Friday, April 20, 2007

Honda in trouble

I just took a look at the combined practice times for this weekend's MotoGP race at Istanbul Park in Turkey, and I am absolutely floored by the poor performance of Honda. By far the most numerous bike on the grid with six entries, they're currently in 5th, 9th, 10th, 14th, 16th and 18th. In contrast, Ducati are in 1st, 2nd, 8th and 13th.

How can it be that the manufacturer with the deepest pockets, and strongest history of winning can be in such a dire predicament? It reminds me of Toyota in Formula 1. Actually, it also reminds me of Honda this year in Formula 1. 2007 is turning out to be a tough year for the Big Red, unless you're in their SuperGT or World Superbike teams.

Questions abound about why the RC212V is such a dog. Perhaps they should see about "prototype-izing" a Ten Kate Fireblade, they might have more success. Actually, it seems that most of the Honda GP riders are bitching about lack of front end feel. Whether this is down to the new profile of the tyres, the smaller 16" front wheels being used in 2007, or the way that mass has been redistributed within the bike's chassis is unclear, but one thing is damn sure: riders who don't give a crap about the rear wheel's behavior but who live on the front (cough, cough, Hayden, cough) are in a whole world of hurt. I also wonder whether the higher corner entry speeds are requiring more commitment from riders who are unfamiliar with that kind of riding. Still, if that's the case you would think that 250cc graduates Melandri, Nakano, Pedrosa and Checa would be doing better. Only Toni Elias has shown any speed so far this weekend. It was a similar story pre-race in Losail, with Elias near the front and everyone else midpack, and Jerez, only difference there being Pedrosa running well and all other Hondas back on the 4th row or worse.

Honda now find themselves in the same place that Yamaha was this time last year, a place called Disarray City, whilst Ducati, whose budget is a tiny fraction of Honda's, are top dogs. Funny the difference a year makes.

1 comment:

Kropotkin said...

The difference is of course that the RC212V is a completely new bike, whereas the rest are just refinements of the previous 990 bikes. Dropping the middle cylinder from the V5 has completely ruined the balance of the bike, and shifting the fuel tank further back to centralize mass hasn't helped either. I reckon the best quick fix would be to move the fuel forward; it would get some more weight over the front end, and give the riders some more feel at the front.