11 February 2016
MotoGP: Honda: 'Main concern is the electronics'
“I think at the moment the gap to Jorge and Vale is a lot to do with the electronics” - Livio Suppo, Honda.
Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo is confident HRC is heading in the right direction with its 2016 engine, whilst confirming 'the main concern is the electronics'.
Honda, seeking a fix for last year's aggressive engine character, brought a further revision to its proposed 2016 engine for factory stars Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to test at Sepang.
But engine behaviour is directly linked to the electronics, and Honda is having a harder time than the likes of main rivals Yamaha and Ducati in setting up the new 'unified' software.
Marquez and Pedrosa left the test fifth and eleventh fastest, 1.3s and 1.8s behind Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo and warning there is plenty of work to do.
“At the end it is more positive than negative,” Suppo insisted. “For sure the biggest issue we have to solve is to adapt the new electronics with our engine. But in these three days we have learned a lot. And taken some reasonable steps. There is still room to grow and for round one it will be much better.”
The impression given by the factory riders was that the new engine did not go far enough, but Suppo was pleased it had been a step in the right in the right direction, in turn allowing the earlier 2016 spec to be given to satellite riders Tito Rabat and Cal Crutchlow.
“The positive thing is that both riders liked the new evolution of the 2016 engine we brought here. From day two, both of their bikes used this engine. This allowed us to give the first version of the 2016 engine to Cal and Tito to test. Cal did his best lap time. Tito crashed at the beginning so was not able to continue with it, but it is good that all riders that tested this engine seemed to find something positive.”
Might Honda now roll out a further new spec before its engines are sealed at round one?
“I'm not a technician, but as far as we can work on the hardware we will try to do something. But I think at the moment the gap to Jorge and Vale is a lot to do with the electronics,” Suppo said.
“The problem is that nowadays, like or not, without the electronics you can try to have an engine that is more user-friendly, but you still have to put more than 250 horsepower on the ground using a tyre contact patch the size of a credit card. So if the electronics are not working properly - it is impossible to find an engine at this level that you can ride without any electronics, I believe.”
With all eyes on the engine and electronics, chassis development has been effectively frozen, although Marquez did compare his usual 2014 frame with a 2015 version.
“At the moment, no,” Suppo replied when asked about any chassis changes. “Marc did test basically, let's say, the standard  Honda chassis. The one that Dani and all other riders test.
“Because with the change of the tyre we wanted to understand if there could be some advantage or not. I think he will test it again at Phillip Island. But at the moment the chassis is not a big issue. The main concern is related to the electronics.”
The second of the three official pre-season tests will be held at Phillip Island next week.
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