What did we learn from Friday practice at Barcelona? We learned that things are not quite what they seem. Does the fact that the Repsol Honda riders are second and third overall mean that HRC’s travails are behind it? Certainly not.
Do the two Suzukis in the top five – and Aleix Espargaro setting the fastest overall time – mean Suzuki have found the horsepower to match the Honda and Ducati? Absolutely not.
Will the Yamaha’s lowly positions on the grid put them out of contention on Sunday? Leaving aside the fact that it’s just the first day of practice, with another full day on Saturday, definitely, absolutely, certainly not.
Are all these assumptions completely baseless? That’s where it gets interesting. In fact, there is a kernel of truth underlying them all.
The difference between a successful race weekend and going home with empty hands is often made before the bikes have even turned a wheel on the track. “Base setup,” that is the elusive goal that teams spend so long chasing during testing and practice.
A good base setup will give you two full days to try to go faster, knowing that the worst case scenario is that your bike is only very good, rather than perfect.
If the bike is competitive from the start, you can focus on winning, rather than trying to find something that works, and gambling on changes that you are not certain will be effective.
This, then, is the dilemma facing Jorge Lorenzo’s rivals at Barcelona. Lorenzo has that base setup that makes him the man to beat from Friday morning.
Honda has finally debuted its “absolute MotoGP machine for the street” – the highly anticipated and hyped Honda RC213V-S. First off, the rumors are true: this is not going to be an affordable motorcycle.
The 2016 Honda RC213V-S will cost $184,000 in the USA, while Europeans will get stuck with a €188,ooo sticker price (¥21,900,000 in Japan & $244,000 in Australia). In order to buy an RC213V-S, customers must register on a special website, which will open on July 16th.
Each RC213V-S street bike will be hand-built at Honda’s Kumamoto factory, at the pace of roughly one motorcycle per day. For those inclined to doing the math, we’ll save you the trouble…fewer than 300 units will be made, with that number likely closer to 200.
The 2016 Honda RC213V-S will be available in two colors: the HRC Tricolor or plain-jane carbon fiber (our pick). Both colors have carbon fiber fairings, and come with coil spring valves (not pneumatic valves, like on the race bikes). Other changes from the racing machines include the gearbox, tires, brakes, and maximum steering angle.
As far as electronics go, there are five rider modes, a sophisticated traction control system, along with engine braking control, a quickshifter, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU).
Honda says that the RC213V-S tips the scales at a claimed 170kg dry weight (188kg wet in Europe, 190kg wet in the USA), which isn’t exactly mind-blowingly light. For example, the Ducati 1199 Superleggera weighs 155kg dry and 178kg wet.
For track riders, there is a “sport kit” that will bring the bike to even closer spec to the racing machines. It includes a new ECU, revised ram-air tubes, and of course a racing exhaust system. This kit drops the dry weight to 165kg (177kg wet), but it oddly won’t be available to USA market machines…and that’s an important fact to remember.
In the US market, the Honda RC213V-S will be tuned for 101hp at 8,000 rpm (66 lbs•ft of torque) — a figure the bike will be stuck at, since the sport kit is not available to the US market.
In Europe and Australia, the RC213V-S will make a still disappointing 157hp at the 11,000 rpm-spinning crank, but with the sports kit installed, that figure will get bumped to over 210hp at 13,000 rpm. Peak torque is set at 75 lbs•ft at 10,500 rpm, with the sports kit lifting that figure to over 87 lbs•ft.
The final production version of the Honda RC213V-S is set to debut in less than 24 hours, at a special press event at the Catalan GP. In case you happen not to be in the Barcelona area tomorrow, Honda has set up a live feed of the event (after the jump).
Still playing coy, all that Honda will say is that the launch will be “the absolute MotoGP machine for the street” – though, it is perhaps the worst kept secret in the motorcycle industry.
Casey Stoner is expected to be on-hand as well, giving the Catalans the treat of a parade lap on the €100,000+ Honda RC213V-S.
We’ll have photos and all the details for you once the Honda RC213V-S debuts, so check back tomorrow at 2am Pacific Time, 5am Eastern Time.
From Mugello to Barcelona, or from the heart of Italian motorcycle racing to the heart of Spanish motorcycling. Or rather, Catalan motorcycling, as any of the many Catalans which fill the paddock will happily point out. Then again, Catalunya is – ironically – at the heart of Spanish motorcycling itself.
If MotoGP had a home race, it would be here. Series organizer Dorna has its offices just south of Barcelona, and the working language of the organization is Catalan. Just east of the circuit lies the old factory of Derbi, once a mainstay of the 125cc class.
Check the birthplaces of any one of the riders racing on a Spanish license, and most of them hail from one of the towns and villages within an hour or two’s drive of the Montmeló circuit.
Most riders still have a house in the area, though many elect to live in the tiny mountainous tax haven of Andorra, because of the opportunities it affords for training, so they tell us.
With so much support, can the Spaniards – or Catalans, or Mallorcans – lock out the podium at home? It would be a crowd pleaser for sure, but getting three Spanish riders to fill out the MotoGP podium at Barcelona will be far from easy.
That there will be one, perhaps two Spaniards on the box is a given. But filling all three places? That is going to be tough.
All signs are pointing to the Honda RC213V-S road bike debuting the Thursday ahead of the Catalan GP; and if you believe the rumors, Casey Stoner himself will parade the MotoGP-inspired hyperbike around the Spanish track.
Shown above, with Honda test ride Hiroshi Aoyama at the controls, the Honda RC213V-S has been seen on the road, in its final trim. The bike has also been on display in Thailand this past week, helping fuel its official launch in Spain.
This means that in just a week’s time, we should finally know all the details about the RC213V-s. Expected to cost north of €100,000, the hand-built street bikes will be very special machines, with production likely limited to how quickly Honda can make the motorcycles.
Perhaps already a reflection on the waning popularity of the brand, but the slow-to-break news this week is that Spanish motorcycle brand Gas Gas has filed for bankruptcy.
The news comes after an earlier effort by the Spanish company to try and reconcile its debt of roughly €30 million, and to restructure its business to be more profitable.
With a last-minute deal between the shareholders falling through, Gas Gas had no choice but to file with the Spanish courts.
Aleix Espargaro is to have surgery on the hand he injured at Le Mans. The Spaniard had a massive highside during FP3 at Le mans, falling heavily and injuring his hand.
The scans he had at the time showed no sign of fractures, but examinations on Monday by Dr. Mir turned up a torn ligament in his right thumb, a condition more commonly known as skier’s thumb.
With the dust settled on the Spanish Grand Prix, the serious business of testing got under way at the Jerez Circuit this past Monday morning.
With a live track for eight hours, this is invaluable time for riders and teams to assess new parts, fine-tune existing parts, and go in search of the elusive setup.
For a photographer, a test is an all together more relaxing experience than a race weekend. With so much time available you can linger at locations and take your time wandering around the track.
Additional locations become available as the advertising boards, which are usually too high to shoot over, have been removed. Pit lane is almost deserted, and provides opportunities that are harder to pick out on a race weekend.
With that considered, I will leave you with the gallery below from Monday’s test.