While Ducati Corse is busy playing hide-the-Desmosedici at Sepang, HRC is all business in Malaysia this week, and has debuted its 2012 Honda RC213V MotoGP-contender. Honda isn’t saying too much about the RC213V, simply stating that the race bike is all new, but is also a continuation of the company’s design with the 800cc Honda RC212V. Testing the Honda RC213V over the course of last season, reigning-World Champion Casey rode the new 1,000cc machine three times in 2011, while teammate Dani Pedrosa swung a leg over the RC213V twice (missing one test because of injury).
With testing at Sepang to start Tuesday local time (later tonight for us Americans), we won’t have to wait long to see how the Honda stacks up against the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 and the yet-to-be-seen 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1. With Dani Pedrosa besting Stoner at the Valencia test, there should be a good battle within the Repsol Honda team for the World Champsionship title defense. If Pedrosa can stay healthy, he could be a real threat to stoner. Though, the Australian won 13 of last season’s 17 races, making him the favorite going into the 2012 season. Photos after the jump.
“We haven’t started this year, and going from 800s to 1000s I think it’s going to be a little bit more interesting during the pre-season, trying to understand where everybody’s level is, as well as what everybody’s machine level is,” said Casey Stoner. “We know we have a lot of work to do now before the first race and that’s what we’re focused on doing. But how we can envision this championship going, we have no idea.”
“We’re just going to do the best job we can at these tests, try and put ourselves in the best position we can for race one and start the championship well. But we don’t really know everybody else’s level or where we’re going to have to improve. I think Honda have done a fantastic job to give us this bike that we’re going to start with and hopefully we can improve it over these next tests. Hopefully, we’re going to do a little bit better job than the other manufacturers.”
“Yes, it’s clear I’ve been good all this time. I could enjoy the holidays and think of other things than being in the hospital or things in recovery. So I could be with family and friends and enjoy the time,” started Dani Pedrosa. “About the season, as Casey (Stoner) said, there are lots of things to feel in the pre-season, a lot of tests and we have to figure out how we are for the first race.”
“How the rivals are also. And just work, because it’s going to be for sure a long season and the battles are going to be strong, as always. It can be similar to last season or it can be different. Nobody knows at the moment, but actually the thing is to work hard and keep the head until the end.”
“The engine and chassis were developed last year because of the regulation change. We kept the same concept from the last year’s 800 machine,” explained HRC Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto. “We expect this machine to be competitive enough to win the championship again this year. Even with the 800 machine you must reduce the power from first through fourth gear. With the 800, fifth gear, sixth gear, we could use the full power, then in a straight line.”
“Of course this machine is a little bit faster. But time was gained only in fifth and sixth gear in the acceleration area. At the same time, the top speed is higher, meaning sometimes you must brake a little bit earlier. Then the cornering performance, if the chassis or tyres are virtually the same, it means that the cornering performance is exactly the same. So the new engine couldn’t make such a big difference. Then if you want gain the time, therefore you need more braking stability. And also we are having our chattering problems that we have to fix. Then I expect, of course, the lap time is better than 800, but not such a big difference, I expect.”
2012 Honda RC213V:
Casey Stoner 2012 Repsol Honda Livery:
Dani Pedrosa 2012 Repsol Honda Livery: