HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) released a blurry action photo of its forthcoming production MotoGP racebike during a two-day test at the Motegi circuit in Japan on May 23-24. No details were released along with the photo, but it’s obvious that the bike appears to be heavily based upon the RC213V prototype machine that Honda-backed teams are currently racing in MotoGP. The rider in the photo is Honda’s official test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi, the 2010 All-Japan superbike champion who has subbed for various Honda MotoGP riders in past seasons and is currently leading the All-Japan JSB1000 Superbike championship. Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC executive vice president, commented in the press release that, “the test results showed more than what we had expected, in particular, with its running performance. We are very pleased at this stage, and we will announce more in the not-too-distant future.”
The production MotoGP bike is Honda’s answer to the controversial CRT category utilizing modified streetbike production engines (similar to superbike specification) that was created by MotoGP rightsholders Dorna to help bolster the grid numbers that were shrinking rapidly due to the economic depression. While leasing a current prototype MotoGP machine such as the RC213V is rumored to cost upwards of €5 million (nearly $6.5 million), the Honda production MotoGP machine will reportedly cost around €1 million. Yamaha has already announced that it will make YZR-M1 prototype engines available for lease to interested teams last month, as part of that company’s program to offer a more competitive alternative to the CRT bike option.
Nakamoto previously revealed in an interview on Motogp.com that the production MotoGP racebike will be based on the RC213V, but have conventional valve springs instead of pneumatic valves, a conventional gearbox instead of the hugely expensive seamless shift transmission (the design of which we revealed here), as well as other changes to reduce the cost of construction. Notable is that the production Honda machine will be sold outright to customers, thus the teams will be free to make their own changes to the bike (including the engine), instead of the prototype bike lease program where teams are heavily restricted in what they can do with the bike.
The Honda production MotoGP bike is expected to be unveiled at the season-ending Valencia race in November.