The New MotoGP Era (2002 - 2015)

In 2002, The 500cc class evolved into the new premier class, MotoGP. Environmental performance now became a consideration even in grand prix racing, and the transition from 2- to 4-strokes was progressing. In the MotoGP class, 4-stroke engines were limited to 990cc to be on par with 500cc 2-stroke machines, encouraging participation by even more manufacturers to further develop and invigorate the racing class. This year Honda introduced its new 4-stroke machine, the RC211V, based on the technologies developed through racing the NSR500. The machine, powered by an unprecedented V-5 engine, won 14 of the 16 grands prix in its debut year, and went on to conquer 15 of the 16 races in 2003, and 7 races in 2004 to give Honda three straight constructors' crowns.

In the 250cc class, the RS250RW replaced the NSR250. Although off to a disappointing start, failing to win in 2002 and winning only two races in 2003, the NSR250 was victorious in 9 grands prix in 2004, winning the constructors' title. In the 125cc class, the RS125R won 15 races in 2002 through 2004, and although missed out on the constructors' title, Dani Pedrosa became champion in 2003, and Andrea Dovizioso likewise in 2004.

In 2005 at the Australian Grand Prix, Pedrosa in the 250cc class with 8 season wins and the championship under his belt gave Honda its 600th World GP racing victory. In 2006, he rode the RC211V to 8 wins to claim back, on his third attempt, the MotoGP title.

MotoGP machines were becoming faster every year, and in 2007, MotoGP class regulations were changed: The maximum displacement for 4-stroke engines was reduced from 990cc to 800cc. Honda responded by releasing its successor to the RC211V, the V-4 powered RC212V. The new machine won only two races each in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and although 2009 saw 3 wins and 2010 only 4 in 2011, in 2011 Honda’s hard work paid off. The 2011 RC212V won 13 of the 18 grands prix, giving Honda the riders', teams' and constructors' titles, after a five year struggle.

The waves of change also hit the medium and light displacement classes. In 2007, Honda halted development of the 250cc RS250RW, and in 2008 was unable to win a single grand prix. In 2009, however, Hiroshi Aoyama rode the now obsolete machine to four victories and became the champion of what was to be the last year of 250cc racing. As the Moto2 class, which replaced the 250cc class in 2010, was a category in which all machines were powered by identical Honda engines, Honda does not count Moto2 class victories in its World GP tally. The RS125R, which had forged its own era, was discontinued in 2009, and in 2010, the 125cc class itself came to an end, to be replaced in 2011 with the 4-stroke, 250cc Moto3 class.

Hiroshi Aoyama / RS250RW
Hiroshi Aoyama / RS250RW

In 2012, as MotoGP class regulations changed by increasing the maximum displacement to 1,000cc, Honda developed the new RC213V. 2011 champion Casey Stoner, despite injuries ending the season early, managed to win 5 races, and Dani Pedrosa an impressive 7, giving Honda its second constructors' title in as many years. The RC213V’s success continued in 2013, leading Marc Marquez, who had just been promoted to the premier class, to six wins, to become the youngest premier class champion in history. Teammate Dani Pedrosa also took 3 wins, and with Honda riders on the podium in every grand prix, gave Honda the constructors’ title for the third year in a row. In 2014, with 12 straight victories from Round 1, winning a total of 14 grands prix during the season, Honda achieved a back-to-back triple crown (constructors’, team, and riders’ titles). This year also saw the NSF250R appear in the Moto3 class to take 8 victories, and for the first time in 5 years, the constructors’ title in the lightest category.

Marc Márquez / RC213V
Marc Márquez / RC213V

The 2015 season started exceptionally in the Moto3 class with four straight wins, but in the premier class, Marquez retired twice, and Pedrosa was absent while recovering from arm pump problems in his right forearm. But before the summer break at the German Grand Prix, Marquez claims his second victory of the season, reigniting hope for the championship. At the next race which was to start off the second half of the season, Indianapolis, Honda won the Moto3 and MotoGP classes, taking its tally of World GP wins to an unprecedented 700 victories, another achievement in the pages of World GP racing history.

  • 2002 MotoGP class begins: RC211V claims the title with 14 wins out of 18 rounds
    Honda races the RS250RW in the 250cc class
  • 2003 Honda wins 15 of 16 MotoGP class rounds, is on the podium in all races
  • October 2005 Honda achieves 600th WGP win at Australian GP
  • July 2006 Honda achieves 200th 250cc win at the German GP
  • 2007 MotoGP engines changed to 800cc, Honda introduces V-4 powered RC212V
  • 2009 Honda celebrates 50th anniversary of WGP racing
  • 2010 Honda achieves triple crown (constructors’, riders’and teams’titles) in the MotoGP class
  • 2013 Marc Marquez becomes the youngest MotoGP world champion
  • 2014 Honda races the NSF250R in the Moto3 class
  • 2015 Honda achieves 700th WGP win