Animal magic and fast corners at Australian MotoGP!

Sajith B Warrier

Phillip Island, October 25: Ahead of the Australian MotoGP, riders led by newly-crowned champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) addressed the media in the pre-event press conference after an encounter with some furry - or scaly - friends.

After steadfastly avoiding the snake in the animal meet and greet, Marquez spoke first and was joined by Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), home hero Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) and Ducati Team's stand-in Alvaro Bautista - with talk ranging from the weather to 2019 and more.

After wrapping up title number seven in style, Marquez was, of course, happy ahead of the weekend. "I'm very happy! Of course you feel different now but I've not had a lot of time to celebrate - with the team yeah but then first thing on Monday I was in the HRC factory, to say hi to them. But after Malaysia I hope we have a bit more time to celebrate, and in Valencia."

Lucky seven

Traditionally, however, winning the title in Japan hasn't been the best luck for the number 93. But will it be luckier with number seven?

"I won in 2014 at Motegi, I got here and I thought I could do everything and I crashed. In 2016 I felt different but again I crashed in the race. So I need to control myself a bit, it's a track that I love we will start looking towards the 2019 season."

Aussie weather

One thing that can get in the way a little in Australia is the weather, however - and Rossi will have an eye on that.

"I think Phillip Island is one of the best circuits of the season, for more or less everyone," said the 'Doctor'.

"But the weather is important because here we can struggle a bit with it. I hope we can have good weather, especially for the race on Sunday. Last year I was quite strong, we had both Yamahas on the podium so it looks like it's a good track for us but every year is different."

Man with momentum

The Phillip Island circuit, with some of the most spectacular elevation changes on the calendar and some of the most incredible curves to boot.

The man who tamed them best in 2016 was Crutchlow, and he's on a roll as he arrives this season too, having taken P2 at Motegi.

"We have to take on board we had a great race last weekend in Japan, the team did a great job for me to finish second. I think the momentum is there and I'm riding quite well but I don't know if we can repeat 2016."

Other podium man

Rins, who was another rider on the podium in Japan. He's also got some good momentum behind him recently. Can he repeat it?

"We will try. For a few races we've been doing a really good job, the performance of the bike is really good. We need to be at 100% from Friday, this track is difficult, and the weather, we'll see what happens with it but normally it's very cold and windy..."

Replacement rider

Bautista, after a good top five in Japan, has been called up to the factory team to ride Jorge Lorenzo's GP18 as his compatriot recovers from injury.

"We worked well the whole weekend in Japan, and I think this opportunity arrives at my best moment because I feel very strong riding the bike," says Bautista. "New people, new bike, now I have to adapt to the GP18. This track hasn't been the best for Ducati and before we've struggled a lot but I'll try to give all the information to the engineers."

That front group is expected to be another stunning showdown on Sunday (October 28). The race will be held at 4pm local time (10.30am IST) as the lights go out and the gloves come off.

(With a special arrangement from Dorna Sports)

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