Archive - Interview

March 17th, 2012

Shuhei Nakamoto Interview: On CRT, Spec ECUs and Cost-Cutting in MotoGP

With the cost of racing exploding out of control, factories pulling out and teams unable to afford the rising lease prices demanded for a satellite bike, proposals and rule changes have been coming thick and fast to try to contain costs in MotoGP. The Claiming Rule Teams regulations have already seen the grid expand to accommodate teams running machines using production-based engines, and Dorna, the manufacturers, the teams and the FIM are discussing a range of proposals to cut costs further, including a mandatory standard ECU and a maximum rev limit.

At the Valencia tests in November, spoke to HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto about how Honda views these proposals, and whether he believes they will cut costs. As the leading manufacturer in the MSMA, the association representing the factories in MotoGP, Honda has a powerful voice in the negotiations, and in the past has been instrumental in pushing through rule changes. Now that the MSMA appears to have lost its monopoly on writing the technical regulations for MotoGP, Nakamoto, along with the other factory bosses, is having to offer counterproposals to the suggestions put forward by Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta.

We first asked Nakamoto what he thought of the CRT concept itself, and the HRC boss was remarkably positive. "I think the CRT concept is a very good idea," Nakamoto said, adding the caveat that it was too early to make any real judgment, as at the time we spoke to Nakamoto, the CRT machines had only just taken to the track for the first time.

March 15th

Honda Press Release: Fausto Gresini Talks About Team Ownership, Alvaro Bautista and CRT

Honda Racing released the following press release, containing a fascinating interview with San Carlo Honda Gresini team manager Fausto Gresini. In the interview, Gresini talks about the decision to stop racing and become a team manager, explains why he chose Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista instead of another Italian rider to replace Marco Simoncelli, tragically killed at Sepang, and why he believes the CRT bikes are a necessity. Here is the interview:

Interview - Fausto Gresini - Team Manager - Gresini Honda

Fausto Gresini is the most successful team owner in the history of MotoGP racing. His story as a team owner begins three years after the two-time 125cc World Champion retired from racing in 1994. It was then that he made the transition, focusing the drive and ambition that he displayed as a rider on team ownership. At the start, the Italian worked with veterans-Alex Barros and Loris Capirossi-but it is his work mentoring young riders where he has had some of his greatest impact.

In 2001, his fifth year as a team owner, Gresini won his first World championship with Daijiro Kato in the 250cc class. But the rising and likeable Japanese star would not be given time to show his true potential; his career and life were cut short as a result of injuries suffered in a crash in the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Nine years later, Kato remains a strong presence within Gresini Racing; his 2001 title-winning Honda NSR250 and his 2003 Honda RC211V sit in the conference room of the team’s race shop in San Clemente, near Riccione, Italy.

March 13th

Interview: FTR's Mark Taylor on Aerodynamics and Air Intakes

The following interview was conducted with Mark Taylor of FTR Moto2 early in 2011. visited FTR's factory in Buckingham last year and spoke to Taylor about the development of the British Moto2 chassis builder's radically revised fairing, and the role of computational fluid dynamics in designing and verifying the aero packages of racing motorcycles. Taylor and FTR graciously discussed their work in some depth, and offered us a glimpse into exactly what goes into designing a racing motorcycle.

When the 2011 FTR Moto2 machine made its debut at the Valencia Moto2 tests at the start of last year, the one thing that caught the eye was the seemingly huge circular air intake on the front of the bike. The large hole, quickly dubbed "the gaping maw", was a radical departure from the current paddock fashion of letterbox-style air intakes, with long, thin, and often nipped in the middle the shape gracing most racing motorcycles at present.

So why did FTR decide to buck the trend and go with the great big hole on the front of the fairing? We spoke to FTR's engineering guru Mark Taylor at the Moto2 chassis manufacturer's Buckinghamshire base and put exactly that question to him.

