The Sepang test was the first time the MotoGP riders got a taste of the new, more durable engines. In what’s being proposed as a cost-saving measure, a notion many in MotoGP dispute, riders of factory machinery will now have five engines, rather than six, though that rule hasn’t been officially ratified for 2013; the FIM rulebook still says six. Every MotoGP rider used all six of their engines last year, except for Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, who missed races after being injured in qualifying for the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix.
The riders at the Sepang MotoGP test were using engines of a spec that could be used in 2013, though they’re not completely developed. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished the test with the fastest time after testing engines of various specs.
“Yeah, I mean, every engine is different inside,” Pedrosa said after leading all three days and handling the bulk of the testing load for himself and rookie teammate Marc Marquez. “So, sure, one engine can be more good for entry or more nervous or etc. So, yeah, we are testing, especially for the life of the engines and also for the feeling.”
Pedrosa said the difference in feeling was minimal. “A little. A little bit, you know,” he said. “Obviously, the mechanics inside must be different for more life, so when the mechanical is different the engine is not exactly the same, so sure it needs some, I would say, electronic adjustment for delivery and engine brake, etc.
As for noticing a difference in top speed, he said “I would say from the engine performance, here, for example, no. But, you know, it’s one engine less. This means it could be that at the end of the life of the engines, the engines run a little slower.”
In 2012, Pedrosa used all six engines, while Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies each had an MotoGP engine failure.
“The last two years Jorge (Lorenzo) broke an engine, one time in Germany, one time in Assen,” he said. Spies blew his engine spectacularly in the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix. “So (Lorenzo) was running with five and a half, I would say. And I don’t think this could be a big deal. It’s more about if you crash twice.”
Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden also said he didn’t notice a difference, though it’s clear the MotoGP engine he’ll line up with in Qatar will be vastly different internally than the one he tested in Sepang.
“No, at the moment, no, it’s not a big difference,” Hayden said. “In 2011, I basically did the year on five engines, because I lost an engine early in the season in Portugal, so from there we had to stretch out miles. So not going to be a huge thing for us, unless we have a problem. Where with six engines, we were almost able to manage if you had a problem with one engine. I mean, you wouldn’t really know until you got a lot of mileage on them. They’ll definitely drop at the end of life, but you’ll have to use that engine for practice and stuff.”