RCV1000R "Open" Class Reaction Following Sepang MotoGP Test
To keep expenses low and more teams in MotoGP, the "open" class was introduced for 2014, replacing the CRT (Claiming Rules Team) class.
The "open" class benefits from less restrictive rules on the number of engines allowed per season (12 vs. five for factory) and a greater fuel allowance (24 vs. 20 liters).
The two main entries in the open class arrive from FTR-Yamaha and Honda, the latter offering four RCV1000R open-class machines, which were previously called the "Production Racer."
Piloting these RCV1000R motorcycles are former Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama for the Drive M7 Aspar team, and also GO&FUN Honda Gresini's Scott Redding (his teammate Alvaro Bautista is on a prototype RC213V), and Cardion AB Motoracing's Karel Abraham.
But following the first preseason test of 2014 MotoGP at Sepang International Circuit, the RCV1000R machines didn't perform too well, and many riders reacted negatively.
At the Sepang test, Hayden was almost two seconds off the man who led all three days of testing, Repsol Honda's Marc Maruez.
The 2006 MotoGP Champion Hayden said: "With the lack of power there is not really a whole lot we can do here, but we know we are lacking in that area so we know we have to try and improve something because at the moment it is a bit demoralizing."
Redding agreed: "I agree with Nicky about the bottom power. When I follow Colin Edwards or Aleix Espargaro (FTR-Yamaha, NGM Mobile Forward Racing), these guys are just pulling away on the exits of tight corners. For me, the top speed is not that different, but just the initial exit. The Yamaha holds the front down and is driving forward – they generally look like they have more power."
Now, Honda Racing Corporation Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto says the riders need more time with the RCV1000R.
Shuhei Nakamoto says: "The gap is big but, to be honest, Honda’s machines are not easy to ride. The riders need a bit more time to understand how the machine is. We believe the riders are able to achieve a constant level.
"With Honda, our style is that we never stop the development – and not only the Factory machine. If we find something better, we will immediately supply it to the team. Sometimes we ask them for some extra cost, but if it is something like a piston then; a piston is a piston and we would never ask for anything from the team."
As for the FTR-Yamaha machines, NGM Mobile Forward Racing's Espargaro impressed by finishing the test fourth overall, ahead of the factory Ducati GP13s. Teammate Colin Edwards didn't fair too well, finishing 15th overall.
Following the test, the spec-tire supplier, Bridgestone, confirmed that the open-spec machines (Honda RCV1000R and FTR-Yamaha) will be supplied this season with the softer compound rear tire, as previously used by CRT bikes.
This may be the answer for some of the RCV1000R's issues, but also may make Espargaro a bit quicker.