Cycle News

Cycle News 2014 Issue 15 April 15 2014

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 134 of 137

G rand Prix racing has changed much in 66 years, but there has been one constant. Factory bikes run by factory teams do the winning. The rest make up the numbers, in a battle to prove themselves good enough for a factory ride so that they too can get their chance. It's a meritocracy, reinforced by money. And it's worked well. A bit like the music business: not every good musician makes it to the top, but by and large the cream rises. Big rewards for the few, a struggle for the rest. One might even call it the spirit of racing. That's more or less what HRC's vice-president Shuhei Nakamoto did, when he railed against Ducati for switch- ing to the "Open" category, and Yamaha for supplying its custom- er team with a factory bike, both of which handsomely outclassed Honda's RCV1000R customer bike. Having bent over backwards to comply with Dorna's wishes, and suffering a financial loss on each of the hand-built bikes sold, these actions were (said Naka- moto) "against the spirit of the rules." Given the rate at which rules have been changing, that was ages ago. But HRC were going to have to submit to another kick- ing, and yet more loss of face, as Dorna went into paroxysms of increasingly convoluted rule changes to accommodate the changed circumstances, con- cluded barely in time for the Qa- tar season-opener. Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta had originally proposed a sliding scale of loss of technical privileg- es (20 percent more fuel, seven more engines, softer tires and free testing) for any Open teams that got too uppity, by finishing on the podium. What emerged from the next couple of weeks of wrangling suited his purposes even better. After years of trying to bring the factories to heel, he came out with a landmark victory: Agree- ment at last for all to use control software from 2016 onwards. This was softened by further agreement for the rivals to share in development of this mutual software. Which is where the whole thing leaves the rails. Why would Honda, Yamaha or indeed any manufacturer want to share its most important field of development – not only for rac- ing, but also for streetbikes? It's a bit like two knife-fighters of- fering to share tricks on how to sharpen one another's weapons. Or chess players advising each other on the soundness of their strategy. And if it's that implausible, then it probably isn't true. Which begs the question: Why did Honda sign up for it? Was it because they didn't mean it? We need to think about just why Honda goes racing. It's not to share secrets, that's for sure. It is what they've always done. Founder Soichiro "Pops" Honda chose the Isle of Man TT as his original proving ground, and ever since that 1959 debut racing has BY MICHAEL SCOTT CN III IN THE PADDOCK WILL HONDA QUIT… OR IS IT DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN P134

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