MotoGP Engine Usage Analysis Prior To Indianapolis: Honda, Yamaha And Suzuki Comfortable, Ducati Faces A Dilemma

As MotoGP heads into the final stretch of the season, with just over a third of the races left to go, it's time to have another look at the engine situation in MotoGP. With each rider now well into their allocation of 6 engines to last the season, the trends are becoming clear. So who is in trouble, who has engines to spare and which manufacturer has done the best job of producing an engine that works. Below is a run down of each factory, subdivided by team and rider.


Honda

As expected, Honda's RC212V engine is virtually bulletproof, especially in its factory configuration. The four full-fat factory Hondas on the grid (Marco Simoncelli is also riding a factory Honda RC212V, along with the three Repsol men) have seen 3 motors withdrawn (for an explanation of the terms used, see the legend at the bottom of the page) between them, and all of those engines had around 30 sessions on them and at least 4 races. The satellite spec RC212Vs of Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias have not stood up quite so well, though Elias has also had to share his engine allocation with Ben Bostrom during the US round at Laguna Seca.

What is interesting is comparing the Hondas to the same stage of the season last year. Honda ended the 2010 season with engines in hand, the RC212V lump barely stressed, and they appear to have turned the wick up a little for 2011. The factory Honda riders are now on their 4th engine rather than their 3rd as they were after Brno last year, and have had three engines withdrawn instead of zero. Having erred on the side of caution for 2010, they have gone a little more aggressive for 2011 and it is paying off. The RC212V has a clearer edge over the competition than it did last season.

Repsol Honda

In the Repsol Honda team, everything is going to plan. Both Andrea Dovizioso and Casey Stoner have had an engine withdrawn - Dani Pedrosa having escaped that fate as a result of missing four races after his clash with Marco Simoncelli - but apart from that, there are no real pressures at Repsol. All three riders took their 4th engine at Brno, and have two completely unused engines and one very fresh one to last the remainder of the season, as well as a couple of engines that could easily be used as spares if a disaster happened. If you every wanted proof of Honda's engineering prowess, the engine allocation lists of the Repsol Honda team are a pretty good example.

Andrea Dovizioso
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 36 2 Active QAT-FP1 CZE-FP2
2 27 4 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 NED-FP1
3 23 4 Active NED-FP2 CZE-FP3
4 4 1 Active CZE-FP1 CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0
 
Dani Pedrosa
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 25 4 Active QAT-FP1 ITA-QP
2 34 4 Active QAT-FP1 USA-RAC
3 16 1 Active GER-FP1 CZE-RAC
4 4 0 Active CZE-FP1 CZE-QP
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0
 
Casey Stoner
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 43 5 Active QAT-FP1 USA-WUP
2 31 4 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 NED-RAC
3 20 2 Active ITA-FP1 CZE-RAC
4 5 0 Active CZE-FP1 CZE-WUP
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

 

San Carlo Gresini

The difference between the different spec machines at San Carlo are clear from the lists. Hiroshi Aoyama's satellite machine is clearly under more strain that Marco Simoncelli's factory bike, Aoyama having lost 2 engines to Simoncelli's 1. Despite that, even Aoyama's engines are in fairly decent order: he has 1 engine in hand, and 19 and 6 sessions on his #4 and #5 engines. He should reach the end of the season without problems.

As for Marco Simoncelli, his situation is not quite as luxurious as the Repsol Honda team, but he still has two unused engines in hand, and a couple more with limited miles on them. No surprises are expected for the Italian this season.

Hiroshi Aoyama
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 30 2 Shelved QAT-FP1 GBR-RAC
2 12 2 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 POR-RAC
3 35 4 Withdrawn FRA-FP1 USA-RAC
4 19 2 Active NED-FP1 CZE-FP2
5 6 1 Active CZE-FP1 CZE-RAC
6 0 0 Unused 0 0
 
Marco Simoncelli
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 28 2 Shelved QAT-FP1 GBR-RAC
2 33 5 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 NED-RAC
3 24 3 Active NED-FP1 CZE-WUP
4 18 1 Active ITA-FP1 CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

 

LCR Honda

The Honda rider who has suffered the most throughout the season, battling with the team over setup, struggling to get some heat into the spec Bridgestone tires and finding himself three seconds or more off the pace for the early part of the season. In addition to that, he had to share one engine with Ben Bostrom at Laguna Seca, the American being drafted in to run alongside Elias on the Spaniard's second bike in order to help out Rizoma, LCR's event sponsor. Despite all that, Elias is still in relatively good shape for engines, with one still unsealed, one engine with just 9 sessions on it and another with just 12 sessions under its belt. Elias may have turned a corner during the test at Brno, halving his deficit to the fastest 800s on the Monday after the race; if he has, he at least has the engines to compete with.

