The 2012 machines are slowly starting to emerge. After Ducati debuted their 2012 Desmosedici in a private test at Jerez back in early April, today, it was the turn of Honda to hand their 2012 machine over to their factory riders. Casey Stoner took the machine out most of the day's testing, after a quick shakedown by Honda's test rider Shinichi Itoh. Dani Pedrosa had been scheduled to ride the bike on Wednesday, but as the Spaniard broke his collarbone in the crash between himself and Marco Simoncelli, Pedrosa is unable to test the 2012 machine. Based on the data from the test and the weather for tomorrow - thunderstorms are forecast for Wednesday afternoon at Jerez de la Frontera - HRC will decide whether to use another one of the 8 days testing allowed during the season and send Stoner back out, or wait for a later date (and better weather) and give Pedrosa some time on the bike.
The bike, according to the Honda press release, is based on the RC212V, and at first glance the machine is virtually identical. The only difference that catches the eye is the modified radiator side vent, which carries a bar and seems slightly larger than the 800cc machine. As the Ducati also had a modified radiator side vent, it would seem that the 2012 machines do not generate the same amount of heat as the 800s. Given that the 1000s are likely to rev at significantly lower engine speeds, the amount of engine heat generated will also be different.
Images, courtesy of Honda Racing:
Below is the official press release from Repsol Honda about the test:
Casey Stoner tests the 2012 Honda prototype in Jerez
With a two week break before the Grand Prix of Catalunya, Honda Racing Corporation today returned to the track in Jerez with French GP winner Casey Stoner aboard the 2012 Honda prototype
HRC test riders Kosuke Akiyoshi and Shinichi Ito have been testing this machine in April at Suzuka, Japan and it was planned for Repsol Honda Team riders Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner to both test in Jerez this week. However, after Pedrosa's accident in Le Mans it was not possible for him to take part and only Stoner has been involved.
Shinichi performed the shake down of the new machine early this morning at the Jerez track, before Casey began his testing schedule at 11am local time in perfect sunny conditions. He completed a total of 50 laps (221km) and as well as using the standard 800cc Bridgestone tyres used this season, he also tested the new prototype tyres for 2012.
This early season test will give valuable feedback about the new prototype from the first stages of its development. HRC sent senior mechanics from the Repsol Honda Team to Jerez to work closely with the R&D engineers and Casey Stoner. The new machine is based on the concept of the present RC212V and the experience gained in the last stage of 800cc bikes. HRC started work on this new project in late 2009, when the new regulations for 2012 become official for the MotoGP class, stating a capacity of 1000cc, maximum bore of 81mm and maximum 4 cylinders.
A crucial point with the 1000cc engine will be fuel consumption, as again in 2012 bikes will keep the 21 litre tank as per the 800cc machines. To deal with this issue, Repsol recently sent experts to Japan to develop a specific fuel and lubricant for the new bike and engineers at the Repsol Technology Centre are focusing on a fuel which will not only offer optimum fuel efficiency but also deliver maximum performance.
Each manufacturer has eight days of testing during the season with contracted riders on the 2012 machine. After checking today's data and the weather forecast, HRC will decide whether or not to continue testing tomorrow with Stoner. HRC will then choose how to make the best use of the remaining days left to work on track with the new prototype, hoping Pedrosa recovers soon to also give his feedback on the new machine.
There is no further update on Dani Pedrosa's chosen direction for recovery, he is still evaluating the two options with his doctors, whether to have surgery or let the fracture heal naturally.
Repsol starts developing a next-generation fuel
Researchers from the Repsol Technology travelled some days ago to Saitama (Japón), where Honda is developing a new 1000cc motorbike that will compete in the MotoGP World Championship from 2012. Coordinated with their Japanese counterparts, Repsol experts started to develop a specific fuel and lubricant for the new bike, which was driven today for the first time by Casey Stoner in a private test held at Jerez Circuit.
After creating in 2010 the fuel Marc Márquez used to become 125cc World Champion, the engineers of the Repsol Technology Centre focused on the development of a fuel adapted to the new MotoGP displacement. Repsol thus makes available to Honda all its knowledge about lubricants an fuels for racing, at the same time, Honda shares its racing engines technology.
To develop the fuel with the maximum performance and better adapted to the new 1000cc engine. Repsol will carry out various tests with a single cylinder engine for research based on the prototype being developed by Honda for the next MotoGP season.
"Everything has gone very well, very positive. It's just nice to ride the 1000cc again, to feel the engine and the power. I had a lot of fun, I enjoyed the first day because everything we've tried seems to be working, so no complaints. The biggest disappointment is that Dani is not going be here to test as he is important to the development of this bike.
I hope that soon HRC can get his input as well because we need as much data as possible, in order to be ready for next season. We didn't focus on anything special today, just tried to understand what the bike is doing, how it reacts on the brakes and things like that, also considering some the issues we have with the 800cc right now.
The braking point seems to be stronger, stability in the front going into the corner seems to be very good, and of course we want to understand how the power delivery is, and it is very smooth so no problem. In general, we haven't changed too much from the set up we have on the 800cc right now and the feeling is very similar, so it's pretty good".
Shuhei Nakamoto Vicepresident of HRC
"I think we had a good day of testing, the machine worked well as we hoped, without any specific issues. Of course, it's just the first day so we will need to improve but we tested many things and everything was ok. Casey is happy with a more powerful engine, also drivability was ok and on the chassis side we need to keep progressing.
Unfortunately, Dani is not here and it would be better to have both riders' feedback. Casey's comments are very similar to the ones we received from the test riders, and this is good. Hopefully we can get Dani's impressions soon to keep working on the development".