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Are Honda Open Class MotoGP Riders Doomed to Failure?

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After the recent Sepang Test, the fastest rider on a Honda Open bike was Nicky Hayden, yet he was 1-1/2 seconds off the blistering pace set by Aleix Espargaro on his Open Yamaha. The normally diplomatic Hayden was rather blunt about the fact that his bike was severely down on power in comparison with most of the other bikes at the test.

Honda MotoGP boss Shuhei Nakamoto initially responded to the Honda Open class riders’ concerns by stating that the riders simply needed more time to learn the bike. Now, media sources are quoting Nakamoto as stating Honda took a very different approach in building an Open class racer than Yamaha. The rules essentially allow all of the advantages of the “Open” category (among them, many more engines, 20% more fuel during the race and unlimited engine development during the season) simply by running the spec Dorna software. This is the approach Yamaha has followed with at least some of its Open bikes, which are full factory machines (with full factory engine, pneumatic valves, seamless gearbox and factory suspension), while Nakamoto now reveals Honda took a very different approach by building and developing an entirely different, lower spec bike for the Open category featuring traditional valve springs, standard gearbox, lower spec engine and lower spec suspension.  Nakamoto also stated that “secrets” inside the full factory Repsol engines would not be shared with the Open class teams.

So Hayden, rookie Scott Redding and other Honda Open bike riders may be out of luck this year, struggling even to be competitive in the Open class itself.  Ducati, for instance, appears to be taking  the same approach as Yamaha by offering full factory specifications (minus the factory software) to the Open teams.

100 Comments

  1. Bob says:

    Anybody missing the 500′s?

  2. PatrickD says:

    Honda has contrived to puposely design a slow race bike. Can’t trouble the repsol chaps!
    I reckon they’ll turn the wick up slowly; enough to compete with/beat the espagaro yamaha, but not enough to tempt Nicky or Redding to dive up the inside of a prototype honda. Design spec of +1.5 seconds a lap was probably in the specification.

    The complexity and contrived nature of this effort will, I hope, embarress and hurt Honda. They’re like a gangster who likes sport, but has the participants paid off.

    Bookies will tell you that there are only three possible winners of the MotoGP championship. What a farce is MotoGP.

  3. relic says:

    So with the crt rule, there will now be three tiers in motogp? (I am a bit fuzzy) There are now 3 races within a race? How did they get to that? It seems they want to maintain the cutting edge technology but they are having a reality problem, which they are ‘solving’ with grid-fillers.

  4. mickey says:

    In interviews over on motogpdotcom Redding said his Honda was as fast on top as the Yamahas but that the Yammies walked away from him coming out of tight hairpins.

    And if anyone thinks Pol is going to be in the top 4 at the end of the season..seriously doubt it. There is no way without crashes and injuries that he is going to beat the factory Hondas or Yamahas. Best riders on the best bikes. It is ordained. One fast lap in preseason doesn’t mean much in the course of an 18 race season. Ask Crutchlow.

  5. Norm G. says:

    re: “Honda MotoGP boss Shuhei Nakamoto initially responded to the Honda Open class riders’ concerns by stating that the riders simply needed more time to learn the bike”

    to which hayden replied…

    dude I just spent 5 years on a Desmo, the most aggressive engine in the paddock, I know WEAK SAUCE when I taste it.

  6. Bill says:

    This really blows for Nicky. This is what he gets after being faithful to a loser. Then clearly with the talent to run at the front, don’t give him the goods. Between him and Ben Spies (probably the fastest, most talented guy to ever straddle a bike) because they are American are given shit equipment, shit support, and shit in general. Is the rest of the world so scared of what we can do that they have to treat them this way? You guys suck!

    • TexinOhio says:

      While I agree with the view that American riders get treated like crap in GP now a days. The reason I see for it is that we offer nothing to the series compared to the rest of the world. We have 2 races on the schedule that I’m sure have really low attendance numbers vs. other tracks around the world. We don’t have any American manufactures fielding bikes (except EBR in WSB) and no substantial sponsors for teams or tracks.

      Its a Spanish series, running mostly Japanese bikes so where would the US figure into the equation?

      Money talks in all things, and in GP it seems America doesn’t talk very loud.

    • Dargo says:

      you think Spies is the fastest most talented guy ever to straddle a bike? are you sniffing glue? the americans had their chance on factory equipment, and they didn’t produce. simple.

      • sl_tx says:

        Actually Dargo, Hayden took the 2006 GP Championship. The following year Honda amde him ride a smaller bike prepped for DP! Which, btw, has failed to do anything. Not sayin’ Nicky is the fastest guy in the paddock but could definatley be a front runner with the goods.I think most in the paddock know this as well. Plus, what better guy to a spokesperson for the brand/team? Think of all the bs he swallowed that whole time with the Duc.

        • sl_tx says:

          Sorry. ‘made’ not ‘amde’. Not my good typing day!

        • GKS says:

          The way I see it, the current technical regulations (electronic controls) do not favor Nicky’s riding style. He is likely the last of a series of American GP riders (plus some Aussies) that learned their racecraft on dirt tracks. Face it, now the game is corner speed, point and shoot doesn’t win in Moto GP anymore. Sure, the Spainards and other Euros practice on dirt track and mx bikes, but they grew up roadracing, coming up through the smallbore classes where corner speed wins. The class structure in American roadracing doesn’t teach our young riders the specific style needed for Moto GP, perhaps WSB, but not GP.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “the americans had their chance on factory equipment, and they didn’t produce.”

        actually, what happened was, americans had their chance on factory equipment and the YANKEE FANBASE didn’t produce. failing to come off dime dead shorts the economic loop.

      • mickey says:

        I agree with Dargo. Spies is hardly the most talented rider to throw a leg over a motorcycle. Only his mom would think that and she has to. American riders are just not very good and haven’t been for a long, long time. IF an American was really talented, he’d have a good ride. Our best got opportunities and other than Haydens miracle year have failed to produce. Period.contrary to some conspiracy theorists, the reason Spanish riders win is because they are groomed from the age of 8 or 9. Talented ones are taken care of, nurture and taught through a program in Spain. America has no such program. Spain cares about motorcycle racing, America doesn’t. Maybe if cruisers were involved…….

        • VLJ says:

          “Spain cares about motorcycle racing, America doesn’t. Maybe if cruisers were involved……”

          Embarrassing as hell, yet oh so true.

        • jim says:

          The NASCAR mindset. The good thing is we are spreading NASCAR to Europe now and we hope it stays there.

  7. Joe Lewis says:

    Couple facts on NASCAR v. f1
    NASCAR races 36 races versus 19
    Brickyard 400 seats 400k, 298 k in stands 102k in infield

    • bmidd says:

      another fact about Nascar: They haven’t sold out a race in the last decade judgind by the empty stands. No matter how creative the camera angle is, you can still see half the bleacher seats at any racetrack, and don’t even mention the truck or lower tier series.

    • GKS says:

      Moto GP and F1 put on races.
      NASCAR puts on a show, artificially controling the event.

  8. Joe Lewis says:

    I have been a race fan for 40 years. my experience is most Organizations stink in regards to sanctioning bodies, regardless of type of racing. NASCAR takes hits on what they do but they are the premier Racing organization. Their fan base is larger than F1. I base my observations on how competitive the racing is, anyone can win a race there. They pass so many times in a race, trade paint, have interesting pit stops etc…
    They do stifle technology though. Have many competitive teams does F1 have? How many lead changes does F1 ever have?
    Also, F1 technology is stifled as well. Indy Car racing is dead…….. The list goes on.
    Motorcycle racing is a tough nut to crack. Daytona is an example of a good thing gone bad. They freaking race 600cc bikes at the one time premier racing event in the world.
    I remember when the worlds best used to come and run what they brought. No one watches the event….

    • Vrooom says:

      I’d be shocked if there were more nascar fans than F1. Australia had 298,000 fans in attendance for the GP, about 100,000 more than at any nascar event. In US there are probably more nascar fans, but not worldwide (I don’t think).

    • Les says:

      I think if Nicky and Marc changed bikes they would finish in the same positions.

      Either way, did anyone really think Honda would make something for a fraction of the price and the same spec as the factory?

