“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
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