Repsol Honda made its 2011 MotoGP season debut today, showing off its three-man team of Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, and Andrea Dovizioso, along with the 2011 Honda RC212V, which will compete against the Yamaha YZR-M1 and Ducati Desmosedici GP11. An oddity in the GP paddock, HRC will field the three riders under one roof, having wooed Stoner away from Ducati after the Australian rider and Italian team had spilled bad blood in the 2009 season.
While Stoner was originally supposed to have his own team, presumably under the Red Bull banner, Repsol finally stepped up to the plate with its pocketbook when the Red Bull deal failed to materialize. Having three top riders in one team left some doubts as to how Honda was going to manage its talented rider pool, and a cursory look at the different machines that each rider will field sheds some light on the subject.
Launching at the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, the Repsol Honda squad debuted itself just a day before MotoGP’s official track test in Sepang. All three riders were in attendance, and the focus was clearly on Stoner and Pedrosa. Stoner seems to be the paddock favorite in contending with Jorge Lorenzo for the 2011 MotoGP Championship, but Pedrosa can never be counted-out of the fight, especially if his injured shoulder returns to full-fitness.
Looking at the RC212V’s of the three riders, it’s clear that Andrea Dovizioso has drawn the short-straw on the new tech from Öhlins, Brembo and HRC, as the Italian rider will be running a more conventional fork and brake assembly. Meanwhile Stoner and Pedrosa have the upgraded suspension and brake mounts from Öhlins/Brembo. The upgraded components see a revised piggyback reservoir for the front suspension, along with a revised radial mount for the brake calipers, which are now fed by two brake lines each.
With a Spanish title sponsor, Repsol Honda has always been under considerable pressure to see results from Dani Pedrosa, which has, come as we feel, as a detriment for Dovizioso. The Italian rider finished only a handful of points behind his teammate last year, and has shown the aptitude to do better, if only he had the proper support and resources from within the team to do so. While Stoner and Pedrosa will battle for whom is clearly the #1 rider in the team, it looks like Dovi is clearly the #3 man.