This tiny hole on the side of Casey Stoner’s 2011 Honda RC212V can’t be terribly important, can it? Turns out it was absolutely essential. Why? It cooled the electronics that provided traction control and managed power delivery to stretch just 21 liters of fuel across the duration of an entire race.
“The parts we make don’t look all that flashy or interesting, but they are the equivalent of the nervous system in a human body,” explains HRC electronics development engineer Atsuyuki Kobayashi. “In modern racing bikes we are trying to optimize the traction control system and to optimize engine performance through real-time monitoring of factors such as gear position, intake/exhaust temperatures and fuel injection levels. In the worst case, a break in the electronics system can put the bike out of the race.”
See it hiding there behind the brake line?
“Put an engine generating over 210hp [it’s rumored that last year’s RC212V made something in the region of 230hp — Ed.] in a bike weighing just 150kg and you’ve got a real monster machine. Without electronic controls, there’s no way any rider could get the most out of an RC-V series bike.”
“Serious bike fans will already know this stuff, but here’s a quick overview of what electronic control involves: The best known example is probably traction control, which allows the rider to manage engine power more easily. It prevents the bike from becoming unmanageable when engine braking causes back torque or due to too much engine power during acceleration. A MotoGP bike’s tank is limited to just 21 liters, and constant control of the level of fuel injection ensures the rider can use that fuel for maximum performance. When power is really needed the system supplies all the fuel required, but the rest of the time it minimizes fuel consumption. This control relies entirely on the data acquired from electronic components.”
“A tiny hole you wouldn’t notice unless it was pointed out specially, the intake duct helps ensure reliability in the extreme heat of the race track by directing cooling air over the electronics. The ideal location was determined through repeated testing.”