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Haruchika Aoki reveals development strategy of Honda RS 2003

Haruchika Aoki reveals development strategy of Honda RS 2003

Haruchika Aoki reveals development strategy of Honda RS 2003

Seven years on from winning his first 125cc World Championship and almost a decade since his debut in the series, Haruchika Aoki is a rare commodity. Having ridden every level of Grand Prix machinery, the Japanese rider has just turned 26 years old and at the start of the season was entrusted by HRC with the development of their evolution 250cc RS 2003. caught up with the affable racer to find out more about Honda´s mission to dominate the half-litre class in future years.

`Basically this bike is a 2002 model which we have gradually added parts to and taken parts away from,´ explains Aoki. `New parts are not coming all the time but at some races we receive new material and then I must do testing. Sometimes it´s good, sometimes it´s bad and it´s up to me to make the choice. There are no specific areas that HRC are looking to improve - we are simply testing everything and trying to create a better all round package. We did not have enough tests before the start of the season, but we are working very hard now on the engine, suspension and chassis and with each race it has improved step by step´.

Despite the progress made already by the DeGraaf Grand Prix Team, `Haru´ has only picked up seven points from four rounds and admits it is difficult to combine their intense testing programme with results. `It is a difficult situation because the bike is still not 100% and the practice sessions are now only 45 minutes,´ he explains. `You don't want to be testing on race day so Friday and Saturday are very important for us and we have to maximise the time available. Of course, the practice sessions are not only about testing, they are also about making good lap times and qualifying for the race.´

With Aprilia making waves in the 250 category this season, it has also been a less than convincing start for HRC´s other two factory riders, Emilio Alzamora and Roberto Rolfo, who are looking to defend the title won by Daijiro Kato in 2001. Aoki refuses to be drawn on the matter but predicts an impending end for the NSR250. `I haven´t analysed that model enough so it is difficult for me to say why they are not challenging for the wins at the moment. I think that HRC have realised that the NSR cannot be developed much beyond 2003 and this is why they want to develop the RS´.

As far as his own future is concerned, Aoki is equally coy, although admits that he would like to stay at Honda. `This is year is put aside for development, but beyond that I don´t know what will happen. To be involved so closely with HRC is fantastic for a rider and for sure I want to continue that relationship for as long as possible.´

250cc, 2002

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