24 Aprile 2020

Honda's successes in MotoGP with the RC211V, RC212V and RC213V

MotoGP | Honda | Marquez | Honda Repsol | Marc Márquez | Repsol Honda Team | MotoGp 2020

Thanks to the perfect combination of Honda engineering and the most talented Circus riders

In the 18 seasons that have passed since 2002, the year of the passage of the #MotoGP to the four-stroke, Honda has won a total of 22 World Drivers and Manufacturers Championships, as well as 153 Grand Prix.

This dominance is the result of the union between the talent of extraordinary engineers and legendary pilots. Racing has always been of great importance to Honda and the work done by the company on the track has had a significant impact on motorcycling. Many technologies that users appreciate every day are born from the mind of Honda engineers, whose constant commitment is not only aimed at winning races but also bringing the experience gained on circuits around the world to the road.

The # RC211V, # RC212V and # rc213v continue the nomenclature system adopted by Honda for its first competition bikes which dominated the World Championship in the 1960s. These fantastic bikes include the 250cc 6-cylinder RC166, the 125cc 5-cylinder RC149 and the 500cc four-cylinder RC181.

RC stands for #racing Cycle, 211 indicates that the # RC211V was the first Honda GP motorcycle of the 21st century and V stands for the V-configuration of the five-cylinder engine. The 212 was Honda's second #moto GP of the 21st century, the third the 213.

RC211V (2002-2006)

When in 2002 #MotoGP went four-stroke, Honda took the opportunity to build an amazing #moto, still revered in the #MotoGP paddock and beyond.

The # RC211V was a successful model: the five-cylinder V-engine gave exceptional pilot-sized performance, while its compact design allowed the construction of a frame that would give the driver maximum confidence in the fold. All this allowed many riders to win on the # RC211V.

The ten riders entrusted with a # RC211V - Alex Barros, Max Biaggi, Toni Elias, Sete Gibernau, Nicky Hayden, Marco Melandri, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Makoto Tamada and Tohru Ukawa - have overall won 48 #MotoGP races in the five-year period 2002-2006, when the admitted displacement was 990 cc. During that time, #moto also won three Rider titles and four Manufacturer titles.

The # RC211V was equipped with a 75.5 ° V engine, with three front and two rear cylinders. The project was based in part on previous GP models and in part on some series models, demonstrating that in Honda technology does not develop in watertight compartments.

The big bang timing that provides extraordinary grip on the rear tire was a legacy of the Honda NSR500. This #moto had imposed its absolute dominance in the last years of the 500 cc class world championship, also thanks to the big bang concept introduced by Honda in 1992.

The # RC211V cylinder design drew instead from what Honda had learned with the V4 of its legendary RC45, winner in 1997 of the Superbike World Championship. The two engines shared a very similar combustion chamber, as well as bore and stroke measurements.

Initially the # RC211V did not express its real potential: the maximum power was "only" 220 horsepower and the optimal set-up was not always easy to find. The fastest # RC211V of that season (the first with the name MotoGP) was that of Ukawa, which scored the 324.5 km per hour at Mugello in June 2002. Having reached the last season of the 990cc, in 2006, the power had increased significantly compared to 220 hp four years earlier. Casey Stoner's # RC211V was the fastest #motorbike at Mugello that year: 334 km / h!

The first chassis and the first engine designed for the #MotoGP followed the same fundamental idea: the centralization of the masses. This entailed the concentration of the latter around the central body of the #moto to improve its agility, driving and handling.

An important aspect of this concept was the displacement of the tank. The "unusual" design of the # RC211V carried a third of the petrol under the pilot, to bring the fuel load closer to the center of the #motorbike. For the riders it was a particular advantage in the initial stages of the race, given that in the past they had had difficulties with the huge amount of fuel housed in the upper part of the #moto. According to the Honda Racing Department, if the NSR500 was at 70% of its potential in terms of performance in the first laps of the race, the # RC211V was between 80 and 90%.

In addition to the uncommonly designed chassis, what really made the difference on the # RC211V, both with new and used tires, was its "flat" torque curve. This allowed the riders to drift and maintain control of the #moto, because the revolutions per minute increased but the torque remained the same, allowing the tire to regain grip without problems.

