Repsol Honda made its 2011 MotoGP season debut today, showing off its three-man team of Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, and Andrea Dovizioso, along with the 2011 Honda RC212V, which will compete against the Yamaha YZR-M1 and Ducati Desmosedici GP11. An oddity in the GP paddock, HRC will field the three riders under one roof, having wooed Stoner away from Ducati after the Australian rider and Italian team had spilled bad blood in the 2009 season.

While Stoner was originally supposed to have his own team, presumably under the Red Bull banner, Repsol finally stepped up to the plate with its pocketbook when the Red Bull deal failed to materialize. Having three top riders in one team left some doubts as to how Honda was going to manage its talented rider pool, and a cursory look at the different machines that each rider will field sheds some light on the subject.

Launching at the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, the Repsol Honda squad debuted itself just a day before MotoGP’s official track test in Sepang. All three riders were in attendance, and the focus was clearly on Stoner and Pedrosa. Stoner seems to be the paddock favorite in contending with Jorge Lorenzo for the 2011 MotoGP Championship, but Pedrosa can never be counted-out of the fight, especially if his injured shoulder returns to full-fitness.

Looking at the RC212V’s of the three riders, it’s clear that Andrea Dovizioso has drawn the short-straw on the new tech from Öhlins, Brembo and HRC, as the Italian rider will be running a more conventional fork and brake assembly. Meanwhile Stoner and Pedrosa have the upgraded suspension and brake mounts from Öhlins/Brembo. The upgraded components see a revised piggyback reservoir for the front suspension, along with a revised radial mount for the brake calipers, which are now fed by two brake lines each.

With a Spanish title sponsor, Repsol Honda has always been under considerable pressure to see results from Dani Pedrosa, which has, come as we feel, as a detriment for Dovizioso. The Italian rider finished only a handful of points behind his teammate last year, and has shown the aptitude to do better, if only he had the proper support and resources from within the team to do so. While Stoner and Pedrosa will battle for whom is clearly the #1 rider in the team, it looks like Dovi is clearly the #3 man.

Source: MotoMatters

  • monkeyfumi

    Dovi actually has the 2011 forks (as used by stoner at indy last year), while the other two seem to be running the older style “through rod” forks, as used by most of the grid last year.
    Andrea also seems to be running an older caliper design, but I can only see one brake line on any of the caliper pictures, the additional lines appear to be for sensors.

  • Stoner is going to win it this year!

  • 76

    I think everyone knows stoner is going to be a force this year.. If you just play the true odds its him and lorenzo this year.

  • Isaac

    I hope Casey and Valentino bitch slap Jorge their way past him to catch up to Ben.

  • Loki

    Although I am the same age as the guy, I think that Lorenzo is too much of a “spoiled brat”. It’s really too bad that he’ll have only two serious contenders in 2011, at least early in the season.

    Spies and Stoner seem to be the only ones strong enough early on. Pedrosa is too inconsistent, Rossi won’t be fully fit until the early summer and Hayden never really shone with many victories, not even in 2006.

    I have no clue who’ll win in the end, but I certainly hope and think it’s not the “twitter boy”.

  • Prich

    Dovi does best when the cards are stacked against him. For the second half of last season, he was fighting to live up to his contract, even though talks were that he would lose his Repsol ride. Yet, he was up front for a lot of laps. I think the new pressure of just trying to be number two will make the #4 wheels spin a little faster. He’s going to be entertaining to watch this year for sure.

  • 76

    Dovi? come on the guy can ride no doubt but really didnt shine last year at all for being on a facotry Repsol Honda. I like the guy but no way hes with Stoner Lorenzo and Rossi yet

    I think the 2 wake up kids this year are Spies and Marco Simoncelli

  • mxs

    You really guys think that Repsol Honda will put last year fork and brakes on Dovi’s bike, because …. what? They don’t have the money??? Or because perhaps that’s Dovi’s choice (like it is many times; see Soner going back and forth with forks last year …). BTW, no other sites specializing on MotoGP have made the observation and conclusion you did. Do you have any evidence that Dovi drew the short straw, as you put it?

    If you do, let us see it, if you don’t, the article was not worth much ….

  • There is a definite pecking order in MotoGP teams amongst their riders. This is a subject I’ve personally talked to Dovi about on more than one occasion.

    As far as I can tell David Emmett (if you don’t read MotoMatters, you should) is the only MotoGP journalist to have even noticed the differences between the three Repsol Honda bikes…what does that tell you about the “other sites” you mention?

  • Dr. Gellar

    I would have really liked to have seen Stoner’s bike painted in Red Bull colors this year. Still surprised things fell through with having them sponsor Stoner’s side of the factory Honda garage. Personally, I believe it is a missed opportunity for Red Bull…and MotoGP in general.

