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 skinAt 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.
“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.”
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.
|RC 212V HONDA|
|Type||RC 212V HONDA|
|Inj type||Honda fuel injection system|
|Front fork type||Showa telescopic fork|
|Rear suspension type||Showa New Unit Pro Link|
|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|
|Wheels||Bridgestone Front 16.5" Rear 16.5"|