      Layers of bullshit created by a maze of poor rules. I would be content to have the 6 factory bikes and send the rest to SBK. Oh wait, SBK is turning into super stock next year. I think I’ll go fishing with Casey instead.

  9. Neil says:

    Nicky WAS on a factory Honda. He seldom passed anyone. In his post championship season, he tanked, on a factory Honda. He then said NO to Yamaha to go to Ducati for the $$$, the fame, the first class this and that. He now tweets about the Tequila Sisters which is as sellout as it gets. I grew up 6 people in the 1000 sq ft house. I did NOT want to be like the Tequila sisters. He CHOSE his path. – The bike is ok mid pack. It is bought, not leased. Costs need to be down in that case. It’s still a nice machine compared to a stock CBR1000RR or any of OUR bikes. I think they need to have TV pay more attention to the Open class bikes when the ones at the front are not changing lap after lap. Let’s not whine about the Open Class Honda. Let’s see how it develops. Honda talked about all this and made a decision, based on many factors. Let’s just see how it pans out.

  10. stinkywheels says:

    I’m sorry he didn’t go WSB. I like some of the riders but hate the organization, and I guess they’ve taken over WSB. Since AMA Superbike isn’t televised (at least to me) I guess I can ride more watch less. Hope to see all these DORNAs AMAs on the unemployment line, but they’ll probably get jobs with their respective governments.

    • Neil says:

      He could have done some real racing in WBSK. Look at Sykes, winning on the Kawasaki no less! Now THERE is a racer. That Kaw put everyone else on their behind. John McGuiness in Isle Of Man. I don’t see him complaining. He gets results and they give him the bike.

  11. Silver says:

    What was Nicky expecting? I guess the money must be damn good compared to a SBK championship, or at least I hope so.

  12. Krisd says:

    I dont know what the answer is, but MotoGP is becoming irrelevant- it’s a competition between basically 4 riders but there’s 20 out there? TV audiences must be falling surely- who wants to watch a 4 horse race?

    • Guu says:

      Historically, in motor racing, four horse race is very good. Any more than that is an anomaly. More often its less than four.

    • ROXX says:

      Worldwide it’s anything but “irrelevant”.
      MotoGP still draws some of the largest audiences anywhere but in the USA.
      The riders are national heroes in their respective countries.
      Personally I enjoy most of the races very much.
      I love the sport and hope the sanctioning bodies get their act together on the rules someday.

      • Vrooom says:

        I’m with Roxx on this. There might be five capable of winning next year, if Aleix Espargo surprises us maybe more. You’ve got Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez, Pedrosa, and quite likely Pol Espargo. Maybe I’m being optimistic about Pol, we’ll see.

        • John says:

          I’d have thought you were being optimistic naming Rossi, I hope not, but I guess as you say we’ll see..

      • Krisd says:

        “MotoGP still draws some of the largest audiences anywhere but in the USA.”
        OK, but year on year what are audience numbers as well as TV viewers/ratings? I’d bet its gone down significantly since the glory days of say Rossi vs Biaggi vs Gibernau vs the Brazilian dude etc, and only some of that would be due to the “Rossi” factor not being as strong as it was.

        NormG- you’re the expert- what do you think?

        • Norm G. says:

          while it’s reach may have diversified into previously untapped markets, were a LOOONG way from those 990 glory days. motoGP not only had ross at the height of his super powers…? but yeah there were his fellow protagonists capirossi, barros (aka the Brazilian dude), roberts, etc transitioning from 500′s and the mash up of Superbikers like Edwards, Bayliss, Xaus, Haga, Hayden, and Hopkins. basically, it was one big WWJD (what will Jesus do).

          ignoring that and the teen idol factor for a moment, something it also had was NOVELTY. 4T grandprix for the modern era was still being fleshed out. the technology was new, the sounds were new, the speeds were new, as were the records being set.

          so unless you’re a devout Purist, all this stuff is really old hat to a generation reared on ADD medication. the Purists are extinct, their fire has gone out of the galaxy, guys like me and Vader are all that’s left of the religion. (Governor Tarkin voice)

  13. brinskee says:

