Japan, Australia, and Malaysia are three of the most difficult GPs for riders
Traditionally, the Repsol Honda Team has had great results on the three Pacific tracks up for grabs at the end of the season, but in a year in which rain has been a very important factor on circuits, what should we expect from the Asian Tour?
Japan is a classic of the World Championship, in which it has raced since 1987. It was the home of two Grands Prix: the Japan GP and the Pacific GP. The Japan GP is currently raced at Motegi, although it was originally raced on the Suzuka circuit, both belonging to the Honda brand.
Dani Pedrosa considers Motegi one of his favourite circuits. “I’m always excited to go there; it’s a great race for Honda and I enjoy the circuit;” he has reached its podium three times. Moreover in 2014 Marc Márquez took his second World Championship in Japan.
The weather conditions in Motegi tend to change unpredictably. Rain, fog, heat, etc. are common. Training and races have been postponed due to unexpected events related to the weather on this Japanese circuit, but it’s never been cancelled. Sooner or later, the starting grid is made and the finish line is crossed. In the 2009 season, for example, the starting grid was made with the results from the practice rounds, as the classification couldn’t be carried out due to torrential rains.
In the Australian GP with the calm and sunny weather of the Oceania spring, rain is not usually a problem. However, since the circuit is so close to the sea and next to a cliff, the wind blows intensely! These conditions make riding more difficult and also cool tires. The combination of these factors makes the risk of falls on the circuit quite high.
Marc Márquez won last year on Phillip Island with a spectacular finish on this circuit that he is so good at. Furthermore, the ex-Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner won two Grand Slams (pole position, fastest lap in a race, and victory) in 2011 and 2012.
The last race in the Asian Tour takes place on the track in Sepang. Climatically speaking, it is the litmus test of the World Championship. Dani Pedrosa won three times on this circuit in 2012, 2013, and 2015, and he and Marc Márquez have taken all the victories for the Repsol Honda team since 2012.
It is a circuit that is indubitably more strenuous. It may be that Silverstone is the longest track, and Sepang the second longest, but in the Malaysia GP there is suffocating heat and humidity that make racing there exhausting. The riders need to hydrate very well before beginning the race.
Undoubtedly, Sepang is very demanding for both riders and machinery. The bikes also suffer and tires are damaged with the heat. Flooding can also occur at any time. In 2012 a torrential rain began and the race was finalized after only 13 laps.
This is what Repsol Honda riders will take on in the next three Grands Prix. It is a challenging test requiring dedicated training, great focus, endurance, and, as always, the support of all Box Repsol fans!