Honda's Pneumatic Valve Engine To Debut At Mugello - As A Wildcard

The Eurosport commentators Toby Moody and Julian Ryder mentioned it during the broadcast of the race, and now several other sources are confirming it. HRC will be wheeling out its pneumatic valve engine earlier than expected. After Honda decided not to bring the engine to Le Mans for the tests which are currently under way, it seemed the first place the air valve engine could make an appearance might be the test after the Catalunya round of MotoGP in Barcelona.

Now, though, Honda has changed its mind. HRC's test rider Tady Okada has been entered as a wildcard ride for the race at Mugello on June 1st, and he will be riding the new version of the RC212V complete with pneumatic valve engine. Both Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden have commented that the throttle response of the new engine is too nervous, and there have been persistent rumors about reliability. With the memories of what happened to Valentino Rossi when Yamaha debuted their pneumatic valve engine in race conditions still fresh in their minds, neither the Repsol Honda team, nor their two riders want to risk a DNF due to a failed engine, Pedrosa having told the press on numerous occasions that he "won't race the bike until it's ready". Enter Okada as a wildcard is an ideal way of testing the engine under race conditions, something which is almost impossible to achieve on a test track.

The decision also makes sense in terms of the calendar. Mugello has a long, fast front straight, which should demonstrate the air valve (or "wind-driven" as one wag labeled it) engine's top speed potential, and a successful test would prove its reliability. This in turn could leave the option open for Pedrosa and Hayden to use the new engine at Barcelona, which also has a very long front straight, and is a track at which fuel consumption can be an issue. Two races after Barcelona, MotoGP visits Assen for the Dutch TT, another track which sees high speeds and high fuel consumption. Running a race at Mugello is a good way to find out just how ready the engine really is.

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