One of the cost-cutting proposals aimed at saving MotoGP currently under discussion is the introduction of rev limits. The idea is that the lower revving engines will stress the engines less, and make them last longer, cutting the amount of maintenance required. Whether this will work or not is open to debate, and ever the great innovator, Honda have taken the first step, in announcing that they will be placing a rev limit of 18,200 revs on RC212V engines.
Of course, Honda isn't foolish enough to sacrifice its chance of winning a title while imposing rev limits, so the only bikes these limits will be applied to will be the satellite spec RC212Vs. The factory-spec Hondas of Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and - presumably - Toni Elias will continue unfettered by any such limits.
This is a hard blow on the satellite teams. Though aimed at extending engine life from the current 600km to 1200km - or about two race weekends - it will also most likely render the satellite spec bikes unable to compete with the much faster factory bikes. Coming after two years of - by HRC's very high standards - substandard equipment, another year of circulating at the back of the field will make it even harder for the satellite Honda teams to secure sponsorship.
The restriction is even more frustrating because it cancels out the benefits of having pneumatic valves. The satellite teams were looking forward to being able to compete once again, now that HRC had dropped its old steel spring valve engines and switched to the potentially more powerful pneumatic valve unit. But most of those benefits will be lost due to the rev ceiling.
Though the rev limits may save money in maintenance for the satellite teams in the short term, the measure is unlikely to be much use as a guide to how such a rule might work if it were applied across the board. HRC will be content to let the satellite teams fall behind the rest of the field, but if a rev-limited-by-regulation RC212V proved uncompetitive, history says they would spend whatever it would take to get back on top of the pile, leaving no stone unturned in the quest for power, torque, or whatever was necessary to lift another championship.
The rev limit for the satellite teams could however be used as a test of logistics for HRC should new rules on extended engine life be introduced in 2010. With the satellite bikes lasting for two race weekends, HRC can test its logistics to get it right for next season, when regulations could be introduced to make it compulsory for all engines to last two race weekends. Just how satellite teams will feel about being used as a testing bed for HRC remains to be seen.