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losail_international_circuit_in_qatarThe MotoGP season kicks off this weekend in Qatar, and the MotoGP riders just finished a pre-event press conference to talk about the preseason, the race this weekend in Qatar, and their hopes for the 2011 MotoGP season.

Here’s what they had to say.

Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha): “Everybody seems very strong and there are a lot of riders at a good level, who have been very fastLorenzo_at_Sepang and quick. We are not at our best at the moment, with the setting. We need improvements in the bike to be competitive and I know we can be faster than in the test.

“We start this evening with the first practice session. To be honest, the rivals have improved a lot and Yamaha hasn’t, not a lot. At the moment, we not only have a problem with the maximum potential, but with the set-up. I am sure we can improve and then be closer.”

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda): “I couldn’t have asked for any more from the preseason. The tests were very productive and at the moment everything is going very well.

“However, testing and racing are two very different things. We’ve seen it before where things have gone well in testing and then changed when the season starts, so we’re keeping our feet on the ground. I think when we get to the European circuits, we will really see where everyone’s level is. For me, people have been putting themselves on the line more than before. Everyone has been more consistent with their lap times and I think riders will be up there who I didn’t expect to see before Christmas.”

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda): “Almost every year I’ve had an issue with fitness, but this preseason has gone quite well. So this is a big step compared to previous years.

“We made some improvements and have done some good testing, now I hope we can continue this against our rivals on track. It will be a tough race and I hope for a good practice to be able to do well. Everybody is going pretty well. We have to see how this first race goes, as I’m sure everybody will push harder than in the test.”

valentino_rossi_sepangValentino Rossi (Ducati Team): “I’m very excited (about the first race), it’s like the first day at school. It’s always a great emotion to change bikes.

“In the testing we’ve not been so fast, but we have worked on the bike and my riding style and I do feel quite ready. The shoulder has been a big problem and a long one. It has improved a lot, but it still lacks power and resistance. Now it’s just a question of time. I worked all through the winter on my fitness and I think I need one to two more months before being 100%. For the first half of the season we’ll try to do as best as we possibly can, and then push on. I think we’re better than 13th (Qatar test position). This will be a tough race.”

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing): “It’s a big step and it’s not been easy to adapt. It will take some time but we can definitely do it. Testing has not been so bad, the first one in Sepang was difficult with the heat and power of the bike and everything, but I learned a lot. The Qatar test was better for me, now we have to work hard and prove it. I’m learning every time I get on the bike. I hope it won’t be too long before we can achieve some good results.”

The 2011 MotoGP season kicks off tonight with the first round of practice sessions. The qualifying round for the MotoGP will be on saturday, and the first race of the 2011 MotoGP season will be on Sunday at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com

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