It's been a long time coming, but it looks like the Repsol Honda riders will finally get their hands on the new Honda RC212V engine with pneumatic valve actuation. Toby Moody over at Autosport.com is reporting that Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa will have the option of using the air valve engine at the Catalunya round of MotoGP. Despite the atrocious conditions for free practice today, and a minor crash late in FP2, HRC's engineers have pronounced themselves happy with the new engine's comportment so far. Tady Okada told the HRC crew that both power delivery and handling are good, and their optimism means that they have decided to make the new engine available to both official factory Honda riders at the Grand Prix de Catalunya next weekend.
That will be very welcome news to both Pedrosa and Hayden. Like Mugello, the Montmelo track near Barcelona has a long and fast front straights, where top speeds will once again hover round the 200mph mark. The 1000 extra revs the new RC212V produces will generate a welcome power boost, but perhaps more importantly, the reduced friction generated by the pneumatic valves should also provide better fuel economy, leaving more of the precious liquid to be turned into horsepower. Unless Okada's bike disintegrates during Sunday's race, Pedrosa and Hayden are likely to jump at the chance to use the new power plant. HRC also revealed they could have used the bike earlier, but the strong performance of the steel spring valve engine under Dani Pedrosa raised the bar for the air valve engine, and Honda decided it would only start racing the machine once the engine was producing a significant advantage. Give Pedrosa's competitiveness so far this season, that's likely to fill the Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner with dread.