Toni Elias
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 47 3 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 USA-FP2
2 18 3 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 POR-RAC
3 12 0 Active FRA-FP1 CZE-WUP
4 27 4 Active CAT-FP3 USA-RAC
5 9 1 Active USA-FP1 CZE-WUP
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

Yamaha

If Honda went a little more aggressive from 2010 to 2011, Yamaha may have gone in the opposite direction. Of the four Yamahas on the grid, only one engine has been withdrawn, Jorge Lorenzo's #1 engine having caught flame after a crash in France. The remainder are all still available at least, though Ben Spies' #2 engine and Cal Crutchlow's #1 haven't seen action for quite a while. All four Yamaha men can be expected to make it to the end of the season without taking a penalty, but  that is not quite the full story. The factory Yamaha team tested a new engine spec at Brno, and will probably start using it at Indianapolis, but more of that below.

Factory Yamaha

The engine situation for the Factory Yamaha team is healthy, with only Jorge Lorenzo's self-grenading engine lost in the gravel trap at Le Mans. However, both Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo tested a new uprated engine at Brno, with a bit more power throughout the rev range. The objective of the new engine is to give both men - but especially Jorge Lorenzo in his quest to defend his title - some help against the mighty Hondas, a boost to counter the oustanding acceleration of the RC212V out of the corners. Lorenzo especially has complained that he is having to push at the very limit all the time if he is to battle Stoner, and a little more power would allow him to hold a little bit in reserve and help him last the race. Both Lorenzo and Spies will be using their new engines at Indianapolis, taking 2 extra engines each from the allocation. Those 2 engines will have to last until the end of the season, though it is likely that the older engines will occasionally be trotted out for free practice at less horsepower-critical circuits like Valencia and Misano. A start from pit lane is highly unlikely, but there may be a certain amount of juggling towards the end of the season, with mechanics having to do engine swaps more often than they might like just to keep the miles off the newer, faster engines.

Jorge Lorenzo
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 16 1 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 FRA-WUP
2 34 3 Active QAT-FP1 USA-FP2
3 27 7 Active FRA-RAC CZE-RAC
4 20 1 Active CAT-FP2 CZE-QP
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0
 
Ben Spies
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 28 2 Active QAT-FP1 GER-QP
2 17 5 Shelved QAT-WUP GBR-RAC
3 26 2 Active CAT-FP1 CZE-FP3
4 18 4 Active NED-FP2 CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

 

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha

No such need over at Tech 3, with neither Edwards nor Crutchlow likely to see the new, more powerful engine, unless they start to find some of the speed they had earlier on in the season. Regardless of the engine spec, neither of the Tech 3 riders are in any trouble with their current allocation, with Edwards still having two sealed engines available, and Crutchlow having one engine unsealed and two with very low mileage on them. When satellite machines handle the allocation limits this easily, it leaves Yamaha's engine reliability looking decidedly Honda-esque this season.

Colin Edwards
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 33 3 Active QAT-FP1 GER-QP
2 36 1 Active QAT-WUP CZE-FP3
3 19 4 Active GBR-WUP CZE-WUP
4 4 2 Active USA-WUP CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0
 
Cal Crutchlow
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 24 2 Shelved QAT-FP1 ITA-QP
2 41 2 Active QAT-FP1 CZE-QP
3 14 3 Active CAT-WUP USA-QP
4 8 2 Active GER-WUP CZE-QP
5 2 1 Active CZE-WUP CZE-RAC
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

Ducati

The second year of the engine allocation limits sees all of the manufacturers handling the restrictions much better, with fewer problems expected - more on this when we get to Suzuki - and Ducati is no exception. Overall, nobody is in any real trouble, with plenty of engines to spare for all. Of the satellite riders, only Loris Capirossi has taken his 5th engine, the rest still working with the first four, while just looking at the raw numbers, the factory Ducatis are in pretty much the same boat. But there's a complication with the Ducati called the GP11.1, which may have implications for the rest of the season.

