In the world of racing, every horsepower counts. But achieving that is not easy, and balancing the need for power while ensuring the bike makes it to the end of the race is a monumental challenge. Central to finding this balance is finding the perfect oil, the lifeblood of the bike. For Honda’s 2020 CBR 1000 RR-R fitted with the HRC Kit, Motul created a new factory-line lubricant designed specifically around this bike, the 300V Racing Kit Oil 2376H 0W30. After Honda’s amazing win at the 24 Hours Moto at Le Mans onboard this bike, we catch up with Motul’s head of research and development and managing director Katsuya Arai to find out how you design the perfect lubricant.
Katsuya, can you tell me more about the reason for creating a dedicated Racing Kit Oil for the Honda CBR 1000 RR-R Superbike?
We’re dedicated to supporting the Japanese OEM factory teams in motorsports, across both two and four-wheels. We develop unique lubricant formulations for racing purposes. The new oil we have developed, the 300V 4T Factory Line Racing kit Oil 2376H OW-30, has been specifically designed for the Honda CBR 1000 RR-R Superbike.
Why does the oil have to be unique to that bike?
The general lubricants in the market are designed for a universal purpose to cover a lot of applications and many types of engines. But our Racing Kit Oil is uniquely designed for the specific purpose and hardware of this bike to improve performance and reliability. Each OEM has their own engine and hardware design. So, we need to understand how they design their engines so that we can determine what type of lubricant technology is the best for both purposes.
How long does it take you and your team to develop the oil and understand what is the right oil for that bike?
When the racing regulations changed, all the OEMs started to work on the development of new engines and hardware two to three years before the launch. We usually receive the first request to supply the oil at least one year before launch, so we’re developing alongside the OEM a long time in advance.
What’s Honda’s feedback on the Racing Kit Oil been so far?
Obviously, we had a great result with the F.C.C. TSR Honda France team picking up the win at the FIM EWC’s 24 Hours Motos at Le Mans. They were riding onboard a CBR 1000 RR-R with the Racing Kit Oil and didn’t have any reliability issues. This is a great start.
What’s the technology behind the oil?
ESTER Core is the name of our propriety technology for the unique mixture of the base oil with the so-called ESTER-based oil. This gives very good flow under high and low temperatures and keeps the oil film as much as possible. This helps to protect the engine. The unique ESTER chemistry of our Racing Kit Oil means we can extract the maximum engine power without compromising on reliability. For instance, we can lubricate a superbike engine to generate more power.
That’s surely the holy grail for any team: more power and more reliability?
Exactly. This is always the case. Every team wants to have more power but without compromising on reliability. With a 200hp superbike, if we gain one percent of the horsepower, it could give additional speed on the straight. And that is a benefit of the Racing Kit Oil. If there’s no compromise on reliability, then everything will be perfect, and the team will have a better result.
You lead Motul’s R&D function in Japan. What is your background and how does that bring a unique perspective to Motul?
I joined Motul in 2003 to lead our motorsports activities around lubricant development for the Japanese OEM factory teams. My job was to enhance and expand the relationship with the top OEM factory teams in Japan through the lubricant technology. My background is quite unique: a combination of education and experience in chemistry and mechanical engineering. I have a master’s degree in applied chemistry and doctor degree in mechanical engineering, for instance. This is a perfect combination to handle both the lubricant development as well as understanding the hardware. Another unique thing about the way we R&D people work at Motul, is that we like to go to the circuit to understand the machines, how they work, how they are used, how they are maintained in the field. We also have meetings with the OEMs at their R&D facilities to see how the individual part is designed for better performance. It’s this passion for the products that drives us forward.