Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa travels to Germany determined to build on his dominant victory at Laguna Seca two weeks ago when he led the MotoGP pack from start to finish. The win was much-deserved for the Spaniard, who had been battered by...
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa travels to Germany determined to build on his dominant victory at Laguna Seca two weeks ago when he led the MotoGP pack from start to finish. The win was much-deserved for the Spaniard, who had been battered by recent injuries, and indicates that Honda's 2009 RC212V has the speed to run at the front of biking's most technically challenging championship.
Pedrosa's hard-fought US GP success was backed up by encouraging results by satellite team riders Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) who rode to sixth- and ninth-place finishes.
Laguna and the Sachsenring would appear to have much in common -- they are both anti-clockwise, undulating racetracks that require a physical and attacking riding style -- so the four Honda MotoGP teams competing in Germany will be aiming for more success in round nine of this year's 17-race World Championship.
Pedrosa is full of confidence going into the Sachsenring weekend because he has an impressive record at the track -- he won the 2004 and 2005 German 250 GPs and scored a runaway MotoGP success there in 2007. Last year he was leading in treacherous rain-lashed conditions when he slid off. Pedrosa's attacking style suits the twisting layout which only features one short straight.
Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will be looking forward to this weekend's race to turn his luck around after a couple of unlucky DNFs. The Italian, riding his first season for the full-factory HRC squad, slid off at Assen and Laguna, spoiling his impressive run of top-four results. His strong finishes in previous races mean that the 23-year-old still holds sixth place in the current points standings.
De Puniet aims to continue his impressively consistent season at the Sachsenring. The Frenchman, who has finished every race so far and usually in the top ten, has shown impressive speed at the German track in recent years. Last year he was fourth in the pouring rain. In 2003 he finished on the German 250 GP podium.
Elias can hardly wait to get back on track in Germany following his morale-boosting sixth-place finish in the United States. The Spaniard's best result of the year so far followed weeks of hard work from the San Carlo Honda Gresini who now believe they are starting to uncover the RC212V's real potential. They know there's still more to come, however, because at Laguna Elias was using softer tyres than most other Honda riders which can compromise his performance in the latter stages of races.
Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) hopes that the Sachsenring will be his 2009 turning point, following a tough start to his season. The San Marino rider has had set-up issues at several races this year but believes he is on the verge of a breakthrough. De Angelis has a remarkable record at the German circuit -- he finished on the podium every year from 2002 to 2007 in both the 125 and 250 classes.
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) continues his fast-paced apprenticeship in biking's fastest race series and is looking to score his first premier-class points at the Sachsenring, where he won the 2007 125 GP. Hungary's former 125 World Champion only rode a MotoGP bike for the first time during Friday practice for the Catalan GP, just five weeks ago, so he's very much in the early stages of his apprenticeship.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) goes into this weekend's German GP with high hopes of stretching his lead in the 250 World Championship. Aoyama currently leads the 250s, which didn't race at Laguna, by 13 points following his second win of the season at last month's Dutch TT. The Sachsenring should ideally suit Aoyama's RS250RW with its rider-friendly reed-valve induction and sweet-handling chassis. And Aoyama likes the track, having won the 2007 German 250 GP.
Like Aoyama, team-mates Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) and Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) had two weekends off following the Dutch TT and are raring to get back into action at a track where they believe the Honda will give them a machinery advantage.
Aoyama's young team-mate Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) is enjoying a remarkable rookie 250 season. The Italian is currently top rookie in seventh overall and has scored points in every race so far, including six top-ten finishes from the seven races. De Rosa isn't a great fan of the Sachsenring but he believes the engine and chassis character of his Honda should ideally suit the undulating layout.
Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) hopes that Germany will prove kinder to him than some recent races. The Japanese GP rookie has shown considerable speed in recent weeks but hasn't been able to turn that speed into results. Once again he will be learning another track from scratch. His team-mate Vincent Debise (Team CIP Honda) made a big step forward at the last race at Assen and was able to score his second points haul of the year. Debise, who has raced at the Sachsenring before, is thus hopeful of another good run.
Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda) is another rookie who knows the track from national championship races. Chesaux's team is based just minutes from the Sachsenring, which makes the young Swiss more confident than ever that he can score his first points of the year.
The Sachsenring is MotoGP's second shortest racetrack with a lap length of just 3.67km/2.28 miles and features its most twisting layout, with the longest straight measuring just 0.87m/0.48 miles. Cornering performance is thus everything, with most of the corners turning left; Indeed the Sachsenring also features MotoGP's longest one-way cornering sequence with seven consecutive left-handers making up the middle section of the lap. Turn 12 is the track's most famous corner, a daunting 200-plus km/h blind right-hander that is crucial for any rider aiming to set up an overtaking move into the final two corners. The circuit is situated deep within Saxony (hence the name) which was once one of the world's most famed regions for motorcycle production. Among Saxony's greatest biking names are DKW and MZ. Both brands were once manufactured in Zschopau, a half-hour drive from the track.
