Honda To Introduce Rev Limits - For The Satellite Teams

One of the cost-cutting proposals aimed at saving MotoGP currently under discussion is the introduction of rev limits. The idea is that the lower revving engines will stress the engines less, and make them last longer, cutting the amount of maintenance required. Whether this will work or not is open to debate, and ever the great innovator, Honda have taken the first step, in announcing that they will be placing a rev limit of 18,200 revs on RC212V engines.

Of course, Honda isn't foolish enough to sacrifice its chance of winning a title while imposing rev limits, so the only bikes these limits will be applied to will be the satellite spec RC212Vs. The factory-spec Hondas of Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and - presumably - Toni Elias will continue unfettered by any such limits.

This is a hard blow on the satellite teams. Though aimed at extending engine life from the current 600km to 1200km - or about two race weekends - it will also most likely render the satellite spec bikes unable to compete with the much faster factory bikes. Coming after two years of - by HRC's very high standards - substandard equipment, another year of circulating at the back of the field will make it even harder for the satellite Honda teams to secure sponsorship.

The restriction is even more frustrating because it cancels out the benefits of having pneumatic valves. The satellite teams were looking forward to being able to compete once again, now that HRC had dropped its old steel spring valve engines and switched to the potentially more powerful pneumatic valve unit. But most of those benefits will be lost due to the rev ceiling.

Though the rev limits may save money in maintenance for the satellite teams in the short term, the measure is unlikely to be much use as a guide to how such a rule might work if it were applied across the board. HRC will be content to let the satellite teams fall behind the rest of the field, but if a rev-limited-by-regulation RC212V proved uncompetitive, history says they would spend whatever it would take to get back on top of the pile, leaving no stone unturned in the quest for power, torque, or whatever was necessary to lift another championship.

The rev limit for the satellite teams could however be used as a test of logistics for HRC should new rules on extended engine life be introduced in 2010. With the satellite bikes lasting for two race weekends, HRC can test its logistics to get it right for next season, when regulations could be introduced to make it compulsory for all engines to last two race weekends. Just how satellite teams will feel about being used as a testing bed for HRC remains to be seen.

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Comments

My memory may be too short, but I don't remember satellite teams to have been competitive with their factory siblings in MotoGP, unless the so called "satellite" team was actually getting premium factory equipment or different tires (like Tamada or Gibernau/Melandri got).

All I'm saying is that I don't really get the point of most of this article, it has always been the same for every manufacturer unless one of them had fully dominated the competition (in which case it didn't really need to spend extra money to put their factory bikes ahead).

There is a reason why Elias was so positive about this year, and it's because he was getting a factory ride. Everybody knows you need one to be competitive.

You are right that satellite teams have always been at a disadvantage, but this is different. Previously, they've been given upgrades throughout the year, with a chance of being close enough to get the odd podium at some  point. Now, they are being told that they will always be a long way behind the factory teams, with no chance of catching up. And remember, this comes after two years of poor bikes from Honda, where previously, a Honda was a guarantee of being competitive. You might not beat the factory Hondas, but at least you could compete with the other bikes. Not now.

Well, to me you are being terribly biased or intentionally naive by obviating part of the truth. When have Honda satellite bikes been a warranty of being competitive with the other bikes? Easy to answer, when Honda dominated MotoGP at their wish and their factory rides were miles ahead of anything from the competition. How could they spend their resources on giving the satellite guys competitive rides when not even their factory bikes riden by their best riders are able to beat the competition ?

As I said, I can't see in this article anything but a lot of misleading rant. Being critic for the sake of it and beyond reason. But hey, it seems that it's just me, since others feel that "woaw, they are going to make the satellite bikes intentionally slower". Com'on people, in what world do you live... Of course "satellite bikes are intentionally slower", there is nothing "evil" on it. Manufacturers have limited resources and they use them the best they can to achieve everyone's goal in racing: "wining". Satellite teams main problem is to survive and find enough money to keep on racing along the manufacturers, and I'm sure that Gresini and co will be happy to get engines that last two races.
If you want to get closer and cheap racing, get rid of the moto-makers and build a spec formula like they are doing in F1. If it's about our bikes manufacturers doing the best they can to beat each other, then satellite teams will never be up to spec as long as there is real competition between makers (like there is now).

You should be thankful to Honda for keeping 6 bikes on the grid after having quit F1 and when others are withdrawing their efforts due to the current economic situation. So much for Honda's satellite bikes not being what they used to, but past year the first and third satellite bikes on the champ were Honda's, the best of which ahead of 5 factory bikes while being ridden by a rookie (although a brilliant one, that's for sure).
The best thing that can happen to satellite teams is Dorna's proposal of having their own World Title and points so that at least they get some reward for their tremendous effort...

The point you are totally missing is that this is an artificial control on the competitiveness of the satellite bikes. Yes, it might save some money but the damage to the series will more than make up for any gains. On top of that, I would be wiling to bet that the satellite teams would be willing to pay more for a bike that they know at least has a chance of seeing the lead group.

The more real issue here is artificially limiting the performance of the satellite rides is only going to push sponsors further away, which isn't good for anyone.

But to get at the heart of your rant: that the factories can do anything they want. Yes, sir, they sure can. They could take their ball and go home as well. Why supply lease bikes anyway? Is it possible they have some interest in doing so?

Maybe they don't, in which case, they might as well not put them out there at all.

MotoGP will be just as good with 8 bikes on the grid, right? And it will certainly be a benefit to manufacturers to participate in such a series.

