Repsol Honda RC212V riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden this week join the MotoGP rush from Mugello to Catalunya, a circuit that has been kind to both riders. The Catalan Grand Prix is always a special event for Pedrosa in particular because he...
Repsol Honda RC212V riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden this week join the MotoGP rush from Mugello to Catalunya, a circuit that has been kind to both riders. The Catalan Grand Prix is always a special event for Pedrosa in particular because he was brought up in Sabadell, less than 20 kilometres from the track. The Spaniard has already enjoyed Catalan GP victories in the 125 and 250 classes and last year scored a MotoGP podium at the track. Hayden scored a Catalunya podium in 2006, his MotoGP title-winning year.
Before practice commences the team will decide whether Pedrosa and Hayden will use Honda's pneumatic-valve-spring engine or delay evaluation until the two-day post-race tests.
Pedrosa, who is currently second in the World Championship, and Hayden, who has had a tougher start to his 2008 campaign, are set to make the decision on Wednesday or Thursday, once they have fully analysed all the data gathered by HRC test rider Tadayuki Okada during last Sunday's Italian GP. Okada rode a great race with the engine, scoring two World Championships, even though he's not contested a GP for almost eight years.
The pneumatic-valve-spring RCV engine has a 1000rpm higher rev ceiling than the conventional valve-spring engine and thus a better top-speed potential which make it an attractive proposition to both Repsol Honda riders. But MotoGP is a complex sport, with a multitude of factors beyond pure horsepower governing lap times. And with limited track time during race weekends, it's possible that Pedrosa and Hayden may prefer to wait until the post-race tests in order to fully evaluate and set up the engine for subsequent races.
Catalunya was built in the early 1990s to bring the motorcycling World Championship to Spain's biking heartland. The magnificent Barcelona circuit hosted its first Grand Prix in May 1992 and has been a popular fixture on the calendar ever since. The track layout is highly technical with an enthralling mix of fast, long corners and slow, tight turns, camber changes and bumps, plus a long start-finish where horsepower and slipstreaming are crucial.
"This is a great weekend because I am riding in front of my home crowd, near where I grew up, and I really feel and appreciate the fans' support. The atmosphere is always very special at Montmelo, with a big and enthusiastic crowd throughout the weekend. I will do everything I can to offer them a good race. I really like some parts of the track, especially from the left-hander after Repsol, down the hill from there, into that little left-right chicane and then uphill towards the next right. The surface is quite bumpy, probably due Formula 1 cars, racing trucks and so on. The start-finish straight is very long, so you need a fast bike for this track. It is also important to keep the tyres in good condition, because the surface is very abrasive, so you need a nice, fluid riding style. As for the new engine, we will see. It's not easy to set up a new engine during a race weekend, so we need to wait a bit before making the final decision."
"I quite like the track, if I had to play a videogame it might not be the first I'd choose but it would be somewhere near the top. There are a lot of corners where you're on the side of the tyres for a long time so edge grip is really important, especially on the right side. It's also important to have a bike that steers good and finishes the corner. The electronics can come in quite handy, it's a place where you can really use them to help the rear tyre. The last two corners are probably my favourites, they're really important, you start dropping down that hill and you need to carry some momentum onto the main straightaway. And qualifying is really important because the first chicane is tight so we'll be looking to get in a good qualifying lap to give us a good grid position. Anytime we race in Spain you can expect it to be a bit of a party, which makes it a good weekend. The pneumatic engine is interesting, because for me the 2008 chassis works better with that engine, so hopefully it can be more than just a good engine for us. But we've got to check all the data before we make the decision."
Catalunya - circuiti Data
Length: 4.727 m
Longest straight:1047 m
MotoGP race: 25 laps (118.175) km
Circuit Record: 2006 Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1'43.048
2007 race: 1 C. Stoner (Ducati), 2nd Rossi (Yamaha), 3rd D.Pedrosa (Honda)