Nicky Hayden’s Aspar squad has conceded that its underpowererd new production Honda RCV1000R is unlikely to receive a motor upgrade until the fourth race of 2014 at the earliest.
A lack of acceleration and top speed was quickly identified as a big weakness of the new RCV1000R, which is Honda’s entry in the new Open category, designed specifically to bolster grid numbers by offering more competitive but affordable machinery to non-factory teams.
Honda’s production bike is a watered down version of its factory RC213V prototype, missing exotic technology like pneumatic valves and a seamless shift gearbox.
But at fast tracks like Qatar and Sepang, there has been a huge top speed difference of over 10mph between the RCV1000R
Yamaha’s Open class strategy of leasing a protoype engine and chassis package to Forward Racing squad has ramped up the pressure on Honda, with Aleix Espargaro effectively riding Cal Crutchlow’s 2013 YZR-M1 with the benefits of extra fuel and softer tyres.
It was rumoured in Qatar recently that a power boost for the RCV1000R won’t be available until the first European race of 2014 at the Jerez track in Spain.
But Aspar boss Gino Borsoi said: “I have no idea when parts are coming. We are happy with the chassis, so we just need power for the engine. I don't know if Honda can improve the power of this engine or they need another step. They are really good when they prepare something but they need time. For sure it will not be before Jerez.”
Hayden finished the season’s opening race in Doha in eighth after losing out in a race long duel with fellow RCV1000R rider Scott Redding.