March 6th

Miller Motorsports Park Press Release: 5 Questions With Carlos Checa

Miller Motorsports Park issued the following press release, featuring five questions posed by leading racing journalists to 2011 World Superbike champion Carlos Checa:

Miller Motorsports Park Presents: Five Questions with Carlos Checa

A chat with the reigning Superbike World Champion

TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (March 6, 2012) - Miller Motorsports Park will again host the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship on Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-28. As was the case last year, we will visit with race winners and other notable riders participating in the championship after each race during the 2012 season leading up to the series’ return to Utah and bring you a new chapter in the “Five Questions with” series. We will solicit questions from leading motorcycle racing journalists and, starting with the next installment, from our fans via Facebook.

February 20th

Honda Press Release: Interview With Casey Stoner, On The 1000s, Parenthood, Defending Titles And Laguna Seca

The Repsol Honda MotoGP team has a small army of press officers working for them. In addition to the PR person assigned to each rider, as is common for all of the factory MotoGP riders, Honda also has PR people from Spanish petroleum sponsor Repsol, as well as their Honda Pro Racing arm, aimed at providing press information for all of the Japanese giant's racing activities. 

The good news for race fans is that the army of press officers also generate a small mountain of press releases, interviews and other information. Today, Honda provided the transcript of an interview produced with the 2011 World Champion Casey Stoner, conducted during the first Sepang test at the beginning of February. The interview provides a fascinating insight into the mind of the Australian, and his thoughts on racing and life. In the interview, Stoner discusses how the new 1000s are different from the 800s, whether the racing will change much, the challenges he faced defending his first title and interestingly, the differences between his legendary clash with Valentino Rossi at Laguna Seca in 2008, and the move that amazed even Kevin Schwantz, Stoner's pass on Jorge Lorenzo at the terrifying Turn 1 in 2011 at the same circuit.

Below is the interview, in the form of a press release, as issued by the Honda Pro Racing service:

February 9th

BMW WSBK Press Release: Team Boss Andrea Dosoli Talks About 2012

With the 2012 World Superbike season just over two weeks away, preparations are ramping up for the return of racing. As part of those preparations, BMW issued a press release interview with their new Head of Race Operations, Andrea Dosoli. Dosoli came to BMW from Yamaha, along with Marco Melandri, who he had previously worked with at the Hayate team formed when Kawasaki officially pulled out of MotoGP in 2009. In the interview, Dosoli covers a lot of ground, including his impression of BMW's World Superbike effort, his role within the team, his expectations of the BMW S1000RR machine and his hopes for riders Marco Melandri and Leon Haslam.

Below is the text of the interview, issued by BMW:

Interview with Andrea Dosoli: “BMW Motorrad Motorsport has a lot of potential in many areas.”

February 6th

Repsol Press Release: Interview With Casey Stoner After The Sepang Test

In the second of the two interviews which the Repsol Media Service put out with the Repsol Honda MotoGP riders after the test at Sepang, Casey Stoner gets a chance to answer a few questions. Like Pedrosa, Stoner talks about the differences and similarities of riding the new 1000cc MotoGP bikes when compared to the old 800s, as well as the extra weight that has been added to the bikes. But the Australian also talks about the role that fuel consumption is likely to play with the new, larger capacity bikes running the same amount of fuel as the 800s, and he denies that becoming a father will have any effect on his speed.

Below is the press release interview with Stoner, as sent out by Repsol:

"It's crucial that Honda and Repsol work together to get the same performance out of less consumption"

Reigning MotoGP World Champion, Casey Stoner, prepares for his second season in Repsol and Honda colours onboard the 1000cc RC213V

Repsol Press Release: Interview With Dani Pedrosa After Sepang

The Repsol Media Service was once again busy at the test in Sepang. Along with providing daily press releases, the press officers for the Spanish oil giant also found time to interview Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, and issue the interviews in the form of press releases. In the first of the two interviews, Dani Pedrosa talks about his experience at the tests, the physical demands of riding a bigger and much heavier 1000cc bike, the differences between the 1000cc MotoGP machines of 2012 and the 990cc machines of 2006, and his view of up-and-coming Spanish riders like Marc Marquez and Alex Rins.