Marlboro Ducati

When Filippo Preziosi suggested to Valentino Rossi that he could probably modify the Desmosedici GP12 - the bike Ducati intends to race next year, when the maximum capacity rises again to 1000cc - to make it legal under the 2011 regulations, Rossi jumped at the chance. Having tested the larger-capacity GP12, he much preferred it to the GP11 that he originally started the 2011 season with, the bike not suffering as badly from the lack of front-end feel that has plagued the 800cc bike. There was a penalty to be paid, however: because the rear swingarm and suspension on the Ducati attaches directly to the engine casing, and because the rear suspension mount had been moved and redesigned, they could not simply hang the original 800cc engine in the GP12 chassis. Instead, they were forced to destroke the GP12 to reduce capacity to 800cc and take new engines from the allocation to use the new chassis. Whatever the benefits of Ducati's minimalist and futuristic carbon fiber subframe design, the use of the engine as a stressed member means that major changes to the chassis require changes to the engine and gearbox casings as well.

This leaves Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden in a little bit of a quandary. Looking solely at engine use, both Rossi and Hayden should make it to the end of the season with some margin to spare. However, now that Rossi has switched completely to focus on the GP11.1, and Hayden due to follow suit at Indianapolis, neither man has much room to spare with the new engine. Rossi has one engine still unsealed, but the miles are starting to be racked up on his #4 and #5 engine. Hayden is in a similar situation, with his #5 and #6 engines to be used for the rest of the season. That's 7 more races, which while manageable, leaves no room for anything to go wrong.

Should disaster strike, the factory Ducati riders will have to make a choice: they can either revert to using the GP11 - both men have bikes with plenty of miles to spare on those engines - or they can take another engine and start from pit lane. In a further twist, the three flyaway races could make that choice even more difficult. Ducati could elect to take a GP11 chassis to Motegi, Sepang and Phillip Island, for use if either Rossi or especially Hayden lose a GP11.1 engine, but given the fact that the GP11 project has been effectively abandoned by the factory team, that would make very little sense. Leaving the GP11 chassis at home would save money and shipping space, and the option of borrowing a chassis from one of the satellite teams will surely remain. However, if the GP11.1 is the future, and with Ducati having given up on the 2011 season, at least in terms of the championship, taking the penalty of starting from pit lane is probably the better option. There are interesting times ahead for the Marlboro Ducati team.

Valentino Rossi
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1* 25 3 Shelved QAT-FP1 GBR-RAC
2* 27 2 Shelved QAT-FP1 GBR-QP
3* 4 1 Shelved CAT-QP GBR-WUP
4+ 24 3 Active NED-FP1 CZE-FP3
5+ 23 2 Active NED-FP2 CZE-RAC
6+ 0 0 Unused 0 0
 
Nicky Hayden
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1* 26 1 Active QAT-FP3 CZE-QP
2* 13 2 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 POR-FP1
3* 29 3 Active POR-FP2 CZE-FP2
4* 15 5 Active CAT-QP CZE-RAC
5+ 2 0 Active USA-FP1 USA-FP2
6+ 0 0 Unused 0 0

* GP11 Engine
+ GP11.1 Engine

 

Pramac Ducati

If the factory team is facing problems of its own making, the Pramac squad demonstrates the underlying reliability of the Ducati engine. Though both Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi have lost one engine, they also both have two unsealed engines left, and with very few miles on their #4 engine. Capirossi used his #3 engine at the horsepower-hungry Brno circuit, despite the unit having 40 sessions of practice under its gearbox. The Ducati GP11 is basically sound, at least in terns of engine. If only the chassis responded as well as the engine.

Randy de Puniet
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 26 1 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 GER-FP2
2 35 7 Active QAT-WUP CZE-WUP
3 20 1 Active GBR-FP3 CZE-QP
4 4 2 Active GER-WUP CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0
 
Loris Capirossi
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 29 2 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 NED-FP2
2 40 3 Active QAT-FP1 CZE-FP3
3 14 3 Active CAT-QP CZE-RAC
4 4 1 Active USA-WUP CZE-WUP
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

 

Mapfre Aspar

Hector Barbera is in the same boat as the Pramac Ducati riders, his Mapfre Aspar bike still has plenty of engines going spare. With two still unsealed and just five sessions on #4, no drama is expected for the Spaniard.

Hector Barbera
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 35 3 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 ITA-QP
2 39 4 Active QAT-FP1 USA-FP3
3 17 4 Active GBR-WUP CZE-QP
4 5 1 Active USA-WUP CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

 

Cardion AB

Like Barbera, Karel Abraham and his team still have everything under control. Two engines unsealed, a few sessions only on #4 and still plenty of legs left on #3, though the Czech rookie seems to be favoring that engine during racing. The chances that Abraham will have to start from pit lane look pretty close to zero.

Karel Abraham
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 44 3 Active QAT-FP1 USA-WUP
2 34 2 Withdrawn QAT-FP1 GER-QP
3 20 6 Active CAT-WUP CZE-WUP
4 5 1 Active CZE-FP1 CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

Rizla Suzuki

Nowhere is the improvement in managing the engine allocation so clear as at Suzuki. A design flaw in 2010 saw the Hamamatsu factory ask for and be granted three extra engines, as a component in the cylinder head would fail without adjustment, and adjustment required breaking the seals. With the design suitably modified, the Suzuki is on track to make it to the end of the season without too much drama, and on just the six engines allowed to all of the manufacturers, their extra allowance having been withdrawn for 2011.

Yet Suzuki is not quite as comfortable as the other manufacturers, perhaps: though Alvaro Bautista still has two engines left unsealed, the usage pattern of the four engines currently in the rotation. Since taking a third engine at Barcelona, Bautista has used at least three engines at every race weekend, using all four of his current engines at Silverstone, Assen and Laguna Seca. The older engines are clearly being used to spare the newer ones, with engines #1 and #2 seeing action on Friday, then being replaced by the newer units on Friday night for use during the rest of the weekend. Only at Laguna Seca - a track where horsepower is less of an issue - did the Rizla Suzuki squad stick an older engine (#2) into the bike for warm up, keeping the newer engine for the race. Trying to read the tea leaves of Rizla's engine usage list, it looks like Bautista's situation is a little tighter, but is a long way from being worrying just yet. One thing is for sure: Suzuki's mechanics are clearly earning their paycheck in 2011.

Alvaro Bautista
Engine Sessions Races Status First sess. Last sess.
1 28 1 Active QAT-FP1 CZE-FP2
2 23 2 Active QAT-FP1 USA-WUP
3 11 3 Active CAT-WUP CZE-FP3
4 20 4 Active GBR-FP3 CZE-RAC
5 0 0 Unused 0 0
6 0 0 Unused 0 0

 


Legend
 
Engine status:
Active - Currently in use, or used within the last two races
Unused - Engine still sealed and not yet used
Withdrawn - Engine has been officially withdrawn, and cannot be used again
Shelved - Engine has a lot of sessions on it and has not seen action for at least one full race.
 
A Session means the engine has been used in any specific session of practice, including qualifying, the warm up and the race. A Race means the engine has been used during a race.
The code used for first session and last session of each race consists of two parts: the three letter code for the country of the race, and the code for the session. 
Total votes: 335
Total votes: 40

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Comments

A great read as ever, just want to mention 2 things.

You didnt mention Abraham loosing and engine at his home Gran Prix recently ... the chart would suggest that this was a brand new engine. Is this the case, or was the engine OK? It looked pretty shagged when it bellowed smoke every where ...

Secondly, re Suzuki

" their extra allowance having been withdrawn for 2011."

I didnt know this was the case. I think I remember reading on here in an article or discussion on CRT teams, or possibly in the Norton article, that Norton would not be accepted as a CRT team for 2012 and instead come in as a factory team with 21L of fuel, but with 9 engines to last the season, until they won a race or something. Or was it until they had won at least 2 dry races in the last 2 years? That was the wording of the rule made for Suzuki last year, wasnt it?

Was that rule taken out for this year, only to be brought back next year?

Total votes: 317

Good point about Abraham. I'll chase that up.

Re: Suzuki. The extra allowance has been withdrawn for 2011, but the rules change again for 2012. Just to keep us all on our toes...

The rules are that CRT teams get 12 engines, factory teams that haven't won a dry race in 2 years get 9 engines.

Total votes: 337

Suzuki had 9 engines for 2010, 6 for 2011 and back to 9 for 2012?
Unless Alvaro wins 2 of the 7 races remaining in 2011 obviously...

