French MotoGP: Honda boss unsure of title propsects

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New Repsol Honda boss Kazuhiko Yamano has admitted facing a tough battle to help Dani Pedrosa convert his brilliant early season form into the Spaniard’s first MotoGP world title in 2008.

Pedrosa protects the only 100 per cent podium finishing record remaining in MotoGP going into this weekend’s French MotoGP in Le Mans, but Yamano has admitted Honda is still fine tuning its factory RC212V package.

Asked about the current stage of development with the Honda RC212V and its future, Yamano said: “Last year the rules changed and displacement was limited to 800cc.

“We’d made a new bike, and we didn’t want to start all over again this year. So we made use of the work done until then to develop the bike, without any major changes.

“When I’m asked ‘can the championship be won in this situation’, I think it’s a tricky question to answer. We have to try out new things, and that takes time; and though we’re aware that the riders are expecting these developments, we’re still carrying out tests.”

Yamano though does believe triple world champion Dani Pedrosa has the class to become a MotoGP world champion.

“Both riders are very strong mentally and are very talented, though with different characters, which we try to make the most of in both cases.

“I’ve learnt a lot from Dani, as he knows how to seize the chance in any particular situation. He’s a very intelligent rider.

Nicky (Hayden) is very aggressive, and thanks to his team’s motivation and his own passion for the team, he also does some very valuable work.”

It is still unclear whether Pedrosa and Hayden will get the chance to test Honda’s new pneumatic valve engine again in the Le Mans test session starting on Monday.

Rumours in the paddock suggest the new Honda V4 motor is still not ready having been withdrawn back in February during winter testing.

The Le Mans test was supposed to herald its return, but Pedrosa is only scheduled to ride on the first of two days, suggesting he has nothing of significance to evaluate.

Yamano said: “Our job is to provide a machine that is capable of winning. It doesn’t matter what valves it uses, whether pneumatic or standard.

“We try to produce machines that win races, and continue to work on both options to meet this goal.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt