The internets are a buzz today with photos from the MotoGP test a Sepang, which seem to suggest that the 2013 Honda RC213V prototype race bike has a 90° V4 engine configuration. The news should certainly come as a surprise for many Ducatisti MotoGP fans, as Ducati Corse’s front-end woes have often been attributed by couch racers to the Italian company’s 90° V4 engine configuration. Seeing how dominant Honda has been at the pre-season testing in Malaysia though, one cannot help but admit that the cylinder configuration is not necessarily to blame for Ducati’s troubles.
Talking to Spanish magazine SoloMoto, HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto explains that the 90° V4 engine has benefits over the company’s previous 75° engine configuration, namely that the 90° engine doesn’t require a balancing countershaft. Nakamoto-san further explains that because of the balancing shaft’s absence, Honda’s 90° V4 runs with more power, and less vibration that its 75° predecessor, making the engine a formidable enhancement to the RC213V platform.
There is strong reason to believe Honda has been running the RC213V in a 90° V4 engine configuration since the bike’s inception in 2012, which perhaps gives us some insight into the Casey Stoner’s wry smile and his reply that the engine wasn’t the problem with the Ducati, when he was asked about Ducati Corse’s troubles throughout the 2012 season.
The photos taken at Sepang show that the Honda V4 engine has been rotated rearward a great deal within its frame, which may be part of the reason why HRC is able to make the engine configuration work in MotoGP racing. However, the Ducati Desmosedici was rumored to get a similar treatment with its V4 in 2012, making one wonder what else lurks in the Ducati Corse MotoGP platform that is amiss.
Whatever the case may be, all of this bodes to be an interesting development, as Honda is getting closer to unveiling its production-racer version of the RC213V (expected at the Valencia end-of-the-season test) as well as its new premium-market V4 sport bike (expected sometime in 2014). Somewhere in Bologna, some motorcycle engineers are having trouble sleeping right now.