Repsol Honda MotoGP Launch: Stoner Hoping To Emulate Doohan

On the eve of the first MotoGP test of 2011, the Repsol Honda team held their launch in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. There, team boss Shuhei Nakamoto presented Andrea Dovizioso, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa to the waiting press, and the three riders talked about their hopes for the 2011 season.

Most ominously of all for the rest of the MotoGP field, Casey Stoner told the press how proud he was to be wearing Repsol Honda colors, just like his great hero and role model, Mick Doohan. Stoner has been compared to Doohan many times, as similar in temperament and riding style, as well as in his voracious appetite for victory. In his day, Doohan liked to win the same way that Stoner does now: with a 20 second gap over the competition. From Tuesday, Casey Stoner gets a chance to pursue that ambition, though doubtless Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will all do their utmost to prevent him.

Below is the official press release issued after the team launch, and a few photographs from the event:

Repsol Honda Team embraces the 2011 season in Sepang

The Repsol Honda Team greeted the start of an exciting new season with the media and entire team at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur with a press conference and a welcome party.

Making their first appearance on stage together was the formidable 2011 Repsol Honda Team line up with Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Casey Stoner unveiling the new RC212V.

As it was in 1995, when Mick Doohan, Alex Criville and Shinichi Ito first rode in Repsol Honda colours, HRC lines up a three rider team again, for the first time in the MotoGP four stroke era.

HRC goes into the 2011 season with an incredible effort and determination and Vice President, Shuhei Nakamoto underlined the hard work done during the winter to improve all aspects of the RC212V.

Shuhei Nakamoto welcomed on stage Dani, Andrea and Casey, all very excited by this new challenge and determined to fight for victory every Sunday.

Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Vice President:
"In 2011 Honda Racing's effort in MotoGP is stronger then ever. As we have done in the 90's, we will again be a three rider strong team, with a clear mission: to win the Title. All three of our Repsol Honda riders know how to win a Championship, because all of them have been World Champion in the past, and we will give them all our support for this big challenge.

We can do this thanks to the great support of all our partners. We are glad to continue the long term relationship with Repsol - not only our title sponsor since 1995, but also a very important technical partner, working together with us to develop fuels and lubricants. This season we welcome a new partner: Astra Honda. I hope they bring good fortune in their first full season with us.

The RC212V that is here in Sepang for this first test of the season, is an evolution of the 2010 machine. Last year's results show that we can count on a good base but we must continue developing. With important feedback from Dani, Andrea and Casey, I am sure we will take another step forward during the winter tests, to be strong from round one. Nevertheless, our development will never stop, because for Honda, competitions are the best way to test new technology and improve existing."

"I was looking forward to be again together with my team to plan the new season. The winter break has been long, as always, but in my case also good because I had time to rest and do a proper rehabilitation for my shoulder. I feel stronger now and arrive here in Sepang much better but I'm also looking forward to see what is my level on the bike. It will be like a personal test for me and I'm excited to see the results. The test program is to continue developing the good base we had last year. In particular we need to find something extra on the chassis and the engine to improve the stability of the bike entering the corner and the traction at the exit. My target is to fight for the title, of course. In my previous years in MotoGP I had very good races, I've been fighting in front but I still miss the title. This can be due to several reasons, but if I could change something I would say my real wish is to avoid further injury. It's very difficult, I know, but this woul d be my first desire, to be on all the starting grids this season because my absence results in valuable points lost."

"I'm very happy to be part of the Repsol Honda Team, especially this year as we will be a very competitive team, stronger than ever. We are three riders able to fight for the win and the title, me and my team are very enthusiastic. Last year we did a good season, in Valencia test we took another step forward with the evolutions brought by Honda. This year we have a high target; to fight for the Championship. Honda has worked hard during the winter and I also did my part. I have started a new training method to gain more resistance in the race distance, I have trained a lot and I am really confident in my preparation. Then of course we can see the final results only once on track, but fortunately I don't have to wait too much."

