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 are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Will Espargaró be able to ride the Honda?
Pol Espargaró joins Repsol Honda from KTM, where he was the strongest rider on the factory’s V4. Does that mean he will be fast on the RC213V V4? And what do HRC need to do to make the bike better?
You won’t find many MotoGP riders that prefer a fire-breathing V4 to an easy-going inline-four, but Pol Espargaró is one of them.
Espargaró contested his first three seasons in MotoGP with Yamaha, but he didn’t enjoy the YZR-M1 and failed to score a single podium on the bike. In 2017 he joined KTM’s all-new MotoGP project and last year he was KTM’s top points scorer on the RC16, with five podiums
“I don’t like the feeling of a bike that controls everything you do, like the Yamaha,” he told me during an interview at Motegi in 2019. “You cannot over-brake and you cannot open the throttle a bit early. This isn’t fun. For me to go fast I need to fight.
“The first day I jumped on the KTM at Valencia in 2016 the bike was honestly a disaster but I had the feeling that it was wild and I love this. I like the feeling that the bike can throw you into the sky at any moment. I’ve been injured doing that, but I like this wildness and I really enjoy fighting.”
Engine configuration has a huge effect on the dynamics of a MotoGP bike. This blog has already examined this subject in detail but basically, the inline-four’s longer crankshaft makes the bike slower and more stable, while the V4’s shorter crankshaft makes the bike more powerful and twitchier.
Espargaró enjoys V4s because by preparing well physically and mentally and by riding in a certain way, there’s more for the rider to invent. Also a V4 is a better battle bike because while inline-four riders want the bike nicely settled so they can sweep through corners with huge speed V4 riders can dive to the apex, flick the bike on its side, pick it up and gas it out. This has obvious advantages when you’re defending or attacking.
There’s no doubt that Espargaró knows how to get the most out of a V4. The big question now is how will he go on Honda’s RC213V?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.