MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.
The race to arm MotoGP’s private teams with higher-performance CRT bikes is gathering pace. Last summer Honda announced that they will sell a lower-cost version of their RC213V and then two months ago Yamaha confirmed that they will lease YZR-M1 engines from 2014. At Le Mans the whisper going round the paddock was that Aprilia are working on a pneumatic-valve spring cylinder head for their RSV4 CRT engine, which could be ready by September.
If the rumours are true, Aprilia’s latest move should come as no great surprise. After all, the Italians were the first to use pneumatic-valve springs in MotoGP, with their RS Cube in 2002, the first year of the 990cc four-strokes. The Cube engine was developed by Cosworth, so it featured more Formula 1 tech than any other MotoGP bike: pneumatic valves, traction control, ride-by-wire and a mini carbon clutch. The Cube was crazy fast – it became the first MotoGP machine to top 200mph, at the 2002 Mugello GP – but the bike was a little too wild for race-winning lap times. Aprilia quit MotoGP at the end of 2004, returning last year with its superbike-powered CRT machine.
Pneumatic-valve springs have been used by Honda and Yamaha since the start of MotoGP’s 800cc era in 2007. The technology controls the valves more effectively than steel springs, allowing a higher rev ceiling. Pneumatic-valve springs should give the RSV4 CRT engine at least another thousand rpm, for a significant performance boost.
The new Aprilia engine, the production RCV and the M1 lease engines – which will all run under CRT rules (more fuel, more engines and Dorna ECU/software) – are designed to get private teams closer to the factory teams and create better racing. But which technical package would you choose if you were a private team struggling to find sponsorship in these difficult times?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.