This is Honda's new 755cc, 8v, parallel twin engine, destined to power the new naked (standard in US parlance) Honda Hornet. Honda say it will have a peak of 90.5bhp and 75Nm of torque (that's 55lb.ft). It has a 270-degree crank, which, I believe, is suited to dirt track.
The Hornet will be a direct competitor for Yamaha's popular MT-07, an engine all AFT fans are well aware of. Out of the box, the Yamaha twin is 693cc, and less powerful as standard (if the figures above are correct). Yamaha's own site claim 73bhp and 67Nm. The SuperTwin version of the engine is taking the title fight to Indian, with Dallas Daniels and JD Beach both winning races on the Estenson Yamaha this season. They have five wins between them, on miles, TTs and short tracks.
While power characteristics come in to play when a bike hits the dirt tracks, starting with an engine that more power than a rival's has to be a benefit, and anyone choosing the Honda over the Yamaha will be doing just that.
This engine is far closer to the spec of a dirt tracker, both in cylinder capacity and dimensions, than the Africa Twin CRF1000L. To the best of our knowledge, only Ron Wood tried to make that engine into a dirt tracker, and didn't have the time or budget to really test it and make it work.
Will the Honda Turner team look to create a twins team using the Hornet engine, if the rules for the 2023 Twins class suit the engine? We hope so.
Early in 2022 AFT dropped the bombshell that they proposed to have just one Twins class from 2023 onwards, but how they were going to do that has still not been made clear. Someone is going to be pushed out, either Indian and their five-in-a-row championship-winning race-only engine or Royal Enfield and their air-cooled twin. The gap seems too big between the performance of the starting point of those bikes (one, a no-holds barred racer, the other a 40 horsepower retro) for all but the most arcane of limits and handicaps to even the field. Handicap the Indian too much and there's no point in racing it. Don't handicap it enough and Royal Enfield are banging their head against a wall.
Incidentally, Jared Mees announced on a website that there will be no official Indian team from 2023. This is not too much of a shock, but it is still sad to hear. That decision might make it easier for AFT to ban race-only engines from twins, go back to the production-based engine format they were set on before Indian joined the conversation. While they're at it, just ditch the frankly ridiculous rule of traction control in dirt track (introduced only to allow Estenson Yamaha to compete with the top Indians on the ovals). Budgets in dirt track racing have gone through the roof in recent years. Getting rid of the Indian won't reverse that trend, but it might slow the arms race for a while.
Which takes us back to Turner Racing and the Hornet Twin. Turner run three bikes in Singles, all at the sharp end of the series, which means they have a healthy budget. We've seen Wally Brown leave Singles for Twins (read about their KTM 890 Twin in Sideburn 50). Would Turner do the same? Or race in both, making a preogressive route for their racers, not just lose them to Twins teams when they want to move out of Singles?
As much as we love the Singles class, we would see the budgets and quality in that diminish if we could have a more diverse and interesting Twins class.