Shuhei Nakamoto Track Report

Round 6The bigger the challenge, the bigger the victory

Round Six took place at Silverstone one week after the previous race. After a cold, dry Saturday qualifying session, continuous rain from early morning Sunday meant the race was held under very difficult wet conditions. Maintaining perfect control and speed throughout the race, Repsol Honda's Casey Stoner won a well-deserved third consecutive victory (his fourth of the season) to put him top of the points ranking for the championship. Team mate Andrea Dovizioso followed Casey past the checkered flag to reprise the Repsol Honda duo's one-two finish at Le Mans. HRC Team Principal Shuhei Nakamoto answers our questions about the Honda riders in an especially challenging race week.

Casey did an incredible job in terrible conditions. When I talked with him after the race, he said: "Grip was really bad in the first 5 laps, but somehow I managed to keep the pace up. Although I was never getting enough edge grip, traction was good." The lap times he was getting were simply amazing, especially in the difficult early stages.

Even though rain was forecast for Sunday, the change in conditions from qualifying was pretty extreme. It must have been difficult preparing for that.

No, this amount of rain by itself isn't such a huge problem. We always have plans for when it rains and when it's fine, and we choose the bike we will use once we see what the real weather conditions will be.

Even so, that was heavy rain that put a lot of water on the track. Casey Stoner commented that he had to stay aware of the water every moment of the race.

It rained constantly from morning on, but the showers during the race were stronger than during morning warmup. That left pools of standing water at various places on the track which posed a danger of hydroplaning, with both front and rear tires sliding. The smallest thing can cause you to lose the front end, so it's essential for the rider to stay completely focused on maintaining stability.

Stoner stayed completely in control throughout, his win putting him in the lead for points. Would you say things are going perfectly for him?

Certainly. I'll be incredibly happy if he can keep up this kind of performance till the end of the season. Of course, it's not as simple as that, and we're well aware that there's no room for mistakes in the world of racing.

Second place was Dovizioso. He got off to a great start and was in the lead for the first lap before Stoner overtook. The two of them then rode alone ahead of the pack all the way, Stoner leading with a considerable gap.

Yes, from mid way through the race Andrea put space between himself and the next riders and kept it that way. So basically he was pacing himself all the way to the flag. He rode a careful race, avoiding risk in those difficult conditions and ensuring a 1-2 finish for Honda. I suppose it was a pity we couldn't have taken all three podium spots, but it doesn't do to get too greedy. I'm very satisfied with today's result.

Simoncelli seemed set to take third place before he fell and retired. This was surely a disappointing result since he had been clocking fast times on the previous couple of days and was looking good.

I talked with him just now, right after the race ended. I was saying how "fast" and "strong" are not the same, something Marco understands well since he has already been through the experience of winning a championship. It's important to give a good performance in every session, but the vital thing is each race itself. There are 18 races in a season, and you have to fight each one as it comes. To become champion, first you have to start racking up the points. Rather than just coming first or second in individual races, our hope for Marco is that eventually he'll become champion. We firmly believe that this is a rider with the ability to do it. Marco was a bit of a daredevil when he competed for the 125 and 250cc championships. In MotoGP we need him to aim for a much higher standard, and I'm pleased to say that he is doing his best to follow our instructions.

Talking about the championship, Dovizioso's second place finish today puts him within reach of second ranking in the points table.

Well, the numbers alone might suggest that, but it won't be an easy thing to get that second place ranking. Andrea typically for him, didn't show outstanding speed in qualifying, but rode a tenacious race to finish well. I hope he'll be able to keep gathering the high points in every race from now on, but you have to remember that he's competing against Lorenzo, and I think it will be very hard for Andrea to succeed in the face of persistent pressure from the champion. I'm sure he will do very well in many races, but I'm afraid Lorenzo will do better. Andrea's position is that he has to catch up, then outstrip Lorenzo in points. In other words, he has to beat Lorenzo more often than Lorenzo beats him. If you look at it like that, it's going to be a very tough challenge. He'll be trying, of course.

Next race is in Holland, where Honda lost last year. This Silverstone win by Stoner now raises hopes of a victory there too.

Naturally, we are hoping to win the Dutch TT* too. Our aim is to win every race in the series, and that's how we approach each round. Of course, in reality anything can happen and there's no way to be sure of any result in advance. Casey now has a three race winning streak and it's all going very well for us, but in this game everything can change in a second. All we can do is keep completely focused on the task in hand and never let up.

*Dutch Grand Prix

Dani Pedrosa has now missed two races. Will he be back for the next one?

That's the way we're thinking. The next race in Holland is on a Saturday, and I want to consult with Dani and make a formal decision as soon as possible. We don't just want him to come back and simply take part. Both Dani and the team think there's no point in him racing unless he's fully able to have a crack at a podium result.

So, do you think Honda has a chance of taking all three podium places in Holland?

Well, we are certainly going to be giving it our best shot. But as I said before, in the world of racing nothing is ever predictable. That's really what makes it all worth while for us: if it was too simple, it wouldn't be interesting at all. The bigger the challenge, the greater the satisfaction when we pull it off. In Holland, we'll be going for it full on as always, and I hope our fans will be there with the same spirit.

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