Ever since the introduction of the six-engine rule in MotoGP, keen MotoGP watchers have been wondering when the engine limits might bite. After FP1 at Misano, the 12th round of MotoGP, the answer seems to be about now.
A host of riders were left pulling old motors off the shelf to use to work on their race setup. Six riders went out on their #1 engine, which first saw action back in Qatar, while two more took out their #2 engines. Even the newer engines being used had racked up the miles. Both Mika Kallio and Casey Stoner took out engines for their 32nd sessions, Marco Melandri put the 30th session on his #2 engine, Aleix Espargaro's Ducati Desmosdici engine saw its 28th session, while the Suzuki of Loris Capirossi and the Honda of Andrea Dovizioso saw action for the 27th time.
Kings of the high mileage were Ducati. Four of the five Ducati riders went out on old engines, Stoner, Kallio and Espargaro taking the oldest engines, while Hector Barbera's engine had been used relatively lightly, with just 23 sessions under its belt.
Yamaha, on the other hand, were going to the very back of the truck, with Colin Edwards, Ben Spies and Valentino Rossi all using their #1 engines for at least part of the session. Those engines had not seen so much use as the Ducati motors, though, Rossi's engine seeing its 26th session, Edwards' its 24th and Ben Spies' #1 engine the freshest, at just 20 sessions old. Jorge Lorenzo used a newer unit (#3), but that motor too has already clocked up 24 sessions.
Lorenzo appears to be the most troubled about the engine usage. The championship leader has lost one engine to spectacular failure, his #2 M1 engine dumping its guts at the end of the front straight at the Sachsenring. What's more, Lorenzo's #1 engine is suspect, as although it hasn't been withdrawn from the allocation, it has been gathering dust in the Fiat Yamaha truck for the five races, having last seen action at Assen, despite only having 22 sessions on the motor.
Even the riders are starting to notice the problem. Casey Stoner complained that the engine he was using was starting to feel a little tired, and this was having an effect on his lap times. "We could have gone a little bit faster today with the setup we had, but I felt like we were losing a little bit of engine power," Stoner told reporters, before noting that the engine was old, so it should not be too much of a surprise.
The winner in the engine game is surely HRC. The Honda RC212V motors have all held up incredibly well, with the only Honda rider taking a 5th engine so far Interwetten's Hiroshi Aoyama. With each engine requiring a theoretical minimum of 27 sessions for riders to make the race at Valencia without starting from pit lane, the RC212V seems capable of doing all that and more.