Red Bull's Dani Pedrosa began the new MotoGP season in fine style by setting one of the top three fastest times at the Sepang test in Malaysia this week. In this interview, Dani looks ahead to the season opener in Qatar on April 6.
With the introduction of 1000cc bikes to the MotoGP World Championship this season, the Spaniard was carrying out an extensive program in order to develop his Repsol Honda RC213V – the succesor to the 2011 title winning machine.
How did the first 1000cc test in Sepang go?
"The test went well. We were able to try out a lot of things considering that it was the first time back for us. Obviously the bike is more powerful and takes more out of you physically, so to be tired at the end of the third day is fairly normal."
Do you note the difference between the 800cc and the 1000cc bikes?
"Definitely. The 1000cc is a tougher ride. I have had to strengthen my shoulders after the injuries that I suffered last season. I have tried to get a good foundation physically in order to withstand more of a load. I have been able to see the demands of the bike in this test and have my references regarding what I need to improve upon."
The weight of the bike has gone up from 153kg to 157kg. Do these 4kg change things?
"Yes, you can feel the weight increase – above all under braking and when you are changing direction. This is the least positive aspect of the change in cylinder capacity, but we will be working to adapt to it."
What differences have you found between this year's 1000cc and the bikes (990cc) of your debut year in MotoGP back in 2006?
"The main difference is that this season's bikes allow you to brake later and corner more quickly. However, if we compare times then they are fairly similar."
Your teammate, Casey Stoner, is starting his personal blog this year. You've been writing one for four years now. What does the initiative mean to you?
"It's a chance to keep my fans up to date with everything that is happening around me. It is difficult for them to get first hand information – especially between races – so this blog is where I get to explain things to them."
Last year's Moto2 class was very tight. Do you think that Marc Márquez will be a title challenger again in 2012?
"I think that Marc has shown that he is a great rider and that he has a lot of talent, so I am sure that he will be fighting for the title. From what he showed last year he is going to be the favourite for the title, although there are other riders who will be looking for the win."
The Moto3 category begins this year and we will see riders like Miguel Oliveira and Álex Rins —CEV champion in 2011— making their debuts. What are your opinions about these new talents?
"Moto3 is a completely unknown class and we will not understand how the bikes will perform until the season is underway. Likewise with who will be the favourites or who will step up after the inicial stage of the season.
Both riders need to learn the tracks, although Oliveira knows a few of them already. The experience that you pick up when you start out in the World Championship is very important –even more so in a class like Moto3 which is more open."