The following release is from Honda Motor Company...HONDA RIDERS HEAD FOR HOME GRAND PRIXThe Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi, Honda's home track, is always highly anticipated and never more so than this year. The race was originally the second on the calendar in late April, but was rescheduled when the Icelandic volcanic eruption disrupted air traffic in Europe.Now, five months on, the race will take on a completely different feel. Instead of providing a preview of what was to come, the race will confirm what's happening now, the 14th of 18 rounds, while also paying tribute to a member of the Honda family who lost his life in a racing accident.Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) is on a roll coming into the team's home grand prix, having won two of the past three races, a string of excellence that has cut 27% out of title leader Jorge Lorenzo's earlier points lead. Pedrosa is on the best form of his life, with a career high of four race wins. Much of the credit has to go to the engineers at the Honda Racing Corporation, who have developed the RC212V into a machine that can win in any condition, on any track.And that versatility will soon be put to the test. The season is entering its most intense stretch with five races in six weeks on three continents. It kicks off with the Motegi race, after which the traveling paddock will land in the tropical heat of Sepang, Malaysia, followed directly by the annual visit to the beautiful seaside Phillip Island circuit and its always unpredictable weather. The toll on riders and crews can be difficult, but the upside is that in the next three weeks there are 75 points to be had in three weeks, and for a title hunter like Pedrosa, who's been on the podium here the past two years, this is an opportunity to make a serious thrust for the MotoGP crown which many had once believed out of reach. With nine podiums in the first 13 races, Pedrosa is looking good to eclipse his 2009 total of 11 podium finishes.As much as Pedrosa and the rest of the Honda family look forward to Motegi, the race will also be a time for reflection as the MotoGP paddock and Honda Motor Company pay homage to one of their own. Popular Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa, who began his full-time career lasts season riding a Honda RS250 for the Technomag-CIP team, lost his life in a racing accident at the recent San Marino Grand Prix. The young Japanese rising star, an infectiously effervescent 19-year-old from Chiba, had earlier won the first-ever Moto2 race at April's Qatar GP. Tomizawa will be honoured in his home country by the racing community, as well as family and friends. Shoya's family is to receive the Michel Metraux trophy from Metraux's son, Olivier, at the Japanese race. The Michel Metraux trophy is given to the outstanding rider in the 125cc and Moto2 classes as voted by his peers.Pedrosa's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) started the season with four podiums in the first five races. But maintaining that impressive run of performances has proven difficult, though he's been on podium pace in at least two other races. Coming off a difficult race weekend at the inaugural Aragon Grand Prix, the Italian is hoping to get back on the rostrum at a track where he won a 125 GP and finished second on a 250. Dovizioso also ran a strong pace at last year's Motegi GP, where he finished fifth, less than ten seconds behind the winner.
Despite recent travails, a strong finish to the end of the year could land him third place in the championship.Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) is looking forward to the final five races to get back to his early season form. The Frenchman didn't finish worse than ninth in the first seven races before breaking his leg at the German GP in mid-July. Since his miraculous recovery - he only missed one race, the U.S.GP - de Puniet hasn't been the same. But, like all the Honda riders, he's looking forward to a return to Honda's home track, a track where he earned his first ever MotoGP podium.San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mates Marco Melandri and Marco Simoncelli are tied on points with 74 each. Of the two, Simoncelli has the more recent success at Motegi. In 2008, the Italian won the 250cc race and was leading the last-ever 250cc race at the track last year when he was forced to retire. This will be his first visit on a MotoGP machine and he believes that mastering late race tyre management will help him improve his overall position.Melandri is less concerned with managing his tyres that improving stability under braking. The Twin Ring Motegi has a number of stop-and-go corners and Melandri has had difficulty with that aspect of machine set-up this year. Still, he's been on the podium in Motegi a number of times, including aboard a Honda RC211V in 2006.Very few are looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix as much as Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V). The last ever 250cc champion is a popular rider at home, where he'll be making his MotoGP debut in front of friends and family. Aoyama has scored points in every MotoGP race he's finished, though he missed six races mid-season after breaking his back during the British Grand Prix. Since his return, he has continued to progress physically and, with a two week break since the Aragon GP, expects to be approaching peak physical condition.Moto2 World Championship leader Toni Elias (Gresini Racing, Moriwaki) recently surpassed his best season wins total with a sixth victory of the year in San Marino. Then came a fourth place at Aragon - he missed out on the podium by less than a second - from which he expects to bounce back.Elias is one of six Moto2 riders to campaign a Moriwaki chassis, mated to his control Honda CBR600RR engine, in the inaugural year of Moto2 racing. Winning the race in the chassis maker's home country is one of the goals Elias has for the weekend, as he seeks to extend his championship lead. Elias arrives in Motegi with a
76 point advantage over Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter). He's also the main reason that Moriwaki has 33 point lead over Suter in the Constructor's championship. The Spaniard has two wins in the 250cc class at Motegi when the race was the Pacific Grand Prix, and he also a MotoGP podium at the track.Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter) is locked in a battle for second in the championship with Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up). They arrive in Japan separated by four points at a track where both have had success. Simon finished second in last year's Motegi 125cc race, a race won by Iannone. The track plays to the strengths of the Suter chassis, which is the hard braking zones that Simon favours. Simon has finished second four times this season, including in the last three races, and is hopeful of getting his maiden Moto2 victory in Japan.Iannone has been the surprise of the initial
Moto2 championship. The 21-year-old Italian is second to Elias in wins with three successes.