    I think Honda has a couple of hot ideas going at the moment. 1) Nicky Hayden as a test rider. He’s got a track record of providing great feedback. He’s a veteran, world champ, AMA champ and understands his bikes. Honda didn’t choose to take his opinions with the 2007 season and instead built a bike that little Dani Pedrosa could fail to claim a world title with. They don’t want Hayden’s expertise to go wasted for… 2) their development of a WSB contender. If they are truly building this bike as a “production machine” don’t you think they will have plans to at least sell enough to qualify for WSB status? And further… 3) Sell it to the masses. How incredible to see Honda dethrone the Panigale 1199, BMW S1000RR, and Aprilia RSV4R’s out there in the good old retail environment? If they could build a cracking production V4 that pumped out over 210HP and was reliable with traditional spring valve lifters, well they could outbrag everyone else for street legal superbike glory. I hear dollar signs raining fresh for big red.

    I think this strategy is part of a much larger plan. And I’m not a conspiracy theorist…

    • Guu says:

      Honda has been promising a MotoGP-derived halo bike for years. I’m not holding my breath.

    • x-planer says:

      Open class sportbike sales have been falling for years. I doubt the cash registers will ring that much if this is to be the basis for a new street bike. Besides, Honda already has the new VFR800 and the VFR1200 didn’t exactly set the sales bar real high.

      • Brinskee says:

        With this logic it would make sense to just give up on developing any more open class sport bikes. Why develop anything new if no one is buying? In fact, why race at all anymore? Why not just give up completely?

        As both BMW and Aprilia have proved, there is market share to be fought for and through innovation and good design, it can be a lucrative area to explore. I think the Japanese have fallen quite far behind in this area lately and it makes sense for them to try to gather more share.

        Literbikes will probably never post the highest sales numbers, but as “halo” and aspirational models, they do a lot of good for their parent companies.

  14. VLJ says:

    The obvious question: Why? With Yamaha stepping up to take full advantage of what’s allowable for the Open bikes, why would Honda choose to relegate their own Open bikes to the back of the field? How does ensuring that they will get curbstomped by their main corporate rival benefit them in any way?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “How does ensuring that they will get curbstomped by their main corporate rival benefit them in any way?”

      again, gotta view it through your wide angle lens. this is nothing more than a salvo in the war over control of grandprix. BIGRED will not be dictated to and they’ve just demonstrated it. power is with the producers, the talented, the engineers, the manufacturers of tangible goods, always has been always will be.

      Ezpelata…? yeah, barring takeover of a 3rd world sweatshop …? he produces NOTHING. ie. f@#k all. example, if the “Ez-Dorn” conglomerate were to disappear tomorrow…? I doubt that anybody would miss them. (Dan Hedaya voice)

      • VLJ says:

        How does Honda cutting off their nose to spite their face advance their cause? All this does is make Yamaha look that much better.

  15. ken says:

    The big advantage the factory bikes have are the pneumatic valves. That’s where the big power difference comes from because of the more extreme camshaft profiles they allow. Sooooo, ban pneumatic valves and let them run whatever engine architecture, software and fuel quantity they want. Mandate five short blocks and transmissions per season but allow them to refresh the heads every race. Since no street bike is going to run pneumatic valves there shouldn’t be much of a disincentive for Honda because they’ll be able to continue their software development. Plus, since the pneumatic valves are probably not inexpensive it would save some money and impose a defacto rev limit.

    • John says:

      Very good idea Ken, technology normally does filter down to us eventually but this hasn’t, cost as you say and not at all practical on a road bike, whereas traction control EFI ABS etc is.

  16. dino says:

    Seriously? Honda decided not to maximize the rules, but instead decided to take their very different approach???

    “Honda took a very different approach by building and developing an entirely different, lower spec bike for the Open category featuring traditional valve springs, standard gearbox, lower spec engine and lower spec suspension.”

    Maybe they are developing a high performance SCOOTER engine, and figured they may as well run it, with low-spec suspension (why not?) in the MotoGP world stage…

    I feel for Nicky, always liked and respected him… I say he rides that bike just as hard as they developed it! No sense crashing a bike doomed to lose anyway, and risk hurting yourself. Hope it was a short contract. Time to come back home to the AMA and give us some good shows here! Screw Dorna..

