Honda: Factory And Satellite Bikes Identical Except For The Electronics

Honda is caught between a rock and a hard place. Like all of the other manufacturers, Honda has been hit hard by the recession, and is looking to cut costs wherever it can. However, the factory is also desperate for another World Championship, having had only one since Valentino Rossi left the factory in 2004 after winning nine out of the previous ten. The factory has to find a way to win another MotoGP title without breaking the bank.

The way they have selected to marry those two very different objectives is simple yet efficient. As of this season, all of the teams, whether satellite or factory, will be given the same bike. The only difference between the two machines will be the electronics, which control the performance of the bike to a significant degree.

The move marks a huge change in direction for Honda. In previous years, HRC supplied two different specifications of machine: A factory spec RC212V provided to the factory Repsol Honda team and a few selected satellite riders; And a satellite spec for the other satellite teams. The different spec of these machines could be significantly different, with different chassis, engines, fairings and exhaust systems. Even the factory spec machines were not identical, the Repsol bikes always at least a few iterations ahead of the bikes supplied to satellite rider.

By simply supplying the same bikes but with different electronics packages, HRC can cut costs and increase efficiency in both manufacturing and maintenance, while still controlling the performance of the satellite machines through the electronics package. Each rider has an HRC electronics specialist assigned to him anyway, and so this does not change the existing way of working in the first place.

The new system was explained by HRC's team director Kazuhiko Yamano at a press conference given at Sepang. "It's true, the bikes are all the same. The factory teams will keep the factory bikes, which use different electronics. If all goes well, the satellite teams will also receive these later in the season. How soon and who will get them first is hard to say, and will depend on the situation."

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"If all goes well, the satellite teams will also receive these later in the season"

Does this mean that later in the season they are getting the same electronics as well?

That would be awesome!

,,can a satellite bike win a race? ,, same question differently put; can one of the "big 4" win on a satellite bike?

If the answer is no, than it really isn't the same bike,, regardless of the spin.

There is just no down side for Honda if they give everyone an identical bike. Let the cream (rider talent) rise to the top. Plus, stack the odds for the constructors championship

I don't see how this can be maintained all season.  If that were to be the case:

  1. They are admitting they don't plan to develop the bike the rest of the year, or
  2. They found a place for their F1 money to go in a massive campaign to keep all the bikes current with each other.

Because this is a significantly new bike (not just a slight improvement of the last one), with lots of new hardware, it does not seem likely they wouldn't continue developing it.  And guess who gets the development parts?

I interpret this to mean that the pre-season testing will lead them to settle on a design, or set of parts, that will all be available at Losail; essentially meaning the bikes are the same.  That was relatively obvious, once they made the commitment to scrap last year's bike and build a new one.  But it doesn't seem believable they will stop development after that, because this bike will race in 2011 as well. 

I think Repsol might take their dollars elsewhere if they knew that their contribution bought them the same exact performance as Gresini's.

Repsol is spending their money on riders and better electronics. Their chances of winning the title are not changed by this plan.

scenario - Give all 6 Honda riders the same grade bike. All things equal, the best talent should win most of the time. That rider becomes champion, is then drafted to the Repsol team. Potentially a rider is then demoted to the "satellite" team. Now because all things (bikes) equal, Repsol now has the best chance of becoming the new champion team,, and to repeat.
Right now, Repsol doesn't have the best Honda riders, and won't find out who is because all things (bikes) are not equal,, and it gives other factories a better chance of not only winning, but occupying the remaining podiums pots. Right now, Repsol is paying "their dollars" for MAYBE a few podiums this year and nothing for next year.

You are right about the way that they are thinking right now. IMO it isn't the only way,, or the best way to give the factories the best chance at winning and then repeating as constructors champion.

,, just a thought

am i misunderstanding something here...are they artificially controlling performance?

you say "HRC can cut costs and increase efficiency in both manufacturing and maintenance, while still controlling the performance of the satellite machines through the electronics package."

The factories have been controlling the performance of the satellite bikes for many years now. The consequence of electronic injection and ignition. Each satellite team has an electronics engineer from the factory in their garage. They then turn the rev limits down "for safety and reliability reasons".

Yep, it is old news and I can't understand why there isn't more controversy over it, compared to say match fixing in cricket, football, tennis...

Not to mention horse racing where jockeys, trainers et al can be fined heavily and banned for not genuinely trying to win.

Yet here we are in bike racing allowing the same people who make the technical rules to handicap half the field for commercial benefit.

I can place a bet at the bookies on De Puniet to win, but HRC make sure he cant. It is a scandal.

If Honda sticks to this it will be the single biggest move to make the class competitive. Even greater probably than the single tyre manufacturer. Remeber when the satelite Hondas could battle at the fron in the 990 days?

I think the move will also make it easier for Honda to decide which riders to keep in the official team come silly season. I´m sure that Pedrosa will still prove that he is above the rest of the Honda riders, but I expect that he will leavethe team this year unles he has a very good shot at the title.

I was going to go with something a little more modern...maybe a TI-82 calculator...with a hand crank