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7 days ago
By Motor Sport Magazine

"When we're losing, it's easier to make radical change"

HRC's Technical Director Takeo Yokoyama sat down with MotoGP™ journalist Mat Oxley to speak about the radically redesigned 2022 RC213V

After two fruitless years for MotoGP™'s most successful manufacturer, Honda have had to radically re-design their RC213V in order to try and claw back the premier class title they last lifted in 2019. Arguably their biggest overhaul in 16 years, HRC has shifted its design concept away from being a 'front-end' motorcycle, like KTM's RC16, and more towards Ducati and Aprilia's rear-end focus.

Early signs at the season-ending Jerez Test indicated that Honda look capable of competing regularly with the likes of Ducati and Yamaha in 2022 with LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami closing the two days in second overall. Teammate Alex Marquez was eleventh on the timesheets and factory counterpart Pol Espargaro ended up seventh. 

"We're fast!" - Honda riders react to prototype RC213V

To find out more about the 2022 RC213V, Motor Sport Magazine's Mat Oxley caught up with HRC's Takeo Yokoyama. The Japanese engineer, who's held the role of Technical Director and then Manager since 2013, outlined what he hopes this drastic resign will achieve: "To win the title! Technically speaking, what we want to achieve is to use the rear tyre more effectively, this is clear. Last season was the second year with this tyre and we started to understand in which way to use the tyre.

"By the end of last season, the way our riders were riding and using the bike, which comes from the tyre, changed, because we were starting to understand more and more. But last year there were some limits to what we could do with the bike [engine development was frozen due to Covid], so we couldn’t change things radically. However, our understanding improved, so now we are putting everything we learned into our 2022 bike.

"Yes, it’s a big re-design," Yokoyama continued. "Because when we are losing, when the results are bad, it’s easier to make a radical change. When you are winning it’s more difficult to make a radical change, this is also true."

Marquez: 2022 bike is a step in both directions

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, an engine development freeze was introduced ahead of the 2020 season running through to the end of the 2021 season. This meant that only Aprilia, as they hold concessions, and KTM, as they lost concessions at the end of 2020, were allowed to use a new engine in 2021. Does Yokoyama, therefore, believe we could see a power shift throughout 2022?

"This is the first time in history that everyone has worked for two years on engine development, so I think there will be a bigger change in engine performance, even though development has been somewhat restricted by the pandemic situation."

The biggest question looming over HRC is the fitness of Marc Marquez. Three victories last year, including back-to-back wins in his final two appearances of the season, highlighted how much of a threat he will be to the 2022 crown and, as a result, how important he is to HRC's title aspirations.

End of term report: Puig assesses a trying year for HRC

But, despite progressing adequately from an episode of diplopia, his involvement in the two pre-season tests in Malaysia and Indonesia remain in doubt. Can HRC fine-tune what they hope will be the package to reclaim the MotoGP™ title, potentially, without the eight-time World Champion?

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