Hiroshi Aoyama: “Honda’s strong point is Marc”

6 minutes

Hiroshi Aoyama, the last 250cc World Champion, offers us his view of the Repsol Honda Team’s season.

Hiroshi Aoyama con Marc Márquez
Hiroshi Aoyama: “Honda’s strong point is Marc”

This weekend, the Valencia Grand Prix will conclud the 2018 season at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, where Hiroshi Aoyama was crowned 250cc World Champion in 2009. The Japanese rider, currently part of the HRC test team, has followed Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa’s season very closely.

Question What did you think of Marc Márquez’s race in Malaysia?

Answer At the last Grand Prix, Marc made a good start and lap after lap he was able to gain positions and set a great pace that allowed him to follow Valentino [Rossi]. Little by little he cut tenths off the gap and we could see he was on the limit, but I’m sure that Rossi was too.

He pressured well, until at the end Rossi made a mistake and he was able to win. Both gave their all, but Marc had a little more that allowed him to win the race. You could see that he worked hard.

Q This season, Marc has had crashes in practice and a lot of saves. How can you explain him winning nine of the seventeen races?

A Marc has taken many risks throughout the season and, on many occasions, has been able to save crashes, but we have also seen him crash many times. Even so, he has been very fast all year long and that proves that he is very brave. It’s incredible to see that, despite having won the World Championship, he never stops giving one hundred percent.

Q Have you had the opportunity to watch from trackside? What secrets can you tell us about what you’ve seen there?

A This year I have spent a lot of time watching Marc on track. When you see him riding a MotoGP bike, it seems like he’s on a Dirt Track: He’s always sliding, trying to control the bike.

Many riders use the electronics to help them, but Marc dominates the machine with the throttle. It’s more difficult to do that on asphalt, because you go faster, making it harder to control the bike. What he does is incredible.

Q We have seen many different factories on the podium this year, but Honda have taken the constructors title. What do you think was the key to that?

A The competition has been very tight; I am very happy for Honda, since I’m also part of this family in my role as a test rider for the Repsol Honda Team. It’s clear that Honda’s strong point is Marc; He is the one who makes the difference and who has been able to win another title.

The bike has improved a lot over the last year, avoiding any big problems or failures. The Márquez-Honda package has been the key to the title this season; both have been very strong.

aoyama pilotando una MotoGP
aoyama pilotando una MotoGP

Q Dani Pedrosa has won seven times at Valencia, four of those in MotoGP. What can we expect from him in this race?

A I have known Dani for many years and, seeing his results from previous years, it could be said that Valencia is one of his favourite circuits. On the other hand, this is a Grand Prix where he has a lot of pressure from the sponsors. For me, Dani has had it tougher than other riders, since it is difficult to ride a MotoGP bike with his height and weight.

Like him, I’m not a very big rider and I know the difficulties that this causes when riding a bike like that. He has a lot of talent and is still good enough to win. It will be his last race, so I hope he is able to give his best to try to win or, at least, get a result that will allow him to end his career happy.

Q You were on the same team as him in 250cc and you know him well off the track. What can you tell us about him?

A It’s not easy to win three World Championships like Dani has done, although I would have liked to have seen him win a MotoGP title. He has had a great career; I have never seen anyone stay so long on the Repsol Honda Team, and that will surely be unforgettable for him.

I remember that when I was his teammate, he said that as a kid he always liked the Repsol Honda Team with Doohan and Crivillé, and watched them fight for the title. His dream was to get onto that team and he did it, and he has won many races and fought for titles.

Q You know Alberto Puig well. What importance do you think having a former rider as Team Manager of the Repsol Honda Team holds?

A Ten years ago, nobody would have said that Alberto Puig could become Team Manager of Repsol Honda, but he is someone with a lot of experience as a rider and also as a coach and manager. This allows you to see things from different angles, which is very important when heading a team as big as this one. Alberto fits perfectly into the position, since both the riders and the team respect him.

Q You were the last 250cc World Champion. What do you remember about that period?

A I remember many things, but I especially remember the last race, when I was riding for the 250cc title against Marco Simoncelli. I had won the penultimate race in Sepang and, for the next Grand Prix, in Valencia, I just needed to finish in the Top 11 to become World Champion.

You never know what can happen in a race and it was not an easy Grand Prix. I went wide on the first corner, because I was about to hit another rider, and I managed to stay up. I eventually finished seventh and won the title. It was a very hard and long race; I will never forget that day.

Q Valencia is the last race of the season, what would you highlight about this Grand Prix?

A Valencia is always a very special race, since it is the last race of the season and all of the riders want to get the best result possible. It is usually a very interesting Grand Prix; We’ll see what happens this year but something always occurs. I hope that one of the Repsol Honda Team riders can win the race.

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