Repsol Honda press release:
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso arrive at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit this week ready to compete in a special home race for Honda. The Japanese Grand Prix holds extra significance for the factory team this year because 2009 marks the 50th Anniversary of Honda’s first entry into the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix races.
The talented young pairing of Pedrosa and Dovizioso will be looking to build on their solid performances in the first round at Qatar, aiming to convert the promise they showed at the season opener into even stronger results.
Andrea Dovizioso showed front-running pace in the early stages of the Qatar race before holding out for a fighting fifth place at the flag. The 23-year-old Italian will be hoping he can maintain his impressive speed throughout Sunday’s 24-lap race and score the first podium of his 2009 season on the works RC212V.
Dani Pedrosa comes to Motegi off the back of an extraordinary performance at the first race. The Spaniard, who had been off the bike for five weeks and had barely recovered from surgery to his knee and wrist, fought his way up to sixth in the race before a technical issue saw him drop to eleventh. Gaining more flexibility and strength in his left leg by the day, Pedrosa will be hoping to be even more competitive this weekend at a race circuit which he rates as one of his favourites.
Motegi was built to celebrate Honda Motor’s 50th anniversary in 1998 and staged its first World Championship race the following year, when it hosted the Pacific GP. It has been home to the Japanese GP since 2004. And 2009 represents another historic landmark, marking as it does the 50th anniversary of Honda’s first entry into the Motorcycle World Championship. It was in 1959 that company founder Soichiro Honda fulfilled his ambition of taking part in the Isle of Man TT races.
The Japanese Grand Prix is also the home race for Bridgestone of course, now the sole tyre supplier for the Repsol Honda Team and the rest of the MotoGP field. So Pedrosa and Dovizioso won’t be lacking in motivation this weekend to put in a strong performance for Honda and for Bridgestone.
The weekend’s MotoGP track action begins on Friday with first practice at 14.05 local time, followed by qualifying on Saturday and Sunday’s race starting at 15.00.
“I’m looking forward to this weekend in Japan. My leg is improving all the time and the knee is gaining a little bit more mobility every day. I don’t have the full range of movement yet, but I think that by the time we get to Motegi I’ll have about ten degrees more of movement than in Qatar, which should make quite a big difference. My elbow is also getting better after the hit De Angelis gave me in Qatar – there’s still some pain and stiffness but I hope it won’t be a problem in Japan. My priority is still to reach full fitness so that I can ride at 100 per cent, and then we must focus on the machine because I missed out on quite a lot of winter testing and we’re still not at the level we’d like to be. It’s a case of taking things one step at time – first to get full fitness and then improve the bike step by step. Motegi is a track I like though, and I’ve won races there in the past so I’m looking forward to getting the best result possible at Honda’s home track.”
“The Grand Prix of Japan is the home race for Honda and HRC so I’d really like to get a good result there. I have always liked this track, there are many hard braking and many acceleration zones and I think that, with the characteristics of our bike, we can have a good race. We’re going to Japan having learned a lot at the first race in Qatar. During that race some new issues arose and we’ve now had the time to analyze them and work a few things out, so I think we can expect to do even better at Motegi. I like the atmosphere at Motegi on Sunday – there are many Japanese fans supporting the Honda riders so I always look forward to it. This year Honda celebrates its 50th anniversary of involvement in the World Championship and it’s a real honour for me to be racing for the factory Honda team.”