One of the burning questions among race fans since the reintroduction of the 1000cc MotoGP machines has been exactly how much horsepower the bigger bikes make. Various figures have been bandied about, some issued in press releases, others bandied about by riders, or measured on the notoriously inaccurate press room dyno. The numbers so far have included 250 horsepower for Karel Abraham's Ducati Desmosedici GP12, in a press release issued by his Cardion AB team, the press room guestimate of 280hp for the Ducati GP12, and Casey Stoner suggesting at Estoril that his bike had 85 horsepower more than the 190 horsepower 500cc two strokes.
To these numbers can be added another, this time coming from the Repsol Media Service, in a press release discussing the Honda RC213V that the Repsol Honda team is campaigning. Honda's 1000cc MotoGP bike produces "approximately 230 HP", the press release confidently states, 20 hp more than Honda's 800cc machine and 10 hp less than the 990cc RC211V, widely regarded as one of the greatest racing motorcycles ever built. The figure of 230 horsepower seems very low, although it is probably as wide of the mark as some of the estimates of 280+ horsepower being bandied about in the media center.
The chances of ever obtaining accurate figures for horsepower of the current bikes are fairly remote, though a little deductive reasoning should allow us to draw a few relatively reliable conclusions. The only horsepower figure I have every reliably been given is 217 bhp, for one of the MotoGP bikes that featured on the grid in 2007. Given that, for example, Yamaha have been reporting increasing power for each successive generation of their 800cc M1 machines, by the end of the 800cc era, all of the bikes on the grid must have been making a great deal more than Honda's reported 210 horsepower. The 20% increase in capacity - though without any increase in fuel allowance, will have boosted engine power by around 10%, though the 81mm bore also acts as a hard limit on horsepower by limiting engine revs.
So both Honda's 230 hp and the 280hp figure making the rounds seem fairly inaccurate. But the fact that a Ducati team released the figure of 250hp, while a Honda team report 230hp should be regarded as significant. There is no doubt that the Ducati is the fastest machine on the grid - the Ducatis regularly top the speed charts, often being the four fastest bikes - and given that one of Ducati's problems is with power delivery that is too aggressive, making it hard to get drive out of the corners, it is clear that the Desmosedici has far more power than either of its rivals. It is equally obvious that that extra power is doing them no good at all, with new engine parts due to be tested on Monday at Barcelona aimed at taming the power delivery and reducing horsepower. A difference of 20hp between the Honda and the Ducati seems a reasonable assumption, which just means establishing a benchmark. My own guess - and it is nothing more than a guess, based on logic and the difference in speeds between the 1000cc bikes and their 800cc predecessors - is that the Honda produces somewhere between 245 and 250 horsepower, with the Ducati making something close to 270. How accurate that guess is we are unlikely to find out any time soon.
Below is the press release on the Honda RC213V, complete with interactive chart, issued by the Repsol Media Service:
More power for title defence
The Repsol Honda RC213V, follow-up to the 2011 World Championship winning bike, is a return to 1000cc capacity.
For the past five years the MotoGP World Championship has been contested with an 800cc engine limit. In 2012, the premier class has a new specification of 1000cc for the grid, marking a return to the powerful machinery that first came to prominence ten years ago with the switch from 2-strokes to 4-strokes. This is set to produce a more spectacular, more even and less expensive competition for manufacturers.
With Repsol colours on the livery and the No.1 plate on the front, the Honda RC213V is the bike to beat. Its design is based upon the RC212V with which Casey Stoner became World Champion and Dani Pedrosa won three races last season.
The Repsol Honda RC213V features a 4-cylinder V engine with a capacity of 1000cc, combining the main characteristics of its MotoGP predecesors. In 2002, Honda kicked off the MotoGP era with the RC211V: The first Honda bike of the 21st century (hence the 21-1 numbering system), it featured a four-stroke (RC) engine consisting of a 5-cylinder 990cc V and taking the Repsol Honda Team to three titles in five seasons —2002, 2003 & 2006— at the hands of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Over this period, the team claimed 26 victories.
With the move to an 800cc engine limit in 2007, Honda put the RC212V on track. The second Honda machine of the 21st century, the bike maintained the V engine format but brought it down from a V5 to a V4. The Repsol Honda Team took 84 podiums —24 wins, 29 second places and 31 third places— with the RC212V, and in 2011 Casey Stoner claimed the World Championship. This closed the 800cc era and inspired the design of the 2012 RC213V.
In search of improved stability, the RC213V features a redesigned chassis. The twin beam aluminium frame holds a 230hp engine. Combined with a new suspension system, the bike has better braking precision on corner entry, better tyre contact and better grip/acceleration on corner exit and improved absorption of bumps at a lean angle.
Besides the advances in electronics, engine braking and clutch, the RC213V also has an improved engine that is lighter and creates less friction. This helps to ensure a reliability key to complying with the six-engines-per-season rule.
From the bodywork to the specific fuel designed alongside the Repsol engineers for the engines, every detail has been looked at in order to mount another title challenge this season. The Repsol riders are once again two of the main candidates for the premier class crown over the course of the eighteen-race campaign.