  17. John says:

    Anyone think Honda might play along and use the open development rules to up-spec this thing? Or will they be their usual steady self… As an Aussie, I also feel for Nicky… Ducati and now a slow Honda..

    Cheers John

  18. mickey says:

    Didn’t Stoner test these units preseason and turn some blistering lap times?

    • al says:

      Your right he did, same bike do you think?

    • Pure Lunacy says:

      Mikey,

      Yes Stoner did, but that was with the Honda ECU, not the new mandated Dorna ECU. The 1st time the mandated ECU was used was the 1st test after the final round in Valencia.

      They even admitted they were behind with the new ECU, & it’s showing.

      • mickey says:

        Ahh thanks for the update. That explains a lot.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “They even admitted they were behind with the new ECU, & it’s showing.”

        you guys gotta lose this fascination with ECU’s. that’s all a bunch of BS. no amount of 1′s/0′s are going to sort a soft build. before you ever turn it on…? your air pump is either good…? or it’s “gahbige”.

        you don’t have spray a drop of gasoline or energize a single coil to verify this. observe, the letters on the side of the building read…

        HRC.

        • mickey says:

          Norm..question..if there is no difference in ECU’s, why would Dorna specify that they can only use the Dorna unit? Just so Dorna can sell 20 ECU’s?

      • Dave says:

        Re: “They even admitted they were behind with the new ECU, & it’s showing.”

        To sort of echo Norm’s comment, The blistering fast Yamaha had the Dorna ECU software too, and it beat an HRC factory bike. It’s not the ECU.

        • VLJ says:

          The ECU does matter, though. Without the factory unit, Espargaro ain’t catching Rossi and Lorenzo, and no one on a Honda is going to run with the mini Spaniards.

          • Dave says:

            I still don’t think it’s the ECU. Tech 3 Yamaha’s never caught the factory bikes and Honda satellite bikes never caught the factory bikes either.

          • VLJ says:

            No, they didn’t, but the Tech 3 and Honda satellite bikes weren’t identical to their factory counterparts. No seamless trannies, always a generation or two behind on the latest motor upgrades, ditto on the electronics, etc. Whereas now the reports are that the new Yamaha Open bike is identical to factory-spec except for the ECU and larger gas tank.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Didn’t Stoner test these units preseason and turn some blistering lap times?”

      maybe they did…? maybe they didn’t…? if you read between the lines, Honda never gave lap times. t’was all an orchestrated snow job.

      • mickey says:

        I’m not good at reading between the lines Norm. I read the words printed on the paper..er the computer screens these days

  19. MGNorge says:

    You know, racing within a set of rules is something of a chess game for all parties. They either play or they get out. If the story is to be believed then it’s too bad for Hayden and others like him. Only time will tell how Honda has played their hand. I’ve always believed that MotoGP is a showcase for both riders and machine, and for me it’s always been more of the latter. Doing anything to dumb the series down or create some artificial parity immediately turns it into something else. I like tight racing but also believe there are just so many riders that have the skills to ride at the front. It’s not all bike and it’s not all rider. I like to see what the engineers have up their sleeves not what size intake restrictor it takes to bring an engine back down to where other engines are just so the racing is hopefully tighter. Has Honda goofed? Perhaps? But then again, the racing has even started yet!

  20. Provologna says:

    Please explain in a nutshell:
    The difference, Factory vs. Open class
    Re. the above, how/what is Honda doing different vs. Yamaha/Ducati?

    I love Nicky so much that I want him to win, even though he returned to Honda.

    Tx!

    • Vrooom says:

      Factory bikes are mandated to use a different and theoretically higher performance ecu than open class. Open class bikes get 12 engines to use in a season vs. factory 5, and can carry 4 more liters of fuel. There may be more, that’s off the top of my head.

  21. wes says:

    It’s well known HRC has threatened to pull out of MotoGP if bikes go spec. Looks like they are trying to prove their own point at Nicky’s and Scott’s expense.

    • Norm G. says:

      and there it is.

