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Barros and Capirossi discuss the merits of their 2002 spec NSR500

Barros and Capirossi discuss the merits of their 2002 spec NSR500

Barros and Capirossi discuss the merits of their 2002 spec NSR500

West Honda Pons riders, Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi, are looking to build on the successful season that they enjoyed last time around, and hope that their new 2002 spec NSR500 prototype will allow them to make a genuine push for World Championship honours. After winning the unofficial Team Championship in 2001, both the Brazilian and the Italian are desperate to mount a serious challenge for the individual title in the new MotoGP category. The riders took time out at the recent IRTA tests in Estoril to talk to motograndprix.com about the differences of the new bike, and to cast an eye over the forthcoming season.

'The two machines do have big differences', explained Barros, who was fourth in last season's championship. 'With the new one, I would say there are 3 main differences. Firstly, and very importantly, the engine power is better than last year. Then the chassis is also completely different, and the bike's grip is much better. The front end of the chassis is now a lot more stable. As the chassis is more rigid, it gives more stability especially in the entrance to corners, and the machine also doesn't lift as much when we exit the corners, so this helps.'

Capirossi, who pipped Barros to finish third last term, also agreed that the team's new bike was superior to its predecessor, but the Italian remained more than a little wary of the potential of the new breed of 4-strokes. 'Our new bike is so competitive, but we have to keep working really hard because I think the Honda 4-stroke is much more competitive! Compared to us though, the Yamaha and Aprilia (4-strokes) are still at a similar level, but during the season the 4-strokes will be progressing a lot whereas ours (NSR500) is really near the end of its development and there's not that much more we can improve on.'

The two team-mates were also hoping that the next round of IRTA tests in Catalunya, (which commence on March 9th), will prove more productive than the recent sessions in Valencia and Estoril. 'The first tests we did in Malaysia worked really well because the conditions were so good, but in Valencia and here (Estoril) the weather has not been so good. It is quite cold so it's been difficult to learn much about the setting of the bike and tyres', stated Capirossi. 'The last two sessions weren't great', agreed Barros. 'While we have picked up some useful information, I hope that in Barcelona the conditions favour us a bit more and we can do a lot more work, especially on the tyres.'

The popular Brazilian remained realistic about the amount of work that needs to be done before the season's opening Grand Prix in Suzuka. 'There are only two tests left now before the season starts, and we've still got a lot to do. I'm not yet satisfied, I know that the bike can get quite a bit better, and that we must find a really good basic set-up.'

Tags:
500cc, 2001, Loris Capirossi

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