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GP Week : Issue 14
DANI Pedrosa’s runaway win at Catalunya must surely drive another nail into the coffin of Honda’s fledgling pneumatic-valve motor. The new motor had an unspectacular but generally satisfactory debut at Mugello the week before in the hands of Tady Okada, but then disappeared again. Power-hungry Nicky Hayden hoped he may even get to race it at Catalunya – anything to lift him out of his current slump. HRC surprised everybody once again by revealing that they would not even be testing the engine in the days after the race. And now this! Top speed isn’t everything in racing, but it can be a good guide to horsepower. And at Catalunya (with the familiar slew of Ducatis at the top) Pedrosa was fastest Honda, and only five km/h down on the Dukes, almost level pegging with Rossi. On a fast straight, Melandri’s best speed was 328.7 km/h. The advantage of the pneumatics, explained Okada, was at the top end. This is ominous, given how fast Dani can go with ordinary old valve springs. What Dani is demonstrating, however, aside from the advantage of ultra light weight, is an old racing truth. The actual technical details pale into insignificance in real terms. What really matters is the combination – of machine and rider and – if he’s lucky also – tyres. This being so, the last thing Dani or Honda will want to do now is to change his motorcycle. Pneumatics? Who needs ‘em! M oto GP SPAIN >> 43