honda's rc211v up to 240 hp
News from Honda...
HRC held one of their rare press conferences after Saturday qualifying (Ducati on pole...) to reveal a few details of the 2003 model RCV211.
The conference opened with another rare item, a joke from HRC boss Kanazawa-san about the recent reports of a V6 MotoGP bike running at Motegi. It was, he said, a surprise to him too, not least because Shinichi Itoh who was reported to be riding is no longer an HRC rider. Along with project leader Shogo Kanaumi, an ex-Superbike racer who once finished 10th in the 8 Hour, he lifted the veil just a smidgen over the differences between this year's bike and the original 2002 RCV. Power is up 10% to over 240bhp thanks to combustion chamber and valve timing work, he said. Comparative power and torque graphs show dips in both curves in low to mid-range being amply filled by the '03 spec motor with a much smoother torque curve.
One unexpected detail was the deceleration control, HRC's answer to the engine-braking problem. When the RC211V's throttle is fully closed and the sensors decide the rear wheel is locking, solenoids allow air to flow through thin lines from the airbox to the inlet tracts just downstream of the throttle butterflies. All V5 rider started the year with this system.
The only outward sign of V5 modifications has been the exhaust system changes. The new, loud triple-exhaust system gives useful extra torque below half revs with a small increse in power. Above half revs, the graphs are unchanged. The slightly larger fairing we saws early this year has both reduced wind resistance by about 5% but its intake has given better and more constant pressure in the airbox with, say HRC, no loss of rideability.
The only other surprise was the rotary steering damper used by the works Repsol team this year. Damping is provided by a vane pivoted at one end sweeping left and right through a small triangular chamber filled with hydraulic fluid. All components live in the shell around the chamber which is much more resitent to crash damage than a conventional design. It will be on road bikes soon.
As for next year's personnel, the men from head office said they have completed 90% of their negotiations with Valentino Rossi to get him back on side next year. As and when he signs, it will be for two years. However, this year's entry of seven bikes will be reduced to six in '04 which means Tamada's Bridgestone-shod Pramac bike will be homeless as his grid slot is leased off the d'Antin team which will be running a full complement of two riders on Ducatis next year. All six 2004 RCVs will start the season equal with the two Repsol team riders getting new parts first as befits their status as the only HRC men out there. Which suggest that Ukawa and Kiyonari will not be back next year.
Back at Assen, Kanazawa-san told one journalist there was 30% left to come from the RCV, now he says there is about 15% left and Ducati's challenge is forcing HRC to speed up their development work. But with typical Japanese politesse he said 'We need a rival to race.'