The return of Honda's pneumatic valve engine has been delayed yet again, with MotoGP World Championship leader Dani Pedrosa denying that the unit will be available for testing on Monday at Le Mans.

"No," smiled Dani, when asked if it would be present.

"For the moment the bike is going quite well," continued the Jerez winner, who has finished on the podium at all four rounds so far. "We have some weak points but nothing dramatic. But of course I would like [something new]."

Honda originally intended to race the pneumatic valve engine from the start of this season, but problems during winter testing saw it return to Japan for further development.

The pneumatic valve unit was last seen on track, in the hands of Nicky Hayden, during testing at Phillip Island in late January, after which it was replaced by the conventional valve-spring design raced during 2007.

A redesigned chassis was subsequently introduced - the original '08 chassis having been made to house the pneumatic valve engine - but the intention was for the pneumatic engine to return, when ready, at some point during the season.

The post Estoril test was initially tipped to see its reappearance, potentially allowing Pedrosa and Hayden to use the engine - if successful - at the following Chinese Grand Prix, where engine performance is crucial along the huge 1.2km back straight.

But it didn't appear at that test, or at Shanghai - where Pedrosa nonetheless managed a second place finish - and, having apparently been ruled out of the Le Mans session, the next opportunity for its return will probably be at the post-Catalunya test on June 9.

Aside from Ducati, which uses its Desmodromic valve system, Honda is now the only MotoGP manufacturer not to use pneumatic valve actuation, although Repsol Honda team manager Kazuhiko Yamano recently defended the decision.

"Our job is to provide a machine that is capable of winning. It doesn't matter what valves it uses, whether pneumatic or standard," he said. "We try to produce machines that win races, and continue to work on both options to meet this goal."

 

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