Students at the Honda Australia Rider Training (HART) centre 20km north of Melbourne had an exciting surprise this morning when Repsol Honda aces Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso visited the facility on their way to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. The factory Honda pair discussed riding technique and safety equipment with the instructors and students at the state-of-the-are training centre, which opened in May this year and forms part of Honda’s ongoing commitment to rider safety.
Pedrosa and Dovizioso also took the chance to test their skills on the pioneering Honda Riding Simulator which recreates a variety of realistic road riding environments and allows students to prepare for the hazards of motorcycling in a safe environment. Of course both riders displayed the ultra-quick reflexes and exquisite machine control to be expected from Grand Prix champions. But, like any normal students, they came unstuck with some of the less familiar hazards thrown their way by the simulator: weaving bicycles, wayward pedestrians and swerving vehicles. Pedrosa and Dovizioso left the HART training centre convinced of its value in promoting rider skills and safety.
HART is a non-profit division of Honda and conducts training for all levels of motorcyclists, from total beginners through to advanced riders. The initiative was started in 1989 and was based on Honda’s highly successful Suzuka Traffic Education Centre in Japan - reflecting the company’s international commitment to doing a great deal more than just manufacturing and marketing motorcycles.
More than 7,000 students per year pass through the HART facility in Melbourne and there are similar facilities in Sydney and Brisbane, with a total throughput of 17,000 students annually.
Dani Pedrosa “This kind of centre is really valuable and the training you get here can help riders to be safer, so that they can really enjoy their machines. Even when you pass your riding exams and receive your license there’s still a lot to learn, so this sort of training is very beneficial. Compared to the track, riding on the road is much more complicated because there are so many more hazards to consider. You need to have the same focus for both, but the extra experience you can get here is very useful and so it’s great that Honda creates centers like these. The simulator was fun, but I think it might be easier riding on the track!”
Andrea Dovizioso “Even on the racetrack we have to be careful and pay attention to many things - the track surface, the grip from the tires, other riders - and we have many exciting moments. But on the road there’s a lot more to look out for. That’s why the training you get at this sort of centre is so good. I see many riders on the road trying to copy racers like us - and it’s really important that they acquire the right skills. Honda has always promoted rider safety, so it’s great that people can learn about machine control in a variety of conditions here, and also about the correct protective gear to wear.”
Mark Collins - National HART Manager “We’re thrilled to have Dani and Andrea visit us today, and the fact that they are here really displays Honda’s commitment to promoting rider safety. It’s great to hear from racers like Dani and Andrea that they can see the value in centers such as ours. Part of Honda’s philosophy is that the people that buy our machines are well trained and have the confidence to use them - and ultimately that means they will be safer. I think Honda leads the way as the only manufacturer that is really committed to rider and driver training.”
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