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“We’ve done a good job with the engine and acceleration,” agree Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa - and LCR Honda Castrol rider Cal Crutchlow, who is contracted to and tests for HRC. And Honda’s engine has notably improved over the winter, making steps forward with some of the weaker points that have plagued the marque for a few seasons.
Reigning Champion Marquez was certainly happy in Qatar: “We’ve improved top speed and the wheelie-ing, but we have to keep working on it at other tracks. That’s why we’ve been trying the fairings. We’re closer to Ducati.” And in terms of top speed, Cal Crutchlow registered 342,8km/h – equaling that of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing), who are both on Borgo Panigale machinery.
How fast? Honda on the RC213V's top speed
Santi Hernandez, Marquez’ Crew Chief, explains that it’s not all it seems – it’s something else in which they’ve really made a big step forward.
“Although we have one of the highest top speeds, this is because we’re amongst the last to brake. Our braking point may be later than the rest, but for us the sticking point is in acceleration. And we’ve improved compared to last season.”
Giacomo Guidotti, Pedrosa’s Crew Chief, was equally satisfied: “The riders like it. They’re always looking for better acceleration, so they’re happy.”
But that’s not a simple signed, sealed, delivered – because, in MotoGP™, the proof of the engineering is in the racing.
“Until the first race starts, we don’t know where we are. You don’t know what everyone else is doing. Until you fight with the rest, you don’t really know how you’re going. One lap is one thing, but race distance on race tyres is something else. There are a lot of factors to consider.”
True enough, but Honda’s preseason has seen them top or close to the top throughout testing – that, at least, makes for good reading ahead of lights out for the first Grand Prix of the year.
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