Marquez & Pedrosa go for glory at Honda’s home circuit
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) travel to Japan this week, aiming for glory at Twin Ring Motegi, Honda’s home circuit.
Both RC213V riders have particular reasons to chase victory in Japan: Marquez to make amends for a tumble at the recent Aragon Grand Prix and Pedrosa to go one better than the superb second-place finish he achieved at Aragon.
Marquez stands in third place in the 2015 t**le chase, some way behind the leaders after an up-and-down third season in MotoGP, following his historic back-to-back championship successes in 2013 and 2014. Already four times a winner this year, the 22-year-old Spaniard goes for a first premier-class win at Motegi, where he took Moto2 victory in 2012 and 125cc victory in 2010.
Hopes are high that the youngster will not be adversely affected by an injury he sustained last week while mountain-biking near his home in Cervera, Spain. Marquez suffered a fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand which was fixed by renowned MotoGP surgeon Dr Xavier Mir with a small t**anium plate and screws.
Pedrosa’s thrilling and ultimately successful duel with points leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) at Aragon brings the 30-year-old Spaniard to Motegi in high spirits. Pedrosa has yet to win a Grand Prix this year – he has won at least one race in his past 14 seasons at world level – after he missed three of the first four 2015 rounds due to surgery to fix an arm-pump problem.
The race at Aragon – where he finished just 2.6 seconds behind winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) – proved he is back to full strength, and where better to return to his winning ways than Motegi, where he won the 2011 and 2012 MotoGP races, as well as the 2004 250cc GP and the 2002 125cc GP, all on Honda machinery.
The track – situated 100km (65 miles) north east of Tokyo – was created as part of Honda’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 1998. The layout puts the emphasis on ferocious acceleration out of corners and braking stability into corners. Motegi demands more of a MotoGP bike’s brakes than any other GP venue.
Before Pedrosa, four other Honda riders had won premier-class races at Motegi: Makoto Tamada, Max Biaggi, Alex Barros and Rossi.
Honda’s other Factory Option riders Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) and Scott Redding (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) also want to put on a good show at the manufacturer’s home event. Both men have already shown this year that they can perform at the top level when things go their way – Crutchlow scored a podium at the second race in Argentina, while Redding made it into the top three at last month’s wet-and-dry San Marino GP.
Honda has four riders aboard its Open Option machine, the RC213V-RS, all of them chasing points this weekend. Both Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) and team-mate Nicky Hayden (Aspar Team Honda RC213V-RS) made it into the top 15 at Aragon while rookie Jack Miller (LCR Honda RC213V-RS) crossed the line just six seconds off a points-scoring position.
Veteran former All-Japan Superbike champion and HRC test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi will replace Karel Abraham (AB Motoracing Honda RC213V-RS) at Motegi, due to Abraham’s ongoing injury problems. The Czech rider sustained a complex foot injury in June and despite returning to action recently he has been forced to rest the injury further, so he won’t return until the Valencia season finale. Forty-year-old Akiyoshi has made several MotoGP appearances over the years, with a best of an 11th-place finish at Motegi in 2011.
Japan has hosted a round of the motorcycling World Championships on and off since 1963, when the first Japanese Grand Prix was held at the brand-new Suzuka circuit, the country’s first roadrace venue. Company founder Soichiro Honda built Suzuka to give his countrymen the chance to compete on a real racetrack, helping to improve Japanese riders and Japanese machinery, and to bring GP racing to Japan, though the track didn’t hold a round of the premier class until 1987. Motegi staged its first World Championship race in 1999, when it hosted the Pacific GP. It has been home to the Japanese GP since 2004.
When racing finishes on Sunday the MotoGP paddock heads south for the following weekend’s Australian GP, then returns north for the Malaysian GP on the next Sunday. The season concludes at Valencia, Spain, on 8th November.
Honda MotoGP rider quotes
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
“Aragon was a tough race and I made a mistake. Now I’m eager to get to Japan and try to end the season at the top. Unfortunately last week I had a training accident whilst mountain biking and suffered a fracture in my left hand. I had an operation on Wednesday and have been resting it since. I’m healing well and hope to be as fit as possible for this weekend. Track conditions in Motegi can vary quite a lot and we will work hard on the set up in terms of the hard acceleration and braking in order to be at the front come Sunday. I hope we can have a good result in front of Honda’s home fans!”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
“After the battle in Aragon with Valentino I’m feeling really motivated to go to Japan, Honda’s home race! We had a testing day on Monday after the race and then on Tuesday I stayed in Barcelona for my birthday with family and friends. Now we’re already on our way for the flyaways. This race is a big event for Honda so I’m even more inspired to give them and all the fans a strong result! The track itself has many strong braking points and acceleration areas, so you need to find a good set-up combining braking stability and traction out of the corners.”
Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda
“I’m pleased to be going to Motegi and riding for Honda. People say that Honda have an advantage at Motegi, but I’m not so sure that’s true, because the other manufacturers do test there. I didn’t really like the layout until 2012, when I was battling for third place and ran out of fuel on the final lap. Last year we had a good weekend at Motegi and this time we will be working to improve our acceleration by minimising wheelie and wheelspin out of the corners.”
Scott Redding, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
“I quite like the Motegi track and I think it will suit the Honda RC213V. We have a few things we need to sort out after the Aragon race, where I struggled for rear grip and we had a couple of technical issues with the rear tyre and the rear suspension, but it’s important to keep a positive frame of mind going into these three flyaway races. It’s a tough schedule, with three races in as many weekends, as it only gives you two days to recover from one race before you’re back on track again. But it’s the same for everyone and you just have to get on with it. For me the target remains the same this weekend; to push for automatic entry into QP2 on Saturday and then to finish inside the top ten on Sunday.”
Nicky Hayden, Aspar Team
“These days it’s always hard to predict how you’ll go at a certain track, but on paper I’m not sure that Motegi will be the ideal place for our bike, because we sometimes struggle with low-gear acceleration. We’ve been doing a lot of work on the electronics, trying to find the right balance with the engine cuts in the traction control and the right balance between the gears. We will see how it goes once we get there, but as always we’ll be pushing hard to get a good grid position, then making sure we are in the fight for some points.”
Eugene Laverty, Aspar Team
“I rode a Honda in the 250 race at Motegi in 2007, but really the track will be all-new to me because a MotoGP bike is so, so different from a 250! If you look at the track, it doesn’t look like it will be ideal for our bike, but let’s see what happens once we start riding on Friday. All in all, I think our bike will be much better suited to the flowing nature of the next race at Phillip Island.”
Kousuke Akiyoshi, AB Motoracing
“It has been a long time since I last raced in MotoGP as ‘understudy’ to another rider. This ride was fixed at the last minute due to Karel’s injury problems, so I wish him a good recovery. I will do my best this weekend, using my experience as a development rider and I hope to give the team some useful data that will help Karel when he returns.”
Jack Miller, LCR Honda
“I look forward to getting to Motegi and riding the track for the first time on a MotoGP bike. I reckon the circuit should suit our bike because quite a bit of the machine development was done at Motegi. It’s a bit of a stop-and-go place, with lots of hard acceleration and heavy braking, so I’ve been doing a lot of push-ups to get ready for the weekend!”
Source: Marquez & Pedrosa go for glory at Honda’s home circuit