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Yamaha is improving step by step, is a brand new Honda RC213V coming?

Yamaha conducted a test in Valencia ahead of last month’s Dutch race, where Quartararo and hapless teammate Alex Rins evaluated the characteristics of two new YZR-M1 engines.

One of these engines offers better agility, likely reflecting reduced engine inertia thanks to a lighter crankshaft, while the other offers better stopping, likely thanks to a revised compression ratio and ignition configuration, as well as improvements to the engine braking software and exhaust valve.

Both Quartararo and his teammate Rins opted for the latter, even though it didn’t help much on tracks like Assen and the Sachsenring, where agility is crucial. What they really need on most tracks is better stopping power from the bike, because using the rear tyre to stop the bike is now essential. And better stopping improves the most vital cornering factor – turning – because if you get into a corner too fast you won’t be able to turn.

“With this new engine we can stop more and carry more speed (into the corners),” Quartararo said. “It doesn’t work very well in fast corners, but I think we can see an improvement on tracks like Austria and Misano with this engine.”

Honda MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami on track in BarcelonaHonda MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami on track in Barcelona

Nakagami is ahead of Marini, Mir and Zarco in Barcelona; their frequent races together suggest they all face the same machine limitations

Honda

Rins, who missed the Sachsenring after a poor high side in Assen, agrees.

“Here (in Assen) we don’t feel much improvement from the new engine because Assen is mostly high-speed corners. In Valencia the way you brake, release the brake and open the throttle was a bit better.

Quartararo knows Yamaha has a long way to go before it can return to contention at the front of the pack.

“We gained a lot in power this year, but we lost a lot in other areas,” he says. “The biggest improvement we’ve made is in aerodynamics, and we’re still way, way behind in electronics.”

“Even if you can’t see us making big strides, that’s what we’re doing.”

Despite this, the 2021 MotoGP king is confident, because Yamaha has completely changed the way it works and has prioritized the speed of development above all.

“The way we work now is completely different,” he adds. “In the past, if we tested a new engine, we would never have had it at the next race (Assen). Maybe at Silverstone (the British GP in August) we would have had it.

“That’s why we’re moving much faster and we have much clearer ideas – we have a direction and we know where we need to improve. I’m very happy. Even if you can’t see us making big strides, that’s what we’re doing. We’re getting closer and we’re working better.”

Quartararo has another reason to smile, despite not finishing in the top ten in his last three races. Next year, Pramac will double Yamaha’s ridership, using factory-spec M1s. In the age of data, that’s a big deal because you need more data than you can get from two bikes to take advantage of new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Joan Mir leaves the pit garage on his Honda MotoGP bikeJoan Mir leaves the pit garage on his Honda MotoGP bike

Mir has had another tough season in the RC213V with seven DNFs and a GP so far

Oksiley

At Honda, the situation is less optimistic. Repsol’s Joan Mir and Luca Marini, as well as LCR’s Johann Zarco and Nakagami, often qualify together and are at the back of the race together, suggesting that they are all constrained by the limitations of the current RC213V.

However, the fact that they are not receiving many updates right now indicates that something is up.

New parts and upgrades flooded in from Japan for the first few races, but they had little impact on performance. It wasn’t long before Honda engineers realised that the 2024 bike didn’t need a tune-up, it needed to be relegated to the darkest corners of the company’s Motegi museum. What was needed was a complete redesign.

The fact that Mir and other RC213V riders don’t expect anything new until September (probably the Misano tests) suggests that HRC’s next creation will again be a brand new bike.

Mir was asked if he expected something different in September. “I’m waiting,” the Repsol driver said. “But I haven’t received any message from the Japanese staff that we’ll get this or that for the Misano tests. I’m waiting but I don’t know.

“We know where we lost it – full lap time! Now we just wait.”

Honda cameraman records MotoGP track sessionHonda cameraman records MotoGP track session

HRC cameraman films bikes in COTA pit lane to compare machine behaviour

“The bike is still the same,” adds LCR rider Zarco. “The evolution will come later because we need time to build that evolution.

“There’s clearly a limit – we can’t go any faster. We’re one second off, that’s too much, but I accept that and give it information. It’s hard not being able to follow others and really struggling on the bike.