San Carlo Honda Gresini Team riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis head to Japan this week with the proud task of representing HRC in their home MotoGP event at Motegi. Fausto Gresini's outfit have a long-standing and successful relationship with...
San Carlo Honda Gresini Team riders Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis head to Japan this week with the proud task of representing HRC in their home MotoGP event at Motegi. Fausto Gresini's outfit have a long-standing and successful relationship with the Japanese manufacturer, who reinforced their faith in the satellite outfit this year by providing them with a factory-spec RC212V machine for the campaign, to be ridden by Elias.
The combative Spanish rider did not enjoy an ideal debut with the bike in the opening round in Qatar, struggling to find a chassis set-up for the desert circuit and experiencing some electronic difficulties. However, he remains confident that a little extra help at the factory's home circuit can see him rediscover his best form for round two, previously demonstrated at Motegi with back-to-back wins and a second place in the 250cc class between 2002 and 2004, as well as a MotoGP podium with the Gresini team on the satellite RC212V in 2007.
De Angelis showed the potential of this year's customer-spec package in Qatar, where he took an exceptional sixth place despite not making an optimum start. Like Elias, the San Marino rider produced some of his best 250cc performances at Motegi, including second place in 2006. The key for both will be making maximum use of the three 45-minute practice sessions available, with none of the riders having tested here during preseason -- unlike Qatar.
#24 TONI ELIAS
"I have always loved Motegi and to race there for HRC gives you an extra motivation to do a good job. We have to be realistic and keep our feet on the ground in terms of our expectations because the situation we're in at the moment demands it, but hopefully we can get a little bit of help and with it being a track I like so much we can improve on the performance from Qatar -- this is the principal objective. Motegi is a circuit with lots of heavy braking and I have always been good on the brakes, which I think is why my record is so good there, but this is an area we're struggling with at the moment. So it is fundamental we fix that particular problem because braking is a weapon we really need here."
#15 ALEX DE ANGELIS
"Motegi is quite a technical circuit and I like it a lot. The section after the tunnel, which is a series of fast corners, is my strong part. Over the years in 250cc I made so many passes there. It won't be an easy race for us because there are so many hard acceleration points coming out of slow corners and last year we had a really tough weekend, struggling to find a comfortable setting despite the best efforts of the team. We had a good start to the season in Qatar two weeks ago so hopefully the base setting is useful here too. If we can work well from the first session and make quick progress with the set-up then we should be able to put in a strong performance."
FAUSTO GRESINI -- TEAM MANAGER
"Motegi isn't an easy track for us but it is Honda's home race so we go there with the desire and the will to work hard for a top result. After getting back that adrenalin rush of racing again in Qatar we're all looking forward to the next one. Hopefully we can find an improved set-up for both riders that will allow us to be even more competitive and challenging for a result that will please us and please Honda."