Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
HRC Repsol MotoGP Team, Japanese GP Preview
Repsol riders head to Japan for flyaway first leg
Repsol Honda Team to undertake three consecutive weekends of World Championship action.
Motegi hosts the first of three consecutive weekends of MotoGP action, which kicks off this Friday and also takes in rounds in Malaysia and Australia. Marc Marquez has fond memories of the Japanese Grand Prix, having won his second MotoGP title at last year’s event and on a run of finishes no lower than second at Motegi stretching back five seasons. Teammate Dani Pedrosa is one of the masters of the track, with wins there in 2011 and 2012 (in MotoGP), in 2004 (250cc) and in 2002 (125cc).
In Moto3, both Jorge Navarro and Maria Herrera come to Japan off the back of their best World Championship race results at the Aragon GP. Navarro earned the first podium of his career, crossing the finish line in second position, and Herrera finished thirteenth after starting the race from thirtieth on the grid. After missing the last two races due to an injury to his right ankle, Fabio Quartararo will return to action this weekend –pending a medical examination at the circuit.
“Aragon was a tough race and I made a mistake, now I’m eager to get to Japan and try to end the season at the top. Unfortunately last week I had a training accident whilst mountain biking and suffered a fracture in my left hand. I had an operation on Wednesday and have been resting it since. I’m healing well and hope to be as fit as possible for this weekend. Track conditions in Motegi can vary quite a lot and we will work hard on the set up in terms of the hard acceleration and braking in order to be at the front come Sunday. I hope we can have a good result in front of Honda’s home fans!”
“After the battle in Aragon with Valentino I’m feeling really motivated to go to Japan, Honda’s home race! We had a testing day on Monday after the race and then on Tuesday I stayed in Barcelona for my birthday with family and friends. Now we’re already on our way for the fly aways. This race is a big event for Honda so I’m even more inspired to give them and all the fans a strong result! The track itself has many strong braking points and acceleration areas, so you need to find a good setup combining braking stability and traction out of the corners.”
“Motegi is a circuit that I don’t know but, from what I’ve seen in videos and from playing computer games, I like it –especially because of the heavy braking there. The circuit is not very difficult, but it’s quite technical. Physically I’m not at one hundred percent. We have worked hard on my recovery to get to Japan in the best possible shape, but it is still hard for me to put weight on my foot and I have little strength in it. I will go to Motegi and the doctors there will tell me if I’m all-clear to go out on track. I’ll try to get to the race without pain; we know we can’t fight to get on the podium, but we will try to finish the race and not force things too much, so that I can participate in the Grands Prix in Malaysia and Australia afterwards.”
“Motegi is often called a stop-and-go circuit, because of the very hard braking followed by quick acceleration, then going into slow corners. I think we can do well, because last year there I had a good feeling; I fought in the second group in the race until another rider fell in front of me and I couldn’t avoid crashing. I didn’t finish the race, but I still have good memories of that weekend. We’re going there off the back of our first podium and the whole team are very motivated, so the aim will be to continue working in the same way as in recent races, get back in the front group fighting for the podium and –why not?– fight for the victory.”
“Motegi is a circuit with which I am not familiar, but I go there very motivated because at Aragon we had a good race. The team are doing a great job and we have to continue in this way. We have progressed a lot with the bike and we are very happy. Now I feel more comfortable riding; I hope that in Japan we continue with the same pace and can have a good race.”