As the season winds towards its conclusion, the effect of the engine rules is starting to become clear. With 15 out of 18 races already having been run, reliability problems have been given plenty of time to rear their head, and what's been remarkable is the fact that there's been so few problems in this regard - with the exception of the Suzukis, who will will be glad that they got their permitted engine allocation expanded to 9 engines instead of 6.
In the reliability stakes, Honda rather unsurprisingly comes out on top, with just three engines withdrawn from a grand total of 36 allocated to the six riders on an RC212V. What's more, the Hondas have a lot of spare engines unused, and engines with just a few sessions on them. The inevitable dark murmurings of that the engine rules were drawn up at the behest of Honda will be further fueled by these numbers, but whether there is any truth in them or not, there is no doubt that HRC has done a fantastic job on engine reliablity
Yamaha have done a pretty decent job too, though with 4 out of 24 engines withdrawn, there have clearly been one or two problems. The most spectacular of those problems came at the Sachsenring, when Jorge Lorenzo's engine exploded up the front straight during qualifying, but apart from the odd puff of smoke, there's been no obvious problems with the M1. The Yamaha riders have taken nearly all of their allocation so far, though, with only Ben Spies left with an unsealed engine. That, though, is in part due to the new engine spec Yamaha introduced at Motegi, which promised improved top end and acceleration. Both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo seized the opportunity to use the more powerful engine, using up their allocation, though with plenty of miles still left on the engines.
Ducati have had the most problems, withdrawing 11 engines from the 30 allowed for their 5 riders. At the same time, Ducati also have 5 engines still unsealed, suggesting that the problem might be a sensitivity to crash damage rather than outright reliability. Casey Stoner lost his first engine at the very first race, when he crashed out from the lead, but one or two other engines - such as Hector Barbera's engine which ran on its side at Silverstone - also have the suspicion of having suffered some kind of minor crash damage which caused them to be withdrawn. The main culprit in this respect could be the oil supply, though Ducati engineers unsurprisingly refuse to comment on the issue.
Now allowed 9 engines each instead of just 6, the story of the Suzukis is a rather strange one. Alvaro Bautista has run through his engines like there's no tomorrow, though only having two withdrawn. But the fact that Bautista is already on engine #8 suggests that there is a fundamental problem somewhere in the engine, hinting perhaps that Bautista might even suffer an engine penalty before the season is out. Loris Capirossi is faring slightly better, in no danger of a penalty, but still already on his 6th engine.
Below is the latest state of play with regards to the engines. The charts below show how many sessions each engine was used in, including free practice, qualifying, warm up and races. The number of races each engine has been used for is also shown, as well as the first time and last time each engine came out of pit lane. The code shown for the First used and Last used data can be broken down into two parts: the number (01, 08, 13) refers to the number of the MotoGP round, where 01 is Qatar, 08 is the Sachsenring, 13 is Aragon, etc; and the letters (FP1, QP, WUP, RAC) are the codes used by Dorna to designate the sessions, where FP1, FP2 and FP3 are the Free Practice sessions, QP is qualifying, WUP is the warm up and RAC is the race.
|Fiat Yamaha team|
|Notes||Valentino Rossi's broken leg and the extended layoff his engines got worked out in the Italian's favor in the end, though he would surely trade a broken engine for the broken leg he suffered. Rossi's engine allocation has been used most frugally, and he is now in the luxurious position of having two brand new go-faster Yamaha engines introduced at Motegi. No foreseeable engine problems for The Doctor.|
|Notes||Jorge Lorenzo is said to have been very nervous about the engine situation all year, but with the title under his belt, he can afford to relax. Lorenzo has just one of the faster spec engines, which he used for the first time at Sepang. Lorenzo is also using the fast new engine, but he has only one of them, his #6. Now that the title is in the bag, that's the engine he'll be racing, using the others for practice.|
|Monster Tech 3 Yamaha|
|Notes||The satellite Yamaha riders have not received Yamaha's upgraded engine, and as Edwards has taken his final engine, he is unlikely to get it before the end of the year.|
|Notes||Spies got some electronics upgrades at Laguna Seca, and those immediately boosted the performance of the American, though he was doing pretty well before that. Spies still has one engine left unsealed, and could perhaps be given the new engine spec before the end of the season. Most likely, though, he'll have to wait until after the race at Valencia, when he moves to the factory team.|
|Repsol Honda Team|
|Notes||The Honda has received several upgrades throughout the year, but they have all been in the chassis and electronics. The engine itself is solid, as Andrea Dovizioso's engine list demonstrates.|
|Notes||Having missed both Motegi and Sepang, Pedrosa has even more room to spare in his allocation than Dovizioso. If Honda wanted to introduce a new engine spec early, Pedrosa would be the obvious candidate to receive it, as he has one unsealed engine to go. But as he is still recovering from a broken collarbone, the earliest that's likely to happen would be Estoril.|
|San Carlo Gresini Honda|
|Notes||Hiroshi Aoyama has been HRC's black sheep. With two engines withdrawn, the Japanese rider has two-thirds of all shelved Honda engines. None of the withdrawn engines relate to his crash at Silverstone, however. Aoyama seems to be the victim of bad luck more than anything.|
|Randy de Puniet|
|Notes||Randy de Puniet had the only other Honda engine withdrawn from his allocation, but that was a unit with an impressive 32 sessions on it, above and beyond the call of duty.|
|Ducati Marlboro Team|
|Notes||Casey Stoner's #3 engine more than compensated for the engine that Stoner damaged in a crash at Qatar, racking up an impressive 37 sessions. No wonder it was withdrawn from action. With three engines down, Stoner might be expected to be in trouble, but the Australian still has one engine completely untouched. He should get to the end of the season without having to start from the pit lane.|
|Notes||Nicky Hayden is in slightly more trouble, with his last engine taken and not too many miles left on his #5 engine either. If you fancied a bet on whose engine would go bang next, Nicky Hayden would be the prime candidate.|
|Notes||Mika Kallio has had a strange season, and his engine pattern shows up much of it. The Finnish rider has only used four engines so far, one of which he never even raced. He has a lot in hand, but Carlos Checa, who is to replace him from Estoril, will benefit most.|
|Paginas Amarillas Ducati|
|Notes||Before the season started, Barbera would have been one of the favorites to have to start from pit lane, as the Spaniard has a reputation as a crasher. But Barbera has calmed down a good deal this year, and it shows in his engine usage. With one unsealed and just 6 sessions on his #5 engine, he has room to spare.|
After it was clear that Suzuki were going to run into trouble, the Grand Prix commission allowed Suzuki (or more precisely, any factory without two dry race wins in the past two years) to have 9 engines instead of 6.
|Notes||Alvaro Bautista is running through engines like there's no tomorrow. With two low-mileage units and an engine to spare, he should be alright until the end of the season. But at the rate he is currently going at, he may yet find himself starting from pit lane at Valencia.|
|Notes||By contrast, Loris Capirossi is doing rather well. The Italian veteran would probably not have made it to the end of the season with just the 6 engines allowed to the other manufacturers, but he won't be much above that. The difference with his teammate Bautista is just plain puzzling.|