The factory HRC Honda World Motocross team are likely to join several other works crews and make the opening round of the 2015 Italian Championship at Riola Sardo on the island of Sardinia on 1st February their first competitive race of the year and the first time that MXGP fans will be able to see Gautier Paulin on the CRF450RW.
Honda have finished their official testing programme even though work continues on the ’15 spec of the CRF back in Japan and both Paulin and team-mate Evgeny Bobryshev negotiate their own training and preparation schemes in the run-up to Christmas. The team elected to go through suspension and 2015 upgrade tests in Italy compared to the routine of previous years when the likes of Bobryshev, Max Nagl and Rui Goncalves would travel to Japan for initial try-outs on HRC’s fresh ideas for the coming season.
The cosmopolitan crew – with over five nationalities as part of the staff roster – will regroup in the first month of 2015 in Sardinia for the final phases of adjustment and alteration to the MXGP race bikes. “We’ll stay on the island for a week and most likely take in the first round of the Italian Championship,” says General Manager Roger Harvey. “Sardinia has several tracks in close vicinity and usually the weather is not too bad for the time of year. We’ll then confirm the rest of the race schedule ahead of Qatar.”
Honda will not contest the Hawkstone Park International in the UK just one week before the first Grand Prix of the campaign in Qatar. It is so far undecided if Paulin will compete in front of home fans at the Valence International on February 14.
Sardinia has become a popular location for factory teams in recent years, and KTM, Yamaha and sometimes Suzuki have used one of the early Italian Championship dates to show off their new colours and technology.