HARDRIDER MOTORCYCLE MAGAZINE

“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

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