The motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) is the world’s premier class of road racing, held on road circuits that have been certified by the FIM. Motorcycles race in four classes, including 500cc, 125cc, 250cc, and 990cc. Each rider can choose the engine type he or she wishes to use, with two-strokes and four-strokes available.
MotoGP has a history that goes back to the early 1920s. Public roads hosted the first races. Two-stroke engines had a simpler design, but the fuel economy was inferior to 4-strokes. In the 1960s, Honda became the world’s most successful motorcycle manufacturer.
After a decade of retirement, the Japanese brand returned to Grand Prix racing to nurture young talent. It was at that time that Marc Marquez got the attention of the Honda engineers. He was able to convince the team to build a new motorcycle with abstract lines.
Honda NR500s were designed to be a modern alternative to the two-stroke machines. They were a sleek looking machine that had a small engine displacement. However, they had a low horsepower rating, and they were slow to start. This meant that they didn’t perform well in GP races.
Despite the limitations of the NR500s, they made some progress. In 1980, the Honda-powered machines made it to the final round of the championship. By that time, they were still trailing their 2-stroke competition by about 10 horsepower.
Although the NR500s had great expectations, they never performed better than sixth place at the World GP. When they came out of retirement, the team’s hope was that they could battle for the World GP title with their 4-stroke engines.