After the first # RC211V Drivers titles, conquered by Valentino Rossi in 2002 and 2003, the fastest Honda rider was the young American Nicky Hayden, who joined the Repsol Honda team in 2003 after winning the AMA Superbike championship riding a Honda VTR1000 in 2002.

Hayden's driving technique, learned on the flat track clay tracks, allowed him to use the rear brake wisely: Nicky loved to drive the # RC211V. In 2006 Hayden won the #MotoGP championship at the last race, on one of the most spectacular days in the history of the world championship. The memory of Hayden, of the # RC211V and of that day in Valencia will always remain alive.

RC212V (2007-2011)

The technical regulations of the #MotoGP were rewritten for the 2007 season, reducing the engine capacity from 990 to 800 cc. HRC returned to work, creating a new #moto for the second era of #MotoGP.

The # RC212V put many of the experiences of the # RC211V on track but it was a completely new #motor, powered by a V4 engine. With the start of the 2007 season, it was soon obvious that the 800s were very different from # 990s.

Smaller engines generated less power and less torque, so a different driving style was needed, which gave priority to high cornering speeds rather than sideways exits.

The narrower-angle V4 between the banks turned over 18,000 rpm, 2000 more than its larger cubicle predecessor, and was equipped with pneumatic springs for better control of valve lift at higher engine speeds. The steeper power curve of the 800 required the use of more advanced electronic aids, including Anti-Wheelie, Traction Control and Launch Control. The evolution of electronics was the most important advance of the era of 800 cc engines.

Incredibly, the 800 immediately registered faster lap times than the 990 on most of the tracks, because the higher cornering speed compensated very well for the slight reduction in terms of acceleration and maximum speed. Even on the Mugello circuit, where Pedrosa's # RC212V clocked 317.6 km per hour, his fastest lap was only 0.037 seconds slower than the record set by the 990 cc.

The # RC212V did not have the same immediate success as the # RC211V. HRC engineers had to work hard, leveraging all their know-how and working on the engine, chassis and electronics. However, over time it also became a winning #motorbike.

The initial difficulty lay in delivering rider-friendly power, despite the fact that the lower cubic capacity engine was less performing than the 990cc. As never before, this goal was achieved thanks to the combination of engine performance and specially developed advanced electronics.

During the final stages of the 800cc era, Honda introduced two important technologies borrowed from its commitment to Formula 1.

In 2010 the torque sensor arrived, mounted on the secondary shaft of the gearbox. The so-called Torductor measured the power transferred to the rear tire, and the electronics, intervening in real time on this data, helped the pilot to use the maximum power available at any time of the race.

The following year it was the turn of the seamless gearbox, which made it possible to change gears much smoother and faster. This gave a slight advantage during straight-line accelerations and a greater advantage in curves, because the drivers could change gears at high lean angles, which in the past had proved dangerous.

The seamless gearbox of the # RC212V was the perfect example of Honda's engineering genius. Similar gearboxes had been used on Formula 1 cars for some time, but no one had ever attempted to import such technology onto a #moto gearbox. Inside, Honda's first seamless gearbox for the #MotoGP was similar to a watch.

HRC also designed several frames for the # RC212V, working to find the best compromise between low speed responsiveness and high speed stability. The engineers started from a normal aluminum frame, built with CNC machined sections. In 2010 they tested a composite chassis in aluminum and carbon fiber, moving simultaneously to the Öhlins suspension. When Casey Stoner won the #MotoGP World Championship in 2011, his # RC212V had a full aluminum chassis.

The improvement in performance in the five-year period of the 800 cc was as impressive as that which occurred in the years of the 990 cc. At Mugello in 2011 the 800s were faster than at least two seconds per 990 lap during the same 2006 Italian GP.

RC213V (from 2012 to today)

When it was decided to switch to a 1000 cc engine, Honda engineers designed a brand new third #motorbike for the 2012 #MotoGP World Championship.

Once again, the #moto was created using the knowledge acquired from the previous models, but this time too it was very different from the others.

