Thursday, May 21, 2009

Honda RC212V

Toni Elias aboard the Honda RC212V

After five years contesting the successful Honda RC211V in MotoGP, Team Gresini will switch to the all-new RC212V for 2007.

The latest bike from Honda Racing Corporation’s championship-winning design team incorporates the numerous subtle changes in the technical regulations – most notably the reduction in engine size to 800cc and the reduction in fuel capacity to 21 litres.

As ever, though, the bike represents years of ongoing design effort and takes the very best of the RC211V – not a surprise considering the bike’s success over the last half-decade – and improves on it further. That’s a tough challenge when you consider the RC211V’s successful heritage.

In its first season of use in 2002, the innovative design – which took full advantage of the new regulations for that year – won 14 of the 16 races, with Valentino Rossi clinching the title. In 2003, it went one better, with Gresini’s Sete Gibernau winning four races as he chased fellow Honda racer (and nine-times winner) Rossi to another crown. But as the opposition caught up in 2004 and 2005, Honda realised it needed to make another leap forward in performance to stay ahead.

Under the skin

At the 2005 Czech Grand Prix at Brno, Honda unveiled a much-changed RC211V that would be used in 2006 – the final season for the 990cc regulations. Despite tough opposition, the revamped design was good enough to help Nicky Hayden end Rossi’s title domination, while Honda’s riders (including Gresini’s four-times winner Marco Melandri and first-time winner Toni Elias) took eight wins from the 17 races.

The 2007 had proved to be a fine finale for the RC211V design, and the question on everybody’s lips was how Honda would improve on it for the new rules of 2007.

"Excellent power under acceleration"
One of the biggest regulation-mandated technical changes for the RC212V design team was the reduction in engine capacity – from 990cc to 800cc. That reduced the engine’s ability to develop top-end power, placing more emphasis on driveability in the corners. To this end, Honda took the decision to drop the V5 format so successfully used in the RC211V in favour of a more compact V4.

“For the newly reduced engine capacity of 800cc, we decided a V4 was the most efficient layout,” says Okuma. “Rather than focusing solely on top-end power, we also concentrated on producing good power delivery characteristics, which can have a significant effort on lap times. Using enhanced control systems, the result is an engine with good drivability in the low and mid ranges, and excellent power under acceleration when the engine is at the top of its range.”

Squat and sleek
On the chassis side, the new RC212V is just as sleek in profile as its predecessor and is as trim as the 148kg minimum weight limit will allow, but it now hunkers slightly closer to the ground as much of the bike’s development has been focused at moving that weight lower in the bike’s frame to improve its handling and cornering ability – the continuation of a concept developed successfully during the RC211V’s design.
The 2007 RC212V
“When we started development of the 800cc machine – effectively the second generation of Honda MotoGP bike – we gave top priority to the pursuit of excellent handling and drivability,” says project leader Takanori Okuma. “On the chassis side, we further enhanced the ‘mass concentration’ package developed for the RC211V to improve the agility and quick-handling characteristics of the bike. The outward appearance is aggressive and appropriately innovative for a new generation of bike, affording both drivability and aerodynamic efficiency.”

With competition expected to be as close as ever in the 2007 MotoGP season, a team’s ability to adapt quickly to the new regulations could prove to be decisive. But, as Honda proved in 2002 with the RC211V and now hopes to prove with the RC212V, it tends to be at the front of the pack when it comes to that particular criteria.

Type RC 212V HONDA
Length 2050
Width 645
Height 1125
Wheelbase 1440
Inj type Honda fuel injection system
Front fork type Showa telescopic fork
Rear suspension type Showa New Unit Pro Link
Weight 148 kg
Fuel tank capacity 21 litre
Road clearance 125 mm
Engine Liquid-cooled 800cc four-valve DOHC V4
Chassis Structure Aluminium twin tube
Suspension Honda Unit Prolink system
Brakes TBC
Wheels Bridgestone Front 16.5" Rear 16.5"

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