San Marino GP: Honda Racing preview

Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) goes into his home Grand Prix at Misano this weekend still buzzing from his thrilling ride to second place at Indianapolis last Sunday. The San Marino rider's first-ever premier-class podium was achieved...

Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) goes into his home Grand Prix at Misano this weekend still buzzing from his thrilling ride to second place at Indianapolis last Sunday. The San Marino rider's first-ever premier-class podium was achieved in brilliant style, the hard-riding 25-year-old taking advantage of several fallers at the front of the pack to finish the race in second place.

This weekend De Angelis will be doing everything in his powers to score another podium finish at Misano, where fans from the nearby Republic of San Marino (the world's oldest sovereign state) will be much in evidence. Misano is also the biggest race of the year for De Angelis' team, owned by former 125 World Champion Fausto Gresini, which has its headquarters just a few kilometres from the circuit. And Gresini has good reason to be confident following De Angelis'

De Angelis will be one of several Honda RC212V riders at Misano with serious podium intentions, not least Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) who is anxious to get back to work following last weekend's Indianapolis GP which promised so much for the former 125 and 250 World Champion.

Pedrosa qualified on pole and led the Indy race, looking to give Repsol Honda its third victory in five races, only to slide off and lose any chance of victory. But it takes more than a slow-speed tumble to stop Pedrosa, the ever-determined Spaniard embarking upon a gritty fight back to tenth place, during which he was invariably the fastest rider on the racetrack. That hard-won result -- which underlined the impressive speed he has shown over the last few weeks -- moved him to within nine points of third position in the MotoGP World Championship.

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) finished less than three tenths off the podium in fourth place at Indianapolis and will be aiming to go at least one place better this weekend. Winner of July's British GP, Dovizioso couldn't think of a better place to return to the podium -- he was born, raised and still lives just a few kilometres from the Misano circuit; indeed he made his racetrack debut there as a teenager.

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) has shown his grit and bravery at the last two races, riding with the still-healing left ankle he broke in a motocross accident following his brilliant podium finish at July's British GP. The Frenchman had the injury screwed and hasn't missed a race since. The good news is that Misano is a clockwise circuit dominated by right-handers, which means slightly less work for the injured foot.

De Angelis' team-mate Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) will also be looking to make amends for a disappointing race day at Indy. The Spaniard, who had finished a rousing third at the preceding Czech GP, was hoping for another strong result at the American venue until his hopes were dashed when he was run off the track on the very first lap. Elias raced back from the rear of the pack to finish a respectable ninth. Misano has happy memories for Elias -- he finished third there last year.

Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) and his crew will continue working on finding a set-up that will allow the former 125 World Champion to extract maximum performance from his 200-plus horsepower RC212V. Talmacsi has great form at Misano -- he won last year's 125 GP there and finished second in the 2007 125 race.

The battle for the final 250 World Championship continues to keep fans on tenterhooks. Currently Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) leads the way by 16 points from Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) with reigning World Champion Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) a further 11 points adrift. The advantage has swung this way and that between Aoyama and Bautista in recent races, with Simoncelli gaining ground with three wins from the last four races. The scene is already being set for a thrilling end-of-season finale.

Aoyama has shown impressive consistency at recent events but knows he needs another win or two to keep his rivals at bay. The Japanese rider believes that the tight and twisting nature of the Misano circuit should suit his sweet-handling RS250RW, and he knows he is fast at this track -- he finished second in the 2007 Misano 250 GP. Aoyama doesn't need any further incentive for victory, though Misano is the Scot team's home race.

Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) will race at Misano even though he is still recovering from the nasty fall he suffered during Indianapolis qualifying which left him with a partially separated left shoulder. De Rosa bravely raced at Indy, finishing in 11th place (the 250 rookie's second finish outside the top ten so far this year), and has since been undergoing plenty of physiotherapy in an effort to get him as strong as possible for this weekend's action.

Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) bravely rode to eighth place at Indy, despite a persistent problem with his back, and the result moved him to seventh in the 250 points standings. The Spaniard has also been undergoing regular physio and is confident he can do even better at Misano. Team-mate Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) was in the running for his best result of the year last Sunday until he was forced out of the race. Like Faubel, Wilairot knows that Misano should suit the Honda and will be going hard as he can to make up for his Indy disappointment.

Team CIP Honda has had a hectic schedule since Indianapolis, working to rebuild Shoya Tomizawa's RS250RW in time for Misano. Tomizawa damaged his only bike during Indy practice and was forced to miss the race. The Japanese GP rookie will have a new chassis this weekend. Tomizawa's team-mate Valentin Debise (Team CIP Honda) will be looking for more points at Misano after equalling his career-best result of 13th at Indy. Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda) was the unlucky victim of a rival's over-exuberance on the first lap at Indianapolis and will be hoping for better luck back in Europe.

Sunday's event will be Misano's 13th Grand Prix. The circuit staged its first World Championship GP in 1980 and has been an on-and-off venue for Italian and San Marino events ever since. The track's layout has been modified on several occasions, most crucially when the circuit direction was reversed to clockwise in preparation for its return to the GP calendar in 2007. Honda has won three premier-class GP victories at the seaside venue, with Mick Doohan in 1991, Pier-Francesco Chili in 1989 and Freddie Spencer in 1984.

