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Pedrosa: "This year will be very competitive"

Pedrosa: 'This year will be very competitive'

The Repsol Honda rider, satisfied with the official Tests held at Sepang, faces the last session in Qatar before the start of the Championship.

The start of the Championship is approaching and Dani Pedrosa as well as his team-mates of the Repsol Honda Team, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso, have shown that they are the MotoGP competitors in shape during the pre-season. The Repsol Honda rider is confident of his and his bike’s chances, after winter Tests in which he has suffered none of the physical or technical problems he had had in previous years.

From the first test in Valencia in November 2010 until the last tests held at Sepang, where have you improved the most with your bike?

“Basically, the bike has not changed so much, so what we have tried to do is to improve it in the most critical areas, such as the braking or the electronics.”

What is your assessment of the last tests in Sepang?

“The best thing is that this year we have better foundations, contrary to what happened in the previous years, when we had to evolve and improve the bike during the Championship. This season we start with a very positive preparation that will allow us to face the first race of the Championship with a good level of performance.”

Is there something still to be done in the next Qatar test or will it just be used to prepare the first race of the Championship?

“There are always things to be done, but the main aim of the Qatar test will be to learn to make the most of the set-up we will use in the race. If the track conditions are good, we will be able to take advantage of it.”

At the Qatar Grand Prix, the practice sessions are not at the same time as the race. On Thursday and Saturday you will practice at 20:00h and on Friday at 21:00h. Does this mean that this test will be even more important to get ready for the race, that will take place at 22:00h?

“Yes, naturally, the times of the practice sessions are not the best, so the best simulation we can do will be in the test we will have some days before. Anyway, as the track will be dirty, it will be difficult to make a comparison. As the day passes, the bikes will keep tidying the track and the conditions will improve. These tests will be useful to see the times we can set.”

To arrive in Qatar in your condition after a positive pre-season must be a special motivation, although Qatar is a special round due to its unusual conditions…

“Qatar is a very different race because we run at night, with a different schedule where you have to pay more attention to details such as the tyres. But once we start, the race is worth 25 points as in any other circuit, so you have to try and fight for them.”

Can you say that you start the season more positive and confident than ever?

“I had difficult pre-seasons in the last few years, due to the bike, injuries, etc. However, this winter we have been able to have a better prepared bike, so we had less trouble. There is still one test left, but we hope everything will be fine and we will be able to have a good start of the year.”

Could we say you are physically recovered from your injury?

“I am fairly well. Naturally, my shoulder is not exactly as it was before, but I hope I will feel fine in the first race, which will be the one to tell me which is my real level. I did a lot of laps this winter, but I have not run a whole race distance yet.”

Being the only team with three riders, it is clear that the high level of the Repsol Honda Team is forcing the rest to increase the pace. This can be a very, very fast Championship, seeing what we saw during the pre-season...

“We will see as we go on. It is difficult to say what will happen. We only know that they will be very close races, that everyone will do their best. It will be more or less the same as the previous years, but there will certainly be a hard battle for the top places. As we have seen in the pre-season, there will be a lot of competitiveness.”

After the last test in Malaysia, is the bike a step above the rest?

“No, I think that right now the bike is reacting well but I don’t think it is so much above the rest. In the past we have seen that our bike is good and fast, but what is important in the Championship is not what happens in one circuit, but in many. In some areas, our bike is better and in some other area, other bikes are better. In the end, I think that overall balance is the important thing.”

What can you say about the clutch, engine braking and new suspension?

“I haven't tested anything new in the clutch area. We’ve been trying to improve engine braking. Compared with the Ducati, Casey [Stoner] says the bike is very different in that area and he seems not to be as comfortable as before, so we will try to use his experience to improve the bike. This way we will be able to brake before at the entrance of the corners and that will let us improve our lap times. We have tested new suspension on several occasions and they still don’t give 100%, but they have a lot of potential. They allow us to improve the braking and traction, but they also give us a little more rebound. I suppose that, with time, we will be able to use them.”

Repsol Media Service press release

MotoGP, 2011, Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

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