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Honda’s V-5 Motor Shows Rivals Just How Serious It Is

Below is the text of a press release received yesterday from Honda concerning its five cylinder GP motor, with which it will compete in the Grand Prix championship in 2002. Honda states the five cylinder design was chosen because both four and five cylinder engine motorcycles have the same minimum weight limit (320 pounds). With round pistons (not oval, unlike a Honda GP racer of yesteryear), the motor is rumored to be far smaller than the 990cc capacity limit for the class, but making well over 200 horsepower. Here is the release:


“Honda is widely acknowledged as the world’s four-stroke engine technology leader. Today, Honda introduced a new chapter in motorcycle engine design, following the recent changes in World Grand Prix regulations.

Honda Racing Corporation unveiled a new engine called RC211V that will be used to compete in the World Grand Prix Championship in 2002. RC211V is the first four-stroke racing engine designed by Honda for the first year of 21st century, hence its coding. The engine design is a 5-cylinder in a V configuration, made up of three front cylinders and two rear cylinders.

Honda arrived at the unique V-5 engine configuration after examining the revised Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme (FIM) regulations for 2002. This engine was selected because Honda believes that it will best satisfy two design requirements that Honda has historically pursued: "concentration of mass" and "reduction of projected areas".

The five cylinders have round pistons and four valves each. For the intake system, PGM-FI (programmed fuel injection) has been adopted. The minimum weight as stipulated by the regulations for four- or five-cylinder engine motorcycles is 145kg (approximately 320 lbs.).

This new chapter follows the storied history of four-stroke innovation for which Honda is famous. The last four-stroke milestones in Honda motorcycle racing were Mike Hailwoods’ ultimate victory with the four cylinder RC181 in 1967 in Canada, and Freddie Spencer’s final outing on the oval-pistoned NR500 in 1981 during the British Grand Prix. Honda also has a special Grand Prix history with 5-cylinder engines – Luigi Taveri won the manufacturer’s and rider’s championships for Honda in 1966 with the 125cc RC149.”