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Honda factory riders ready for Jerez

Honda factory riders ready for Jerez

Honda factory riders ready for Jerez

After a long and preseason wait, the first Grand Prix of the 2006 season will finally arrive this weekend. The emblematic circuit of Jerez, a talisman circuit for Spanish riders, will be the meeting point for fans from all over Europe looking forward to watching the first race of the 2006 World Championship.

For 2006, Repsol and Honda will be counting on a quality line-up in all three classes. In MotoGP, Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden will be in charge of defending the colours of the Repsol Honda Team. The same task will be given to Sebastián Porto and Shuhei Aoyama in the quarter litre class as members of the Repsol Honda Team 250cc. And last but not least, Bradley Smith, at the young age of 15, will ride for Repsol Honda Team 125cc.

All five riders are hoping to put in strong showings this year, and are eagerly awaiting Sunday's race.

"I can't wait for the season opener - I am really excited about the first race," commented Hayden. " As if just the racing isn't enough, the Jerez crowd really gets into the whole thing and that place really goes off. I love racing in Spain, and Jerez is a good track. Everybody involved in the Repsol Honda Team has worked really hard and we've got a committed group of guys here. I hope to reward them for all their efforts over the winter. We are going to bring all we got! Last year in Jerez I had to fight a lot to hold on and finally couldn't finish. No problem with Jerez, the team worked a lot and solved the problems we had. It's a circuit where it's difficult to find the limit, but on the other hand it's one of the best layouts."

Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, a MotoGP rookie, has had an impressive preseason which he hopes will bode well for the coming 17 races.

"I think that we've made a very good preseason, because I've been progressing and there's always been an evolution. The most positive aspect is that we've been able to complete basically our winter test programme and that allows us to reach the first race knowing the new bike a bit better. I've progressed physically as well, I felt much better at the end of the preseason tests compared to the first time I got on the bike. The exercise you do on the bike, lapping on the circuit, helped me to improve my shape, no doubt about that. There are a few things left to be tested for Jerez; I've hardly been able to practice starts and I've only tested two sets of qualifying tyres so far, but I guess that's normal when you are a MotoGP rookie. I'm not worried and looking forward to the races."

On the Andalusian track itself, Pedrosa is well acquainted with all the tricks needed to win. He was last year's 250cc victor.

"The Jerez circuit is very complete as regards configuration; the layout combines fast corners and strong braking sections. Therefore, the bike needs to be well balanced and the rubber suffers a lot, so the tyres are determining for the final result of the race. As regards the atmosphere, there's a large motor biking tradition, the public bends over backwards with the riders and you feel the warmth of the people on the track."

In this year's 250cc category, Argentine Sebastian Porto has had a disappointing preseason by his high standards, but looks to improve come the races.

"Our preseason has not been really good, but I fully trust in the Honda technicians and I'm sure that we're going to change the situation soon. We'll find the way to be back on the top spots. I'm used to these situations because there are always problems to overcome in the world of sports and competition. I have set my mind on moving on and I'm sure that, together with my team, we're going to make it. Jerez is not a circuit that really fits the qualities of the Honda, but I'm optimistic and hope to have a good start of the 2006 season this weekend."

Team-mate Shuhei Aoyama shares the positive thinking of his counterpart.

"I'm looking forward to the races, but I know that this is going to be a difficult year for me, because I hardly know any of the circuits we are going to visit. Jerez, for example, is a very nice circuit but also complicated and difficult. The three tests days two weeks ago were quite good but I would have liked to be more competitive. I hope to make a step forward this weekend and respond with a good result for the team and all those who support me."

Oxford's Bradley Smith will be taking his first steps in the 125cc Championship this weekend, but remains unfazed.

"It's all happened so fast but I will take it in my stride and not get carried away. I will face the challenge with an open mind. This will be a massive learning year for me and it will be almost be like going back to step one. It's been quite nice going back to school and some normality after the winter testing. School have told me they are happy for me to go and do it, although I don't think they fully understand everything about it."


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