Alberto Puig has given an extensive interview to motogp.com to evaluate Dani Pedrosa's development this season, and how the Repsol Honda rider is facing his new challenge in the MotoGP premier class.
Alberto Puig has given an extensive interview to motogp.com to evaluate Dani Pedrosa's development this season, and how the Repsol Honda rider is facing his new challenge in the MotoGP premier class. Pedrosa's manager has also made the most of the opportunity to give his point of view on the new Honda RC212V, and the comments from certain parties on the prototype that is considered by said persons to be designed according to the physical conditions of the Spanish rider.
Q: How does Dani Pedrosa face this MotoGP World Championship season?
A: This is going to be Dani's second year in the premier class. He will have a year of experience under his belt, something that is very important for any rider. He learnt a lot last year, and is going to look to get the maximum benefit out of that.
Q: After a brilliant first year in MotoGP, is Pedrosa in the group of clear title favourites in 2007?
A: If Dani were to not be in the group of favourites then it would be bad, because this is our goal and our only objective. The World Champion, which is Nicky Hayden, is here, and by definition he is the man to beat. After that there is Valentino Rossi, who for me is the most in form and complete rider in the category. They are the clear favourites and they really have to handle the pressure. One has the objective of defending the title, which took so much out of him to win, and the other has the objective of reclaiming what has been taken from him which, although he says that he doesn't agree with that- and with all due respect, is very difficult to believe. Rossi is a great champion and these sort of people don't forget these types of things. To lose the title last year bothered him a lot, and I think that this is what will make him try more than ever. We are in the group of contenders that have chances of taking the title, and our objective is to finish as high as possible in the classification.
Q: How do you evaluate the tests undertaken in preseason?
A: With these new bikes, you start out very lost. You have to do a lot of testing and work to find the ideal bike. All the teams are doing a great job, and we are part of the same process, we are working to improve the bike. Before starting the 2006 World Championship we said that the Honda was a competitive bike, and in the end it won the championship. This year we again maintain that the bike can fight for the title. However we continue to look for solutions to resolve some aspects and improve the bike.
Q: Have the comments about the new Honda 800cc being especially designed for Pedrosa bothered you?
A: The first thing that one has to do is speak with knowledge of the cause. At a technical level, one has to say that the difference in weight between last year's bike and this years is only 4kg. They have the same distance between axels and the main change is that the bike is somewhat narrower and the power logically inferior. I think that it is evident to anybody of normal intelligence that Pedrosa has a clear handicap in MotoGP because of his physical characteristics. He is a rider who weighs 52kg and is no taller than 1'60m. Last year he had a lot of difficulties riding such a big bike, and nobody hailed the effort that it takes to fight with a bike like that. The only thing that we asked for was a change in the tank and saddle to adapt to Dani better.
It is the same story as always, and the only thing that they try to do is take credit away from the rider. They already tried to do it when he was in 125cc and 250cc, asking that they put more weight on him. It seems like a joke that it is said that he is playing with an advantage. Rossi and Hayden didn't say anything about Dani's inferiority last season. That now some people try to use these minimal technical differences to devalue his results seems out of place, and that some riders insinuate that he even has an advantage seems ridiculous. I think that those that make these comments should concentrate on their own garage, on their team and on their work, and stop thinking about others. Regarding the press, it's a lost cause, one has to not give them more importance. There are three or four that believe that they know a lot about this, and unfortunately they have no idea. The truth is that Dani, a small rider, now has less of a disadvantage than last year, but he continues to be handicapped. This is the reality.
Q: Does Pedrosa feel as comfortable on this bike as the preseason results seem to suggest?
A: Being a more manageable bike, that has somewhat less power, it requires a riding style and line that in some cases is similar to a 125cc or 250cc bike, and it is clear that he feels more at ease with this bike. It demands other things from the rider, like preparing better for the corner exit, for example. Dani is more comfortable with this style of riding and this is important.
Q: Will anything new arrive from Honda before the start of the World Championship?
A: The complete package of the bike isn't ready, but we can't complain about the group that we have at this moment. There are no big problems, only small changes and touch ups which the Honda engineers are working on, so that the rider can have the best. That's where we are at. One of the most important factors will be the development of the tyres and their role over the course of the races. In preseason we have worked with good rubber and Michelin are making a great development with their tyres. We have the utmost confidence in the French manufacturer to give us the best so that we can fight for the top places in the races.
Q: Since his start in the Movistar Junior Cup, Pedrosa has always been faithful to Honda. What is the relationship that you have with HRC?
A: In the times in which we live, it is curious that a rider hasn't changed bike in all these years. Since we started this adventure we have understood that Honda can help us achieve our dreams and those of the rider, because it is a factory that has always gone with technological development. They have done a lot of things for Dani, and Pedrosa has achieved great things for them by winning three world titles. In the end we have achieved one of the rider's dreams, which was to ride in MotoGP. We have always looked for the best for Dani, and the only thing that I can say is that Pedrosa will always be in the best available team. This is our intention and the philosophy with which we understand the races. If he is riding for Honda, better, but if that weren't to be possible we will always look for the best technical and mechanical conditions to allow Dani to develop his full potential and we will look to be in the team in which he feels best treated.
Q: How is the Red Bull MotoGP Academy presenting itself this year?
A: This season we are going to reduce the entry list for the MotoGP Academy, because we prefer to concentrate on quality and not quantity. We will have a bike that we will loan to other boys that will participate on certain occasions with us during the season. For now the boys are following a good training plan. Moreover, we have incorporated new people that are going to help us with this project, to confirm it as a foundation platform for riders and open the door to the World Championship to them. It is an objective that we have achieved these past seasons and that we are going to continue doing.
Q: What are the expectations for the Repsol Honda 125cc and 250cc teams?
A: We have two Spanish riders, Esteve Rabat who rides in his first full season in the World Championship and Julian Simon who debuts in 250cc and we hope can have a good season. Moreover, we will be supporting other riders such as Shuhei Aoyama and Briton Bradley Smith, a rider who came out of the Red Bull MotoGP Academy and who was a rookie in 125cc last year. We have a good organization, on a team level, and I believe that we are prepared to continue with the line of work that we have set out, and that the support of Honda also gives us a lot of confidence for the future.