Making the new big-bang 2017 Honda competitive is simply a matter of time, according to riders Marc Márquez and Cal Crutchlow. Time measured in hours, rather than weeks or months.
With engine design frozen and the new engine once again proving a bit of a handful for a second year in succession, Márquez compared his strong performances at pre-season tests with his greater difficulties in getting up to consistent speed at the races. At tests, he explained, “we are stronger because there is a lot of time to make adjustments. At a race, not so much.”
The weakness is in acceleration, a repeat of last year’s problems, though for different reasons. 2016 was the first year of the reverse-direction crankshaft; and riders were stuck with an unruly unit with a too-light crankshaft, eventually tamed by electronic improvements.
For 2017 firing intervals have been radically revised to make a big-bang configuration; but riders are still seeking a solution for poor acceleration compared with especially the Yamaha, with better grip and throttle response.
It leaves them, according to LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, having to “take advantage of our best ammunition – braking. But if you are too greedy, you can easily go over the limit”.
This had caused him to crash at Qatar, and Márquez out of an early lead in Argentina.
Now Márquez added: “What I saw in Argentina – we are not ready for the victory”.
“The engine configuration has changed the balance of the bike, and it was important to find a good base. It looks like, from Argentina to here, that we are finding that.”