Total votes: 306

They'll need those extra motors if they stay in with the 800 for next year. On current form I'd dare say the Suzuki could be very competitive with the extra power they could squeeze out if shorter life engines.

Total votes: 325

Even if Suzuki isn't going to build a new bike for next year, surely they could modify this years engine up a little like Ducati modified their 2012 engine for GP11.1?

Total votes: 281

You can always shorten the stroke and lengthen the rods, you can't always do the opposite. Also, if the bore doesn't happen to be 81mm this year, it would be tricky...

Total votes: 322

All round the figures suggest outstanding reliability from all the manufacturers.
I'm amazed at some of the stats. Stoner (5 races on one engine still active), Lorenzo (7 races and active), RdP (7 races and active), Bautista (4 races and active). A big thumbs up to all those engine designers and builders.
I really do hope Suzuki find a way to field a full factory two rider effort next year.
They look like they are turning the corner.
A calculated gamble by Ducati using the GP 11.1, but I generally feel a correct one. No point in flogging a dead horse, as they, along with their riders clearly opted for another direction and time is ticking away towards 2012.
Why would 1 engine from any manufacturer be withdrawn after 2 races and another be run for 7 races ?
The devil is in the detail pertaining to circuit. At some circuits the engine is at maximum stress for far longer than at others.
Also great to see how well Lorenzo turned his engine situation around after the fireball.
Thanks for the update David. Much appreciated.

Total votes: 304

Obviously if it goes boom there is no point keeping a pile of shrapnel in the corner of the garage, but is there any reason to withdraw an engine that still runs, as opposed to putting it on the shelf?

Total votes: 322

The "shelved" status is one I've concocted, for an engine that has not seen any action for a long time. Engines which have been withdrawn are usually done so for a reason, mainly because the engine either has a complete failure or is very down on power. An engine with a lot of miles on it, but which the dyno shows is still making decent power might be put in the back of the van and kept in reserve, just in case one or more newer engines suffer a catastrophic failure. This is what I am calling shelved.

Total votes: 315

I guess if there is a limited supply of the re-used parts (gearbox? cases? cams etc etc)
then you need to formally withdraw the motor before you can reuse those parts in a new motor.

If a Honda gearbox costs more than Nakamoto's house and the budget is tight, they may not want to use up 6 in a season just because the piston rings and valves need replacing...

Total votes: 317

He may have done seven races on one engine, but I doubt he's logged more than 100km in doing so! The above table only tells half the story. Mileage is where its at and that info won't be coming out.

I was one who thought that just maybe RdeP's aggressive 'grab it by the scruff of the neck style', pitching the machine hard on it's ear into the corner, may suit the Desmosedici. But no, the GP16 has only served to exacerbate Randy's tendency to land on his own ear.

Total votes: 325

just one correction - the determination of wear is most accurately guaged by Time-On, not on the # of miles put on the engine. Then the teams also build a suitable algorithm that factors in Time spent at each 1k RPM, with higher rpms used as heavier weightings b/c of higher stresses on the engine. So if the tracks Casey used that 7-timer were less demanding at the higher RPM's, or maybe Casey uses a quicker shift to avoid running at the higher RPM's for long periods - not sure unless i saw the info from his data-acquisition.

Total votes: 320

@mst1198sp

"maybe Casey uses a quicker shift to avoid running at the higher RPM's for long periods"

I don't think this is the case, given that Nakamoto has stated that the Seamless Shift Transmission is only efficient at maximum RPM, see quote below.

"Because racing machine transmission, usually shift up is at maximum revs. If you short shift, in this case a big shock happen with the new transmission system"

http://motomatters.com/interview/2011/08/21/hrc_boss_shuhei_nakamoto_deb...

Total votes: 300

"What is interesting is comparing the Hondas to the same stage of the season last year."

David was it last year that there was only one session on friday? If so it will affect the comparison between last year and this year. Having said that the big H still looking good.

Total votes: 308

Last year, there was only one session on Friday, but the sessions were one hour long. The number of sessions is different, but the miles were about the same.

Total votes: 314

Can you update the info on the motors?

Total votes: 313

I could update the lists, but there is not much to tell, other than that Valentino Rossi has used his 7th engine, something that was discussed in depth after Aragon. Nobody is in any real danger of running out of engines. I'll try to find time after Sepang.

Total votes: 321