Honda’s Moto3 riders aim to continue the company’s illustrious record in the smallest Grand prix category, which includes a clean sweep of the last four Moto3 Constructors World Championships with the NSF250RW.
Honda’s top two performers of 2019 – Arbolino and Ogura – are now in Moto2 which allows the next generation to step up. Fastest Honda rider in the Losail preseason tests was Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW), who finished tenth overall last season. This year the 20-year-old Italian is confident on improving on his 2020 form, which included his first GP win at August’s Czech GP and a brilliant second place at the season-ending Portuguese GP.
Also prominent in preseason testing was John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW), who at 26-years-old is the oldest rider in the class. The Briton was seventh in last year’s championship with one race win and three further podiums. His ambition this season is to put all his experience to good use and challenge for the title.
Up there with McPhee in testing were team-mates Gabriel Rodrigo (Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) and Jeremy Alcoba (Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW). This will be an emotional year for Team Gresini, which lost its founder Fausto Gresini to COVID-19 last month.
Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) contests his second World Championship season in 2021 after learning plenty during his apprenticeship year. The 18-year-old from Setagaya showed flashes of brilliance during 2019 but was unable to translate his impressive speed into point-scoring results. After a busy off-season of training and preparation the youngster is ready to put the lessons learned last year into use.
Kunii’s team-mate is Andi Farid Izdihar (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW), who contested the Moto2 World Championship last year. The 23-year-old Indonesian knows how to win at Losail. In 2015 and 2016 he won rounds of the Honda-supported Asia Talent Cup at the circuit, riding a lower-spec NSF250R.
The Asia Talent Cup will be in action at Losail again this weekend, with the first two races of the 2021 season taking place.
Losail hosts its 18th MotoGP event this year. The circuit was constructed in 2004 to bring MotoGP to the Middle East for the first time. Losail is a sinuous test for man and machine, with the layout of individual corners inspired by famous corners at racetracks from around the world. Corner speed and machine agility are vitally important at Losail with only one straight worthy of the name – the 1.068km/0.664-mile start-finish, which demands plenty of horsepower.
After Sunday’s racing the paddock stays put for the Doha GP on April 4, then travels to Europe for the Portuguese GP on April 18. The 2021 championship is due to travel to Asia later in the year, COVID-19 protocols permitting, and finish at Valencia, Spain, on November 14.