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Preview British Grand Prix, Silverstone
Posted by: newsla on Aug 26, 2014 - 07:52 PM
MotoGP
Preview British Grand Prix, Silverstone


HONDA AIMS FOR A DOMINANT DOZEN AT LONG, FAST SILVERSTONE

Having won the first eleven races of the 2014 season, the factory Repsol Honda RC213V riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa make the trip across the water to the British GP with the clear aim of adding a 12th victory to the record book.

 

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For the first ten rounds, spanning Europe and the Americas, it was defending 2013 rookie MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez, with a record-setting run.

At the last round at Brno in the Czech Republic, Pedrosa came through to take his turn while Marquez placed fourth, the first time that he has finished a race and been off the podium top-three in his premier class career.

The factory pair lie first and second overall in the championship, but with seven races remaining in an intensive second half of the season, the target of adding yet more one-two finishes remains as strong as ever.

Marquez’s lapse as a serial winner came after set-up issues at Brno – solved at tests the following day, when he set the fastest time with a new track record lap time.

Until then, the former 125cc and Moto2 world champion had been invincible, at a variety of circuits and in all sorts of conditions, and has accumulated a 77-point lead in the championship overall. Nine times on pole position and ten times a winner, the 21-year-old is on target for a second MotoGP title to add to his “youngest-ever” maiden crown of 2013.

His Silverstone record includes pole position last year, when he was second to title rival Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) by inches after suffering a shoulder injury in a morning warm-up tumble; and third in Moto2 in 2012, when took a dominant world championship win; and victory in 2010 in the 125cc class.

Relieved of the pressure of the constant question: “Can you win every race,” Marquez approaches the visit to the long and fast British airfield circuit with relish, and confidence that the powerful, fast and ever-faithful Repsol Honda RC213V will again give him the chance to return to the top.

Pedrosa lies a strong second overall after a very different season, interrupted by the need for remedial surgery after worsening arm-pump problems in the early races. He racked up points all the same, with two second places and two thirds heading a series of top five results before round seven at home in Catalunya. Here he signalled his full return to strength with a convincing and only narrowly unsuccessful attack on Marquez’s lead in the last lap to finish in third, followed by two more podiums in the Netherlands and Germany, then underlining it with a clear victory in Brno.

The former 125cc and double 250cc champion has a British GP win in his portfolio of 49 career wins – in his first premier-class season in 2006. That was at Donington Park; at Silverstone he has been third at the last two outings. He holds the lap record, set during the 2013 race.

Pedrosa’s title focus is on continuing to increase his points lead over Valentino Rossi, after regaining second place and drawing gradually ahead. His aim for Silverstone is to be part of a Repsol Honda one-two. Preferably at the front.

Two more riders campaign the awesome RC213V, the latest in a line of factory machines that have amassed the greatest total of wins (104 so far) in the MotoGP class. Now in his third year in MotoGP, Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) qualified fourth at last year’s race and finished sixth. This year he has racked up a series of strong top-ten finishes, with a best of fourth in Austin, Texas.

The sole German MotoGP rider lies ninth overall, in a strong position to move higher up the top ten.

Alvaro Bautista (FUN&GO Gresini Honda RC213V) has stood on the podium this year, finishing third in France, but a less consistent score rate sees him eleventh overall, eyes also fixed on moving higher. The former 125cc World Champion and 2012 Silverstone pole-setter was fourth that year, and fifth in 2013.

Bautista’s GO&FUN Gresini Honda team-mate Scott Redding campaigns the new Open category Honda RCV1000R production racer, and the British youngest-ever GP winner is coming top out of the four RCV1000R riders who bring Honda’s grid presence to eight machines.

Redding, second in Moto2 last year, has a best of seventh in Qatar in his first premier-class season, and has consistently fought to be the best of the non-factory Honda quartet, earning a strong 12th overall in the process.

Determined to show well for his home fans, Redding won a popular Moto2 victory last year, after placing second in 2012. He has never been out of the top five at Silverstone. His classic 2008 first win came at Donington Park, followed by third place the following year.

Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) is one place and eight points down on Redding, after a consistent season. The Japanese 2009 250cc World Champion has mixed memories of the British GP. At Donington Park he was first in 2009 after two previous top-three scores. At Silverstone he suffered serious injury in his first visit in 2010; but came back for ninth the following year.

The second Drive M7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R will be ridden for a third time by British former 125 racer Leon Camier, in place of team regular Nicky Hayden, who won the 2006 MotoGP title for Honda. The American is recovering from wrist surgery during the summer break. Camier has made a good impression, and scored his first championship point at the last round at Brno, only his second MotoGP race.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) has scored points in the nine races he has completed this season and is confident of another points scoring ride at Silverstone. Injuries have prevented Abraham from contesting the last two grands prix at Silverstone but in 2011 he recorded one of his best ever MotoGP results with seventh place.

