Just one day after clinching the final world championship of the 990cc MotoGP era, with Nicky Hayden, Honda has officially unveiled its new 800cc 'RC212V' - which it will race from 2007 onwards.
As well as confirming that the RC211V's successor will be called the 'RC212V', Honda also spoke of the design principals behind the new V4 powered machine, which appeared in Repsol colours for the first time - and with Hayden's #1 plate already in place.
"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," explained Takanori Okuma, the Honda R&D RC212V project leader. "For the newly-reduced engine capacity of 800cc, we decided a V4 was the most efficient layout. Rather than focusing solely on top end power, we also concentrated on producing good power delivery characteristics, which can have a significant effect 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.
"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," he continued. "The outward appearance is aggressive and appropriately innovative for a new generation of bike, affording both drivability and aerodynamic efficiency. We will continue to evolve the bike before the season opener and throughout next season."
The RC212V was first seen in public at Motegi, shortly after September's Japanese Grand Prix, when Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa rode 30 laps on the prototype machine, setting a highly respectable lap time of 1min 48.210secs.
"Definitely the bike is smaller, so for me it's better because I can control the bike more easily. I could touch my knees with my elbows while sitting on the bike and that's something I cannot do now with the RC211V. This is helpful when you ride a race bike," said Pedrosa. "The engine character feels a little different to the RC211V, but it was just my first test and development is still going on so this feeling will continue to change. And also I didn't push so much."
"It seems easier to ride because some things about the bike feel smaller and the rear seat is much shorter which makes the whole bike look more compact. The bike has some characteristics which are a little more like a 250cc but it's still a MotoGP bike. I don't know if it will be faster in the corners because there are many hairpins in Motegi and the corner speed is very low," he added
"We are satisfied with the progress of the RC212V prototype," declared Satoru Horiike, managing director of HRC. "Under the leadership of Takanori Okuma, the project team has remained well on schedule with the development and testing programme set by HRC. We are confident that winter testing will be positive and look forward to being competitive in this exciting new era for MotoGP."
RC212V - Technical specifications:
Overall length : 2050mm
Overall width : 645mm
Overall height : 1125mm
Wheelbase : 1440mm
Road clearance : 125mm
Weight (kg) : over 148kg
Engine type: liquid-cooled four-stroke DOHC 4 valve V4
Displacement : 800cc
Maximum power : N/A
Frame type : twin-tube
Front Wheels (inch) : 16.5
Rear Wheels (inch) : 16.5
Front Suspension : Telescopic fork
Rear Suspension : New Unit Pro-link
Fuel tank capacity : 21 litre