After a long winter break, the 2012 MotoGP Championship officially begins this Tuesday with the first testing session at Sepang, Malaysia.
And to celebrate, the Repsol Honda MotoGP team held a presentation Monday at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
The highlights of the show were the Repsol Honda team riders – the reigning MotoGP Champion, Casey Stoner, who joined Honda last year, and Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner and Pedrosa were joined by HRC MotoGP team bosses, Shuhei Nakamoto (HRC Executive Vice President), Hideki Iwano (Director, Assistant to Team Principal), Shinichi Kokubu (Technical Director) and Livio Suppo (Communications and Marketing Director).
And the other star of the show was the new 1000cc RC213V, Stoner’s MotoGP prototype donning the number “1” plate in 2012.
Before the celebration, Stoner, Pedrosa and the Repsol Honda team visited the Sepang Circuit for the first time since the tragic accident that claimed the life of San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli Oct. 23.
To respect and memorialize the Italian, the team visited the corner where Simoncelli crashed, placing a wreath of flowers there and holding a minute of silence.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “The off season has been really good, we got to go back home and spend some time with family and friends in Australia over Christmas which was great.
“Then we came back to Switzerland to get everything in order for the baby’s arrival, Adriana’s due in just a few weeks and so we’ve been preparing, as best possible!
“After such a strong season in 2011, we remain focused and don’t expect to be in top form immediately. I am sure Honda have done a fantastic job with the new 1000cc machine over the winter break and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike and seeing what we can do, hoping to start strong again.
“We know there will be a lot of serious competition out there, Ducati have been putting a lot of effort in as have Yamaha so it will be interesting to get out on track and see what everyone’s got. However, it’s early days and I think we’ll have to wait until the race in Qatar before we really know our competitors true pace and the package they have for 2012, but we’re ready for it.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “It’s nice to be back with the team for the first Sepang test. I’m really excited to get on the bike again after the test we did in Valencia in November.
“Sepang is a good track for testing and we have still many things to discover out about the new bike. It’s been a long time since we were last riding and at the first test it’s always important to get the feeling back, the first sensations.
“We will have three long days here to work with the team and HRC and it’s necessary to be very focused in order to get good information to move forward for the second test. I guess the main target in this test will be to know the bike and the new Bridgestone tires.”
Shuhei Nakamoto (HRC Executive Vice President) says: “We start this new 2012 season with a clear target: to work stronger than ever to defend our MotoGP World titles in this new 1000cc category. We finished the 800cc era winning the triple crown and we will fight to win this again in 2012. We fully trust in our riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa to deliver this big challenge and we will give them all our technical and human support.
“The RC213V is an evolution of the last version of the RC212V based on the same concept. The machines we have brought here to Sepang are basically the same machines we tested in Valencia back in November with only a few differences.In fact, Casey and Dani will have one machine the same as Valencia, and the other one with a slightly different chassis, based on their own requests.
“This is the first time back to Sepang since we lost Marco Simoncelli last October, on Sunday we visited the scene of his accident and laid some flowers and said a final ‘Ciao’ to him. I believe by starting this season strong will be a fitting tribute to Marco.”