SEPANG, MALAYSIA, JAN. 30 - The differences between the MotoGP 800s and 1000s are more subtle than most people would expect. The 1000s have more power, but the 800s had plenty, also, most of which wasn't useable until the higher gears. With the 1000s, the lower gear power issue remains, while the power in the upper gears will allow them to stretch their legs.

"You can ride it in a way that you enjoy the character anyway," 2011 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner said of the Repsol Honda RC213V. " If you ride it in a gear like an 800, sometimes you will need that engine to be nice and smooth and very easy to control. But if you ride it one gear higher or change the gearbox a little bit, you can ride it in the torque a little bit more and just drive out of the corners. And that's going to give you all the feeling that you want with the engine.

"Thus far, the engine feels fantastic, but I think anything will feel great after an 800 for a while. Until we start really racing these hard and then that's when you'll start to try and reduce all the small problems or all the small differences in the engine."

Stoner has used the electronics on the 800s well, but not as heavily as many other riders. He expects even less dependence on the 1000s.

"In my opinion we might end up using a little bit less for the fact that with these bikes we'll be able to stop, pick it up and squirt it out a little bit more," he said. "We won't be on the edge of the tire quite so much. It won't be a big difference, but there'll still be a small difference there. And also because of the torque of the engine, you get a little bit more traction in a lot of ways. So you get more control of the slide, you get a little bit more grip, so I think everything's not going to be too different to last year."

One question that makes its way into every conversation about the 1000s is whether we'll see a return go the tail-wagging, tire-smoking slides of the past. Stoner is skeptical.

"To go fast enough, unfortunately sliding isn't the fastest way," he said. "There's only a few corners I find sliding to be a bit quicker. But, unfortunately, I don't think sliding's the fastest way around, so we're still going to have to try and reduce that and try and get ourselves going around the track as quick as possible. If we were putting on a show, yeah, they'd be a bit easier to slide. But, unfortunately, we're there trying to win races. The fastest way around the track is to keep the wheels in line, unfortunately."

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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