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Apr 23, 2014 - 07:10 AM
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Honda Riders Ahead As MotoGP Returns To South America
Posted by: newsla on Apr 23, 2014 - 07:04 AM
MotoGP
Honda Riders Ahead As MotoGP Returns To South America


Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) head to South America this week, for the sport’s first visit to the continent in a decade.

 

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The Spanish pair arrive at the brand-new venue Termas de Rio Hondo in great shape, holding first and second places in the MotoGP World Championship after brilliant performances at the opening two Grands Prix of 2014. Reigning World Champion Marquez was the star performer in both races, taking jubilant victories in Qatar and Texas, while Pedrosa scored a third place and a second place to chase his team-mate in the points standings.

The pair were particularly dominant at the Circuit of the Americas two weeks ago, where the class-leading performance of their full-factory RC213V machines allowed them to race away from the rest of the pack. Marquez beat Pedrosa by four seconds and Pedrosa was more than 16 seconds ahead of the third-placed finisher, proving that the Honda Racing Corporation is continuing its legacy of creating superb racing motorcycles.

Neither rider has visited the new circuit, constructed for MotoGP in the north of the country, 1100km (700 Miles) north of capital Buenos Aires, so they will start from zero on Friday morning.

Marquez, as always, will be helped on his way by mentor Emilio Alzamora, who has fond memories of the sport’s last visit to Argentina in October 1999, when he secured that year’s 125 World Championship riding his Honda RS125 at the Autodromo Oscar Alfredo Galvez on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

One of the few riders who has ridden Termas De Rio Hondo is Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) who spent a couple of days there last summer, as part of a promotional event. He did ride the track on his RC213V but conditions were far from ideal.

Bradl was in the thick of the fight for third place a fortnight ago in Texas, eventually finishing fourth, less than two seconds behind Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati). The young German had already proved his speed in Qatar where he led the race, only to be caught out by the tricky track conditions. He currently holds seventh in the points chase and will be aiming to make further inroads into those ahead of him this weekend.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) comes to Argentina hoping to put a difficult start to the season behind him. The former 125 World Champion crashed out in Qatar and Texas and is determined to score his first points this weekend. Bautista was one of four MotoGP riders who made the trip to Termas de Rio Hondo last year, but like the others he was able to learn little about the circuit due to the poor conditions.

Nicky Hayden (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R), back with Honda after a five-year absence, is currently the top-placed non-factory Open rider in the championship aboard his RCV1000R, a production machine made by Honda specifically to boost the performance of privateer riders and teams. The man who won the 2006 MotoGP World Championship aboard Honda’s masterful RC211V V5 machine, achieved good points hauls at the first two races, even though like other RCV1000R riders, he is still learning how to get the best from the machine in its debut season.

After a superb MotoGP debut in Qatar, Scott Redding (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) was once again showing good pace in Texas until he was caught out by front-tyre issues and crashed. Graduating from Moto2 at the end of last season, Redding it still getting to grips with the many new challenges offered by MotoGP.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) scored points at the first two races of the year and is currently equal on points with Redding. The former 250 World Champion is happy with the initial base setting he has found with his RCV1000R and is looking forward to building on that base from this weekend onward.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) aims for his third points score in a row after a tough race in Texas where he battled front-tyre and fitness issues. The Czech rider’s lingering shoulder injury is still causing him major concerns, and once again in Texas he needed painkilling treatment before the race. Since then he has had more physio on the shoulder and hopes to be in better physical shape this weekend.

The contest for the Honda-powered Moto2 World Championship series is shaping up into another great battle with two different winners from the first two rounds, including a stunning debut success by Maverick Vinales (Pons HP 40, Kalex) in Texas. This was only Vinales’ second race on a Moto2 bike, but the reigning Moto3 World Champion was in a class apart, coming from behind to score a dominant victory ahead of Qatar victor Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) who now leads the World Championship. Vinales lies second, seven points down, following that win and his fourth-place debut in Qatar.

Rabat was one of two Moto2 riders to visit Argentina’s newest racetrack last year, along with Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter). He enjoyed the layout but a dusty track followed by rain didn’t allow him to really get to grips with the circuit.