Honda has a long and illustrious history of success at the Sachsenring, winning its first success on the original street circuit in July 1961, when Mike Hailwood won the 250 GP on his way to winning that year's 250 world title, Honda's first World Championship crown. That event was the first GP to be held behind the Iron Curtain; GP events continued at the Sachsenring under Communism until 1972. The Sachsenring returned to the World Championship calendar in 1998, when Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda) won the 500 race on his NSR500 two-stroke on the newly built short circuit. In all, Honda has won 13 elite-class GP events on German tarmac at Hockenheim, the Nurburgring and the Sachsenring street circuit and short circuit.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) says: "I've had some good results at this track and I take a lot of confidence into the race weekend at Sachsenring because we're probably in the best shape we've been in for a while. The win in Laguna Seca was really important for me and the team because it proves we've been making progress and we now have the pace to win races. However, we can't take anything for granted and I'm sure our rivals will be strong again and determined to fight back. I really like the Sachsenring circuit too and, despite what happened last year, I think we can be competitive again here. I've had a good week since Laguna, and it was great to be able to go and see the start of the Tour de France stage in Barcelona on Friday. I've been able to get back in training on the bicycle, and seeing the Tour gave me even more motivation. So I'm feeling confident for this weekend and I'm looking forward to Germany."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) says: "I'm very motivated to show my potential and the potential of the machine in Germany because at the last two races we have improved a lot, without getting the results to match. The race results in Assen and Laguna were disappointing, but the recent signs have been encouraging, especially in Laguna where we were very close to the leaders and I had a good race pace and a package that meant I was capable of fighting for the front positions. Unfortunately I made a mistake, but it's just something you learn from and move on. I wouldn't say the Sachsenring racetrack is one of my favourites of the year but I'm looking forward to the challenge. It is quite short, with a very slow first section followed by a very fast second half. The team is getting stronger all the time and I'm confident we can have a good weekend."
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) says: "The Sachsenring is a very strange circuit: the first part is very slow then the second part is quite a lot faster. But I like the track and I have been very fast in the T1 and sections T2 and also in the final section. Last year we had a very good rhythm in the dry but then the rain spoiled that for the race. I hope to continue my positive season with a top-eight finish this weekend."
Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "It is important that we have started to find the right way forward at this stage of the season because there is still a long way to go and perhaps if we had taken any longer it would be too late. We have had eight tough races but we're starting to find the limits of this bike and we still have nine races left in which to push it to the maximum. To be honest I don't like Sachsenring much but looking back I have raced there injured on three occasions so maybe that's why I don't have good memories or good results to reflect on! Last year could have been much better but it rained so hopefully this is the year my fortunes change in Germany. I stayed on in America for an extra day to go sightseeing in San Francisco, which was great fun, but after that I was straight home to train and get ready for another important race."
Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "I have had so many good results at the Sachsenring in the past, just the kind of results we could do with right now! Unfortunately we made the wrong choice with the setting for the race at Laguna but there were a lot of positives about the weekend as a whole and we are looking to bring those to the fore in Germany. The German Grand Prix is definitely one of my favourites. I have a lot of affection for the Sachsenring circuit because I took my first pole there and I was on the podium every year from 2002 to 2007. The track is very technical, varied and without any long straights so it is important to have a good chassis set-up, more than a powerful engine. We're going through a difficult phase right now but we won't give up."
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) says: "It has been always a pleasure for me to come and compete at the Sachsenring, which, by the way, isn't very far from my home. It's a short track, but not easy, with dramatic elevation changes. The most difficult point, with a 125 bike, was the first corner. I can imagine that with a MotoGP machine it will be a problem common to everybody. Anyway, we found a good set-up at Laguna Seca. I'm certain that I would have made a good race if I hadn't crashed. Before leaving the States we had a technical meeting, fixed a few things, and so we should be a step ahead in Germany. I'm confident for this race."
HONDA 250cc RIDER QUOTES
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) says: "Sachsenring is a circuit where it's difficult to properly set up the bike, and the weather can further complicate things. On the plus side, I like the track and we also have some new parts to test. I hope they can give us a boost and help me to defend my leadership in the championship. I am glad to be on the top of the points ladder. I'm very confident in my team and I will keep pushing all the way to the end."
Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) says: "Sachsenring is not one of my favourite tracks, in spite of the fact that during last year's German race I was in an excellent position until the engine breathed its last breath. Anyway, now I'm with Honda and it's a good track for the Honda RS250RW. Besides a good set-up -- as usual -- the key to a good result will be tyre choice. The track has more left-handed corners, so the temperature of the tyres will be much lower on the right side, which means that having precisely the correct tyre is absolutely decisive."
Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) says: "We have had two weeks to rest, relax and train, so now I am ready for the next race. We have been discussing what happened at Assen and we think that we now have what we need to have a good result in Germany. The Assen race was really good for me because after some bad luck in the first two laps I was very fast and finally finished in eighth place. This means that the bike and I are working well together, and I think we can expect a good weekend at the Sachsenring because it's a good circuit for the Honda which will make a big difference."
Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) says: "I used our two weeks off at 100 per cent -- training, relaxing and of course watching the Laguna MotoGP race on TV. I have been training especially hard in recent weeks, so I feel ready to make a good result in Germany. I hope that the team and I can do a good job this weekend, because the Sachsenring should be a good circuit for us."
Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) says: "I'm looking forward to seeing the track, because it looks so great on TV, and I'm also looking forward to riding at the Sachsenring. It's another new track for me so it will be another tough weekend, but hopefully not as hard as Assen. As always I am hoping for some good weather and with some luck I will finish the race and score some points."
Vincent Debise (Team CIP Honda) says: "I already know this track from national championship races which will help me over the weekend. The target as always is to continue making progress. At Assen I was riding better than at the previous races and so I am really looking forward to starting practice for the next race."
Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda) says: "This race is the biggest race of my year, for several reasons. First of all, my team is based just two minutes from the track. Second, this event marks the end of my first year in MotoGP because I made my GP debut in last year's German 125 GP. Also, my family and many of my sponsors will be coming to this event. I like the track and the attitude of the German fans. I'm excited to ride there again because I've had some great German Championship battles there with guys like Folger and Schrotter."