On Friday afternoon at Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo, representatives from the six motorcycle manufacturers competing in this year's MotoGP world championship—Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM, Suzuki, and Yamaha—convened in the media center for the annual end-of-season team manager press conference.

In attendance were Aprilia Racing Manager Romano Albesiano, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti, Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig, KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer, Suzuki Team Manager Davide Brivio, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Principal Lin Jarvis.

These men are not pencil pushers blindly eyeballing spreadsheets from their respective home bases of Austria, Italy, and Japan. All are well-informed professionals who actively attend preseason tests, promotional events, every race, and, beginning next week, the first on-track evaluations of the prototypes that will contest the 2019 world championship.

Subjects discussed during the 40-minute event were many and varied, ranging from the elephant in the room—five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo moving from the factory Ducati squad to team with Marc Márquez at Repsol Honda—to Yamaha’s late-season turnaround. Here, in alphabetical order, are some of the candid comments:

Aprilia Racing Manager Romano Albesiano

Riders: Aleix Espargaró, Scott Redding

Aleix Espargaro MotoGP Valencia
Aprilia factory pilot Aleix Espargaró (shown) will be joined next season by Andrea Iannone and test rider Bradley Smith. “For us it is very important to take these new riders because of their talent and also because they bring us information,” Racing Manager Romano Albesiano said. “It’s always important to compare.”Andrew Wheeler/automotophoto.com

We had different expectations from this season, for sure, especially after the end of 2017, when we were constantly in the top 10 and close to the top five. Something went not exactly right in the design of the new bike. We lost something in the balance, and we struggled a lot. It was not clear from the beginning, and the riders struggled to understand what was necessary.

We have found a new way of development, so we have again the right way for balancing the bike. It’s a pity because the technological development—engine-wise, electronics-wise—has been great this season. Our engine is much stronger, much more stable. We now have a clear idea how to make the base for the next season. And, of course, we’ll get a fantastically talented rider [Andrea Iannone] from another manufacturer.

Our test team will be much stronger next year. We’ll get Bradley Smith, so I believe we will make a real step. We have all the conditions for doing so. It’s nice to see Andrea doing fantastic results, so we know we have no excuse. We will continue with Aleix; we do some development work with him to get the first feedback. I’m very excited. We have all the ingredients for making a good recipe next year.

Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti

Riders: Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo

Andrea Dovizioso MotoGP Valencia
Should MotoGP establish a combined rider/motorcycle weight standard? “In my opinion, there is no need to make any change to the category regulations,” Ducati’s Paolo Ciabatti said. Jarvis agreed, “We have two riders with differences in heights and weights. There is no push from our side to go in that direction.”Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com

In terms of results, this has been the best season for Ducati since 2007. We have 13 podiums, six wins, five second places, three times third, five times pole position—if we include also Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci because they are on Ducati—so we are quite pleased. Being second again as a rider and second as a manufacturer in the championship seems like a good result, but we made a few mistakes throughout the season. There were a few races at the beginning where we were not at the competitive level we expected and then a few more crashes that didn’t put us in the position to fight for the championship win in the end, as we did last year.

We are happy that Jorge was able to win with Ducati, ironically, at Mugello, where we basically had decided to part ways for the following season, but that’s life. We are pleased with the competitiveness of the bike. We know that we still miss something in some areas, and this is why we have been working on the GP19. We were testing here with Michele [Pirro] the same week as Phillip Island, and we are curious to see what the riders say about the bike. It’s going to be interesting with Danilo [Petrucci] moving to the factory team, Jack on the GP19 with Pramac and Francesco Bagnaia on the GP18 for his rookie season in MotoGP. We are hopeful to get good results next season with all four riders.

KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer

Riders: Pol Espargaró, Bradley Smith

It was a difficult year but when we stepped into MotoGP we didn’t expect an easy road. This year was, I would say, a normal MotoGP year for a rookie; we are still a rookie in that class. Things went pretty good for us in the beginning, and then we brought many new parts—almost a new bike—to the Sachsenring.

We were first in the warm-up on Sunday morning, but then Pol crashed in that race. He came back at Brno, and he injured himself. He came back at Aragón, and he injured himself again. The same weekend in Sachsenring, Mika [Kallio] got injured. We had so many new parts to test, but we couldn’t bring better results.

