The Honda RC212Vs are fast this year, there’s no denying the point. The top four overall testing times at the second Sepang test were each slotted to one of the four factory Honda riders. The Japanese company is hungry for another World Championship in the premier class, something it hasn’t seen since Nicky Hayden took the honor in 2006, and its fielding of three very capable riders in the Repsol Honda squad is just one of the measures Honda is willing to go to in order to better its chances for victory.
While all of the 2011 MotoGP race bikes are basically improvements upon the 2010 designs, Honda has spent the long winter months developing technology that will trickle down through the coming seasons, as MotoGP heads back to a 1,000cc format.
Accused of developing and using a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) by the Italian press, Honda has come under scrutiny for using a technology that is banned in GP racing. While it’s true that Honda was the first to develop a DCT for a production motorcycle (the VFR1200F), the Japanese company has come clean in order to dispel any rumors that it is cheating in the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. While not using a DCT, Honda says it has developed a new transmission that is in compliance with MotoGP regulations, and produces extremely quick gear changes, like a dual-clutch transmission.
“Obviously HRC is not using anything illegal, but it’s true that we have something new on the transmission that currently…allows for faster gear changes,” said Honda Racing Corporation boss Shuhei Nakamoto. “We are not talking about a DCT, but I can’t tell you how it works…because I don’t know!” said Nakamoto coyly to the assembled press with a laugh.
While the HRC boss is likely not happy about having to disclose one of its secret weapons for the 2011 season, this will likely be the start of not only Honda’s rivals trying to figure out what the Japanese company has developed, but a time for fans and journalists to speculate as to whether it’s this technology that is making the difference on the result sheets. Yes, the age-old question is back: is it the rider, or is it the bike?
Source: GPone; Photos: HRC