If Aleix Espargaro and Yamaha provided the positive Open class headlines with a shock fourth place at the Sepang MotoGP test, the disappointment was the Honda RCV1000R Production racer.
Although second to Espargaro in the new class, former world champion Nicky Hayden
was just 13th overall. Hayden's best lap was 1.5s behind the Spaniard and two-seconds from Factory Honda test leader Marc Marquez.
A lack of engine performance was Hayden's biggest concern. “It was pretty demoralising when I tried to follow other guys,” said the usually upbeat American.
HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto stressed that there was a very different philosophy behind the Yamaha and Honda Open machines.
“I don't know the detail but it looks like Yamaha's Open class machine is last year's Factory machine. This is allowed,” said Nakamoto.
“Our approach is different. We made a machine to sell. If the team use it for two years. In the first year they pay 1.2 million euro, then next year they just [pay for an upgrade package]. If you divide the cost by two years it is less than one million euros a year. They also still own the machine and can sell it, with some value.
“To make a machine for less than 1.2 million euro, Honda has to use a standard valve spring system, standard transmission and a little bit different specification of Ohlins suspension. But main parts - chassis, swingarm, bodywork is factory specification.”
In a nutshell, it seems that the Honda RCV1000R would have been eligible for the former CRT rules, where machinery could potentially be claimed, effectively limiting the level of technology due to confidentially concerns.
The fact the Honda is offered for sale - and can be sold on - suggests the company would have tolerated the RCV1000R being part of a claiming rule system.
That would not have been the case for the Yamaha (and Ducati) Open class engines.
The removal of the claiming rule has allowed Yamaha to lease full-specification YZR-M1 powerplants, including pneumatic valves. In order to help the new Forward Racing project, Yamaha is also supplying the chassis and swing-arm while the bike has 'Factory Ohlins' suspension.
To be eligible for the Open class - and all its benefits in terms of race fuel, engine changes and engine development - teams are simply required to fit the full control ECU system. That is essentially what Ducati has done for Yonny Hernandez's Open machine.
Nakamoto confirmed that if Honda was to offer last year's Factory class bikes with the control ECU software, it could only be “for a lease system because of confidentiality. We cannot sell the Factory machine.”
Amazing, and probably tongue in cheek, Nakamoto even suggested Honda had misread or misinterpreted the rules.