HRC boss content with 2012 despite title defeat

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Honda boss Shuhei Nakamoto has said he is happy with the performance of the official HRC factory MotoGP squad in 2012, despite losing the world title to Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo.

After dominating the final 800cc world championship in 2011 when Casey Stoner won 10 races, the smart money was on HRC being the factory to beat in the new 1000cc era with its factory RC213V machine.

But early season struggles with a chronic chatter issue undermined Stoner and Dani Pedrosa’s world title bid, which ultimately proved costly, as the RC213V became the dominant machine in the second half of the campaign.

Lorenzo won four out of the opening six races in a stunning early season charge, while Stoner and Pedrosa complained furiously about how a late weight increase of 4kg and a range of new softer construction front and rear tyres generated severe chatter with the Honda machine.

As Stoner, Pedrosa and HRC technical staff figured out to minimise the impact of the chatter, Lorenzo and Yamaha found it increasingly harder to maintain their winning form.

Pedrosa and Stoner won 10 of the last 12 races, with Pedrosa claiming a career best premier class tally of seven, but Lorenzo still won his second title with one round to spare in Australia in late October.

Reflecting on the last season, which was Stoner’s swansong after he opted to retire aged just 27, Nakamoto said: “We won the Constructor and Team championship and we won 12 races but unfortunately we couldn’t win the Rider championship. But it was still a good season.

“In motorcycle racing anything can happen. Honda in the first part of the year struggled to find the correct set-up because of the weight regulation being decided very late.

“We had to find where to put the extra weight and this was the first issue and for Dani his biggest problem was weight transfer. I think without this change Dani could make a much better result in the first part of the season. I think it was a technical issue.

“At the beginning of the season we also struggled a lot with the chattering problem and in the middle of the season there was the new front tyre and this was a little bit difficult to manage.

“In the second half of the season our machine was getting stronger but in the first part we struggled to find a good set-up and how to use the tyres. But I am happy for this year’s results.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt