News 31 Jan 2012

Stoner unveils new number one at Repsol Honda team launch

Stoner and Pedrosa take the wraps off their all-new Honda RC213Vs in Malaysia.

Australia's Casey Stoner shows off his brand new number one ahead of 2012.

Australia's Casey Stoner shows off his brand new number one ahead of 2012.

The Repsol Honda Team kicked off their defence of the MotoGP World Championship by having 2011 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner and teammate Dani Pedrosa take the wraps off their all-new Honda RC213Vs at a news conference overnight.

The press conference took place on the eve of the start of the official testing season in Sepang, Malaysia. Joining the riders was HRC Executive vice president Shuhei Nakamoto, who gave a brief and light-hearted technical presentation while making certain not to reveal too many secrets.

With the three-day test set to begin on Tuesday, Stoner is looking forward to rolling out the number ‘1’ plated machine, while Pedrosa is also eager to get back on track after an injury-free end of season and off-season.

“We haven’t started this year and going from 800s to 1000s I think it’s going to be a little bit more interesting during the pre-season, trying to understand where everybody’s level is, as well as what everybody’s machine level is,” Stoner said.

“We know we have a lot of work to do now before the first race and that’s what we’re focused on doing. But how we can envision this championship going, we have no idea. We’re just going to do the best job we can at these tests, try and put ourselves in the best position we can for race one and start the championship well.

“But we don’t really know everybody else’s level or where we’re going to have to improve. I think Honda have done a fantastic job to give us this bike that we’re going to start with and hopefully we can improve it over these next tests. Hopefully, we’re going to do a little bit better job than the other manufacturers.”

Spaniard Pedrosa goes into the 2012 campaign in his best physical shape in years, and he hopes to maintain it throughout the grueling 18-race globe-circling challenge.

The Honda RC213V replaces the championship-winning 800cc RC212V as the MotoGP World Championship begins a new 1000cc era.

The machine was developed over the course of the last season, with Stoner testing it three times and Pedrosa twice, with continuous development and testing being done in Japan. Pedrosa finished the 2011 season by topping Stoner in the end-of-season test in Valencia, Spain.

“The engine and chassis were developed last year because of the regulation change,” Nakamoto said. “We kept the same concept from the last year’s 800 machine. We expect this machine to be competitive enough to win the championship again this year.

“Even with the 800 machine you must reduce the power from first through fourth gear. With the 800, fifth gear, sixth gear, we could use the full power, then in a straight line. Of course this machine is a little bit faster. But time was gained only in fifth and sixth gear in the acceleration area.

“At the same time, the top speed is higher, meaning sometimes you must brake a little bit earlier. Then the cornering performance, if the chassis or tyres are virtually the same, it means that the cornering performance is exactly the same. So the new engine couldn’t make such a big difference.

“Then if you want gain the time, therefore you need more braking stability. And also we are having our chattering problems that we have to fix. Then I expect, of course, the lap time is better than 800, but not such a big difference, I expect.”

With a winter’s worth of refinements to the RC213V, the riders are anxious to begin the test at the Sepang Circuit, site of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Following this test, the riders will return in 26 days for a second test before finishing the testing season in Spain at Jerez de la Frontera in late March.

The return to Sepang was bittersweet for the Repsol Honda Team. It was here that Honda’s rising star Marco Simoncelli lost his life in a racing accident on the second lap of the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix.

The entire Repsol Honda team visited the corner where ‘Super Sic’ lost his life, laid a wreath of flowers, and held a minute’s silence.