Honda presents 2012 bike
This is the Honda RC213V. That’s 21-3, not 2-1-3. It stands for 21st century and 3rd machine...
Repsol Honda officially presented the bike with which Casey Stoner will aim to defend his MotoGP title, during a Monday evening media call at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
The event began with a video summarising Honda's 2011 Triple Crown triumph, after which a moment of silence was held in memory of Marco Simoncelli. Yesterday, the Repsol Honda Team visited the spot on the Sepang track where Simoncelli lost his life last October, laying a wreath of flowers and holding a minute's silence.
With respects paid to Marco, attention turned to 2012, with Stoner and team-mate Dani Pedrosa pulling the covers off their new RC213Vs, designed for the new 1000cc era. The classic Repsol colours continue, meaning the main visual difference was the #1 on the front of Stoner's machine.
"This is the Honda RC213V. That's 21-3, not 2-1-3. It stands for 21st century and 3rd [generation of] machine," said HRC Executive Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto. "The engine and chassis is different from last year, due to the regulation change.
"Engine wise the bore is 81mm, but I don't know the stroke. Sorry!" he smiled. Revealing both the bore and stroke would indicate if Honda has chosen to use the full 1000cc available.
Either way, Honda has the highest of hopes for the new bike.
"We finished the 800cc era winning the triple crown and we will fight to win this again in 2012. We fully trust in our riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa to deliver this big challenge and we will give them all our technical and human support," said Nakamoto.
"The RC213V is an evolution of the last version of the RC212V based on the same concept. The machines we have brought here to Sepang are basically the same machines we tested in Valencia back in November with only a few differences.
"In fact, Casey and Dani will have one machine the same as Valencia, and the other one with a slightly different chassis, based on their own requests.
"This is the first time back to Sepang since we lost Marco Simoncelli last October, on Sunday we visited the scene of his accident and laid some flowers and said a final 'Ciao' to him. I believe by starting this season strong will be a fitting tribute to Marco".
Father-to-be-Stoner returns to action and recharged after a relaxing winter break.
"The off season has been really good, we got to go back home and spend some time with family and friends in Australia over Christmas which was great. Then we came back to Switzerland to get everything in order for the baby's arrival, Adriana's due in just a few weeks and so we've been preparing, as best possible!" he said.
"After such a strong season in 2011, we remain focused and don't expect to be in top form immediately. I am sure Honda have done a fantastic job with the new 1000cc machine over the winter break and I'm really looking forward to getting back on the bike and seeing what we can do, hoping to start strong again.
"We know there will be a lot of serious competition out there, Ducati have been putting a lot of effort in as have Yamaha so it will be interesting to get out on track and see what everyone's got.
"However, it's early days and I think we'll have to wait until the race in Qatar before we really know our competitors true pace and the package they have for 2012, but we're ready for it".
Stoner added that adapting the chassis to the latest Bridgestone tyres, which had caused some chatter problems at Valencia in November, will be his main priority at this week's Sepang test.
Team-mate Pedrosa, who has rebuilt his upper body strength after operations on both collarbones during the 2011 season, is also focussed on harmonising tyres and bike.
"It's nice to be back with the team for the first Sepang test," said the Spaniard. "I'm really excited to get on the bike again after the test we did in Valencia in November. Sepang is a good track for testing and we have still many things to discover out about the new bike.
"It's been a long time since we were last riding and at the first test it's always important to get the feeling back, the first sensations. We will have three long days here to work with the team and HRC and it's necessary to be very focused in order to get good information to move forward for the second test. I guess the main target in this test will be to know the bike and the new Bridgestone tyres."
Testing at Sepang starts on Tuesday morning. All twelve manufacturer bikes, plus several of the new CRTs will be present.