This weekend sees the 14th round of the MotoGP championship at the Estoril circuit, in Portugal.
The KONICA MINOLTA Honda Team will arrive at the 2.599mile (4.182km) circuit hoping for improved results with their Honda RC212V before the trio of
‘fly-away' rounds that takes in the Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi which is the home race of both Honda and title sponsor KONICA MINOLTA.
Estoril was scene of a dramatic finish last year when Toni Elias took the victory for Honda from Valentino Rossi by just two-thousandths of a second. The track itself is the slowest on the GP calendar, with a lap record of just 95.541mph (153.759km/hr) thanks to having a number of slow second-gear corners and a very tight uphill chicane. However, it's a track where the rider can make the difference as there are a handful of high-speed corners, including the last turn – the Parabolica – which was the scene of that exciting finish last year.
The KONICA MINOLTA Honda Team will be continuing the development of their updated RCV212V machine and hoping to get a good set-up for the bike early on in the practice sessions before qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Gianluca Montiron – Team Manager KONICA MINOLTA Honda
“Every Grand Prix is a different story. I think for Shinya now he needs to show an aggressive approach for the Estoril race. We know Shinya has had difficulty adapting to his new 2007 package, but we are at the point in the season where we need to get some good results to continue in the current direction or perhaps look at a different overall strategy for the Team.
I hope at Estoril Shinya will be able to make a step forward and that we will have good weather so we can find a good setting for the machine. It's important that we get a good result here as the next race is the Japanese Grand Prix, which is the home race of our rider, technical partner HRC and title sponsor KONICA MINOLTA.”
Shinya Nakano – Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda
“Although it's a slow, technical circuit I enjoy the Estoril track. Last year I qualified seventh overall although I had a problem in the race and was not able to finish. I've had some top ten finishes at Estoril so I'm hoping we can add another one to it this weekend. I'm also hoping that we can continue to make some progress with the updated Honda RCV211V over the weekend.”
Giulio Bernardelle – Technical Director, KONICA MINOLTA Honda
“Estoril is one of the most technical tracks in the GP calendar and it has some particular characteristics. There can be a lot of wind, which blows across the track, which makes things tricky for the riders. Also thanks to the proximity of the track to the coast, the wind can bring with it some sand, which is sometimes left on the track. This combination gives the tyres a lot of importance during both practice and the race. Ironically despite being mainly made up of slow corners, the last part of the circuit has perhaps one of the fastest corners of the season, just before the main straight. This layout makes it possible for the rider to make the difference as we saw last year when Toni Elias was able to overtake Valentino down the straight thanks to a better exit from that corner. With the 800cc bikes being new to this track we don't know what to expect but let's hope that Shinya can make the difference for us. We will continue to work on our updated RCV212V and we know that Michelin is working hard for us, but we still will need to make the best choice for tyres when we consider the demands and characteristics of this circuit.”
Konica Minolta Honda