Pedrosa determined to give his best in front of home crowd despite injury troubles
The performance of the Honda team in the MotoGP World Championship curtain-raiser in Qatar was proof positive that the pre-season dominance was no fluke. But now, with the first of four races in Spain and at one of the highlight venues of the season, the riders and teams get back to work to continue their quest for the final championship of the 800cc era.
The Jerez de la Frontera track is a very different racetrack than the Losail Circuit and one at which world championship leader Casey Stoner hasn’t had as much success; his best finish is a third in 2009. Given the way he’s adapted to the Honda RC212V, there’s no reason to believe he can’t change that in the first European race of the season, held in the Sherry country of Andalucia. But the 2007 MotoGP World Champion knows it won’t be easy. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was a strong challenger in Qatar before slowing late in the race with physical limitations and world champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) will be out to avenge the loss he suffered at Stoner’s hands in Qatar.
Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) was nearly the equal of Stoner throughout the pre-season and first race. It was only late in the Qatar Grand Prix that Pedrosa was forced to slow when he lost some feeling in the right shoulder he injured in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. Rather than continue to fight for the victory, the Spaniard had to manage his race to the end, while still scoring a podium position.
With a weekend off since the race in Qatar, Pedrosa is hopeful the shoulder won’t be as much of a hindrance in Jerez, where he hopes to give his more than 200,000 fellow countryman a home victory. However, he’s also a realist and knows that his injury will likely trouble him again this weekend before he will undergo surgery right after the GP to fix the problem. [seperate story here] His record in Jerez is stellar: In the last four races at the circuit he has a win, two seconds, and a third, as well as two pole positions and two second place starting spots.
Dani Pedrosa: “Jerez is always a very special race, where the support of the fans gives you an extra motivation that allows you to be even faster. I like the circuit and it has always been good for me, although last season I had a technical problem that prevented me from winning. We need to focus from the start, work as hard as we can on the bike’s set-up and the tyre choice and then we will see where we are.”
Jerez, which joined the World Championship calendar in 1987, has maintained such a high standard of excellence that it was voted by team owners as the best grand of the year in 2009. The race celebrates its silver anniversary this year as the most popular on the calendar, and with good reason. It’s not only a favorite of the fans, who enjoy the Andalucian setting, but also the riders, who enjoy knowing that riding talent can overcome deficiencies in machine performance.
The track spreads 13 corners, five lefts and eight rights, over its 4.423k length. The longest straight is only 607m, which means that most of the time is spent on various aspects of cornering-braking, turn-in, mid-corner speed, and exit-which levels the playing field. The track is faithful to the Spanish greats, with four turns named for motorcycling world champions. The two fastest corners are the double rights, Criville and Ferrari, which lead to the final hairpin left where more than one race has been decided.
Of the 24 previous premier class races, Honda riders have won 16, beginning with Wayne Gardner’s win on an NSR500 through Sete Gibernau on an RC211V and, finally, Dani Pedrosa on an RC212V in 2008.
Source: Honda Racing