Rep­sol Honda

Rid­ers:: Marc Mar­quez and Dani Pe­drosa Con­tin­ued over

Motorcycle News (UK) - - 2016 Motorgp Silverstone Preview -

Honda were prob­a­bly the most wor­ried fac­tory at the start of 2016. Their RC213V was the per­fect Bridge­stone bike, with as­ton­ish­ing brak­ing per­for­mance that took full ad­van­tage of Bridge­stone’s in­cred­i­ble front slick, while their class-lead­ing elec­tron­ics de­liv­ered ex­actly the right amount of power on cor­ner ex­its.

So how would they cope with Miche­lins and Dorna’s same-for-all soft­ware? At the first race they were beaten by Yamaha and Du­cati, so per­haps not very well.

“Marc’s brak­ing ad­van­tage was re­duced com­pared to what he had with the Bridge­stone front,” says Takeo Yokoyama, Rep­sol Honda tech­ni­cal direc­tor. “But when Miche­lin’s front slick improved, Marc could come back more to his usual rid­ing style.”

In­deed the tyre some­times gives Mar­quez an ad­van­tage be­cause his su­per-ag­gres­sive cor­ner-en­try tech­nique puts more load into the tyre, which means more grip, at least in cooler con­di­tions when other fac­to­ries strug­gle, like at the Sach­sen­ring.

“At tracks where rid­ers strug­gle to heat the front tyre, Marc’s style helps,” Yokoyama adds. “But it doesn’t help at tracks where rid­ers strug­gle with the tyre over­heat­ing.”

Mar­quez was soon brak­ing just as madly and deeply as ever, so he won the sec­ond and third races in Ar­gentina and Texas, but per­haps those suc­cesses flat­tered to de­ceive, be­cause he was de­feated on his next five out­ings.

Honda’s big prob­lem was ac­cel­er­a­tion, but this wasn’t so much lack of power as lack of elec­tron­ics. “We have the power,” says Mar­quez. “Last year we could put down the power be­cause the slides were nicer with our elec­tron­ics, but we can­not man­age the power with the new elec­tron­ics.”

His prob­lem is au­di­ble from track­side. Other bikes go ‘waaaaaaaah!’ out of cor­ners, while the RC213V goes ‘waah… waah… waah!’, in­di­cat­ing the rear tyre scrab­bling for grip.

“The new trac­tion con­trol is less re­ac­tive, it has a time de­lay, so it’s easy for us to over­shoot the slip-ra­tio tar­get and then come back too strongly,” adds Yokoyama.

HRC have chipped away at the ze­roes and ones, grad­u­ally un­lock­ing the se­crets of Mag­neti Marelli’s trac­tion-con­trol sys­tem, but they haven’t stopped there.

“The ac­cel­er­a­tion is­sue is a com­bi­na­tion of elec­tron­ics and chas­sis stiff­ness,” adds Yokoyama who re­cently in­tro­duced a new ver­sion of the 2014 frame that Mar­quez still prefers. “It’s a small mod­i­fi­ca­tion to ad­just to the char­ac­ter of Miche­lin’s rear slick and give us more ac­cel­er­a­tion grip.”

Honda en­gi­neers have grad­u­ally got to grips with the new con­trol soft­ware The sound of Mar­quez’s RC213V scrab­bling for grip on cor­ner ex­its is au­di­ble from track­side

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