Qatari GP: Konica Minolta Honda preview

Konica Minolta Honda ready for opening race of 2007 Konica Minolta Honda are ready for the opening race of the season which takes place at the Losail circuit in Qatar this weekend. With months of hectic winter testing behind them and with...

Konica Minolta Honda ready for opening race of 2007

Konica Minolta Honda are ready for the opening race of the season which takes place at the Losail circuit in Qatar this weekend. With months of hectic winter testing behind them and with much data and information on their new Honda RC212V MotoGP machine, now is the time to test themselves against the best riders, race Teams and motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Winter testing has been gruelling work for all the Teams, but Konica Minolta Honda has had many things to get acclimatised to. For 2007 they have a new rider in 29-year-old Japanese racer Shinya Nakano. The former 250cc GP runner-up has moved to Honda machinery after many years on competitor's bikes and has worked hard to get used to the new 800cc machine as well as the new Michelin tyres and his new Team. Practice begins on Thursday, qualifying on Friday while the race takes place on Saturday 10th March.

Gianluca Montiron - Team Manager Konica Minolta Honda

"To be in the top five of the MotoGP Class is our aim this season and I believe that we can hit this target with the package we have. We know we are in a good position with the race tyre and this is a fundamental point for us. We now have to improve our performance with the qualifying tyre because, to be in the top group, we have to start from the front row. We started the winter test schedule last November and I believe that it has taken time for the riders to adapt their various riding styles to the new 800cc machines. Testing is now over, so now it's that exciting time where we check what our level is in the first race against the world's best riders and Teams. With a top-five championship position our aim, we know that we need to win some races as well this season. It's going to be an exciting year for us!"

Shinya Nakano - Rider, Konica Minolta Honda

"I'm looking forward to the first race of the season at Qatar. I have a new Team and a new package with the Honda RC212V and Michelin tyres. We have completed four tests over the winter and we're maybe 80% there so I'm looking at making the other 20% up during the race weekend. The new 800cc machines will, I think, make for more competitive racing, although maybe it will be harder to overtake. Qualifying will be key this year and I think in this I need to have more time getting used to the Michelin qualifying tyres. I can feel the performance and grip but can't use all that potential, so perhaps we need to look at our qualifying set-up a little. As a rider I always say there is never enough time on the bike in qualifying! As far as results go, the important thing is to cross the finish line and get good points as 2007 is a very long race season. I enjoy the Losail track, although it isn't one of my favourites, but testing here showed that our bike suited the track perhaps more than Phillip Island or Sepang, so let's hope that is the case come the race on Saturday."

Giulio Bernardelle - Technical Director, Konica Minolta Honda

"We have the new 800cc bikes and some new rules for 2007 which should make things interesting and exciting from a technical standpoint. This year we can now use only 14 fronts and 17 rear tyres, there is also a reduction in fuel tank capacity to just 21 litres. I think it will not be very easy for technicians and riders to manage the rear tyres well because we will be forced to work with a reduced number of choices. In the end this should give the advantage to the Team who will be able to better schedule the work during the few practice sessions that we have. On the basis of the data from our last test in Qatar we will give Shinya a set-up expressly developed to make the best use of the Michelin qualifying tyres this should promote us up to a good starting position on the grid."

-credit: kmh

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Shinya Nakano , Phillip Island