Pedrosa, Hayden Hope
Repsol Honda Team RC212V riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden go into Honda's home round of the 2008 MotoGP World Championship determined to climb the podium at Twin Ring Motegi.
Both riders will be hoping for more normal weather conditions at Motegi, after battling Hurricane Ike at the recent Indianapolis Grand Prix. American Hayden had a rousing ride to second place in treacherous conditions at Indy, giving him an extra boost for Motegi. Indy was a learning weekend for Pedrosa, the Spaniard's first race since switching to the pneumatic-valve RC212V and Bridgestone tyres. Hayden has been using the pneumatic-valve machine since June's British GP and continues to run Michelin tyres. Pedrosa and Hayden are currently placed third and eighth in the 2008 points standings
Japan has hosted a round of the motorcycling World Championships on and off since 1963, when the Japanese GP was held at the brand-new Suzuka circuit, the country's first roadrace venue. Soichiro Honda built Suzuka to give his countrymen the chance to compete on a real racetrack, helping to improve Japanese riders and Japanese machinery, and to bring GP racing to Japan, though the track didn't hold a round of the premier class until 1987. 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.
"Indianapolis was an important weekend for us, with lots of work and with all kinds of different weather. That made it quite tough, but it did give us experience in different conditions, so we could learn about my new machine and tyres in both dry and wet conditions. I hope that we can use the data we gathered there to help us achieve a good result at Honda's home race. I am feeling quite confident for the Japanese round. Motegi is one of those tracks that I like because the surface has good grip and not so many bumps. It is important to have good braking power and good acceleration from your machine, which means that the tyres are very important because you need to be able to brake late into the corners and accelerate strongly out of the corners. My favourite section of the track is the middle bit, climbing the hill towards the highest point. To achieve a fast lap you need to get your braking points absolutely correct, and the final section is probably most important for a good lap time. It's the kind of circuit where you need to use an aggressive riding style. The atmosphere in the paddock is very different -- the Japanese get very excited about getting autographs!"
"Indy gave us a little bit of a boost, so we'll see if we can keep that going at Motegi. I'm looking forward to it because I'm planning on finishing the season strong. I owe that to Honda, they've been a big part of my career, so it would be nice to get some more podiums. This will be my last race on a Honda at their home track, so it would be really nice to get a result for all the Honda people who have worked with me. First time I went to Motegi as a rookie in 2003 I battled with Sete [Gibernau], Valentino [Rossi] and Makoto [Tamada] and they ended up giving me third, my first top-three result. I thought 'wow, this is going to be a good track for me'. But since then I really haven't done much there. I've struggled in some of the hairpin corners. It's an okay track, I like the combination in the back when you come under the first bridge, that all flows together really nice. I like those tunnels, because they're different, it almost feels like you need headlights! Braking stability is probably the biggest thing, plus acceleration. You need a bike that's good going back through the gears, so you need a good clutch and engine braking set-up."
TWIN RING MOTEGI - TRACK DATA
Modified : 1999
Pole position: Left
Circuit Lenght: 4801m
Track width: 15m
Right handers: 8
MotoGP Race: 1 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro) 2 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing) 3 Toni ELIAS (Honda Gresini)
Pole Position: Dani PEDROSA 1'45.864 (Repsol Honda)
Fastest Lap: Toni ELIAS 1'50.718 156 (Honda Gresini)
Circuit Record Lap: Valentino ROSSI 1'47.288 (Fiat Yamaha) 2006
Circuit Best Lap: Loris CAPIROSSI 1'45.724 (Ducati Marlboro) 2006