After second in Italy
The MotoGP circus hits Catalonia this weekend and riders will be hoping there is no repeat of the turn one incident last year that not only caused race havoc, but also compromised the seasons of two World Championship contenders.
And Dani Pedrosa
(Repsol Honda RC212V) was one of those affected. The 21-year-old Spanish star knows his hopes for a first race win of the season are more than realistic here. The disappointment of 2006, when he was involved in the initial melée and then crashed again in the restarted race, has been consigned to history.
He won here on a 125cc machine in 2003 and again on a 250 in 2005, and knows he has the capability to notch a victory here in the 25-lap MotoGP showdown on Sunday. He is hungrier than ever for a race win after a dogged ride to second last weekend at Mugello in Italy.
"I'm really looking forward to my home race at Barcelona. We've had quite good results in the last two races at Le Mans and Mugello so I hope I can keep this form going. Last year's race here was a disaster because I was involved in the big first corner crash. I was not injured which was lucky but then I crashed again in the restarted race, so I hope things go a lot smoother this year. We had a good improvement from the Michelin tyres at the last race in Mugello compared to China and Turkey so there are positive signs for our competitiveness for the next few races”, said Dani.
His team-mate, reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V), has suffered a less than stellar start to his title defence season, but the genial American is characteristically upbeat about his chances, knowing that he has the talent to shine despite currently lying 11th overall in this year's title race.
"Barcelona is a track I like and I've had some decent results here, including second last year, so I'll be looking to find some answers and get a strong finish this weekend. It's a really good circuit, really safe to ride and there's always a good atmosphere because they definitely love their bike racing in Spain”, said the Kentucky Kid. “This will be the first season we've come here having not tested in the winter. Normally we do one pre-season test, which gives us a pretty good base-setting, but this time there was no test so we'll be riding the new 800cc bike for the first time here."
But whatever transpires in terms of the long haul of the 18-round World Championship, this seventh race of the year at the Montmelo circuit is highly likely to provide a captivating race. The track lies 20km north of Barcelona. It is 4.727km long and features two long straights.
Two of the 13 turns at this track feature negative camber, making lean angle increase for a decrease in tyre grip. The rest of the corners are largely constant radius and hard on tyres especially the longer right-handers.
Chassis set-up requires good front/rear balance so that the bikes are easy to turn-in under hard barking and also so they have enough weight transfer under hard acceleration to allow the rear tyre to 'hook-up' and drive the bike out of turns without too much wheelspin. A relaxed 'flowing' style from riders is the key to a fast lap here.
And the highly vocal crowd will have an affect too. Last year 194,000 fans packed this hilltop venue over the weekend and there's every sign that these sorts of numbers will be repeated this year making this one of the most atmospheric events of the season.
Source Honda Motorsports