Honda today officially unveiled one of the most eagerly anticipated motorcycles of recent years, and a key bike in the future of MotoGP. At the Valencia circuit, Honda unveiled the Honda RCV1000R, their production MotoGP racer, for entry in the Open class, which is to replace the CRT class for last year. The bike is a close sibling of the factory Honda RC213V raced by Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl, with a few modifications to make the bike cheaper to produce. This means that while the engine configuration is identical - a 90° V4 - the engine runs conventional metal valve springs rather than the pneumatic valves run by the factory bikes, and a conventional gearbox rather than a seamless transmission. The chassis geometry is also identical, though there are minor differences in chassis stiffness between the two bikes.
The RCV1000R will run the spec Magneti Marelli hardware and Dorna software, rather than Honda's custom and highly complex electronics package run on the factory bikes. One sign of that was the lack of torque sensor on the bike output shaft which is used on the factory Honda. The bike will have a 24 liter fuel allowance, though Honda do not expect to need that fuel. They will also have 12 engines to last a season, instead of the 5 allowed for factory entries.
Despite the limitations, Honda quotes the power output as being 'over 175kW', or over 235 horsepower. That is probably 15 to 20 hp down on the factory bike, but despite the lack of horsepower, the bike was still fast. HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto said the bike was 0.3 seconds slower than the factory bike when tested on the same day, by the same rider, and on the same tires. When the bike was fitted with the special soft Bridgestones the current CRT bikes are allowed to use, that bike dropped to 0.1 seconds. Asked whether that difference in times were set by Casey Stoner or a Honda test rider, Nakamoto quipped 'Both, Casey Stoner is a Honda test rider!'
Such a small gap between the two bikes was met with some scepticism, from some surprising quarters. Aspar team manager Gino Borsoi told MotoMatters.com that he expected the gap to be nearer 0.7 seconds than 0.3, citing the quoted price as a reason. 'Why would a satellite team spend 3 million euros, if the gap is only 0.3 seconds with a bike which costs just 1 million?'
That is a good question, and if the Honda is as good as HRC says, then there really is no reason for satellite teams to spend the extra money. The RCV1000R is set to cost 1.2 million euros for the first year, and 550,000 euros for the upgrade package in the second year of a two-year deal. With the total cost of ownership coming in at just under 900,000 euros a season, the extra performance of a satellite bike would cost around a million euros per tenth of a second. If the gap is larger, then that proposition would make more sense. The bike is not a pure purchase proposition either: the teams paying the money will only get to keep the bikes at the end of the two-year contract, after they become effectively obsolete. Before that time, all engine maintenance will still be done by HRC, and Honda will not allow the team to make modifications to the engine.
The bike will first hit the track on Monday, with Nicky Hayden, Scott Redding and Aspar's second rider - due to be announced after the race on Sunday - at the helm. They will have to share testing duties, as HRC only has two bikes present at the circuit. Nicky Hayden was already looking forward to riding the bike on Monday. 'When Honda they get serious about making bikes, they make really nice stuff, so for sure I expect a lot from it,' he told the press conference. Testing commences at Valencia on Monday at noon, and continues for two more days.
Below are the press releases issued by Honda, and after the press releases, a full selection of photos of the bike.
HRC UNVEIL NEW MotoGP PRODUCTION RACER
Honda unveiled its RCV1000R production racer at Valencia this afternoon, just four days before the machine makes its European track debut during Monday’s first offseason tests.
The objective of the RCV1000R – based closely on the RC213V that currently leads both the riders and constructors’ World Championships – is to give private riders and teams a fighting chance in MotoGP.
The RCV1000R will be made in limited quantity and sold to private teams for use in next year’s World Championship. Already down to ride the bike are Honda’s former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, Moto2 race winner Scott Redding and Czech privateer Karel Abraham.
The 999.5cc RCV1000R looks and sounds like the RC213V, using the same 90 degree V4 configuration and firing order as the factory bike, as well as the same chassis geometry. However, there are some crucial differences in technical specification, most significantly the bike uses conventional steel valve springs instead of the factory bike’s pneumatic valve springs and a conventional gearbox instead of the factory bike’s ‘seamless shift’ gearbox. Both these technologies were deemed inappropriate for private teams who go racing on tight budgets.
“This project is very important to Honda,” said Shuhei Nakamoto, Executive Vice President of the Honda Racing Corporation. “The gap between the factory bikes and the current CRT machines [which use engines from street superbikes] was a little too big, so this is the way we like to help private teams – this is the main concept. The target was to produce a reasonably competitive machine for a reasonable price.”
Like other so-called Open machines (ie non-factory), the RCV1000R runs control electronics hardware and software – by Magneti Marelli – instead of factory-spec electronics.
The bike has already been tested by Honda’s 2011 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, who was pleasantly surprised by its impressive performance. At Motegi in Japan, the Australian was just 0.3 seconds slower on the RCV1000R than on an RC213V, using the same tyres. Once the machine had been fitted with a softer rear slick, only available to Open bike riders, the gap shrunk to just 0.17 seconds.
This is not the first time that Honda has supported the premier class with production machinery designed to help riders compete at the highest level in World Championship races.
Throughout the 1980s the factory’s three-cylinder RS500 production racer – based on the title-winning NS500 – was a mainstay of 500 GP grids. And in the late 1990s the company’s NSR500V twin once again gave private teams a chance to compete. One of these machines was the last privateer bike to score a premier-class podium, when Alex Barros finished third at the 1997 British GP. That year Barros bettered several factory machines in the final World Championship standings.
Honda has also enjoyed a close relationship with private riders and teams in the smaller Grand Prix classes, marketing four-stroke machinery during the 1960s and two-stroke 250s and 125s from the 1980s onwards. Honda’s current NS250F four-stroke – built specifically to the requirements of privateers – accounts for almost half the grid in the Moto3 World Championship.
Honda Racing Corporation unveils RCV1000R for 2014
Today in Valencia, Honda Racing Corporation introduced the Honda RCV1000R prototype machine to be used from 2014 in the MotoGP "Open" Class (prototype machines with Magneti Marelli hardware and software, 24 litre tank and 12 engines per season). The goal of this new machine, which will be sold and not leased to the teams, is to compete in MotoGP with a reasonable budget.
Together with HRC Executive Vice President, Shuhei Nakamoto, Project leader, Tomonori Sato, presented the final machine to the World’s media, in anticipation of it’s first outing with the customer teams next Monday at the post-race Valencia test. The RCV1000R chassis is based on the current RC213V prototype bike, as is the engine - a 90º V4 producing over 175KW of power at 16,000rpm, utilising spring valves and a traditional gear box. The bike will be delivered with Öhlins suspension and Nissin brakes.
Four riders will race on the RCV1000R in 2014, Nicky Hayden and TBC second rider (Aspar Team), Scott Redding (Honda Gresini Team) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Team). HRC test rider and two-time World Champion, Casey Stoner, has already tested the RCV1000R and provided positive f