I’m really happy how the team is working, but if you have three riders and two of them are injured, you’re out of the business. I’m really looking forward to making the next step in our project. We will never face the same situation where we are in the middle of the season and basically running out of riders.

It was always clear this is a long-term project. You cannot reach crazy things in the first two years. We are exactly on the road where we want to be. We proved in the first three years that we take it very seriously. We have a great team and staff. The next step we’ve got more riders like Johann [Zarco] and Dani [Pedrosa] coming as a test rider.

If we would not work so professionally, they would not give us this trust. So this was already our first little payback. Getting Hervé Poncharal and the Tech 3 team with all the experience they have in that class will make us stronger and from there is where we have to go. The future starts for us starts on Tuesday.

Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig

Riders: Marc Márquez, Dani Pedrosa

The factory is always a combination—rider, team, bike. All of us know that [Marc Márquez] is very special. When things are not looking good, he turns it around and makes it look good. Overall, I think we improved the bike a little bit from last year to this year. Finally, everything went well. We had good races and some of our competitors made mistakes, which was a benefit for us in points.

For around two months, [Jorge Lorenzo] didn’t really have a place where to go. When we looked at the situation, we saw he was free, so we decided to go for it. I was a little surprised, frankly speaking, that he was not contracted—that he didn’t have a real chance to stay with someone—but I didn’t ask why. We just tried to understand at that time if it was possible. It was possible, so we went ahead.

Suzuki Team Manager Davide Brivio

Riders: Andrea Iannone, Álex Rins

Andrea Iannone MotoGP Valencia
“The rider market starts in the winter,” Suzuki’s Davide Brivio said. “So we have be based on the previous season or, maximum, the winter tests. I think it would be much better to delay these types of decisions. Maybe do something from July or August. In our case, we are very happy about the decisions we have taken—Álex Rins and Joan Mir.”Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com

I’m much more relaxed now than last year in this same press conference. We are very pleased about the improvement. We were able to change the situation compared to last year. Our bike was not so bad already in 2016—Maverick [Viñales] got a win and fourth position in the championship—but we made a mistake in selecting the engine for the last season.

We identified the problem, but unfortunately the regulation didn’t allow us to recover from this mistake; we could only make the step in this current season. In the meantime, Álex was growing up. Last year, he was a rookie; this is his second season. He has learned, and he is showing his talent.

Also, the internal competition is helping us because Andrea and Álex started to compete against each other and tried to balance the same result. Everything together: The bike improved, rider is growing up, some internal competition, and we are here with a very different balance compared to last year.

We got eight podiums, four for each rider, so that’s also very important. This also makes us happy, that both riders were able to fight for the podium. Maybe a couple of podiums were a little bit luck, but most of the races, we’ve been in the top sixth or seventh position; this was our target.

Álex is going into his third season. He might get some pressure, but that is the sport. For sure, at the beginning of next year, he will be the reference in the team. But, in my opinion, he is showing he is ready for that. This should be not a pressure but an extra motivation for him to perform and go for the next step, which is very difficult.

Our target now is to try to do a little bit better. As far as Joan Mir, I know it will only be his first year, but we have seen a very talented rider. We have seen with Maverick, we have seen with Álex, when you have a rider with talent then you need to work. I hope Joan could be pretty much the same. I believe he will be one of the top riders.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Principal Lin Jarvis

Riders: Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales

Valentino Rossi MotoGP Valencia
“No single mistake,” Yamaha’s Lin Jarvis said regarding Yamaha MotoGP struggles this past year. “Not truly understanding the problem two years ago was a mistake. Everything that happened this season was a consequence of not taking the right decisions in the past. Now we have to catch up.”Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com

It’s been a tough year. The back end of last year was quite tough as well. We started the season full of optimism, hoping to have put previous seasons well behind us and made progress. But it turned out not to be that way. We struggled to get to grips with the bike for a long time.

Since Thailand, we can say things have turned around. We’ve made incremental steps. The victory that we got in Phillip Island was very important—for Maverick, but also for the team, for the factory, for everybody—because finally it gave an indication that maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m not happy at all about the season, but it is good to see we are making progress. We hope to be fully competitive next year. We have to make key decisions during the next two or three months. I pray we can get some dry track time at this coming test because we need to decide some essential elements for the base of the bike.

Last winter, we didn’t make the right decisions, or we were unable to correct our problems. We have to get it right this year.