Having won at Aragon, Iannone will be doing everything he can to follow up his 2009 Motegi
125 victory with another Moto2 win.Tom Lüthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2 Team,
Moriwaki) is fourth in the championship and well clear of fifth. The 24-year-old Swiss rider has come close to winning on two occasions this year, but has yet to break through. He enjoys the Motegi circuit and is looking forward to his return.Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in the town of Motegi in the eastern Tochigi prefecture to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary in 1998 and to help introduce open wheel Indy Car racing to Japan. The name comes from the marriage of two words, the English "twin" and the German "ring,"
to denote two race tracks. The MotoGP race is run on the 4.8km road course, which hosts various events throughout the year. The other track is the 2.493k egg shaped-oval which last hosted Indy Cars in 2002. Motegi served as the site of the Pacific Grand Prix from 2000 to 2003 and since
2004 has been the venue for the Japanese GP.The road course is built around stop-start straightaways leading to low-gear hairpins that favour stability on the brakes and rapid acceleration, usually on the fat part of the tyre. More than half of the 13 corners are taken in first or second gear. The lone sixth gear stretch is on the back straight, where in 2009 the fastest top speed of 297.8kp/h was clocked by Pedrosa and his RC212V. Pedrosa also had the fastest trap speed of 292kp/h in 2008.Braking stability is paramount, as riders are asked to brake from sixth down to first gear for the 90 degree Turn 10 right-hander. From there the riders go briefly into the dark through the short tunnel under the oval straightaway. Out of the shadows they're funneled into the final three-turn sequence that leads onto the 762m long front straight and the finish line.Motegi was to have run on the April 25th weekend until the volcano in Iceland disrupted travel.
The teams were told the weekend prior to the race that the date had been moved to the fall to become the first of the final three flyaways.
After Malaysia and Phillip Island, the series reaches its finale back in Europe, at Estoril and Valencia.HONDA MotoGP Rider Quotes
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says: "We start the most intense period of the season this weekend, with five races in six weeks, and my goal is to make the best possible finish to the championship. I think we're very strong at the moment and we must take full advantage of it.
This final stage begins in Japan - the most important race for Honda because it's their home Grand Prix - and I'm looking forward to getting to the circuit and starting the preparations for this special race. I would love to win at Motegi because I've never won here in MotoGP and I've been on the podium for the last two seasons. I always feel very motivated in Japan. I love the circuit and the atmosphere you feel there. The fans are very enthusiastic but also educated, and I feel a lot of support. We couldn't race in Motegi at the beginning of the season due to the problems with the volcanic ash clouds, so I think the fans will be even more excited to welcome us.
It will be very important to start this tour of Asia in the best way. As I've said before, I will approach this final section of the season simply thinking race by race. We're doing a good job in the team, the RC212V is working well - we know it better and better - and so this a good chance for us to try to win more races and to finish the year in the best possible way."Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso says: "We have another chance to get a strong result this weekend and I'm very motivated going into this race. It is Honda's home GP and it's really important to do well here for Honda as well as for the team and myself. Last year, qualifying was cancelled because of rain and we didn't have a lot of set-up time, but still I had a good race and my pace was strong, so I'm confident we can fight at the front again. Plus I always look forward to racing in Japan because the atmosphere is so different and special here. The layout of the Twin Ring Motegi, with its many areas of hard acceleration from low speed, is good for us and should allow us to use all the power and strong points of the RC212V. We are determined to get a good result here because we've been close for several races now without coming through on our potential. Our target remains third position in the championship, so a podium finish in Motegi is really important for me. It's what we're aiming for and I'm looking forward to the challenge at Honda's home GP."LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet says: "The last race in Aragon did not end as I expected. I had a good feeling on the bike on Friday and Saturday but I crashed with seven laps to go. I escaped unhurt from the accident but I was in a bad mood.
