2011 MotoGP: Honda’s Best 800cc Season
Honda riders have taken eight victories from the first eleven races of 2011, giving the manufacturer the best season so far since the introduction of the 800cc capacity limit in MotoGP.
The last year of the 800cc machines has seen prolific success for the Japanese manufacturer, beginning with the opening race in Qatar, where Casey Stoner’s pole position was the first for Honda at the Losail circuit since the Australian was on pole there on his non-factory Honda machine in 2006.
With Pedrosa starting second on the grid, it was the first time Honda riders were the top two qualifiers in the MotoGP class since Sete Gibernau was on pole and Marco Melandri was second at the Valencia GP in 2005.
Stoner’s subsequent win at Qatar was the first in an opening race win for Honda since Valentino Rossi at Suzuka in 2003, and was the first Honda victory at the circuit since Sete Gibernau in 2004 aboard the 990cc RC211V.
Round four in France saw Stoner victorious again, giving the manufacturer the first premier class win at the Le Mans circuit since Marco Melandri in 2006. Stoner then won Catalunya, and together with Pedrosa’s round three triumph in Estoril, Honda had three successive victories for the first time in the 800cc era of MotoGP.
Silverstone saw Stoner again on top, making him the first Honda rider to win three successive MotoGP races since Valentino Rossi in 2003 on the 990cc machine.
Round 11 at Brno saw Honda riders fill all three podium places – an event that had not happened in a MotoGP race since the USGP at Laguna Seca in 2006. Stoner’s victory in Brno was the first for a Honda rider at the Czech GP since 2004 with Sete Gibernau.
Honda are now just 15 points below the maximum possible score in the constructors championship after the first eleven races of the year and have already matched the total number of wins they achieved in 2006, the final season of the 990cc era of MotoGP.