A Honda powered victory is guaranteed in Moto2, where all 34 entrants are supplied with identical race-tuned Honda CBR600 engines, to ensure close and reliable racing. Different chassis manufacturers vie for supremacy on a mechanically level playing field.

This year’s stars include seasoned campaigners and exciting rookies.

It is the experienced Tito Rabat who has led on points from the first race, and his fifth win of the year at Brno two weekends ago has improved his narrow advantage over his closest challenger, Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex team-mate Mika Kallio. He now leads by 12 points, with the title in the balance.

Next best is a class rookie: reigning Moto3 champion Maverick Vinales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex), with an Austin, Texas GP win at only his second attempt, backed by a trio of second places. Although 58 points adrift of the lead, he has a worthwhile margin of 27 points over the next best rider, Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert Suter). The experienced Swiss rider claimed a long-awaited first GP win in Germany, from his first pole position, backed by three more podium finishes.

Old hands and relative newcomers complete the top ten.

Italian Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Kalex) is a strong fifth, with fellow class veterans Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Suter) and Assen GP winner Anthony West (QMMF Speed Up) on his heels. Then ex-Moto3 class rookie Luis Salom (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) heads Frenchman Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham Caterham-Suter), in his second Moto2 season, as is former Moto3 World Champion Sandro Cortese, who lies tenth.

Honda is up against rival manufacturers in the Moto3 class, and the company’s upgraded Honda NSF250RW has been gaining strength as riders and crews gain more familiarity. Four of the six Hondas on the grid are in the top six of the championship, with the best of them challenging long-time points leader Jack Miller (KTM).

Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda) lies second overall after two wins and two second places; only one point ahead of fellow-Spaniard Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda), who claimed his own first win at Indianapolis two races ago.

Second Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Rins is fifth overall, one place ahead of French veteran Alexis Masbou (Ongetta Rivacold Honda). Vazquez’s SaxoPrint-RTG team-mate John McPhee, in his second year in the class, lies 13th, but has the distinction of five top-ten finishes, including a best of seventh in Germany and the lap record in Catalunya. New Honda rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta AirAsia Honda) lies 21st, with five points-scoring finishes so far.

There has been a British World Championship round throughout the history of the series, starting with the Isle of Man TT races in 1949. In 1977 the race moved to the mainland at Silverstone, and in 1987 switched to Donington Park for 23 years. In 2010 Silverstone regained the event.

The former airfield circuit had been extensively redesigned and upgraded, with the length increased by almost 1.2 kilometres to 5.9-km (3.666 miles), making it the longest lap on the 18-race calendar, and one of the four fastest, with Phillip Island in Australia, the new Argentine Rio Hondo circuit and Italy’s Mugello.

Honda rider quotes

Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez says:
“Brno was a difficult weekend but the most important thing is that we took important points. Also, I feel less pressure now as I know everyone was expecting me to win all of them, and it’s the Championship that’s important, not winning every race! We had a good test on the Monday and then some time off after a hectic back-to-back schedule. Last year my race was affected by my crash in warmup so this year I hope to be fully fit so I can give it 100 percent in the race.”

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says:
“I’m feeling in good momentum at the moment after winning in Brno, and then we had a positive test on the Monday. It was a gruelling few weeks with two races in a row and so this past week it’s been good to recharge the batteries. Last year in Silverstone I was out of the battle with Marc and Jorge so this year I want to be sure to be up there with them! This is a fast track with many changes of direction and you need to find a balance for the set up to suit both the slow and the fast corners. The weather in Britain can always be temperamental also, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that.”

LCR Honda MotoGP rider Stefan Bradl says:
“In my opinion Silverstone is a good circuit despite the varying weather. I just would like to have some clearer weather conditions for the weekend: completely wet or completely dry. It’s quite a fast track but not so many hard braking areas. In my first year on a MotoGP bike, I finished eighth and last season I finished sixth due to some edge grip problems. The potential of our RCV is high and with the data gathered at Brno test we should find the right package to challenge the front guys. I know it’s pretty hard but we will try anyway.”

GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista says:
“Silverstone is a great track, where we have always showed good performances: in 2012 I got the pole position, while last year I was in the top five. Right now we are struggling a lot because of a lack of rear grip, but we are confident that the suspension and set-up solutions we tried during the Monday post-race test at Brno, which I will use in this Grand Prix, can help us to find the right way to return to a good level of competitiveness.”

GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider Scott Redding says:
“Everyone always asks me if your home race is special and of course it is: it’s the only time in the season I get to race in front of my home crowd, whose support has been so important during my career in 125 and Moto2. It was incredible to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time ever at the British Grand Prix in 2008, and last year was equally special, taking the win in front of a massive crowd, wearing red, white and blue leathers aboard a bike with a huge union flag on the sides. Coming round after the chequered flag and seeing everyone in the stands on their feet clapping and cheering was an unbelievable experience. Now I’m going to race the MotoGP bike at home for the first time, and I can’t wait. It will be a tough weekend, because Silverstone is a power track and power is something we’re down on compared to factory bikes. But, like always, I’ll be pushing as hard as I can and I hope I can put in a good performance in front of my home crowd”.

Drive M7 Aspar Honda Hiroshi Aoyama says:
“I am already looking forward to the next round at Silverstone. England has a strong motorcycling culture and racing there is always special. The track is long and technical, it’s hard to adapt to it and the weather is always unpredictable so we’ll have to wait and see. We found a solid set-up in the post-race test at Brno that we hope can be useful this weekend. We go into this race with plenty of confidence and if we can take another step here I think we can break into the top ten. Silverstone has some fast direction changes and even though I prefer slow corners I will try to adapt and get the best possible result on Sunday.”

Cardion AB Motoracing Honda rider Karel Abraham says:
“I like the speed and length of Silverstone and in 2011 I recorded one of my best MotoGP finishes, in seventh. But I missed it in 2012 injured in tests at Aragon before the race, and last year also after I withdrew for shoulder surgery. I’m looking forward to being back there, with the usual goal of being top production Honda.”

Drive M7 Aspar Honda rider Leon Camier says:
“I am really happy because we have made continual progress since I jumped on the bike two races ago, and at Brno we managed to finish in the points. The aim this weekend is to work just as hard again and keep going in the same way. I love Silverstone and I know it perfectly – it is fast, technical and with a lot of direction changes, which should suit me well. I know it will be another tough weekend though so it will be important to stay focused. It is a dream come true for me to race a MotoGP bike in front of the British fans. We had a very productive test at Brno that has helped us to close the gap to the top guys and gain a further understanding of the bike, which we need to keep moving forward. We also improved our race pace and that will be important this weekend.”

Moto2 Rider Quotes

Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex rider Tito Rabat says:
“Silverstone is very special. It’s a track where power is important and the ability to change direction at high speed, but it’s also a track where the weather can play a big part because it’s so flat and exposed. Maybe it will rain, maybe it will be very windy and, who knows in England, maybe it will snow, although I hope not! It’s impossible to predict, so we just need to turn up and do the best we can whatever the weather throws at us. I feel good, I feel strong, so I head to Silverstone to give it my all, like in every race this season.”

Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex rider Mika Kallio says:
“I like the Silverstone circuit, but it’s not been particularly good to me in terms of results the last few years. Having said that, it was the same at Indianapolis and we won there, so this might actually work in our favour this season. The bike and team are working well and we’ve been strong in the two races after the summer break so, even though we go to Silverstone to fight once again for the championship, I’m not feeling under any pressure. It will important to start strongly in the first free practice session on Friday and then build from there.”

Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex rider Maverick Vinales says:
“I have raced three times at Silverstone, and qualified on pole position each time, so you can guess I like the track. I also won the race in 2012, and last year I was fourth, with the first four crossing the line in less than nine tenths. That was in Moto3. I hope to have the same rapport with the track in Moto2 this year.”

Moto3 Honda Rider Quotes

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Marquez says:
“Silverstone circuit suited us very well last year. There are many fast corners and flowing chicanes, but I think it could be a good track for us. We lost a little time at some point and we have to try to give our best in every session as we did at Brno. We need to fight more on the final laps. In this sense there are things to improve, both with the bike and myself. We come here off the back of a race in which we took points from the leader, and we must continue like this, working in the same way.”

SaxoPrint-RTG Honda rider Efren Vazquez says:
“After a more difficult race in Brno, my aim is to return to the same level of riding we had at Indianapolis, where I took my first Moto3 win. I like Silverstone, and I think we can have a good weekend there. Some people say we have a big advantage in top speed but in fact the Moto3 bikes have very similar performance. We have a little more top speed and the KTM has a little more acceleration. It makes for a good battle.”

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda rider Alex Rins says:
“This week off between races has been good for us to get stronger for Silverstone. We have to keep in mind this is a very fast circuit, but one where it rains often. It has a couple of slow corners but, overall, it is faster than it is slow and I think that helps us. We have to go there with the mentality of giving our all, right from the first practice session. I am really motivated for this Grand Prix.”

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