Honda didn't just increase the cubic capacity of the engine. The Reparto Corse opted for a clear departure from the # RC212V, building a new V4 characterized by a 90 ° angle between the banks, wider than the previous models. The # rc213v was not the first 90 ° V4 built by Honda. The oval piston engine of the NR500 of the early eighties was powered by a 90 ° V4, as were the road bikes VF750, VFR750, RC30 and RC45 of the eighties and nineties.

The 90 ° V4 is not as compact as a narrower-angle V-engine, however Honda sensed that the advantages offered by this engine would compensate for the disadvantages, provided that they worked tirelessly on the design of components such as chassis, airbox, exhaust and tank for reduce the overall size of the #moto.

The 90 ° V4 has significant advantages: the perfect balance makes it smoother, more reliable and easier to fine-tune, especially when engineers need to experiment with different big bang timings to seek maximum power and torque.

When the 1000 raced for the first time at Mugello in 2012, Dani Pedrosa riding his # rc213v lowered the lap record recorded in 2002 by 4.9 seconds, scoring 342.9 km per hour on the main straight, a good 18 , 4 km per hour more than the first # RC211V. These data illustrate the progress made by Honda not only in terms of performance on the straights but on the overall performance, thanks to 360 ° improvements in the chassis design and on the electronic engineering front.

The second year of the 1000 saw the birth of the binomial that would dominate the #MotoGP in the following years: the # rc213v and Marc Marquez. In 2013 the # rc213v helped the young Spaniard to become the first debutant to conquer the title in #MotoGP, an achievement that was only successful by the "King" Kenny Roberts in 500 in 1978.

From the start, Marquez was able to use the # rc213v more than anyone else. His aggressive driving style allowed him to take full advantage of the impressive braking stability of his #moto, which allowed him to stretch over his rivals.

In 2014 Marquez proved even stronger: he won 13 races out of 18, equaling the absolute seasonal record of Mick Doohan, obtained with the NSR500 in 1997. In 2015, although Marquez and Pedrosa won 7 races overall, Honda was unable to win the Championship . But the setback was only temporary: Honda learned a lot from that defeat and from the following year, with Marquez in the saddle, he won all the Drivers 'and Manufacturers' titles up for grabs in #MotoGP.

In 2016 the rules of the Queen Class changed again: Michelin took over from Bridgestone for the supply of tires and the single control unit was introduced, which replaced the one made by the individual manufacturers, so that all the teams and drivers had the same electronics available.

These changes resulted in a huge amount of work for HRC engineers. The unique #MotoGP electronics was not very effective on Honda, so it was necessary to "soften" the delivery. The # rc213v engine was thus subjected to several important redesigns in the following years: as it was no longer possible to use the specific Honda software that managed traction control and anti-wheelie, it was decided to reverse the direction of rotation of the crankshaft and were modified. the timing to make power delivery more manageable.

Aerodynamics also gained increasing importance in #MotoGP, thanks to the new fairings which increased the aerodynamic load on the front of the # rc213v to increase stability and further reduce wheelies.

Marquez proved to be the most skilled driver in adapting to all the changes that #MotoGP has undergone in the last 8 years: this has led him to win 6 titles in the Queen Class.

In 2019 the Spanish rider, already winner of the world title in the 125 cc (2010) and Moto2 (2012) classes, again conquered 13 GP in one season, also thanks to another important engine redesign developed by Honda technicians, which considerably increased the maximum available power. At the 2019 Mugello GP, the fastest # rc213v was that of Cal Crutchlow, rider of the LCR Castrol Honda team, which recorded 354.7 km per hour, an improvement of 30.2 km per hour compared to the before # RC211V.

Marquez did not win the 2019 GP of Italy - he crossed the finish line with a gap of 4 hundredths of a second from the Italian Danilo Petrucci - but it is worth comparing their race time with the inaugural season of #MotoGP: the times made at the 2019 Mugello GP they were two minutes and seven seconds faster than the 2002 race!

Marquez ended 2019 by winning the last GP of the season in Valencia. This victory marks his 56th success in #MotoGP, the 81st for the # rc213v in eight years of life out of 145 races run in the 1000 cc era. Riding the # rc213v also won Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller.

When the #MotoGP starts again, Marc Marquez, Alex Marquez, Cal Crutchlow and Takaaki Nakagami will do everything, together with the Honda engineers, to give the # rc213v 100 victories in the Queen Class.

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