Repsol Honda press release:
The Repsol Honda Team lands in Europe this week for round three of what is already shaping up to be a compelling 2009 season. Hot on the heels of Sunday’s riveting race in Japan comes one of the classics of the MotoGP World Championship calendar – the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, which takes place on Sunday at 14.00 local time.
Upwards of 240,000 expectant fans will cram onto the hillsides surrounding the iconic circuit over the weekend, and a sizable chunk of them will be supporting Repsol Honda’s Spanish ace, Dani Pedrosa. The 23-year-old arrives at Jerez with the renewed confidence generated by his exquisite ride to third place last Sunday in Japan – a result which indicated his recovery is almost complete from the injuries which blighted his pre-season.
Pedrosa won last year’s race at Jerez and hasn’t finished outside the top two at the 4.423km (2.748-mile) track since his MotoGP debut in 2006. Although he’ll initially be at a slight disadvantage to his MotoGP rivals this weekend, having missed the pre-season test here due to injury, Pedrosa will be determined that the continued development and pace of his factory RC212V will see him fighting for victory in front of his home crowd.
Pedrosa’s Italian team-mate, Andrea Dovizioso, also arrives at Jerez in a very positive frame of mind following his fifth place finish in Japan. The 23-year-old was able to maintain the pace of the front runners for the bulk of the Motegi race, further proof that the combination of Dovizioso and the factory RC212V is going to be a real threat as the season progresses. Dovizioso has scored two podium finishes from seven previous Grand Prix outings at Jerez and admits that the Spanish circuit isn’t one of his favourites. Nevertheless, he has forecast another combative ride this weekend.
Following the extraordinary, monsoon-like weather that has afflicted the start of the 2009 season, forcing the postponement of race one and the cancellation of qualifying in Japan, almost as many eyes will be on the skies in Jerez as on the track action. Thankfully, the forecast looks good, and first Free Practice session is due to begin, hopefully under sunny skies, at 14.05 local time on Friday.
“It was great to get such an encouraging result in Japan right before we go to Jerez because now we have some momentum which we must try to maintain. Still, despite getting on the podium at Motegi, which I was really pleased with, we mustn’t kid ourselves that we are fully competitive just yet. We struggled quite a lot in the practice sessions at Motegi and we’re under no illusions that we have to keep working hard to bring our package up to its full potential. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to Jerez and it’s always a very special experience for me to race there. The fans are so passionate and give me and all the Spanish riders incredible support. I like the Jerez track and have had some great moments there. Having got that result in Motegi, and now that my physical condition is improving, I hope I can give the fans and the team something to celebrate this weekend.”
“After the race in Japan we arrive in Jerez with more confidence. At Motegi we proved that we can fight hard for the whole race giving 110 per cent effort. I was happy about the race result in Japan because we succeeded in closing the gap to first place, but we still have to work to improve the machine package. In Japan we couldn’t actually do any development work on the bike because of the bad weather conditions which affected most of the sessions. So there’s still a lot of things we need to test, including some new parts. Obviously we’ll have to see what we can get done at Jerez, while also working on the set-up for the race. The Jerez circuit is not one of my favourite tracks, but I will still give it my all this weekend. The atmosphere here is always incredible – there are so many spectators and they have a great passion for bikes, so it’s always a great experience to race in front of them. The Spanish GP is also the home GP for Repsol so I’ll be doing my best to get a good result for them too.”