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Apr 12, 2014 - 04:00 PM
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April 13, 1997 - April 13, 2014: 18 years of World Challenges for Gresini Racing
Posted by: newsla on Apr 12, 2014 - 03:53 PM
MotoGP
April 13, 1997 - April 13, 2014: 18 years of World Challenges for Gresini Racing


It was on April 13, 1997, when the Team Honda Gresini made ​​its debut in the 500cc World Championship, in the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Circuit of Shah Alam; the bike was a very private Honda NSR 500 V-Twin, rode by Brazilian Alex Barros. That day came to life an adventure which was born in a very short time, but already able to give a glimpse of a great future. Tomorrow, April 13, 2014, the day of the Grand Prix of the Americas, thus officially begins the 18th year of operations in the World Championship of the Team led by Fausto Gresini.

 

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Alex Barros, who will visit the MotoGP Paddock at the next Grand Prix of Argentina, scheduled on April 27th, remembers that exciting debut.

“I have great memories of that race, and of the whole 1997 season - says Alex Barros -. Despite the fact that the team had been set up in just two months, we managed to be competitive straight away, immediately showing a podium potential. In fact, I was in fifth position when unfortunately I had a gearbox problem. However, it was a great debut, and also in the following races we proved to be fast, going very close to several podium finishes and clinching a fantastic third place at Donington. All this becomes even more valuable if we consider that our bike was very private; in addition, the NSR V-Twin was clearly paying a little power gap to the four-cylinder machines, even though it was a bit more agile thanks to the lower weight (about 10 Kg less). It was difficult to ride the NSR 500 V2 to the limit, because to compensate the lower speed on the straights, we were always looking for a higher cornering speed. Further proof of our competitiveness has been the Mugello track, a venue where engine power is the most important thing: we got the sixth place there. 1997 was a great season, with a team that, in my opinion, was already the best in the World, despite it was only at its debut”.

Fabrizio Cecchini, technical coordinator of the team at the time, remembers that debut as something unique and, perhaps, unrepeatable: “It was a fantastic experience: up to that time I had worked in a team already well established, where everything was easier, but in that case the team needed to be built from scratch. In that 1997, from January until the first race in Malaysia, I had worked day and night to get everything ready. Today, frankly, I do not know if I could be able to repeat such a thing: the hard work, however, was repaid by great satisfactions. In Shah Alam we had carried out a test a week before the race and I remember that we completed a race simulation showing a podium potential: being among all the top teams and riders, and being already so competitive with a private bike was incredible. In fact, before suffering gearbox problems, Alex was lying in fifth position in the race. The good memories are also tied to the work that could be done on 2-stroke engines : we were able to make that twin engine really fast... too much, perhaps, given that throughout the year we suffered many gearbox problems!”.

FAUSTO GRESINI “This is a very beautiful story and also very long! This is our eighteenth year of operations in the World Championship and thinking back to that first race reminds me nice feelings. We were just starting out and our bike, the new Honda NSR 500 V-twin, was undoubtedly less competitive than the official ones. But we could count on a great rider, and a great will to succeed. It was a great satisfaction making our debut in the premier class, the more difficult, being already very competitive, so much so that in the race Barros could even get on the podium, before a gearbox problem halted his performance. Hopefully tomorrow our riders can make us a nice gift to celebrate in the best possible way this important milestone”.


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