Misano is a tight, technical track and a medium-speed circuit with a lap record of 160.305km/h (99.609mph). The circuit is dominated by slow and medium-slow corners, though its most commanding feature is the run of four right-handers towards the end of the lap, the first two taken at high speed, the last two at much slower speed. Easy handling, excellent braking stability and gentle mid-range power delivery are the secrets to success at Misano. HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) says: "It's really good that I'll get an immediate chance to make up for the disappointment of the Indianapolis race result. Although that was obviously a big let down and you never want to crash, the pace we set over the whole weekend was very encouraging and the fact that I could finish the race riding very fast again means that I've already been able to put the fall behind me and we can concentrate on being quick from the start of first practice on Friday. Misano always has a great atmosphere because there are so many passionate fans. Even though most of them are supporting the Italian riders, it's still a special feeling for everyone at this circuit. To be quick you need to ride quite aggressively there, and machine stability on the brakes and powering out of the corners is very important. I'm confident that we can be up front and fight for the win again this weekend."

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) says: "I love the atmosphere at Misano and this will be a special weekend for me. It's my home Grand Prix and this is the track where I started my motorsport adventure so I'm really looking forward to riding here for the factory Honda team -- that's a dream come true. I used to race at Misano while I was racing in the Italian Championship so it's great to return and ride in such familiar surroundings as a MotoGP rider. I think we can have a strong race here, especially after the good job we did on the machine at Indianapolis. We will start this weekend with the new set-up that we used for the Indianapolis race because my crew came up with some very useful adjustments to the machine which allowed me to get a better feeling and move forward in the race. All in all, I'm confident for Misano and I can't wait to get back out on track."

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) says: "Misano will be another tough weekend for me, but I have already shown I can get results despite my injury. One good thing, this is a right-hand circuit, not a left-hand circuit like Indy, which should make things slightly easier for my left ankle. We will work our usual programme during the weekend and try and get back into the top ten. Then I have a few weeks off to get fit for the last four races."

Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "It is wonderful to go home after such a fantastic result at Indianapolis -- I can't think of a better place to be going next than Misano! To be honest in terms of the layout it is not one of my favourite tracks but I can't wait to ride in front of my fans and I'll be giving it everything I have got! My fan club will be there in the colours of the San Marino flag and giving me an extra motivation to ride on the limit once again. I know I am riding for a job right now and I want to continue to show that I am worthy of a place in MotoGP. I think we have done that over the past few races and it is important we stay consistent and focused to the end of the season."

Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) says: "I was disappointed on Sunday night because I know we were capable of much more at Indy but I was also pleased with the way we worked over the weekend to solve our set-up issues with the bike. It is a good sign for Misano and to be honest I can't wait to get back on track again. It is not easy making such a long trip and having to race again so soon but it's the same situation for everybody and I'm just looking forward to it. This is the team's home race so it is a special weekend and important that we are competitive again."

Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) says: "Misano is a track which has some good memories for me. I won the 125 race there last season and I finished second there the year before. As always I'll try my best. I hope that during the two days of practice we can find a solution to improve the set-up of my Honda and make it more suitable to me."

HONDA 250cc RIDER QUOTES

Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) says: "Misano is my team's home track, so obviously they want a great performance from me. And, of course, I want the same. I like the circuit and I have had some good results there -- in 2007 I finished on the podium. The layout should suit our Honda, and I hope we can use all the working time to set up the bike at its best for the race, which will be another very important encounter."

Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) says: "My schedule is quite clear, dictated by the doctors after my crash at Indianapolis. I need to rest and use ice on the shoulder injury when necessary. Last year my team scored a podium at Misano with my bike, so I am very confident."

Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) says: "My back problem caused me a lot of pain at Indy. It seems that I have a severe contracture in the lumbar region, so now I'm having physio so that I can be as fit as posible for Misano. Right now we are showing good performance, we are working really well and we can see that the bike is really evolving. This is something to be very positive about and if we keep working in this direction I know that we can achieve our goal to be in the top five at the end of the season."

Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) says: "We have no time to dwell on what happened in the USA because we are preparing for the next race in Misano. Now we must be positive, we had some bad luck but we don't need to feel sorry about that because we won't give up and we will demonstrate our pace once again at Misano. Last year we got a very good result at Misano, finishing eighth, and this time we want the same or something better."

Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) says: "It was a real pity not to race at Indianapolis, but we had no chance to ride because the chassis was damaged and we didn't have a replacement unit. Misano will be another interesting weekend, another new track for me. I will try to go step by step and not crash, so I can keep slowly improving."

Valentin Debise (Team CIP Honda) says: "We are working hard to get more points at every race, and the team is working very well together. My own personal goal at the moment is to improve the way I brake and turn into the corners. Misano could be useful for this because it's a tight track with lots of braking."

Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda) says: "Misano is usually a hot race, so it will be physically and mentally challenging. It's a tight track, but with a few high-speed corners, so we will have to work very hard to find a good set-up compromise from the chassis."

-credit: honda

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Randy de Puniet , Mick Doohan , Gabor Talmacsi , Alvaro Bautista , Andrea Dovizioso , Toni Elias , Freddie Spencer , Hiroshi Aoyama , Shoya Tomizawa , Dani Pedrosa , Valentin Debise
Teams CIP