HRC teams usually have 4 riders plus 1 official test rider from the MotoGP class. 2022 is a bit different as Marc Marquez is currently out with injury and has been replaced by test rider Stefan Bradl. It is confirmed that next year Alex Márquez will move to another manufacturer, such as Pol Espargaró. Also, only one rider, who performs well in races, still has the potential to stay with Honda next year: Takaaki Nakagami. This explains why the Japanese rider had many upgrades to his RC213V last weekend at Silverstone.
Honda worked hard over the summer break and it looks like Takaaki Nakagami was tasked with finding out if that effort was worth it. And there were a lot of parts involved: a new chassis, the new aero package, and there’s a different air intake and front fascia. However, this new front fairing and air intake are already known…
Before we look at the evolutions of Takaaki Nakagami’s RC213V seen on track this weekend, here’s an overview of his reference prototype, which he’s been riding since the start of the season. The main feature to note is the large cutout area towards the top of the main triple shaft near the steering column.
Honda has been looking to improve rear grip and better cornering feel, and the HRC technical teams hope the new chassis, seen below, will allow them to do just that.
Here is this new chassis that Takaaki Nakagami had this weekend, whose evolutions can be detailed in 4 points. First, the large curved horizontal seam of the main beam has been slightly changed. The weld itself remains the same, but if you go back to the previous picture, you’ll see that the original chassis has a “bend” in this area, and the chassis has an inward curve. But now, on the new chassis, that crease is gone, but instead the whole beam seems to hug the engine a bit more in that area.
The second modification refers to the rocker arm pivot. On the new chassis, it looks taller, giving Honda the ability to adjust it up and down. There are other changes as well.
Two last things to note on the side are the side fairing and the swingarm spoiler. On the new prototype, the side fairings now have an exhaust outlet at the bottom and another one located above. The original fairing design had only two exhaust ports placed at the bottom side by side. Honda has found throughout the year that riders often burn their feet from the hot air coming from the radiator and engine, Honda seems to have redesigned it to improve airflow and achieve better cooling. They also cut out a lot of the side fairing and now it exposes a lot more of the clutch, allowing hot air from the clutch to escape.
Finally, Honda has also developed a new swingarm spoiler. It was seen on track for the first time during the official test, in Catalonia, and was surprising because Honda riders do not usually use this aerodynamic appendage. But since we know the swingarm spoiler can offer some downforce and Honda is struggling to improve rear grip, it makes sense that it appears now.
The latest modifications to Takaaki Nakagami’s RC213V concern the front end. Here’s the original air intake, aero package and front fairing from its 2022 prototype. In the latest version, which appeared on the track this weekend, everything has changed.
The design of the fin is not new: we have already seen this set on track, used by Pol Espargaró and Alex Márquez. The interesting thing is the air intake and the shape of the front fascia. The shape is very similar or almost identical to the design of Honda’s original 2022 prototype, which made its track debut at the 2021 Misano test, although it is still possible that Honda has made some small tweaks and the ‘upgraded for Takaaki Nakagami at Silverstone.
The Japanese rider’s first impression of these changes at the start of the Silverstone race weekend was that he felt the balance of the bike was better and offered better rear tire grip. If so, it’s certainly good news for Honda and could be the first step in finding a way to survive the second half of this season.
Text and photos: Dorna Sports