Two important tests for the future of Honda are to take place over the next couple of months. At Motegi, Marco Simoncelli told British weekly MCN that he would be testing the 1000cc Honda RC213V at the Japanese track on Monday, while Spanish sports daily AS.com revealed that Marc Marquez is to be given a test ride aboard Honda's 2012 MotoGP bike after the final race at Valencia.
Simoncelli's test has been made possible by the fact that the Italian finally signed a new contract with Honda earlier this week. With Simoncelli now back with HRC, signed for another season to a factory contract to race a factory RC213V for the San Carlo Gresini team, the way has been cleared for the Italian to test next year's machine. Honda has so far only allowed Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner to ride the 2012 bike, as both the factory Repsol Honda riders are in the first year of a two-year contract with HRC. The test will be important for both Simoncelli and for HRC, as Honda is keen to gather input from as many factory riders as possible about the direction the RC213V is taking.
Simoncelli is hoping that the added torque of the bigger engine should cancel out most of the disadvantage he believes he suffers as the heaviest rider on the grid. As traction will be even more crucial for the 1000s, Simoncelli's weight could turn into an advantage for the Italian. Fuel consumption - something that Simoncelli has complained about at many tracks, with the bikes restricted to just 21 liters of fuel - could become more of an issue, however, with the bigger engines likely to be even more thirsty than the 800s.
The more interesting test is due to take place at Valencia, however, where Marc Marquez is due to test the Honda RC213V. As Marquez has closed the gap to Stefan Bradl in the Moto2 championship - trailing the German by 82 points after the Silverstone round of Moto2, he now cedes Bradl just 6 points in the title race - speculation has intensified that Marquez may drop his original plan of staying in Moto2 for two seasons and move up to MotoGP in 2012. While Marquez had earlier stated that he was not yet thinking about MotoGP, sources close to the Spaniard have admitted privately that there is little reason for them to remain in Moto2. Even if Marquez doesn't win the championship in 2011, he has more to lose by staying in Moto2 and failing to win it in 2012 than moving up to MotoGP and spending a year learning on the 1000cc Honda. 2012 is also a far better year to make the transition than 2013: Next year, the 1000cc bikes will be new for everyone, making it a more even field that Marquez is entering. If he waits until 2013, the rest of the field will have had a year on the bike, and a headstart on the Spaniard.
Honda is rumored to have a factory RC213V standing by for Marquez, merely awaiting the decision of him and his team. Marquez would be housed in a separate "satellite" team under the banner of a major Spanish sponsor (probably still the Catalunya Caixa bank which is title sponsor of Marquez' Moto2 effort), with Repsol providing the real backing of the project, and ready to move Marquez into the factory team once he has gone through the compulsory first year in MotoGP which prevents rookies from entering a factory team directly. The test at Valencia will be decisive, with the way Marquez adapts to the bike being the final factor that forces him one way or another.