With a two week break before the Grand Prix of Catalunya, Honda Racing Corporation today returned to the track in Jerez with French GP winner Casey Stoner aboard the 2012 Honda prototype.
HRC test riders Kosuke Akiyoshi and Shinichi Ito have been testing this machine in April at Suzuka, Japan and it was planned for Repsol Honda Team riders Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner to both test in Jerez this week. However, after Pedrosa's accident in Le Mans it was not possible for him to take part and only Stoner has been involved.
Shinichi performed the shake down of the new machine early this morning at the Jerez track, before Casey began his testing schedule at 11am local time in perfect sunny conditions. He completed a total of 50 laps (221km) using the standard 800cc Bridgestone tyres of this season and also the new prototype tyres for 2012.
This early season test will give valuable feedback about the new prototype from the first stages of its development. HRC sent senior mechanics from the Repsol Honda Team to Jerez to work closely with the R&D engineers and Casey Stoner. The new machine is based on the concept of the present RC212V and the experience gained in the last stage of 800cc bikes. HRC started work on this new project in late 2009, when the new regulations for 2012 become official for the MotoGP class, stating a capacity of 1000cc, maximum bore of 81mm and maximum 4 cylinders.
A crucial point with the 1000cc engine will be fuel consumption, as again in 2012 bikes will keep the 21 litre tank as per the 800cc machines. To deal with this issue, Repsol recently sent experts to Japan to develop a specific fuel and lubricant for the new bike and engineers at the Repsol Technology Centre are focusing on a fuel which will not only offer optimum fuel efficiency but also deliver maximum performance.
Each manufacturer has eight days of testing during the season with contracted riders on the 2012 machine. After checking today's data and the weather forecast, HRC will decide whether or not to continue testing tomorrow with Stoner. HRC will then choose how to make the best use of the remaining days left to work on track with the new prototype, hoping Pedrosa recovers soon to also give his feedback on the new machine.
There is no further update on Dani Pedrosa's chosen direction for recovery, he is still evaluating the two options with his doctors, whether to have surgery or let the fracture heal naturally.
"Everything has gone very well, very positive. It's just nice to ride the 1000cc again, to feel the engine and the power. I had a lot of fun, I enjoyed the first day because everything we've tried seems to be working, so no complaints. The biggest disappointment is that Dani is not going be here to test as he is important to the development of this bike. I hope that soon HRC can get his input as well because we need as much data as possible, in order to be ready for next season. We didn't focus on anything special today, just tried to understand what the bike is doing, how it reacts on the brakes and things like that, also considering some the issues we have with the 800cc right now. The braking point seems to be stronger, stability in the front going into the corner seems to be very good, and of course we want to understand how the power delivery is, and it is very smooth so no problem. In general, we haven't changed too much from the set up we have on the 800cc right now and the feeling is very similar, so it's pretty good".
SHUHEI NAKAMOTO - HRC EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
"I think we had a good day of testing, the machine worked well as we hoped, without any specific issues. Of course, it's just the first day so we will need to improve but we tested many things and everything was ok. Casey is happy with a more powerful engine, also drivability was ok and on the chassis side we need to keep progressing. Unfortunately, Dani is not here and it would be better to have both riders' feedback. Casey's comments are very similar to the ones we received from the test riders, and this is good. Hopefully we can get Dani's impressions soon to keep working on the development".