Below is the text of the press release interview with Dani Pedrosa:

"This season's bikes allow you to brake later and corner more quickly"

After claiming the third fastest time of the Sepang test, Repsol's Dani Pedrosa looks ahead to the start of the season on April 6th in Qatar

The opening preseason test of 2012 took place this week in Malaysia at the scorching Sepang circuit. Dani Pedrosa ended the three day test with the third fastest time overall. With the introduction of 1000cc bikes to the MotoGP World Championship this season, the Repsol rider was carrying out an extensive program in order to develop his Repsol Honda RC213V - the succesor to the 2011 title winning machine.

December 19th, 2011

Casey Stoner Interview: On Riding Fast, Emulating Doohan, Dealing With The Media, And Selective Memory

The switch from Ducati to Honda worked out extraordinarily well for Casey Stoner. The Australian was fast in testing, took victory in his very first race aboard the Honda RC212V at Qatar, and despite a temporary glitch at Jerez, where he was knocked off his bike by Valentino Rossi, the man who had taken his place at Ducati, was leading the championship by the time the MotoGP circus rolled into Assen for the Dutch TT, and would not relinquish it again, going on to secure his second world championship in dominant style, winning 10 races and taking pole 12 times along the way.

We had a chance to interview Stoner at Assen, after he had taken the championship lead from Jorge Lorenzo and just as he appeared to be getting into his stride. During a long and interesting conversation, Stoner covered a lot of ground, discussing subjects as diverse as Bridgestone tires, track memory, options for expanding the grid and the selective memory of race fans. But we started off by trying to winkle Stoner's secret from him, and find out just how the Australian manages to be so fast, right from his very first lap of the track. Here's what he had to say:

September 13th

Honda Press Release: Interview With Hiroshi Aoyama, On Earthquakes And The Motegi Boycott

The ever-industrious Honda press office has issued yet another press release containing an interview with a rider. Fortunately for race fans, this time it isn't yet another interview with one of the members of the Repsol Honda team, but instead, it is San Carlo Gresini Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama. Aoyama has had a very tough season in 2011, struggling with a back injury sustained in a crash at Assen and with the aftermath and constant discussion surrounding the Japanese earthquake and the Motegi MotoGP round. In this interview, Aoyama talks about all of this, and more.

Below is the press release interview:

August 30th

Interview: Stoner's Crew Chief Cristian Gabbarini On Getting Heat Into The Bridgestones

If anyone was in any doubt about the pivotal role that the spec Bridgestone tires play in MotoGP, this year will have made their significance abundantly clear. The stiff tires offer unbelievable levels of grip, but only once up to temperature, feeling vague and distant while still cold. That presents riders with a paradox: to go fast, the tires have to be warm, but to get heat into the Bridgestones - the front especially - you have to push it hard to make it work.

Championship leader Casey Stoner has proven to be a master at handling this dilemma, seemingly achieving astonishing levels of lean angle and getting his Repsol Honda RC212V turned faster than anyone else on the grid. When asked about the method he uses for getting heat into the tires, Stoner has spoken several times about using the throttle to load the front. 

