Honda launches 2012 factory 1000cc machine in Malaysia

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Honda has unveiled the factory RC213V machine it hopes will emulate its domination of last year’s MotoGP world championship in 2012.

Australian rider Casey Stoner and Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa showed off the new HRC contender during the team’s official launch ceremony at the Pan Pacific Hotel next to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport tonight.

Stoner’s RC213V was sporting the number one plate after he romped to a second world title in 2011 with 10 victories.

Few technical details were revealed about the new machine, though HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto confirmed that Stoner and Pedrosa each had a new chassis built to their own specific requests based on their comments and feedback from the last test at Valencia in early November.

Stoner said: “I think it is impressive from one test to the next the differences we have found. The first test went smoothly and for a first shakedown of the bike we couldn’t have been too much happier.

"And then the next test in Brno we had the new evolution tyres from Bridgestone, which created a few small problems that we didn’t have with the past tyres.

"We found immediately from there that we needed to head in a bit different direction with the chassis to try and reduce some of the chatter, which seemed to work in Valencia.

"We are slowly starting to get used to the engine character but in general the bike feels comfortable immediately you get on it and everything feels like home and we haven’t had too many problems.”

Speaking about the improved engine performance from the 1000cc motor compared to the 800cc engine he rode last season, the 26-year-old added: “We improved the acceleration of the engine already in Valencia and it was definitely a little bit better.

"There are a few things that we’ve improved before we needed it but until we stack up against the other bikes we won’t really understand where we need to improve.

"The 800s had plenty of acceleration but it was a case of putting it to the ground and now that will be the big issue finding traction. I think there is already too much power.

"You can ride it in a way that you can enjoy it. If you ride it in a gear like an 800 then sometimes you will need that engine to be nice and smooth and easy to control.

"But if you ride it one gear higher or change the gearbox you can ride it in the torque a little bit more and get it out of the corners and that will give you all the feeling you want with the engine.

"So far the engine has felt fantastic but I think everything will feel great after an 800 for a while. Stoner also denied that he would need to radically alter his riding style to master the 1000s.

The 800s were all about late braking and high corner speed but Stoner added: “There are not huge differences between the 1000 and the 800. You have to get used to more acceleration and power but you ride them in quite a similar way.

"We have already got too much power with the 800 and you are already struggling to try and find the traction with that, so I think you’ll ride it in a similar way.

"I think there will be a few times in a few corners we can ride these bikes slightly different because of the power we have on tap compared to the 800s. You’ve still got to find the traction somewhere.”

The three-day Sepang test kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday).

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt