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“restless, aggressive, nervous”. Less freedom to play with the

electronics equals less possible solutions, so it will be very

interesting to see whether Honda can turn tables around.

There’s no question that both Marc Marquez and Dani

Pedrosa will win races, but whether their bike will display the

consistency required for the title in a season with critical new

variables coming into play remains to be seen.

The 2016 Honda RC213V relies on a V4 engine in a twin-spar

aluminum frame, equipped with the championship standards:

Brembo brakes and Ohlins suspensions. Honda’s seamless

gearbox debuted in 2011 and was a trend-setter. Reportedly it

allows for smooth gear changes that do not unsettle the bike,

giving its riders a small advantage in corner exits. In a

championship where a tenth of a second per lap can make all

the difference in the world, this turned out to be so important

that all manufacturers eventually developed their own

versions. The secrecy behind this gearbox is such that only

specialist HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) engineers service

it behind closed doors – not even the riders’ engineers are

allowed to see it.

The Italian factory arrived in MotoGP in 2003 and was the first

manufacturer to work with Bridgestone. This cooperation

eventually gave Ducati a very big advantage that helped

Casey Stoner win the 2007 championship. As soon as

Bridgestone started developing tires also for Yamaha and

Honda, this advantage began to wither.

Then Ducati made things worse by dropping its steel frame for

the carbon monocoque unit (strategically designed as a double

novelty, featuring also in the Panigale superbike) that

effectively plagued Valentino Rossi’s two years on the

Desmosedici.

After several dry years, and despite Audi’s ill-fated efforts to

run the team under German leadership when it bought Ducati,

the keys were handed to a certain Mr. Luigi Dall’Ignia. The

man who led Aprilia to World Superbike stardom was

employed last year to bring Ducati back to the top and his work

brought immediate results.

The latest iteration of the Desmosedici GP features a V4 (or

L4, as Ducati describes the 90-degree V4 layout) engine in an

aluminum twin-spar frame and the expected names of Brembo

and Ohlins. As of last year Ducati also relies on its proprietary

DST_EVO seamless transmission.

The all-Italian line-up of Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone

were frequent podium visitors last year, but neither managed

anything higher than second place. The elusive win is this

year’s target, as the Desmosedici GP appears to be more

competitive than ever.

Until last year Ducati enjoyed the concessions granted to new

coming and Open class teams, so having 24 liters of fuel at its

disposal meant that it could make up for lost ground in the

straights, while Honda and Yamaha were constrained to just

20 liters. According to the 2016 rules all the bikes run on 22-

liter tanks, so the top speed edge was expected to be lost.

Despite theoretical predictions, in this year’s first race out of

the top six bikes with the highest maximum speed five were

Ducatis, with Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha breaking the trend in

third place. The gap between Dovizioso’s Ducati and

Lorenzo’s winning Yamaha measured consistently around 10

km/h (6.2 mph), with the Italian clocking a maximum value of

349.8 km/h (217.4 mph).

Suzuki withdrew from MotoGP racing at the end of the 2011

season, having battled without much success with the V4