The satellite Honda teams look set to start 2016 MotoGP testing at Sepang using last year's engines.
While some sources have told Crash.net
that LCR (Cal Crutchlow) and Marc VDS (Jack Miller and Tito Rabat) will be riding complete 2015 bikes in Malaysia next month, others insist the chassis will be the same as factory Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. That could also mean Marquez and Pedrosa have opted to use last year's frames.
Either way it appears that the re-designed 2016 engines, perhaps the most crucial aspect of the new RCV given that engine character was the Achilles heel of last year's bike, will only be available to Marquez and Pedrosa at the first pre-season test.
A question mark also hangs over 2016 satellite engines for the second test, at Phillip Island in mid-February, after which only the Qatar test remains. The world championship then begins at the same Losail circuit from March 17-20.
There have even been rumours that the satellite Hondas could race with last year's engines, but those appear unfounded and the worst case scenario is that 2016 engines are given to satellite teams at round one.
World champions with Marquez in 2013 and 2014, Honda watched its riders battle aggressive engine behaviour last season, something HRC is determined to correct.
But the clock is ticking. Marquez and Pedrosa gave a lukewarm reaction to the new engine during testing in November and MotoGP's development freeze means the design cannot be changed once racing begins.
The switch from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres and especially the introduction of the single ECU software is also complicating matters, engineers needing to determine if an engine trait is caused by mechanical components or the new electronics.
Usually, all RC213V riders begin pre-season testing with a new engine and chassis package, after which ongoing developments are prioritised for the factory Repsol team.
But with significant doubts over whether the 2015 engine issues have been sufficiently improved, Honda's plan appears to be to gather more data and feedback from Marquez and Pedrosa before committing to the final 2016 design in time for Qatar.