    • VLJ says:

      The only point they’re proving, however, is that they cheaped out on their Open bike. Meanwhile, Yamaha seems to be proving that the Open concept can result in a competitive machine. I don’t see where this creates any sort of persuasive message on their behalf.

  22. Nomadak says:

    Yet another reason to HATE HONDA.

    • MGNorge says:

      Hate? I’m not sure I hate any manufacturer. I have no reason to nor do I know the reason they make the decisions they do. Nothing to hate them for unless I had money on Hayden, which I don’t.

    • Peter says:

      Why do you think this is Honda’s fault?
      Honda’s “Open bike” was designed to meet a price point set by DORNA.
      However DORNA has changed the open class regulation AFTER Honda has built their proddy racer.
      Thanks to DORNA, factories can now field full factory machines as long as they use the spec ECU.
      There is no way Honda’s budget open bike can be competitive against the disguised factory machines operating as “open class”.
      This is just another case of Honda getting majorly screwed by DORNA’s last minute regulation meddling.
      Too bad, it’s now too late to follow Yamaha’s route.
      Nicky is a casualty of this lame situation.

      • VLJ says:

        There is no way? Actually, there is quite an easy way. They take their current Factory-spec bike (factory motor, pneumatic valves, seamless transmission, top-shelf suspension, etc.), swap out their own ECU for the Open-mandated DORNA unit, slap on a larger fuel tank, and hand the bike to Nicky. Couldn’t be simpler. (And you know that’s what Nicky was led to believe would be the case when he was in negotiations to return to Honda.) That’s what Yamaha did, and it’s the only logical thing to do. There was no need to develop an all new, lower-spec machine. In terms of budget, Honda has more $$ than any other factory. If Yamaha (and possibly even Ducati) can swing it, so can Honda.

        And DORNA never set a price-point. Their only mandate was the DORNA-spec ECU. In recompense, the Open bikes were to be allowed larger fuel tanks and more motors per season.

        Yes, Honda is entirely to blame for this. Regarding the new Open rules, Yamaha wasn’t told anything that Honda and the other factories weren’t also told.

        • Rick says:

          Seriously get real. Stop twisting the facts with BS.
          DORNA did set a target price of one million euros for production racers.
          MFGs, including Yamaha and Ducati, were supposed to sell production racers which would be owned by the teams.
          Honda went along with DORNA’s plan and made the RCV1000R.
          Then DORNA changed the open class rules and allowed the use of factory bikes with spec ECU, more fuel and softer tires and dropped the part of ownership of the bikes by the teams.
          DORNA has effectively back-stabbed Honda with this move.
          IMO poor planning by DORNA is to blame. There wasn’t enough time (and money) for Yamaha and Ducati to produce production racers this year.
          And you say Honda is entirely to blame for this. How the heck were Honda supposed to know rule changes beforehand? WTF are you smokin’ ?

          Honda may have the deepest pocket but, their racing budget is limited.
          There is NO WAY they can shell out more $$ to make additional factory-spec bikes modified for revised open class rules.
          How on earth are they supposed to do that with the already allocated budget? You can’t ask for more budget as you wish. Doesn’t work that way.Then there is the additional issue of time constraint. Have you no idea how corporations operate?
          It is now too late to do the “Easy Way” you suggested.

          And whats with your multiple post Honda hate mongering? Did Nakamoto-san steal your girlfriend or something? Grow up man.

          • VLJ says:

            I’m one of the biggest Honda fans around, so can it with the “hate mongerer!” accusations. The point you fail to address is the most obvious one: Why has Yamaha been able to do this, if Honda can’t? Any rules changes that were made affected all teams equally, at the same time. If Honda was caught flatfooted, so too was everyone else. How is it that apparently only Honda finds themselves behind the eight ball here?

          • Rick says:

            VLJ: “Why has Yamaha been able to do this, if Honda can’t? ”

            Can you read? Do you have a reading and comprehention problem?
            The open class rules got totally altered about a year after Honda had started designing their production racer and after they had started testing it.
            The original rule was about providing complete production racers for around 1 million euro and the teams got to own and do whatever they please with them.
            The altered rules now allow the use of thinly disguised factory bikes and the teams nolonger get to own them.
            The rules changes has neither affected all teams equally, nor at the same time.
            No one else was caught flatfooted because, no one else had bothered to design a production racer before the rules change came about.
            That’s the why of Honda was caught flatfooted as you say.
            Why is this soooo hard for you to grasp?

