On the eve of the first MotoGP test of 2011, the Repsol Honda team held their launch in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. There, team boss Shuhei Nakamoto presented Andrea Dovizioso, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa to the waiting press, and the three riders talked about their hopes for the 2011 season.
Most ominously of all for the rest of the MotoGP field, Casey Stoner told the press how proud he was to be wearing Repsol Honda colors, just like his great hero and role model, Mick Doohan. Stoner has been compared to Doohan many times, as similar in temperament and riding style, as well as in his voracious appetite for victory. In his day, Doohan liked to win the same way that Stoner does now: with a 20 second gap over the competition. From Tuesday, Casey Stoner gets a chance to pursue that ambition, though doubtless Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will all do their utmost to prevent him.
Below is the official press release issued after the team launch, and a few photographs from the event:
Repsol Honda Team embraces the 2011 season in Sepang
The Repsol Honda Team greeted the start of an exciting new season with the media and entire team at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur with a press conference and a welcome party.
Making their first appearance on stage together was the formidable 2011 Repsol Honda Team line up with Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Casey Stoner unveiling the new RC212V.
As it was in 1995, when Mick Doohan, Alex Criville and Shinichi Ito first rode in Repsol Honda colours, HRC lines up a three rider team again, for the first time in the MotoGP four stroke era.
HRC goes into the 2011 season with an incredible effort and determination and Vice President, Shuhei Nakamoto underlined the hard work done during the winter to improve all aspects of the RC212V.
Shuhei Nakamoto welcomed on stage Dani, Andrea and Casey, all very excited by this new challenge and determined to fight for victory every Sunday.
Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Vice President:
"In 2011 Honda Racing's effort in MotoGP is stronger then ever. As we have done in the 90's, we will again be a three rider strong team, with a clear mission: to win the Title. All three of our Repsol Honda riders know how to win a Championship, because all of them have been World Champion in the past, and we will give them all our support for this big challenge.
We can do this thanks to the great support of all our partners. We are glad to continue the long term relationship with Repsol - not only our title sponsor since 1995, but also a very important technical partner, working together with us to develop fuels and lubricants. This season we welcome a new partner: Astra Honda. I hope they bring good fortune in their first full season with us.
The RC212V that is here in Sepang for this first test of the season, is an evolution of the 2010 machine. Last year's results show that we can count on a good base but we must continue developing. With important feedback from Dani, Andrea and Casey, I am sure we will take another step forward during the winter tests, to be strong from round one. Nevertheless, our development will never stop, because for Honda, competitions are the best way to test new technology and improve existing."
"I was looking forward to be again together with my team to plan the new season. The winter break has been long, as always, but in my case also good because I had time to rest and do a proper rehabilitation for my shoulder. I feel stronger now and arrive here in Sepang much better but I'm also looking forward to see what is my level on the bike. It will be like a personal test for me and I'm excited to see the results. The test program is to continue developing the good base we had last year. In particular we need to find something extra on the chassis and the engine to improve the stability of the bike entering the corner and the traction at the exit. My target is to fight for the title, of course. In my previous years in MotoGP I had very good races, I've been fighting in front but I still miss the title. This can be due to several reasons, but if I could change something I would say my real wish is to avoid further injury. It's very difficult, I know, but this woul d be my first desire, to be on all the starting grids this season because my absence results in valuable points lost."
"I'm very happy to be part of the Repsol Honda Team, especially this year as we will be a very competitive team, stronger than ever. We are three riders able to fight for the win and the title, me and my team are very enthusiastic. Last year we did a good season, in Valencia test we took another step forward with the evolutions brought by Honda. This year we have a high target; to fight for the Championship. Honda has worked hard during the winter and I also did my part. I have started a new training method to gain more resistance in the race distance, I have trained a lot and I am really confident in my preparation. Then of course we can see the final results only once on track, but fortunately I don't have to wait too much."
"I'm really excited and It's a great emotion to wear the Repsol Honda colours for the first time. When I was a child, I used to watch Mick Doohan winning Championships one after the other with these colours and for me it's an honour to be part of this team. I look forward to jump on the bike because in November the first test was very positive but Valencia is a particular track. Here in Sepang, it will be important to understand better the strong points of the RC212V and where we have to improve to be competitive at every track. I know that it will be a tough season because there are many strong riders, starting from my two team mates, but I'm very motivated for this new challenge."