"I'm really excited and It's a great emotion to wear the Repsol Honda colours for the first time. When I was a child, I used to watch Mick Doohan winning Championships one after the other with these colours and for me it's an honour to be part of this team. I look forward to jump on the bike because in November the first test was very positive but Valencia is a particular track. Here in Sepang, it will be important to understand better the strong points of the RC212V and where we have to improve to be competitive at every track. I know that it will be a tough season because there are many strong riders, starting from my two team mates, but I'm very motivated for this new challenge." 


Meet the team: Shuhei Nakamoto, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.

A Repsol Honda with an Australian tinge. Shades of the 1990s

Dani Pedrosa starts the season with concerns over his collarbone, but feeling strong

Different forks, different brake calipers. Andrea Dovizioso's machine is visibly different to the bikes of Stoner and Pedrosa

Now in Repsol colors, Casey Stoner has a new, Doohan-esque helmet design

Andrea Dovizioso is also sporting fresh ink on his left arm

It takes a lot of people to run a three-man MotoGP team

HRC desperately want to win an 800cc MotoGP title. So does Dani Pedrosa.

Dovi, ready to go

HRC engineering. Titanium pornography.

The devil is in the detail

If anyone tells you that you can have too much carbon fiber, laugh in their face

What Pedrosa, Stoner and Dovizioso will be doing. And what they'll be wearing.

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Does anyone else notice the ever shrinking RC212V ?? Again looks to be suited to Pedrosas specs as it even makes Stoner look big on it!! The bike looks ever smaller and the fairing/windscreen is tiny. I guess we'll all find out in a matter of hours now how well it goes!!

They actually don't get to take any of the tires from the race - those belong to Bridgestone and hence they have a special set of wheels that they use to get the bikes from one place to the next. That said, for the purpose of the photos, I am surprised they didn't put the carbon brakes on the bike. But I am quite certain they will be there at Race Time!

Nice looking bike though! One of Hayden's comments about the honda was that it was indeed "build for a midget".

The bikes have carbon discs, the close up of the steel disc is the rear brake.
Dovi appears to run a much larger rear disc than the other two.
Also interesting to see the other various differences on Dovis' bike.

I rarely argue with your taglines, Dr. K. but Stoner didn't SAY he was hoping to emulate Doohan. That's the sort of comment that works up certain elements against the guy as being ego-driven etc. - which we can leave to Soup to carry on (I think, tongue-in-cheek, though sometimes I wonder..)

He's signalling that, certainly - the helmet in particular is either a mark of respect or a piece of aggressive-protective coluration. However, surely he deserves a wee bit of slack for having learned to speak in more measured tones these days?

Not that he won't be trying to do that on the track, I think is a given. I hope for its sake, his bike has been already counselled on the meaning of the term 'tough love'.

INDEED TRUE Oscar: Casey said it is an honour to be part of this (HRC) team in the same colours Doohan wore while a serial Championship winner.

Putting words in his mouth ?

Tell you one thing Casey IS emulating Doohan at: being awesome at Phillip Island. VR46 is much loved in Australia (not by chance - he's earnt it) but Casey gets a huge reception because he deserves it.
Phillip Island, daunting, one the great tracks, some super high speed corners. In fact so fast you get used it to and forget the average lap speed is around 175kph.
Was it '09 VR was trying to keep up with Casey - braking from 320-330ks into T1 (280kph odd I think) that would cause one to draw deep breath and focus, unmistakable via the onboard camera was that VR was on the limit (the pic was considerably unstable) but Casey seemed untroubled.
Notable is his practice there - he doesn't really seem to practice, he goes out and pins the throttle, seemingly on cold tyres.

Doohan only won once at PI. (and famously binned it with a huge lead)
Casey has four on the trot, Rossi has five (01-05) and hasn't been off the PI podium in eleven years.

Uuuuum good comment - perception can be misleading. My recall of Doohan at PI was video I've seen of him famously wheelying onto the front straight well ahead of the oppostion.

Are the shots of the racers in their leathers just photoshopped heads on generic body shots?