          • VLJ says:

            So Honda was the only factory that decided to develop a cheap Open bike, whereas everyone else sat patiently on the sidelines, knowing DORNA would change the rules just to screw Honda. And, during negotiations with Nicky, Honda made it clear that his bike would not be within shouting distance of the factory machines. Further, the ‘Open’ bike Casey Stoner tested was in the same neutered state of tune as the sled Nakamoto is now describing.

            You actually believe such fairy tales? That’s your story, and you’re sticking to it?

          • Dave says:

            Three things:
            1. Is this honda a better performer than the CRT bikes that this “Open” class is meant to replace? I’m betting yes.
            2. Is Nicky doing much worse on this so far than he had been on the Ducati? I’m betting he goes forward in the order, not back.
            3. Why all the focus on “Nicky got screwed!”? He’s one of many riders on this bike and this is all the higher a level of team he can hope for at this point in his career unless he can get that steel-sprung valve-train to punch way above it’s weight class. See Colin Edwards..

  23. Tim says:

    Once again Honda thanks it’s former World Champ in a classless way. First, they thanked him the year after his championship by building a bike that fit the shorter Pedrosa, but was ill suited to Hayden. We all see how many championships Dani’s won for them since that brilliant move.

    I feel for Hayden. He can’t catch a fair break.

  24. Karlsbad says:

    So let me get this right then, Honda in all their infinite wisdom plan on putting their eggs in one basket (M.M) because lets face it Dani is not going to win. Jorge and everyone else including D.P. have proven that the last few years. So Yamaha & Ducati teams with riders of all skill levels may or will depending on how you look at it get the closest engine to full on factory as possible, while Honda relegates everyone else other than full on Factory support to a second tier engine. Nicky and others should be pissed they all race for the same reason “TO WIN” if the teams can afford to buy they should get the same hardware as everyone else. Shame on Honda for taking an already uneven playing field and making it worse.

  25. bikerrandy says:

    This is sad if true. Honda hasn’t really been competitive in WSBK’s top class for years either.

  26. J Wilson says:

    In an entirely unintended fashion, Nakamoto-san may indeed be probing Dorna’s argument:

    Take Marquez’ current RCV, strip all of the cost-no-object parts, start with the basic block and frame with a more conventional valve train and head and the Series-spec ECU . . . and you’re not even in the ballpark with the bike you’re building for customers that supposedly should be within shouting distance of the Repsol bikes’ performance.

    Hmmmmm . . . . .

    • Dave says:

      And Yamaha’s open class bike has beaten one of Honda’s factory riders. If Honda doesn’t get on the stick with this open bike, they’ll find Yamaha making their life miserable.

      I am surprised that Yamaha’s bike has all that tech, especially the seamless gear box, which was reported to be very pricey.

  27. jabe says:

    Sounds like Honda screwed up, but my question is, if the Open Class allows for full factory machines as Yamaha is reportedly using, what is the purpose of the Open Class? Not trying to be sarcastic, just really want to know.

    • Hot Dog says:

      The only manufacturer, who won’t use a Dorna spec ECU on a prototype bike, is Big Red. Are the Forward Yamahas, the factory machines from last year? It seems like a spec ECU is a suppository all race teams will need to submit to, in order to develop an engine during the year. A slow castration of prototype Moto GP machines is approaching NASCAR boredom but…..

  28. Jeremy in TX says:

    Two words: buyer’s remorse.

  29. TexinOhio says:

    This can’t be a surprise to anyone can it? No way Honda or any other manufacture would want to have their top factory teams getting smoked by a bike that’s not a prototype. Hayden should have gone to WSB instead of this racing limbo (Ducati part 2).

    I’d pretty much want to see these “open” bikes against the top WSB’s and see what they can do. I think that would be more of a fair fight. All the big boys are going to have to encounter several major engine failures for the rules to factor in.

