Tag Archives: Repsol Honda

Vale Nicholas Patrick Hayden

 

2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden has passed away following an incident with a car while out training on his bicycle along the Riviera di Rimini on the Adriatic coast. He had competed at the nearby Imola circuit the previous weekend in the World Superbike Championship. On Wednesday the 17th of May he sustained severe head and chest injuries when he was hit by the car.  Hayden was treated at the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena. “The medical team has verified the death of the patient Nicholas Patrick Hayden, who has been undergoing care in the intensive care unit following a very serious polytrauma ” the hospital said in a statement.

The 35 year old from Owensboro Kentucky, started out racing dirt track in his native USA before switching to tarmac and was crowned AMA Supersport Champion in 1999.  This was followed by the AMA Superbike crown in 2002 making Hayden the youngest rider to win the title before  moving to the MotoGP World Championship for 2003. As a rookie he took two podiums that year, at Motegi in Japan and Phillip Island in Australia.  More podiums followed in 2004 before Hayden took his first pole and Grand Prix victory at Laguna Seca in 2005. The following year, the “Kentucky Kid” became the MotoGP World Champion beating Valentino Rossi to the premier class crown, only securing the title at the last round of the year at Valencia in Spain.

Statement from Tommy Hayden, on behalf of the Hayden family:

“On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support – it has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way.

“Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.

“Apart from these ‘public’ memories, we will also have many great and happy memories of Nicky at home in Kentucky, in the heart of the family. We will all miss him terribly.

“It is also important for us to thank all the hospital staff for their incredible support – they have been very kind. With the further support of the authorities in the coming days we hope to have Nicky home soon.”

Words (C) Geoff Dawes. Image courtesy http://www.topspeed.com.

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Going Seamless

When Casey Stoner won the final 800cc MotoGP World Championship for Honda in 2011, many a finger was pointed at the seamless gearbox Honda had developed as being a major factor in the RC212V’s reinvigorated performance.  Shuhei Nakamoto, vice-president of Honda Racing Corporation,  believed it was more a matter of refinement in many areas of RC212V that had brought about the championship winning performance.

HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto

HRC Vice-President Shuhei Nakamoto.

But the seamless gearbox did raise the ire of the MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna, who with the FIM, was on a crusade to cut costs and to close the performance inequity between the CRT teams and the factory prototypes.

Yamaha, however, is the last of the factory teams to adopt the technology as Ducati had already introduced their version of the seamless gearbox in late 2011. To the delight of its Grand Prix World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, the M1 went seamless at Misano for the San Marino grand Prix. It was a concerted effort by Yamaha to try and bridge the technology gap to Honda and to help Jorge Lorenzo clawback lost ground in the MotoGp World Championship battle.

So what are the benefits of this new technology? According to Valentino Rossi , “The bike is more stable in acceleration so it’s less demanding, so you can be more consistent and more precise, with less effort,” he added. “The only difference in set-up is the electronics: you get less wheelie, so you need less wheelie control [which means more horsepower and more acceleration].”

Rossi and Lorenzo were glad to have the seamless gearbox at Misano

Rossi and Lorenzo were delighted to have the seamless gearbox at Misano.

The fact that gears can be shifted without the split second loss of torque through the transmission that occurs with a racing speed shifter,  which momentarily cuts the ignition as another gear is engaged,  is the primary benefit.  With a conventional gearbox when the torque is reintroduced it can load up the rear tyre and cause wheelspin or wheelies. which may also unsettle the front end of the bike. Also with a seamless gearbox down changes are smoother helping engine braking with a more controlled front end under brakes.  Greater stability while changing gears mid corner is another big benefit of the system.

How does it work? To put it in simple terms two gears are engaged simultaneously.  The torque is transmitted through the lower ratio but as engine torque rises the higher gear ratio is gradually engaged. When the higher gear is selected the torque is transferred seamlessly to it.  The reverse is true of down changes. There are many subtle benefits of the gearbox.  Shorter gear change time, Improved tyre wear, more precise handling and less fatigue on the rider.

Yamaha managed to close the technology gap at Misano

Yamaha managed to close the technology gap at Misano.

The cost of developing the seamless gearbox is a mute point with Dorna who thought that they had all the bases covered when they outlawed automatic , CVT and twin clutch transmissions, which is also the case in F1.  There is a certain amount of irony here concerning F1 which i will refer to shortly.

Lin Jarvis Managing Director of Yamaha Factory Racing towed the Dorna line initially saying that Yamaha would not have invested in the technology if Honda had not.  This in some ways is a strange approach as most  manufacturers justification to go racing is to develop new technology  that can eventually filter down to their production motorcycles.

Yamaha Factory Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis.

Yamaha Factory Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis.

Honda has quite openly been accused of spending a vast amount of money on their seamless system. But is this purely speculation?  This brings us back to Formula One.  The FIA outlawed automatic, CVT and twin clutch transmissions in the 1990’s, but  for the 2005 season the governing body deemed seamless gearboxes legal. One of the first cabs of the rank was the BAR Honda Formula One team who promptly announced they had developed such a gearbox for introduction that season.

So seamless gearbox technology is not new to Honda having introduced it in F1 some six years before it appeared on the RC212V of the Repsol Honda Team in 2011.  It would therefore be safe to suggest that the cost to Honda for using existing technology would not have been as extreme as some would have us believe.

Considering Dorna’s close links  with F1, its a surprising oversight that the move to seamless technology by Honda was not anticipated.

Words Geoff Dawes (C) 2013. Photographs courtesy of Repsol Honda Team and Yamaha Factory Racing.