Brickyard on Sunday followed up by his Ducati contract renewal. The man from Kentucky remarked, “It has been great. I was due a good result and we managed to come through and produce it at home. Then with the Ducati news it has just got better so I want to focus on doing a good job in these last five GPs of 2009. There is still a lot of racing to go this year!”
Earlier in the day Thursday’s pre-event activities commenced with a visit to the historic centre of San Marino and the ‘Wall’ at Mount Titano, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
The aforementioned Melandri and De Angelis were in attendance and were joined by Colin Edwards, Gabor Talmacsi, Héctor Barberá, Andrea Iannone, Raffaele de Rosa, Alex Baldolini and Hiroshi Aoyama as they abseiled down the wall. Randy de Puniet also attended, but sat out the abseiling because of his ankle injury.
The riders then moved on to San Patrignano, which is a privately funded drug rehabilitation community that has been heavily supported by Scot Costruzioni and the Scot Racing Team since it was founded in 1978.
The riders were introduced to the 1500 community residents, before the project’s press officer, Carlo Bozzo, explained how the San Patrignano programme works to rehabilitate marginalised individuals and drug addicts without any social, political, or religious discrimination.