“Hopefully we've got things rolling now”
Repsol Honda RC212V riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden head into the Portuguese Grand Prix aiming to keep improving following a superb Spanish GP.
Former 125 and 250 World Champion Pedrosa won Jerez in dominant style to
lead the MotoGP series for the first time, while 2006 MotoGP champ Hayden took an excellent fourth-place finish after running with the leaders.
Both men spent two further days at Jerez testing components, tyres and setup options that should put them in even better shape at Estoril. Pedrosa won the Jerez race using Michelin's wider profile front tyre for the first time and he used the tests to further improve his feeling for the tyre, which offers superior corner-entry performance. Meanwhile Hayden set the fastest lap of the tests while evaluating Michelin rear tyres and some new clutch parts for smoother corner entries.
Estoril is a complex and tricky circuit with some dramatic contrasts – the chicane is MotoGP's slowest corner and the kink onto the back straight is one of the fastest. Riders need a well-balanced machine that is manageable in slower turns and stable in the fast sweepers, with good top speed for the 320km/h-199mph main straight and excellent braking stability.
Hayden is the current Estoril lap record holder and also took pole position at last year's event, in which Pedrosa finished a very close second, just 0.176 seconds off the win. Honda has won five of the eight premier-class GPs staged at the track since 2002.
“The tests we did at Jerez should help us, it was good to get more familiar with the bike and do some more work with Michelin's wider front tyre. At Estoril you need a bike that performs well on the brakes and maintains optimum rear grip throughout the race. It's a tough track from a riding point of view, because you need to be very strong to handle the braking and the bumps and you also need excellent physical endurance. You need to be quite aggressive but at the same time you need to stay relaxed so you don't get drained during the race. The most important part of the track is the last corner – it's a very long turn which influences your speed all the way down the straight – so it's vital for good lap times. The tarmac isn't in great shape – it's bumpy and a bit slippery. I like the atmosphere though, it's 100 per cent Spanish!”
“Hopefully we've got things rolling now. Jerez wasn't bad, good enough to make me look forward to Estoril where we'll be working to keep going forward. It's is an old-school track, it's a strange little place, not very wide and kinda odd.
It can be a lot of fun or it can be miserable. It's got that little bus-stop chicane which is probably the slowest corner in MotoGP, but I really like the right-hand kink onto the back straightaway, that's pretty fast and cool. And I love the last corner coming onto the front straightaway – when the bike works good and steers through there it can be pretty fun. Obviously you want something with some horsepower because the front straightaway goes on for days. And you need something to get through the tight, twisty bits. One other thing, there's definitely a lot more right-handers, so you need softer compounds on the left side of the tyres.”