As season closes
The MotoGP title may have gone to Casey Stoner (Ducati) after the Japanese Grand Prix but there is still the matter of the coveted runner-up position to be settled with three rounds of this World Championship series to run. And Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda
RC212V) is determined to grab it.
The Spanish Honda man, who has recently signed a deal to stay with Repsol Honda until the end of 2009, currently has 188 points to the 214 of current second-place man Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). With a possible 75 points up for grabs from those three races, Dani can bridge that 26-point gap.
It won't be easy though. Rossi is a tough proposition here at Phillip Island and Dani has an injured foot after a big spill at Motegi three weekends ago. But Pedrosa is a doughty competitor and as and as long as that coveted second place remains a possibility he will ride all out to get it.
"We tested at Phillip Island before the start of the season when the RC212V was very new. That test went well and we achieved a pretty good set-up for the circuit. It was quite a while ago though and a lot has changed with the machine and the tyres since then, so we'll still have plenty to learn in practice. I'm feeling better now after the Japan crash. I still have some bruising and pain in my left foot but it should be OK. There are lots of left-hand corners here, which will put some pressure on the foot, but I think it will be fine. The weather can be very variable at this time of year - as we saw last season - so a lot will depend on the forecast and the tyre choice we make on Thursday", said Dani.
Dani's team-mate Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) has seen his way through a tough title defence season with unflagging enthusiasm and sheer grit. His tenacity has been rewarded with a series of recent podium finishes when his early season results were simply woeful for a World Champion. Now that his RC212V is working more to his liking he's a man hungry for a win after a barren year.
"I love the place - it's old school and I can't wait to get on track Friday morning. In the past Phillip Island has been pretty kind to me. I've had two pole positions in a row and a few good results and it's just a track I really enjoy riding. It's very important to have good edge grip as you spend so much time on the side of the tyres.
You also need a bike that will steer well in the long corners and change direction quickly through the fast Esses”, explained Hayden. “At this time of year though the place could be called Phillip Iceland instead of Phillip Island, but some good weather would be nice because when it's cold at this track it can be hard to get heat into the right side of the tyre. As the locals say, let's hope for a 'bloody good weekend!'"
Honda Motor Sports