Dani Pedrosa was the star of the show as the Repsol Honda Team held its official 2010 season launch, making a dramatic entrance to the event, which coincided with the penultimate round of the FIM Indoor Trial World Championship at the Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad de Madrid.
Appropriately, Pedrosa rode a trials bike onto the stage before a machine he is more familiar with - the Honda RC212V - was lowered from the roof of the arena. The partnership between Repsol and Honda will enter its 16th season in 2010, with the team name now one of the most recognisable in motorcycle racing history. Pedrosa and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will be riding the latest evolution of Honda's 800cc four-stroke RC212V this season, featuring a new chassis and swing-arm, along with an upgraded electronics package.
"To be here for the Repsol Honda Team launch and to see the support of all our fans is a great feeling," Pedrosa commented, "It's especially good to be here today because, last year, I couldn't be at the team presentation because I was injured - and that was a strange feeling, sitting at home watching it.
"So I'm starting this season in a really positive mood. I'm feeling really motivated and our targets are clear - to improve in every area and consistently fight for race wins. In general, it has been a very good winter for me and much better than the last one. I have been able to do a lot of physical training and work on my fitness levels, and I was able to rest after the end of the last season. Even though I had a small operation to remove a screw from my wrist, the recovery period after this was very short and I can begin the year in very good shape. The training will help me a lot throughout the season to maintain my maximum performance.
"At the last test in Sepang, we couldn't make all the progress we would have like to have done, but we still have two more days of testing ahead of us and we will take the maximum profit from them to prepare for the first race. In Qatar, we will be working to improve a few more areas with the machine and I'm sure that when we solve these issues we will take a big step forward - and I hope to do it in Qatar. I'm looking forward to this season."
Ironically, Repsol Honda was again without one of its riders at the unveiling as Dovizioso was due to appear but, having suffered from a fever over the last few days and with the final pre-season test taking place in Qatar this coming week, the Italian wisely elected to stay at home to speed his recovery. However, he sent a special message to his fans from his home in Forli.
"I'm really sorry not to able to attend the Repsol Team launch but our priority is to be fit and ready for the last test of the winter," he explained, "Our common goal is to be competitive from round one - we all want to see the Repsol Honda machines fighting at the front every Sunday.
"We have all worked hard during the winter: Honda has improved all aspects of the package and, from our side, we have been committed in training as well as giving direction to the development team. We know that it won't be easy, but we will give our best to fight with the fastest riders every race weekend.
"I'd like to thank Honda. I have raced for all my career on their bikes. Together we won the 125 championship, we came close to taking the 250cc title for three years in a row, and now I'm very happy to be in the factory Repsol Honda Team for a second year. I'd also like to thank Repsol for their support. The partnership with Honda is long and solid and I hope that we can share a lot of success this season. I like continuity and so I appreciate Repsol's involvement very much.
"I can also boast one Repsol machine in my garage, as I used to race with Repsol colours in pocket bikes. I was only a child and I was so happy with my Repsol bike but, now that I have grown up, I'm [still] wearing the same colours riding for the Repsol Honda team. This is where I want to be and I can't wait to get to the first race in Qatar."
The Repsol Honda Team begins its assault on the MotoGP World Championship at the opening round of the season on April 11 at the Losail circuit in Qatar.