    Again why WSB is the superior race to watch and sad that it’s difficult to see the races live here in the US.

    • Ian says:

      With the riders that sit atop the protos, I doubt many, if any, would get smoked. Wouldn’t that be great though? Sounds like a couple others are supplying pretty much factory bikes, so why not big red? It’s too bad that there are only a handful of riders in MotoGP that have a legit chance of ever winning. As you say, WSB is far better to watch as a race fan. Too bad!!

      • PABLO says:

        “Sounds like a couple others are supplying pretty much factory bikes, so why not big red.”
        As it says in the article Ian, “Nakamoto also stated that “secrets” inside the full factory Repsol engines would not be shared with the Open class teams.”
        Gee, people on here a quick to judge. After one test and one hot Lap by A.E everyone is ripping on the Honda.
        As much as i like the guy, Nicky Hayden isn’t exactly in his prime anymore, im confident that by mid season the Honda open class bike will competitive, maybe just not in Nickys hands.

    • VLJ says:

      Honda could have at least done what Yamaha did with their “Open” bikes. Otherwise, why even bother? How does Honda benefit from saddling some of their riders with boat anchor steeds that will get smoked by their main rival’s (supposedly) similar offering?

      • Chris says:

        Honda couldn’t have done what Yamaha did with their “Open” bikes because, the rules were changed after Honda has built their affordable production racer.
        I don’t like how MotoGP of recent is getting rather pathetic like the Mosley-era F1.
        I guess this is DORNA’s idea of providing (burn the big red) entertainment. Seems to work every time with the horde of Honda haters.

        • VLJ says:

          Nonsense. Yamaha was never privy to any info regarding the new Open rules that Honda and all the other factories weren’t also aware of. Bottom line, if Yamaha can manage it, so can Honda. Even now, they can still make the decision to do so. Give Nicky the same spec bike as Dani’s, only with a different ECU and a larger tank (which is surely what he was promised before he signed on the dotted line), and watch how his lap times suddenly improve to within a few tenths of Dani’s.

          • Dave says:

            Can and can’t is more a matter of will or won’t. I don’t think Honda is willing to provide anybody with the number of engines that the Open rules allow in a year. Not the full-spec MotoGP engine. I am not sure how Yamaha plans to do that.

    • Vrooom says:

      Apparently Aleix Espargo feels differently. While on a “open-class” machine he came in 4th beating many factory teams. Albeit Yamaha put a lot more effort into their open-class bikes than did Honda, it appeared to work for them.

  30. Ian says:

    If that’s the case (can’t always believe the media sources), then very “different” indeed. Sounds like they blew it, unusual for Honda.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Sounds like they blew it, unusual for Honda.”

      EXACTLY. more specifically, unusual for HRC. those 3 letters are your 1st clue that they didn’t blow anything. Russians don’t take a dump without out a plan and Honda boffins don’t build crap unless it serves a purpose.

  31. VLJ says:

    Awful. Just awful. Thanks a million, Honda.

  32. Daytona James says:

    It’s unfortunate that Open class riders don’t know how badly they get their stones chopped when they sign their contracts for the upcoming year. I’ve always appreciated Haydon’s skills both on and off the track. He is a great ambassador to the sport and I will forgive him when he has anything less than complimentary to say about his teams bike. Manufacturer’s desire for championships should be tempered by what is arguably the more important series design criteria… keep MGP tight and competitive so the PAYING fans will be better entertained. If the same three or four riders are on the podium all year long, Dorma & MGP have failed to create an entertaining series… IMHO

  33. Starmag says:

    “Now, media sources are quoting Nakamoto as stating Honda took a very different approach in building an Open class racer than Yamaha.”

    Translation- Sorry Nickey, you’re screwed. But remember, your contract calls for a smile when you’re three places back from the uncompetitive factory Duck you just got off. The only way he gets more power is if it turns into a P.R. disaster for Honda.

    Oh, well, there’s always the money, which he would do well to sock away. He’s not getting any younger and there’s Young Blood out there. Too bad though, given that Nickey was ahead or paced Rossi two seasons back and now Vale rides at the front with a Yamaha, it sure seems he could still be competitive if not a full on Alien.