Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa Ask for a More Manageable Bike

Life is not going to be easy for the Repsol Honda mechanics in 2015, as it looks like they will have to do quite a lot to make the two contracted riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa happy. What seemed to be a good direction the development of the new bike was heading for mid-season has changed for reasons which still elude us, but the two riders were not happy at the pre-season test session in Valencia.
Marc Marquez at Valencia, pre-season test November 2014 1 photo
Funny or not, this comes from HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto himself. The two riders have not tried too much to hide their dissatisfaction with the new motorcycle at Valencia, and the results, as they were, shows that the Yamahas are all over their rear wheels, and this includes the satellite Iwata machinery as well, which is not exactly a good sign.

Mid-season change of plans

During the summer, the tests in Brno allowed the Marquez and Pedrosa to put up a really good pace and the two seemed happy with the stage of development the 2015 version of the RC213V machines had reached. However, HRC reviewed and changed the development strategy for the bikes and this impacted performance.

The second day of the test hampered by rain and only 10 on the total of 27 riders present at Valencia got out in the wet, Marquez putting in only a lap before understanding it was completely useless. Still, his best lap on the third day of the test was only marginally faster than Lorenzo’s. This time “marginally” reads 2 thousandths of a second, and even more, compared to Lorenzo’s best lap time in the debut od the test.

To make things worse, Pol Espargaro and his satellite Tech3 Yamaha got the better of Pedrosa at Valencia, with a 0.145s gap from Marquez, and being a ridicule 0.001s faster than Dani. This would be of a lesser importance maybe if Bradley Smith hadn’t already posted a better first-day lap time (than Pedrosa), only to finish the test in 85 milliseconds slower.

More progressive power delivery and more passing speed are needed

Nakamoto admits that all the riders have demanded the same thing: more gradual power delivery and more speed around wide turns. Even though Hondas are better-endowed than Yamaha’s machines in terms of power, the Iwata bikes seem to have a better chassis which allows them to carry more speed through the turns.

This has been the case for several seasons now. Yamaha’s higher pace around corners compensates for whatever lack of power they have compared to the HRC bikes, and has more than once proved to be a more lucrative solution in terms of fuel and tire management.

Neither Marque, nor Pedrosa have appreciated the way the new bike feels, stressing out that the acceleration is much too aggressive. “Up to this point, we haven’t been able to come up with anything better in this direction,” Nakamoto says. “The engineers are trying to make the bike easier to ride, maybe make it more like the Yamaha seems to be. Both our riders said that the 2013 version of the machine was much easier to operate.”

There’s still some time left until the next pre-season tests and it will be interesting to see how Honda and Yamaha are doing in Sepang in two months’ time. And... as if things were not already complicated, Ducati seems to have become blazing fast, as well.
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