To an untrained observer - and even to people who do have the training - this doesn't seem to make sense. After all, use of the throttle makes the front wheel want to lift, doing the polar opposite of loading the front Bridgestone. To understand exactly what Stoner means by "using the throttle to load the front," we turned to the man who knows exactly what the Australian is doing when he rides the bike: Stoner's long-time crew chief Cristian Gabbarini. Gabbarini, who worked with Stoner at Ducati, and joined HRC when the Australian moved to Honda, took time at Brno to answer our questions. Here's what he had to tell us:

August 25th

2011 Indianapolis MotoGP Pre-Event Press Conference Transcript - Stoner, Hayden, Spies, Pedrosa And Simoncelli Speak

The incredibly industrious and efficient press office at Indianapolis Motor Speedway provided the following transcript of the pre-event press conference held on Thursday afternoon, featuring Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli:

Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies, Dani Pedrosa, Marco Simoncelli
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011

Q: Ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to the pre-event press conference here for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. It's Round 12 of the MotoGP World Championship; still seven rounds to go. In the press conference today, the World Championship leader, Casey Stoner, riding the Repsol Honda. Casey has won six Grand Prixes this season. He has a 32-point lead in the World Championship. He's been on the podium in the last nine Grands Prix, and he's won the last two.

Sitting alongside him to his right is his teammate, Dani Pedrosa. Dani's fifth in the World Championship. He's had two wins this season. He was the winner of the race last year after qualifying in fifth place.

August 21st

HRC Boss Shuhei Nakamoto Debrief Transcript: On The 1000, Fuel Limits, HRC's Budget, Motegi And Suzuka

The Brno MotoGP test gave journalists the rare opportunity to speak at length with two of the driving figures behind MotoGP. As well as Ducati's Filippo Prezioso (the transcript of which you can read here), we also got the chance to question HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto. Nakamoto fielded questions on a number of subjects, sometimes with a healthy dose of humor. He naturally spoke about Honda's new 1000cc RC213V, and the development direction HRC have pursued, but he also talked about the effect that fuel limits have on bike developments, including the opportunities they offer for developing new technologies.

Nakamoto-san spoke about the effect that the earthquake and tsunami has had on Honda's production and consequent budgets, and the knock-on effect that this will have on the level of support being offered. He revealed that HRC expected to supply 6 bikes for next year, but only 2 factory machines, and he also spoke about the possibility of a switch from Motegi to Suzuka. Though he personally liked Suzuka, the track has not been approved by the FIM and would be unlikely to receive FIM approval for MotoGP.

August 16th

Filippo Preziosi Debrief Transcript: "Today's Test Was About Ducati's Future"

Shortly after lunchtime at the MotoGP test at Brno, journalists were given an opportunity to talk to Filippo Preziosi, Director General of Ducati Corse and the engineering genius behind Ducati's MotoGP project. Naturally, the question of a traditional twin spar chassis came up, as well as what Ducati was testing on Monday, both questions that Preziosi deflected rather gracefully. But he also talked about the role of the Bridgestone tires in development, and why he would dearly love to be able to race a twin in MotoGP. 

A transcript of the press conference follows, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Jensen Beeler of Asphalt & Rubber, who transcribed it for us:

Q:What were you testing?

The test of today was based on understanding what are the main directions for the future, for the mid-term and long-term future. So we tested very different setups in order to check the preferred weight distribution, center of gravity, stuff like that for Vale. For the mid-term. So, in order to give the design people the targets for the new bikes.

Q:When you say mid-term, how far out is that?

One year.

Q:Are you testing these changes with the existing components, or are there any new parts on the bike?

August 4th

HRC Press Release: HRC Boss Shuhei Nakamoto On The Season So Far

Not to be outdone by the Repsol colleagues, the good people at HRC have also been issuing press release interviews. Today, they issued an interview with HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto, who provides an interesting insight into the performance of the Repsol Honda team from the perspective of HRC management. In the interview, Nakamoto talks about how Honda changed Casey Stoner's bike to fix the problems he had been complaining of all weekend at Laguna Seca, allowing him to win the race; about how well Dani Pedrosa has performed despite his injury; and about what Honda expect from the second half of the season. What is also interesting in the interview is how little time Nakamoto spends talking about Andrea Dovizioso, and when he does, he has some firm criticism of the Italian.

Here is what Nakamoto had to say to the HRC press office:

Round 10 - Interview with Shuhei Nakamoto

Round 10. 7 wins out of 10. The second half will be the decider.