– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Honda’s Daytona 200 Woes

Race fans were stunned during this weekend’s Daytona 200 when all four top-running Hondas, the factory bikes of Miguel DuHamel and Jake Zemke along with the Erion machines of Josh Hayes (defending Formula Extreme champion) and Aaron Gobert, were all stricken with fuel problems. Duhamel and Zemke appeared to run out of fuel two laps before they were scheduled to pit, leaving them in the category of ‘DNF’. Meanwhile, Hayes and Gobert were both forced to pit more often or earlier than expected to deal with the same issue, Hayes’ bike apparently running out of gas just as he entered pit lane.

After the race, the teams were somewhat unclear on where the blame lay for this disastrous quadruple-whammy, but Duhamel stated definitively that his bike did not technically ‘run out of gas’. Instead, he claimed, there was still enough gas in the tank to complete the remaining two laps, but a problem with the fuel pump meant that said gas wasn’t getting picked up and pumped to the injectors.

For the benefit of our readers who don’t know much about fuel pumps, let’s talk a little bit about whether or not Duhamel’s statement is actually possible. Every fuel pump has a ‘pickup’, a point where it sucks up fuel to be pumped to the injectors. Now, if the bottom of your gas tank looked like a big soup bowl, with the pickup in the middle, you can imagine that in certain situations (cornering, for example) fuel might slosh away from the pickup, ‘starving’ the fuel system and causing the motor to die. This is why every form of racing vehicle that is ever likely to see high G-loads (which is to say, all of them) uses some form of ‘sump’ – a sump being a restricted area designed to keep fuel from sloshing away from the fuel pump pickup – thus preventing fuel starvation during hard cornering/acceleration/braking.

So what the heck happened with Duhamel, Zemke and co.’s fuel systems? Ruling out the possibility of simultaneous failure of the electric fuel pumps (a near-impossible coincidence), the only way the bikes could starve for fuel with gasoline still remaining in the tank would be improper design – either of the fuel pump pickup, or of the area of the gas tank designed to keep the fuel contained around said pickup during hard cornering.

Or they just ran out of gas.

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