Honda’s production GP racer, the RCV1000R, made its official debut in Valencia today, days before it will make its track debut at the first MotoGP offseason tests on Monday.
Honda unveiled its RCV1000R production racer at Valencia this afternoon, just four days before the machine makes its European track debut during Monday’s first offseason tests.
The objective of the RCV1000R – based closely on the RC213V that currently leads both the riders and constructors’ World Championships – is to give private riders and teams a fighting chance in MotoGP.
The RCV1000R will be made in limited quantity and sold to private teams for use in next year’s World Championship. Already down to ride the bike are Honda’s former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, Moto2 race winner Scott Redding and Czech privateer Karel Abraham.
The 999.5cc RCV1000R looks and sounds like the RC213V, using the same 90 degree V4 configuration and firing order as the factory bike, as well as the same chassis geometry. However, there are some crucial differences in technical specification, most significantly the bike uses conventional steel valve springs instead of the factory bike’s pneumatic valve springs and a conventional gearbox instead of the factory bike’s ‘seamless shift’ gearbox. Both these technologies were deemed inappropriate for private teams who go racing on tight budgets.
“This project is very important to Honda,” said Shuhei Nakamoto, Executive Vice President of the Honda Racing Corporation. “The gap between the factory bikes and the current CRT machines [which use engines from street superbikes] was a little too big, so this is the way we like to help private teams – this is the main concept. The target was to produce a reasonably competitive machine for a reasonable price.”
Like other so-called Open machines (i.e. non-factory), the RCV1000R runs control electronics hardware and software – by Magneti Marelli – instead of factory-spec electronics.
The bike has already been tested by Honda’s 2011 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, who was pleasantly surprised by its impressive performance. At Motegi in Japan, the Australian was just 0.3 seconds slower on the RCV1000R than on an RC213V, using the same tires. Once the machine had been fitted with a softer rear slick, only available to Open bike riders, the gap shrunk to just 0.17 seconds.
This is not the first time that Honda has supported the premier class with production machinery designed to help riders compete at the highest level in World Championship races. Throughout the 1980s the factory’s three-cylinder RS500 production racer – based on the title-winning NS500 – was a mainstay of 500 GP grids. And in the late 1990s the company’s NSR500V twin once again gave private teams a chance to compete. One of these machines was the last privateer bike to score a premier-class podium, when Alex Barros finished third at the 1997 British GP. That year Barros bettered several factory machines in the final World Championship standings.
Honda has also enjoyed a close relationship with private riders and teams in the smaller Grand Prix classes, marketing four-stroke machinery during the 1960s and two-stroke 250s and 125s from the 1980s onwards. Honda’s current NS250F four-stroke – built specifically to the requirements of privateers – accounts for almost half the grid in the Moto3 World Championship.
Honda RCV1000R Specs
Engine: Liquid-cooled 90 degree V4
Valve system: Conventional coil spring
Maximum output (Kw/rpm): Over 175/16,000
Maximum torque (Nm/rpm): Over 110/14,000
Throttle control device (intake): Ride by Wire
ECU and software: Magneti Marelli
Frame: Aluminum twin tube
Front suspension: Inverted telescopic
Rear suspension: Pro-Link