Fiorani confirms HRC priority for Biaggi

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    Carlo Fiorani says Max Biaggi will be HRC’s main focus as they look to wrestle the MotoGP World Championship back from Valentino Rossi and Yamaha in 2005.

    Biaggi was confirmed yesterday as team-mate to Nicky Hayden at the factory Repsol Honda team and the Japanese company’s Sport Manager said the Italian will be receiving maximum support.

    “HRC has to pull in one direction otherwise we will lose again so it is important that we follow one rider,” stated Fiorani.

    “It is the way Honda have always worked. The input of all the riders is important to take back to Japan and use for development with the test riders, but the benefit of that development has to be focussed on one person.

    “It was the same with Mick Doohan, the same with Valentino Rossi and it will be the same with Max Biaggi. His style is very clean, very technical, and we think he is suited to this role.”

    Fiorani also hinted that Biaggi will be joined by Erv Kanemoto as Technical Director at Repsol Honda but said he was unable to comment officially on the news. “I can’t say anything about Erv at this point,” he said. “But the first test is this weekend and people will see our team’s structure then.”

    The expected arrival of Kanemoto will complete an overhauled team structure that also sees Nicky Hayden’s former telemetry engineer Pete Benson move up to the position of Chief Mechanic in place of Trevor Morris. In fact, some 70% of the team’s technical staff has been replaced and Fiorani sees the changes as a key factor to giving the team fresh impetus this season.

    “Ramon Forcada has left because Alex Barros wanted to take him to Sito Pons’ team, but the other changes were mainly to do with motivation. Some of the mechanics had been working for Honda for a long time and we felt they had lost their motivation.

    “Also, the corporation values the personal relationship between the rider and his mechanics very highly – the technical side is only one part of that. Nicky Hayden is very happy to be working with Pete Benson and that’s important.”

    Fiorani also admitted that the team had lost their way when revered Chief Mechanic Jeremy Burgess followed Rossi to Yamaha and said the reshuffle was also designed to address this problem. “Jeremy was a very, very important loss to us,” he said.

    “To be honest I don’t think my Japanese colleagues realised at the time just how much of a blow it would be to lose him. It was a mistake to let him go and to keep some of the mechanics, but now we feel we have a very highly motivated new team who are ready for the challenge.”

    The new-look Repsol Honda team begin their preparations for the new season alongside several rivals at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia this weekend and Fiorani outlined the importance of the first test.

    “We’ll be testing on the 23rd, 24th and 25th January and it will be an important session to check Max’s physical condition. The fracture has healed now but his ankle is still very painful, so the only question mark is how he will manage on the bike.

    “I think his motivation and adrenalin will see him through and we are very pleased that Max will be present at the test because it is important that we establish the direction of development of the new Honda RC211V.”

    Fiorani added that all the Honda riders will be working on 2004-spec bikes in Malaysia and at the following test at Phillip Island in Australia, with the 2005 versions due to be rolled out when the factory returns to Sepang next month.

    “The idea is to test some upgraded parts on the 2004 bikes at this test and at Phillip Island, so that the technicians can go back to Japan and use the data to build the 2005 machines. Then in February we will be able to test the 2005 bikes for the first time,” he concluded.

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