October 3, 2006 With five riders on three different brands of machinery still capable of winning the World MotoGP riders championship, it has gone almost unnoticed that Honda has taken its 17th Constructors' Championship and eclipsed MV Agusta's 16 Constructors' titles. With 203 premier class victories since it first competed at the highest level in 1966, Honda now dominates the history of MotoGP by almost any measure. Astoundingly, at the Japanese GP, it called a press conference and in an unprecedented move it revealed the complete engine internals of its RC211V, the bike which had won 47 (58.75%) of the 80 races since the 1000cc formula was introduced. Our image gallery for this story contains imagery of many of the famous riders who have tasted World Championship success with Honda such as Hailwood, Spencer, Rossi, Lawson, Gardner and Doohan, plus the bikes they rode from the RC181 of the sixties to the NSR500 V4 and high res imagery of the internals of the RC211V – clearly Honda feels that the internals of the V4 800 of next year with its hydraulically operated valves are so far removed from the V5 1000 that it has nothing to fear. But if you're a lover of fine engineering, feast your eyeballs on the Honda's internals.
Having now won four Constructors' titles in the five seasons of the new four-stroke MotoGP era Honda's blindingly powerful, effortlessly tractable and numbingly reliable 990cc V5 engine has proved to be the dominant power-plant of the age – as an integral part of a compact mass-centralised chassis that has proved good enough to win 47 Grands Prix from 80 starts since the introduction for the MotoGP class in the 2002 season compared with Yamaha's 27 wins, all in the hands of Valentino Rossi and Ducati's six, all in the hands of Loris Capirossi. As an aside, Valentino Rossi now has 45 wins from 80 races in the MotoGP class – 20 on Honda and 25 on Yamaha.
And if any proof were needed of the RC211V's rider-friendly qualities (in so far as a 150kg motorcycle with a 250bhp power output can be considered friendly), the fact that so many different riders have won races on it: nine riders in five years, indicates it is one of those rare racing motorcycles with which the best riders can win on and lesser talents can compete harder with.
And Honda has a history of producing premier class machines like this. With the notable exception of the RC181 of the 1960s, the three-cylinder NS500 two-stroke that powered Freddie Spencer to his first World Championship in 1983 was also a supremely effective tool as a customer bike. Mick Doohan's NSR500 V4 was all-conquering in the five-time World Champion Australian's hands and then it proved just as effective a title-winning machine for Alex Criville and then Valentino Rossi. Any bike that can muster 22 successive wins across the 1997 and 1998 seasons, a record that still stands, has to be something of an engineering phenomenon.
The RC211V as leased to satellite teams is proving just as successful, with Fortuna Honda rider Marco Melandri on a customer 2005-specification machine winning three Grands Prix so far this season. Melandri was the rider who clinched the title for Honda at Motegi.
Then there's the resounding success of the 'Evolution' RCV with which factory rider Nicky Hayden leads the Rider's World Championship. This advanced version of the RCV has proved highly competitive virtually straight from the design process, while Dani Pedrosa's factory RCV developed from the 2005 bike has proved more than up to the task of winning in 2006. Both riders have two wins apiece so far this season.
As the 800cc era dawns for the 2007 season, there can be little doubt that Honda is once again likely to be at the leading edge of advanced development, constructing exotic and yet highly effective motorcycles designed to win races, expanding technological horizons and enabling satellite teams to compete on as level a footing as possible with the full factory operations.
Satoru Horiike, Managing Director of Honda Racing Corporation, was delighted with the victory and said. "As Honda we are very proud of the 2006 Constructors Championship win and particularly happy that we reached our goal at our home track of Twin Ring Motegi. Now we must concentrate all our energy on winning the riders championship title."
Honda World Constructors Championship titles
1966 - RC181 1983 - NS500 1984 - NS500 / NSR500 1985 - NSR500 1989 - NSR500 1992 - NSR500 1994 - NSR500 1995 - NSR500 1996 - NSR500 1997 - NSR500 1998 - NSR500 1999 - NSR500 2001 - NSR500 2002 - RC211V 2003 - RC211V 2004 - RC211V 2006 - RC211V
Riders who have won a 500/MotoGP race on a Honda
DOOHAN, Mick 54 ROSSI, Valentino 33 SPENCER, Freddie 20 GARDNER, Wayne 18 CRIVILLE, Alex 15 GIBERNAU, Sete 8 HAILWOOD, Mike 8 BARROS, Alex 6 BIAGGI, Max 5 MELANDRI, Marco 5 LAWSON, Eddie 4 MAMOLA, Randy 4 OKADA, Tadayuki 4 HAYDEN, Nicky 3 CADALORA, Luca 2 CHECA, Carlos 2 PEDROSA, Dani 2 REDMAN, Jim 2 TAMADA, Makoto 2 BEATTIE, Daryl 1 CAPIROSSI, Loris 1 CHILI, Pierfrancesco 1 KATAYAMA, Takazumi 1 PUIG, Alberto 1 UKAWA, Tohru 1