At last week’s MotoGP test held at the new Circuit of The Americas near Austin, Texas, Honda rider Marc
Marquez was the quickest, getting into the low 2:03s. Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was consistently a half-second slower and the returning Valentino Rossi was slower yet.
Here is what the Yamaha men identified as the major cause of the difference:
Valentino Rossi: “Our competitors are able to accelerate faster than us from the hairpin, and they have a bit more grip on the edge compared to us, so these are the areas where we have to work. In the flowing parts, we are not so bad.”
Jorge Lorenzo: “We have a problem at maximum lean where we don’t have full confidence.
“We still don’t have enough grip on the rear, so we can’t lean over with confidence, which is why we are
further behind than in Sepang.”
What do they mean by “grip”? In cases like this, it isn’t a suspension or a tire problem. It is a problem of engine smoothness.
“The Hondas are so sweet on the edge of the tire,” said Jeremy Burgess, Rossi’s long-time crew chief. “The Yamahas are maybe a little harsher, probably from what they’ve had to do to catch up with Honda’s horsepower advantage.”
The higher an engine’s state of tune, the more roughly it comes on throttle. Think of the “rumpa-rumpa” idle of a big V-Eight with a race cam in it. That roughness critically affects a motorcycle’s rear tire grip at full lean.