MotoGP History, The War is On

While in the beginning of the introduction of the 4-stroke bikes Yamaha was triumphing in the PR war, Honda was undoubtedly winning the technological exotica award with news of its amazing sounding V5 RC21 (RC for racing designation, 21 for 21st century, 1 for the number 1 in the series).

It's almost as if the two companies had reversed their driving philosophies, because while Yamaha is known for bold daring and radical new models, Honda is often seen as being a little more dull and conservative in machine development.

So while Yamaha has opted for a tried and tested platform for their first 4-stroke GP entrant, Honda is starting from scratch, or are they?

For a start, the Honda RC211 is not their first 4-stroke GP entrant, that accolade being reserved for the NR500 of the early 80's, last ridden by Freddie Spencer into the knacker's yard, and before that by Takazumi Katayama and Mick Grant to early, oily baths.
It was a brave effort, and though the jokes about spam cans rang long in their corporate oval-pistoned ego, we're sure Honda have gleaned some vital experience from the project which will stand them in good stead in the seasons ahead.

Even the actual format's not as outrageous as it may first appear when you consider that Honda has build both Championship winning 2-strokes with a odd number of cylinders - famously the NS500 of Freddie Spencer and not a few competitive privateer bikes besides, but also has of course extensive experience in the development of Vee format 4-stroke engines, having based its whole racing legacy on the V4 RC30 and its subsequent, successor, the RC45, it's not so big a deal to add another pot on the lone crankshaft and CAD design studies even by companies such as Ducati revealed the V5 as the ideal power-weight configuration.

Indeed, Ducati even in 2001 hinted at its GP press conference that it hadn't finally and unequivocally decided on its tried and tested V-twin format. A Desmo Ducati V5? Now there's an interesting proposition.

Back to Honda, Honda's was not saying a lot about its lump at the moment, but is admitting that it didn't need to go to the maximum permitted capacity to find the horsepower, which is already almost too plentiful even in prototypical guise. It was however, hinting that the tank might be partly located under the rider, both to lower the centre of gravity and to make way for an even bigger and more potent airbox channel.

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MotoGP History, the First 4-strokes
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