Rabat’s team-mate Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) has undergone further rehab on an old shoulder injury that troubled him in Texas and is keen to score a win this weekend to close the gap on the championship leaders.

Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock, Suter) had a difficult weekend in Texas and will be aiming to get back to his usual performance level, like in Qatar where he scored a strong podium result. Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing, Forward KLX) lies fifth in the current standings following two fifth-place results from the first two races. Right behind him is Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert, Suter) who finished third in Texas after leading the race.

Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) has high hopes of another strong Moto3 performance on Sunday following a brilliant ride to third in Texas, where he finished less than three tenths of a second off the win, just as he had done in Qatar. The Spaniard showed the speed of his Honda NSF250R by several times sneaking ahead of race-winner Jack Miller (KTM) on the straights. With Honda and his crew working hard, Vazquez currently lies second in the points standings behind Miller.

Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) took fourth in Texas and will be going all out for his first podium of the year this weekend. Team-mate Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) was in the podium fight at the last race, until he fell just a few corners before the chequered flag. He is confident he can be fully competitive once again as the action moves from North America to South America

Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250R) and John McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) hold seventh and tenth places in the championship standings, suggesting that they too will be running near the front at Termas de Rio Hondo.

Motorcycle Grand Prix racing last visited Argentina in 1999, just one week after Alex Crivillé (Repsol Honda NSR500) had wrapped up the 500 world title, giving Honda a clean sweep of six consecutive World Championships, following five years of domination by Mick Doohan (Repsol Honda NSR500).

The new Argentine venue has been constructed on the shores of Lake Rio Hondo, close to the town of Termas de Rio Hondo, a popular spa resort. Laid out by Italian designers Dromos, the clockwise circuit has a challenging mix of corners, including plenty of faster turns, the kind of corner most appreciated by bike racers.

Following the opening three ‘flyaway’ races, MotoGP hurries home to its European heartland, for the following weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez says:
“Argentina will be a new track for most of us, some riders went a year ago but I don’t think the track surface was ideal so they were a little limited on the amount of laps they could do. I’m looking forward to visiting a new circuit and it will be nice for the fans. We will be looking to continue with the same momentum from the first two races of the season.”

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says:
“After Austin I’m looking forward to Argentina and getting some laps around the track to feel the bike and learn the circuit! I don’t know much about the new track, I’ve tried to do some homework with maps and videos and find out as much as I could before arriving but it’s hard to say something not being on the bike. I’m looking forward to the weekend and meeting the fans over there as it will be my first visit to the country!"

Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista says:
“During the tests carried out last year on the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit I could immediately appreciate some very technical parts of the track: I like it a lot, because it’s characterised by many fast corners that suit my riding style. However, it should be said that last year we where able to take advantage of only one day of testing, because we had rain on the second day: therefore we weren’t able to work on bike set-up. I also remember a very dirty track, as it had just been finished. Anyway I believe that it will be okay for the race. In this Grand Prix our priority is to finish the race without taking risks: after the first two races we are still at zero points, so this time we absolutely need to collect some points.”

LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl says:
“Every time we race on a new track it’s tough to make predictions. Last year I visited Termas de Rio Hondo for a couple of days but in my opinion it was not a proper test. The paddock was still under construction and the surface conditions were pretty bad. It was impossible to gather data because the grip level was very poor. I am pretty sure they made a big step forward from last year and it will be interesting to challenge my colleagues on a new race track. I know the layout but there’s a lot to do in terms of set-up. The motivation is high considering my fourth place in Austin.”

Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider Scott Redding says:
“The fact that the track of Termas de Rio Hondo is unknown to anyone - apart from the few riders who carried out the tests last year – will make things a bit easier for me, because we will all start the weekend on the same level. In addition, I enjoy a lot riding on a new track: it’s always an interesting challenge trying to be fast on a new circuit, it’s a new motivation. I look forward to start the first free practice, to see how the bike works on this track.”