  • mxs

    Jensen Beeler says:
    February 1, 2011 at 10:08 AM
    There is a definite pecking order in MotoGP teams amongst their riders. This is a subject I’ve personally talked to Dovi about on more than one occasion.

    As far as I can tell David Emmett (if you don’t read MotoMatters, you should) is the only MotoGP journalist to have even noticed the differences between the three Repsol Honda bikes…what does that tell you about the “other sites” you mention?

    I am not gonna let you get off the hook so easily … :-)

    Actually, David’s was the first site I was reading about the launch … sorry. Secondly, point me where in his article he makes the conclusion you made. He points out that the front end is different (it’s even visible from the low res web pics to me), yet he doesn’t say it’s because pecking order or Dovi’s bike budget. You say you talked to Dovi nad he complained to you about it?

    If the above is true fair enough, although it would be nice you rather write the transcript of your talk with Dovi, rather than making us believe that a multimillion dollar budget will not allow a guy to run the latest Ohlins forks and latest Brembo caliper (this is not AMA). I personally am not buying it. There might be a pecking order, but for different a lot more expensive things than newer forks and brake calipers …. How much are they saving in your opinion by running 2010 forks and calipers? 10-20 grand? What was their budget again?

  • No apologies necessary for reading MotoMatters, David is a good friend, and does a bang-up job with his site.

    Careful before you put words in my mouth, I never said this was because of budget issues, that was another commenter, nor did I say that statement came from David’s post. What I did say was that before this post, MotoMatters was the only publication that noticed that the three bikes weren’t all the same. Plain and simple.

    There isn’t really any debate about there being a pecking order inside of MotoGP teams, I don’t know why you’d want to debate this and ask for transcripts showing such. Updates flow to the factory teams first, and the #1 rider takes precedence over the #2 (and #3 in this case) when there’s limited supplies.

    In the case of outside vendors, Öhlins being the largest, and along with Bridgestone, the only third-party supplier that has a man in the garage at all times on race weekends, the issue comes down to availability (again not money). We saw this last year towards the end of the season when Öhlins originally sent out to three of the factory teams a new fork design, but only two pair to each team, which essentially meant only enough for one rider per team.

    Rossi made a big stink about not getting to try the new forks as a slight by Yamaha, but the truth of the matter was the driving wedge between the two riders was Lorenzo’s capability to be a #1 rider being a better investment for Yamaha than Rossi, whose career is starting to fade. The pecking order was starting to change in Fiat-Yamaha, Yamaha Racing made their choice, and now we see Rossi in a new team. (this isn’t really a part of this discussion, but I thought it was an interesting illustration of how large this issue is in MotoGP).

  • jamesy

    Hah! The silence is deafening…
    Well put Jensen. I agree that there is no doubt of pecking order, always has been, always will be, nuttin new there.
    It appears as though we may wait sometime for a ‘mea culpa’ tho… as is so often the case with those so quick to call BS

  • mxs

    Thanks Jensen for clarifying. Yes you are correct, you said pecking order, but you didn’t say due to budgeting (what I assumed and that would be BS I am sure you agree). I guess I would never have thought that Ohlins would make only so many forks and brake calipers for the #1 class of the sport.

    Is it reasonable to assume that by the official season start Dovi should have the new forks and calipers to his disposal? How long does it take to Ohlins to provide the newest equipment to all interested parties regardless the pecking order?

  • Two factors that could come into play, but I don’t know the answer to which is the predominant one:

    1) Contractual obligations between a team and Öhlins, i.e. does their contract specify how many units, and when they get them (it surely does, but I have no knowledge of these provisions).

    2) Contractual obligations between a (top) rider and team, which specifies preferential treatment, and first dibs on new tech. Honda has a bit of a reputation for not making good on its promises for technical support to riders, which was why Dovi dug in his heals, and wouldn’t allow HRC to put him in the Gresini Honda squad with “factory support”.

    You’re mostly right about the money thing not being an issue, but it’s not like teams are buying components from Öhlins and it’s just a matter of ponying up the cash. These items are leased, and the cost of having a component is wrapped up with servicing fees, technicians, etc. If you want top service from Öhlins, you gotta pay for it, and that costs…but as Honda has figured out when it dropped Showa (a company Honda owns), those Swedes know what they’re doing.

  • jamesy

    It seems unlikely that a great deal of further development would be done specific to the 800 cc bikes (forks?) But Ohlins will always be working on something new and using MotoGP as well as other racing venues as their “beta sites”. This may have been the case when they dropped off those forks at the end of last season, no?

  • monkeyfumi

    The article is still incorrect.
    Yes, there is a pecking order.
    But, if you read any of the reports from testing, you would know that Dovi spent the whole three days on the new forks, while Dani and Casey started on the older forks and trialled the new forks later.