Firstly, about Honda: Of course Honda are the lifeblood of the sport. If it wasn't for Honda, the series would be dead, by continuing to put 6 bikes on the grid, they keep MotoGP going. It's almost unfair of people to complain of Honda not supplying engines for two bikes to Team KR, considering how much Honda put into MotoGP. They would be better directing their wrath at Suzuki, whose pair of bikes is a travesty compared to what the other teams are doing.

Next, about winning: Obviously, the manufacturers want to win, and as you point out, that's the biggest cost problem here. No matter how you change the rules, the manufacturers will spend whatever it takes to make sure their bike wins. I have pointed this out several times in pieces on cost-cutting proposals.

Lastly, about how this is different. Previously, if you had a Honda satellite bike, you had a good chance of regular top 5 finishes, as well as the occasional podium. Toni Elias' victory in Portugal springs to mind. This gave satellite teams a proposition they could sell to sponsors, and the promise of real coverage. By limiting revs on the satellite bikes, the best the teams can hope for is the occasional top 10 finish, the rest of the time, they will be battling out for the last of the points. If you want to see how that will affect the satellite teams ability to attract sponsorship, take a look at last year: Alice pulled out of the Pramac team, and Kawasaki pulled out altogether,  and they were the permanent fixture at the bottom of the results table all year.

Part of the reason it will be so hard for the satellite Hondas is the improvement  of the other teams. The satellite Yamahas are very close to factory spec, and the Yamaha as a bike is a fantastic machine now, making all four bikes competitive. But by limiting the revs for the satellite spec bikes, Honda is effectively forcing the satellite teams to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. This decision has removed even the illusion of hope from LCR, Team Scot and de Angelis.

 

Besides change being expensive, it's anti-competitive from the perspective of the entire field. In 2006, After 5 years of one formula there were 7 race winners and every factory visited the podium. The riders participating in that season make up the majority of the current grid. I wouldn't suggest going back to 990s, but how about taking the advice of the old heads and just stop making new rules (oh, and run steel brakes).

(p.s. Just think back to Germany and Portugal in 2006. Great races.)

Once again Honda screws it's satellite teams. Why does anyone ever place trust in these guys?

This is a new low, however.

Good luck trying to field a full grid in 2010 with this kind of factory 'support'.

Wow, the only ranting I can hear is from danielgr! He has clearly missed the whole point.

I don't quite know what to make of Honda. Often their decision making is just plain weird - as if they wish to make a point about their control over things regardless of the negative consequences.
Honda really sh......s me at times!!!

there goes the team and manufacturers title hope for them, all of their eggs in a single basket, no pressure danni?

... I am certain.  As Kropotkin suggests, this may be a test mule case.  They may be preparing this to show Dorna and the other manufacturers what's in store for some of these proposed changes.  In exchange, they get a chance to manage costs on their lease deals.  If the bikes are that much slower, there will be much more resistance to many of the new rules being proposed.  Conversely, when one considers Sachsenring and a few rain races, or if Takahashi performs like Dovizioso did last year, a mass (further) exodus is not necessarily certain.  Anyone with an eye for recent history, though, can look back at 2003-2004 and see some severe contrasts with the Honda of today. 

I don't agree with this plan, but that's because I don't agree with any of the proposals to increasingly specify the sport.  I can see Honda's point, though I think it's imprudently risky.  One could say that LCR is getting exactly what he asked for.

Perhaps, after a couple of rebuild cycles, Honda will relent and open the option for the satellite teams to access to the "top" engine.

...the big deal people are making of it. Stat teams have always been grid fillers for the most part. Yes, they have done well at times in past years but there's usually been unique circumstances like when Rossi went to Yamaha and Honda was trying to find anyone, even satellite riders, who could beat him. Those circumstances aside, Factories do not want sat bikes to win (remember Barros winning on a sat Duc a while bike, that pissed off a few people at Ducati). Limiting RPM's is no different than not supplying a known better part...a better engine design, a better swing arm, a better frame, etc. It doesn't matter if the reason is cost to supply, cost to maintain, or a desire to not show up a factory sponsor. The fact is, sat teams have always been ham-strung is some way. This is just a more obvious one.

That said, I believe Rusty has a point. Honda will have first hand data to show how this does, or does not, contain costs. By doing this Honda is in the driver's seat so to speak to show it's value. Honda's desire to prove or disprove this is would make for great debate. Is Honda hoping to show its value in order to level the field in an attempt to exploit some other capability of theirs or is Honda hoping to show it has no real effect in controlling costs in an attempt to negate it from becoming a rule? Much speculation could occur here.

This decision is even bad for the works team. By artificially limiting the rev ceiling they are losing valuable longevity information that they would have gained from the other bikes experience.

To wit...the purpose of satellite teams isn't only to fill the grid..it is ALSO to supply data. I would argue that Honda would be better served to have a HIGHER rev limit for leased bikes. Which bike would they rather have dnf...Works or satellite when they are evaluating a new part? Yes...I know that is "supposed" to be the purpose of the #2 works bike...BUT...what if Dovi (hopefully?) is ahead of DP in points come mid-season..what then, Hayden-ize DP...yeah right!

Strategicaly it is also bad. While it has rarely taken place..wouldn't they at least like to have the "possibility" of a satellite bike taking points away from a rival factory; or at least capable of being an impediment to Rossi/Stoner should they have a bad start or the like coming thru the field?

This sounds like a typical bean-counter decision...people with no knowledge of consequences making policy that under normal circumstances their opinions would be ignored.