Honda to roll out production MotoGP racer in 2014
Honda will sell a production version of its current 1000cc prototype RC213V machine for the 2014 MotoGP world championship.
The bike is currently under development in Japan and MCN understands it will be sold to non-factory teams for a maximum of 1m Euros (£800,000).
The new machine isn't expected to run to current CRT regulations and therefore will be subject to current prototype fuel restrictions of 21 litres and six engines per season. CRT machines which use highly tweaked production-based engines in prototype chassis are allowed to use 24 litres and 12 engines.
HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto confirmed to MCN during last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone that there is no limit on the number of the RC213V production machines available for sale and that Honda was geared up to meet any demand.
Nakamoto also confirmed that the new bike would be sold for teams to keep.
Existing lease arrangements HRC has with LCR and Gresini mean the Italian outfits have to return their machinery at the end of each season, as Tech 3 does with Yamaha and Pramac and AB Cardion with Ducati.
The lease price for this year’s RC213V prototype is believed to be close to £3m.
Honda hasn’t made available a production racer since it sold its NSR500V as an affordable twin-cylinder two-stroke in 1997.
One notable success came when Alex Barros finished second in the British Grand Prix at Donington Park in 2000.
Honda’a decision to sell a customer version of its V4 RC213V will be a major boost to Dorna’s plan of having a large and competitive grid in the future.
Of the 21 bikes on the 2012 grid, nine are CRT entries but there has been concern that MotoGP is now too much of a two-tier series, with a big gap in performance between the factory prototypes and CRT machines.
The number of prototypes could fall to just 10 in 2013, with Ducati facing the prospect of having no satellite team entry next season for the first time since 2004.
The current Pramac squad that runs Hector Barbera is almost certain to collapse at the end of the season after the Italian-based generator and solar power manufacturer recently went into liquidation with losses of almost 100m Euros.
And Karel Abraham’s AB Cardion squad is understood to have already told Ducati it might not extend its contract for 2013, with rumours suggesting the Czech Republic squad is unhappy with the performance of the bike.
Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta told MCN during last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone: “My forecast is that we will have four Hondas, four Yamahas and two Ducatis.
"Maybe Abraham will have a third Ducati but I don't think anyone else is interested to lease bikes at this price when you can have a CRT that is not a lot less competitive and the cost is dramatically reduced."
If Ducati’s involvement in 2013 is restricted to just a two-rider factory effort then more than half of next year’s grid will be consist of CRT machinery.
Ezpeleta said the potential loss of two Ducati prototypes would not see the grid reduced below the current number of 21 bikes.
Lengthy discussions have been taking place since the beginning of the year between Dorna and the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association about devising rules to cut the gap in performance between the prototype and CRT machinery.
More talks will take place when the Grand Prix Commission sits during next week’s Dutch TT at the legendary Assen track.
Ezpeleta hinted at Honda’s proposal to run a production racer in the future when the Dorna CEO told MCN at Silverstone: “We have a proposal that from 2014 the manufacturers will be ready to produce prototype bikes at a level of one million Euros then it could be a good business for them.
"It will not be compulsory to use that bike and you could still have a prototype.”