Corner speed improvement key for HRC in 2014

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Improved corner speed will be a key target for Honda’s technical staff during the off-season.

HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto said it was clear throughout a captivating 2013 season that Yamaha’s factory YZR-M1 had superior corner speed over the RC213V that rookie Marc Marquez won a historic first title on.

Honda won nine races last season, with six going to Spaniard Marquez and three to his teammate Dani Pedrosa.

Yamaha also won nine races and with competition so close, HRC is looking to improve corner speed for next season to try and gain the technical upper hand.

One of Honda’s key strengths during 2013 was its braking stability, with Jorge Lorenzo urging Yamaha to improve in that area to aid his hopes of wrestling back the title from compatriot Marquez next season.

But speaking to MCN, it is clear in which area Nakamoto wants to see the factory RC213V 1000cc package improved during winter testing.

He said: “The Yamaha has much faster corner speed and this is clear. But the Honda brakes stronger and makes the corner shorter, but this is the machine characteristic.  For more than 30 years, HRC have tried to make a machine like Yamaha. Even their 500cc two-stroke handling was much better than Honda.  The Yamaha is still better in this area. We are trying to improve but it is not easy but this is the biggest difference between the two bikes.  We will look at everything to improve this area including chassis, swingarm, and electronics. In 2009 our weak point was clear and that was braking stability. We concentrated on that and now braking stability is similar.  The Honda is better than Yamaha in braking stability.  But still the corner speed of the Yamaha is much, much faster. Corner speed comes from tyre grip. In some places the Yamaha has extra corner grip than Honda."

Nakamoto agreed that much of the Yamaha’s superior corner speed came from Lorenzo’s riding style, which was honed in the 250cc two-stroke where high corner speed was essential.

But he said: “Jorge is very good in this area and is the fastest but all the Yamaha riders like (Cal) Crutchlow and (Valentino) Rossi have faster corner speed than Honda."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt