The production racer version of Honda's RC213V is another step closer to reality. At Sepang, HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto spoke to reporters and the MotoGP.com website about the new bike, and the progress being made on the machine which will take the place of the CRT machines from 2014 onwards. The bike is delayed, Nakamoto said, but it will be ready in time for the tests at Valencia, after the final race of the season in November.
Nakamoto gave a brief rundown of the specifications of the production RC213V - a bike which, given the amount of publicity it is going to be generating over the next few months, badly needs a new name - though the list contained few surprises. The bike will have conventional valve springs, as opposed to pneumatic valves on the factory machine. It will not have the seamless gearbox used by the prototypes - again, not a surprise, as maintenance on the gearbox is still an HRC-only affair. This was not a matter of cost, Nakamoto said, claiming the seamless gearbox now costs almost the same as a standard unit.
The bike will use the spec Magneti Marelli electronics, and the spec Dorna software, which will mean the bike will be allowed to run 24 liters of fuel, rather than the 20 liters factory prototypes will have at their disposal from 2014. To this end, HRC engineers had spent time in Italy, at the Magneti Marelli plant, learning about the ECU. The engine was already being tested on Honda's dynos, though with an HRC ECU, as the Marelli unit was still having the bugs ironed out, as the CRT machines demonstrated at Sepang.
While progress on the engine side was promising, what was rather surprising was the area which was causing HRC the most problems. The bike will cost a million euros, as requested by Dorna, and producing the bike to this price was difficult. The hardest part, he told MotoGP.com, was producing the chassis at low cost, without compromising performance. "It is not easy building a Grand Prix bike for a price of one million euros," Nakamoto said. Anyone wishing to get their hands on one will be sorely disappointed. Only ten will be built - sufficient to supply five riders - and they will only be available in the MotoGP paddock.
The problems HRC were having building the bike down to a price were one of the factors causing the delay. Honda had originally planned to have the bikes ready to hand to the teams for testing at Brno in August, but that was now off the cards. The bikes will be ready at Valencia, for the test directly after the last race of the year in November, and not before then. Which teams would get the bike has still not been settled, Nakamoto said. The bike would be sold directly by HRC, but so far, they had not started negotiations with any of the teams.