I really hope to find my good pace again in the last part of the season starting from Japan.
Motegi GP is very important for us as we race with Honda and the Japanese fans are very warm. I have good memories of this circuit because I obtained my first MotoGP podium there. I like the stop-and-go braking points and I always enjoy riding there!"San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Melandri
says: "Following our disappointment at Aragon we go into the next run of races looking to give our best, even though we know it will be tough.
Motegi is the first of three races in a row outside of Europe and it is a place where the weather is always uncertain so we just hope we get chance to do a good job in practice and prepare as well as possible for the race.
Unfortunately I'm not feeling too optimistic about the trip; I like the track despite the fact it is not very technical but for me it is going to be a tough race because you need a bike that is stable under braking and that is where we are having the most problems at the moment. We believe in miracles!"San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli
says: "I was fairly happy after the race at Aragon although we needed to have a look at how and where I can improve my performance in the final stages of the race, when the tyres are worn. My rivals managed to keep up their pace in the same conditions but my speed dropped off noticeably and I couldn't stay with them. We have to improve the set up but we can use the one we found at Aragon as a base. Now we go to Motegi, a circuit I always quite liked on the 250. I won in Japan in 2008 and I was forced to retire from the race when I was leading last year but it is a circuit where I have always been fast and I hope that proves to be the case again in MotoGP. I'm feeling positive so let's see!"Interwetten Honda MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama
says: "I am looking forward to my home Grand Prix in Motegi. My family and my friends will be there to support me and I want to give them a good show to watch. I also hope that my back will be fit again and that I can give 100% without any concerns. I want to try to give the team the best possible result in Motegi and I hope it will be my best result this season so far. I expect a lot of this race and hope I can meet my target."Moto2 RIDER Quotes
Gresini Racing Moto2 rider Toni Elias says: "I would have liked to win at Aragon but we ran into a few difficulties after the crash in practice. I made a bad start in the race and after finishing the first lap back in sixteenth I managed to finish the race in fourth place, which is a positive result - I couldn't have asked for more.
We took home some important championship points and overall it was a good weekend because we could have easily come away with nothing. I am the only rider to have scored points in every round this season and I think we are getting our reward for that consistency. Now we go to a circuit I love and I would be delighted to win the race for Moriwaki at their home Grand Prix.
We know it won't be easy because Moto2 is a very unpredictable class and we have to hope that we get the luck where we need it to be amongst the frontrunners again."Mapfre Aspar Team Suter rider Julian Simon says:
"It is very positive that we are going into the flyaway races lying second in the championship.
Little by little we are picking up experience and getting a better feel for the bike. I have been on the podium a couple of times at Motegi, I finished second last year and I love the track. I also think the Suter chassis will adapt well to it, especially the hard braking zones, which I love. I just want to keep working as we have done up to now and extend this run of podiums although my objective is to go for the win, which would be good for me and the team. Physically I feel in good shape, I haven't had a problem all season and I think that if we steer clear of incident we can keep this going to the end of the year."Fimmco Speed Up rider Andrea Iannone says: "The three races we are going to face in the next three weekends are very important for us. We are going to do our best to get closer to Toni Elias in the Championship Classification: we need to get as many points as possible. I hope we'll be fast from the beginning of the weekend, without having much trouble in setting up the bike. It would be great to repeat the result I scored last year, when I won the race on a 125cc bike. Let's see what kind of weather we will find once we get up there in Motegi."Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2 Team rider Thomas Luthi says: "I am looking forward to go to Motegi. I think the racetrack there is not bad.
The layout needs a lot of strong braking and that is quite good in my opinion. I know that the three races that are coming now will be very exhausting, as the races are back to back, but I still look forward to the big travel overseas and am excited to see what we can do on this three tracks. I will try to get closer to the top group again as that was not really possible in Aragón."HONDA 125 RIDER QUOTES
Interwetten Honda 125 Team rider Marcel Schrotter
says: "I am really looking forward to this Grand Prix and I am curious about the country, the people there and the culture as I heard already so much about it. I hope we will have a good time there. I also heard that the circuit is a lot about braking and I am not bad at braking, so I hope we can get a good result. Of course I hope I will earn some more points at this circuit.