11 January 2013
Interview with Honda's Shuhei Nakamoto
"We held a farewell party for Casey Stoner after Valencia. When the party was over, the two of us stayed on, chatting, and I found I couldn't control my tears... Everyday Casey came up with something new that astonished us" - Shuhei Nakamoto (Honda).
Honda has released this revealing interview with HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto, looking back on the 2012 MotoGP season.
Nakamoto speaks in depth about the problems Honda encountered with the 2012 tyres and 'late' minimum weight change, reveals that he shed tears at Casey Stoner's farewell party (and that the Australian will always be welcome back), states that this year will be 'now or never' for Dani Pedrosa - and gives his straight-talking opinion on fellow 2013 RCV riders Marc Marquez, Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista...
This season is over, you've completed the first set of tests for 2013, and we're now in the period where tests are not permitted. I'm sure you've been asked these questions many times, but let's start with your overall impression of 2012.
The big thing about 2012 was the switch from 800cc to 1000cc engines. We started getting ready for that from the beginning of the 2011 season. The first time we ran the 2012 prototype was after Round Two in Spain. In the third lap of that test Casey effortlessly outdid his previous personal best on the 800cc in the 2011 Spanish GP.
Since we were still keeping the revs down at that point because we hadn't fixed some durability issues with the engine, this made us very happy indeed – we knew we had put together a bike we could use.
After that, Bridgestone changed their rear tyre casing to soft, and we modified the new bike to match that. We still hadn't completed that process when we had to run the RC213V in the test after Valencia, the final GP of 2011. Despite this, Dani made the top test time with a speed that beat his race time in the GP. Both Dani and Casey agreed that the new bike was even better than the 800cc RC212V.
But just as we thought all was safe, the minimum weight rule was changed by 4kg. That was in addition to the increase from 150kg to 153kg when the engine capacity went up from 800cc to 1000cc.
We had built our bike to match the old regulations, and then we were hit with this sudden rule change. According to the rules, they have the right to do this, but I really don't think it is fair to introduce such big changes so suddenly after we had finished testing.
The sudden rule change meant that for the first test of 2012 at Sepang, you were adding weights to various parts of the bike to bring it up to the new 157kg minimum. Adding 4kg like that disturbed the bike's balance, and this must have made it hard for Casey and Dani.
Yes, and especially so for Dani because he is smaller and lighter than Casey, so he had a very tough time controlling the balance of the bike by shifting his weight. We kept trying adding weights in different places to see what worked, and we had only found a rough solution during the first part of the season.
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