The Red Bull KTM Team returns to Japan this weekend pumped with confidence. The team scored victories in both classes on the famous circuit last season, the bikes are expected to do well and both Aoyama and Koyama are riding in front of their home crowd.
Last year's Grand Prix in Motegi was unforgettable for KTM. Mika Kallio out-braked newly-crowned world champion Alvaro Bautista in the last lap of the 125 cc race, celebrating his third victory of the season. Then Aoyama turned team pleasure into pure unadulterated euphoria by coming home first in the 250 cc category. "A historic day," remembers Technical Director Harald Bartol. "Of course it was our secret plan o be prepared and to do well in Motegi. Even though they don't admit this, the Japanese manufacturers are pulling out all stops to succeed at their home Grand Prix. That's what makes these two victories so valuable."
So what of 2007? First it will be an occasion for Aoyama and Koyama to excel in front of what is always an animated crowd at the spectacular 4.8 km circuit set in rolling hills about three hours north of Tokyo. Hiroshi is confident. He has twice won at Motegi and he knows that he will have the crowd behind him. Last year they turned the main grandstand and large sections of the crowd into a sea of orange with countless flags, caps and banners supporting Red Bull KTM and this year the support for the team will be no less enthusiastic. "We have a big following in Japan," Aoyama confirms. "All my friends will be there, but there are also an amazing number of KTM fans that come to support us. It's especially important for me to do well there, and despite our bad luck in Portugal, I am very confident that we will do well in Motegi. The basic set-up of our bike is very good now, and I really enjoy the track!"
Aoyama will be riding with the adrenalin racing as he attacks his home circuit. His 250cc team-mate Mika Kallio shares his enthusiasm and his confidence. The Finn also goes to Motegi with the most positive of memories and is looking forward to making the weekend a memorable one. "The progress we've made with the bike and especially with our new chassis is fantastic," he says. "Of course it's always disappointing if you don't finish the race like in Portugal, but you have to look at the big picture. We are fully competitive - and maybe even have a little advantage here and there."
Japan is also a huge occasion for the team's 125 cc ace Koyama who has one victory and a total of five podiums this season and is lying third in the season's standings. "I can't wait to race in front of my home crowd," Koyama said with obvious pleasure. "The KTM bike is strong, and even though I couldn't make a podium in Portugal due to a set-up problem in one particular corner, I know that we will be up there with the best in Motegi. I will fight tooth and nail for victory!"
Two other challenging MotoGP races in the region follow Japan, in Australia and Malaysia, where the KTM factory riders will be onboard with the support of the crowd and plenty of enthusiasm.