Monday's Sepang MotoGP test marks the start of a very busy 2007 season for the Konica Minolta Honda Team. With five gruelling tests to undertake before the 18-race season begins at Qatar on Saturday March 10th, the Team will have covered around 19,000 miles by the end of 2007, making this the longest campaign ever in MotoGP's history. This season it's all-change on the rider and machinery front for Konica Minolta Honda with well-respected Japanese racer Shinya Nakano making his 2007 debut for the Team. Meanwhile Honda's potent new RC212V 800cc V4 prototype racing motorcycle will mark the start of a new era in MotoGP racing, replacing the outgoing 990cc machine. Despite these two important changes, the core Team and expertise that's won two MotoGP races stays the same, headed up by Team owner and manager Gianluca Montiron.
Gianluca Montiron - Team Manager Konica Minolta Honda
"This year will be very important for Konica Minolta Honda because we have very strong motivation to go back to the top of MotoGP and win races. For this season we have everything we need to compete at the very top of the class. I believe that Shinya Nakano has great potential in MotoGP and with the competitive package that Konica Minolta Honda can give him, he can now fully realise this potential. It's the second time for Shinya testing the new Honda RC212V and for him it will be important to know and to understand the reaction of the new machine along with the new Michelin tyres. We have many tests this winter and I think it will also be important for the mechanics to learn how to work together in the garage both with each other and Shinya. Only through hard work together will we see a good lap time, which is the end result of a good job from everybody in the Team."
Shinya Nakano - Rider, Konica Minolta Honda
"This first test of the year is so important. If you have a good first test, you can keep that momentum up until the first race. But this year the Sepang test is the first in a long series of tests, so I'm sure I will have all the time to understand the new bike, the new tyres and to start a good working relationship with the Team. So far I have had just one test with the new 800cc bike and that is not enough to ride it well. I'm sure I'll need to change my riding style a little to be able to brake later and harder and to be faster out of the corners. Tests are different to race weekends. During tests, the days are very hard and long. The rider must keep his concentration up for many hours during the day and for a long period on the bike. I enjoy rinding at Sepang, I especially like the middle part of the track with its high-speed corners. If you have a good rhythm you can go very fast there. I dislike the first and second corners as they are too tight, too small and you need to find a good line through these corners."
Giulio Bernardelle - Technical Director, Konica Minolta Honda
"Sepang is one of the fastest circuits on the MotoGP calendar and this will be the first time we visit it with the new 800cc machine. I think that the difference between the engine performance of the 800 and 990cc machines will be immediately clear for the rider, especially in the fast, final sector of the track. However, as we have already found out in Jerez last November, the new RC212V can reach a higher cornering speed than the old RC211V, so the lap times will not be so different. We will have to check the tyre performance because Sepang is a very hard circuit on tyres. I think that we will have better tyre durability than on the old 990cc machine. Michelin has already prepared some new tyres specifically developed for the 800cc bike, which will permit Nakano to use his riding style to the utmost."