Aiming for a top eight finish
This weekend sees the 15th round of the MotoGP championship at the Twin Ring Motegi complex in Japan.
The race is a very important one for the entire Team. Not only because their rider Shinya Nakano is Japanese, but the Honda RCV212V
machinery and KONICA MINOLTA title sponsor also come from the Land of the Rising Sun.
KONICA MINOLTA Honda's results at Motegi have previously been excellent, with Makoto Tamada taking a third-place finish there in 2005 for the Team. Shinya Nakano's own results there have been good too, with the 29-year-old rider taking a third-place finish at Motegi in 2004 in the MotoGP class.
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit was built by Honda in the 1990s and opened its doors to the public in 1997. Set in the Hakko mountain chain, the 2.98mile circuit is surrounded by forest, with the Nakagawa river flowing by. The name itself indicates two racing courses: the Super Speedway – an American-style oval course – and a European-style road course.
The track has hosted a Grand Prix round since 1999, although initially the race was called the ‘Pacific GP' while the Japanese round was still at the Suzuka race circuit. Since 2004, only the Twin Ring Motegi circuit has been used to host a GP in Japan.
Gianluca Montiron – Team Manager KONICA MINOLTA Honda
“For us the Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi is like a third home race, after Mugello and Misano! This obviously gives us plenty of motivation, especially after Estoril where we noted some improvements with the machine and tyre combination. I think a home race will give Shinya a better position to do well.
I think he needs confidence to ride and enjoy the track, and from this comes a good lap time, I think in the past he's not been able to do that, but things have been improving steadily since Brno and I also feel something has changed in Shinya so I think that he's coming to Motegi with more confidence than before. We have both trust and belief in Shinya at ‘our' home race of Motegi and so a top eight finish is our target.”
Shinya Nakano – Rider, KONICA MINOLTA Honda
“As you can imagine I'm very much looking forward to my home race in front of the fans, the Honda factory and KONICA MINOLTA! Being a Honda track it's very important to do well here! I like Motegi very much, but it is a stop-and-go circuit with some hard braking and accelerating areas. The overall grip on the circuit isn't too bad, although in the past I've found the circuit pretty tough on tyres, so we will see what will happen with my 2007 package of the Honda RC212V and Michelin tyres. With the steady improvements that we've made over the last few races, I think that we will have a pretty good package for this, my home race!”
Giulio Bernardelle – Technical Director, KONICA MINOLTA Honda
“Motegi is a very important race for us! I'm thinking that after Misano and Estoril we have seen our situation improve, partly from machine improvements but particularly concerning the Michelin tyres we can now use. We found in Misano and during practice at Estoril that getting improved performance from the rear tyre was a most important step forward for our overall results and I think that Michelin's improvement for us has come just at the right time as we head to Motegi. When you consider the layout of the track it's not perfect for us, as it is a circuit where you have lots of acceleration areas and perhaps our engine is not as strong as we would like. Let's hope that we can help Shinya find a good setting over the weekend and possibly find a few extra tenths of a second just by racing at home!”
Konica Minolta Honda