Our riders are always accompanied by a large team, a group of experts from a range of disciplines that work to help them reach speeds of over 300 km/h on the straights and pull off some near-impossible leans on the turns (up to 68 degrees). This team includes 20 Honda and Repsol engineers who have been working side by side for over 20 years to achieve the perfect combination of engine, fuel, and all the other elements that make up a motorbike, most of which are derived from oil.
Since 1995, the Repsol and Honda techies and researchers have been working together and sharing knowledge, season after season, to achieve the greatest sporting success of any motorcycle racing team in history, racking up 13 individual titles, over 150 wins, and 400 podiums in 500 cc and MotoGP.
The Repsol Technology Lab (RTL) is Spain’s biggest private research facility. It's where we carry out our most accurate tests using a prototype single-cylinder engine, the same as the ones that powered Márquez and Pedrosa’s bikes last season.
During the season and the build-up, hundreds of tests are carried out and adjustments are made. Researchers check after numerous tests that the fuel meets the specifications laid out by the FIM and the engine is performing to its full potential. They then send two or three formulas to Honda in Saitama, and they choose the most appropriate one.
Every year, the Repsol Technology Lab produces 10,000 liters of certified fuel for Márquez and Pedrosa’s bikes (350 liters for both bikes per Grand Prix). But that’s not all, because they also send 40,000 liters of fuel (this time uncertified) to Honda’s facilities every year, which the Japanese manufacturer uses to develop the engine.
Every season, we start designing our new lubricants on a computer, using approximately 200 simulations and loads of formulas that are produced in small amounts. Then, through a process of elimination, between 20 and 40 are tested on engines at the Repsol Technology Lab until we find two or three that are then sent to the Honda R&D testing ground in Saitama, Japan.
Once the team gives the green light, the chosen oil is produced on a larger scale at our Technology Lab. We produce 4,800 liters a year for Marc Márquez’s and Dani Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda MotoGP bikes, both for the world championship and to develop the engines at Honda’s facilities in Japan.
A good deal of the materials used to produce a bike like the one Marc Márquez rides are chemical products. Polypropylene, polyethylene, polyurethane foams, and synthetic rubber are all used in the wheel fairings, the seat, the fenders, and even the sponsors’ stickers. All this helps to make the bike lighter and its parts more durable and comfortable.
Thanks to this technological innovation, the tires can last up to 400 times longer than before and they’re safer. Plastics can be shaped however you like, improving the bike’s aerodynamics, especially on the wheel fairings, windscreen, and tail, which is key for gaining a few milliseconds advantage over your rivals.
Repsol’s activities are closely linked to the racing world, especially the MotoGP world championship, an extremely demanding testing ground that enables the company to test its products in extreme conditions a few years before they reach the customer.
With technology, the most important thing is using all the knowledge gained in the racing world to develop the products that we sell at our service stations. In fact, the same team of people that works in top-flight racing is the same team that designs the fuels and lubricants that Repsol markets. This is what makes racing such a valuable learning ground.