HRC want to be back on top in 2013 and take home all three MotoGP titles
Honda Racing Corporation’s Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto has stated his intentions for the upcoming MotoGP championship and has sent a clear message to his team members, riders Dani Pedrosa and rookie Marc Marquez that he wants to see the team back at the top and to take the Riders’, Team and Constructor’s title this year.
Goals for 2013? Of course I’m aiming at the triple title.
“Goals for 2013? Of course I’m aiming at the triple title. But in racing, nothing is sure, you never know what will happen,” Nakamoto said while continuing, “If you lose, you just have to try harder to win, and all we can do is try our very best to make a winning bike. 2013 testing starts from February in Malaysia, and we can’t afford to take any time off before then. Our goal next year is to win all three titles, and forget the disappointment of not getting the triple this year. Next year we’ll again be doing our best to live up to the expectations of our fans, and I’d like to say how grateful I am for everyone’s support this season.”
The 2012 season saw the factory RC213V machines being piloted to 12 wins out of 18 rounds under the more than capable hands of Pedrosa and double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner who won the Riders Title with the Japanese manufacturer in 2011. Stoner and Pedrosa stood on the podium eight times together last year and it was these types of results that gave Honda the Constructors and Team title but Jorge Lorenzo took home the Riders title for Honda’s bitter rivals, Yamaha Factory Racing.
When asked about his thoughts on the 2012 season Nakamoto stated his belief that it was a last minute decision by series owner Dorna to change the minimum weight requirements and new tire specifications that stopped both Pedrosa and Stoner from achieving the results they needed early on in the season. With a change also coming from Bridgestone and the rigidity of its race tires, HRC effectively had to re-build its new 1000cc machine with less than three months before the first race of 2012.
“The big thing about 2012 was the switch from 800cc to 1000cc engines. Both Dani and Casey agreed that the new bike was even better than the 800cc RC212V. But just as we thought all was safe, the minimum weight rule was changed by 4kg. That was in addition to the increase from 150kg to 153kg when the engine capacity went up from 800cc to 1000cc. We had built our bike to match the old regulations, and then we were hit with this sudden rule change. According to the rules, they have the right to do this, but I really don’t think it is fair to introduce such big changes so suddenly after we had finished testing,” Nakamoto said.
The interview with Mr Nakamoto also revealed his sadness at the bombshell Casey Stoner dropped last year when he said he was to retire but also revealed that Stoner nearly went back on his intentions at the 11th hour. He said, “Casey told us last year that he was thinking to retire at the end of 2012. It was after he won the Australian GP to secure the championship. He still had one more year to run on his contract with us, so he said he would ride for Honda in 2012, but it was quite a shock to hear he wanted to retire.”
Casey is a rider I really love. I couldn’t imagine anything better than racing with him. We held a farewell party for him on the Monday night after the Valencia GP. After the party was over, the two of us stayed on, chatting, and I found I couldn’t control my tears. I really felt so sad about him leaving MotoGP. The following day I was asked by a number of Casey’s friends what I said to him that night. When I asked why they wanted to know, they said that Casey, who had never wavered until then in his decision to retire, had said ‘maybe after all I should keep on racing…’” Nakamoto explained.
Marquez is being tipped for big things right from his first race in MotoGP under the lights at Qatar in April and Nakamoto is very confident in the rookie’s abilities and also revealed he made sure last year’s Moto2 Champion was on a factory Honda. “The decision to offer Marc a bike had nothing to do with any sponsor - I myself decided we needed Marc on a Honda, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do. Next year I see him seriously competing with Dani and Jorge, although it won’t be easy to grab a victory away from those two. Nonetheless, I reckon we could see a win by Marc by mid season,” Nakamoto said.
When asked about Pedrosa’s chances at the 2013 title, Nakamoto admitted that it is make or break time for the Spaniard in his quest. “I think if he doesn’t take the title next year, he probably never will, but if he does then it’s quite possible he’ll go on to be champion several times,” Nakamoto stated while adding, “To me, Dani appears to have an extra sense other riders don’t - he can spot the smallest things, things that others never feel. There’s no question about it - Dani has progressed to another level and is now a very strong competitor. I’m so confident that he will take the title next year, I can’t really imagine not seeing him on that podium.”
Both Bradl and Bautista have been tipped for big things with the German rider wining the Rookie of the Year title last year while Bautista secured his place in the Gresini squad following his rookie year with Rizla Suzuki in 2011. Nakamoto spoke highly of Bradl but was more critical of Bautista who has more experience than his German counterpart.
“Stefan missed so many chances, including in the final race, for a podium place that I sometimes wondered what he was doing, but overall he has improved just as I was expecting him to. He is an intelligent, educated rider, who uses his brain. Stefan is the only German rider we have in MotoGP. I’d say he is an important rider, not just for Honda, but for MotoGP in general and I hope he keeps on aiming for the top.
Alvaro’s results on the other hand, were a bit of a disappointment, to tell the truth. If we include his time with Suzuki, he has much more experience in MotoGP than Stefan, so I thought we would be seeing better results. He was on the podium twice this year, but I want to see him up there much more often next year. He has to get rid of his habit of riding like he’s still in 250cc,” Nakamoto added.