Drive 7 Aspar Honda rider Nicky Hayden says:
“I am excited by the idea of racing at a new track. I always like going to new circuits and experiencing new things in a different country. We go to the same tracks every year so it is good to try something new. We have to try and adapt quickly to the layout and get a feeling for the track as soon as we can. Our attitude towards the job will be the same as always, which is to keep learning about this bike and trying to get the most out of it. I am constantly getting to know the bike and the team more and more and that will help us continue to grow together.”

Drive 7 Aspar Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama says:
“Even though we need to keep working hard to improve the performance of the bike the base we have established so far is pretty positive. We are getting clearer ideas every day and the more we learn about the bike the faster we can take it forward. I honestly don’t know anything about the track in Argentina, but from what people have told me it is a cool layout, although technically demanding. The positive thing is that it will be a new track for everybody so we all start from zero, everybody is in the same situation. Hopefully the characteristics of the track suit our bike and we can come away with a positive result.”

Cardion AB Motoracing rider Karel Abraham says:
“It’s my very first trip to South America, so surely I’m excited. I heard legends about Argentinian fans from Czech Dakar Rally drivers, so I hope the atmosphere will be the same at the MotoGP race. New tracks are always difficult and just as motivating. In Argentina at least we all start from the same point, so let’s see who will deal with the circuit in the best way. I think new tracks are always challenge for a tyre supplier, so let’s see what Bridgestone bring for us.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Marc VDS Racing Team rider Esteve Rabat says:
“The Termas de Rio Hondo track is a good one. It has a good mix of fast and slow corners, with a long back straight. When we tested there the track was very dirty, as it had just been finished, and we had rain on the second day. It meant we weren’t really up to speed, but at least we got a feel for the track layout. I’m looking forward to returning this weekend. We need to sort out the gearbox issues we had in Austin, but I don’t think it will be quite so noticeable in Argentina, because of the nature of the circuit. It’s far too early in the season to be thinking about the championship, so, once again we will head into the race looking for the win.”

Pons HP 40 rider Maverick Vinales says:
“I don’t know the track, so me and my team will be starting from zero. Of course, my victory in Texas gives us a lot of confidence, so we will keep working in the same way, focusing on working with the rear tyre because this is always the big thing in Moto2, especially in the last few laps.”

Marc VDS Racing Team rider Mika Kallio says:
“The shoulder injury that caused me the problem in Austin is already much better. I’ll get it checked ahead of the weekend but, from what I’ve seen of the Termas de Rio Hondo track, it’s not going to be as physically demanding on the riders as Austin. It’s a new track, which means it’s an unknown in terms of set up, but then it’s the same for everyone. I had the pace in Qatar and again in Texas, so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be up there again this weekend. A win would be the perfect way to end the three overseas races and it would put me back on terms with Tito and Maverick Vinales in terms of the championship.”

Honda Moto3 rider quotes

SaxoPrint-RTG rider Efren Vazquez says:
“We showed at Austin and in Qatar that we are very close to winning a race. I was very happy with my bike at the last race and I think we will only keep getting better from here. None of the Moto3 riders has been to this new track, so it will be interesting seeing how we all approach the weekend. The aim is the same as always – to be in the fight for the podium and to win if possible.”

Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Alex Rins says:
“We’re going to a completely new circuit and we shall see what happens, because we all have the same situation to face. We haven’t been able to watch videos or do anything based on previous years, as the only way to prepare beforehand is to study the map of the circuit and try to learn the corners from that. We haven’t even got a computer game to learn from, so I can’t wait for Thursday and the chance to put in some laps on the scooter. That will help us to get an idea, but it won’t be until the first practice session that we see exactly what the circuit is like.”

Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Alex Marquez says:
"A difficult weekend awaits us, because we are going to a completely new circuit for which nobody has any reference points. We are all in the same situation, starting from zero in terms of both the lines to take and the setup to use. After the good race that we had in Qatar and the crash at Austin, we shall try to regain the confidence that we had and take as many points as possible. We will have to be very focused in practice in order to make the best use of the time available –and to be as ready as possible for the race.”

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