MotoGP, Everyone vs. Ducati: Everything changes for Honda, Yamaha stays true to the past

The holidays for the MotoGP riders start in December. Testing is prohibited and it’s time to take a well-deserved break and recharge the batteries for the first tests next year. The world championship is not on vacation, on the contrary, the winter months are full of work for the designers who have to prepare the bikes for the following year.

During the last tests in Jerez, at the end of November, the first innovations were already visible, but as usual the engineers are doing their best right to the end, also so as not to reveal their cards too early. An idea of ​​what to expect in 2022 is clearer in some cases than in others.

Ducati: there are no limits to the best

Until a few years ago, the Desmosedici was described as a bicycle for strong stomachs. Everything heart (read engine) and little else. However, treatment with Dall’Igna has shown its effects and they have all been beneficial. Now it is the most coveted bike that all riders can ride and, above all, that they can be fast on. Thanks to the Veneto engineer and his group and also to Michele Pirro, one of the best testers in the world. The result is that every new feature, small or large, works and keeps raising the bar.

Jerez saw the evolution of the new aerodynamics, which first appeared at Misano and was designed to improve behavior in the middle of the curve, even at the expense of some small losses in acceleration and on the straights. Then there was a new chassis, some updates to the 4-cylinder and a very long (and ugly) exhaust.

After all, the time of revolutions is over for the Red team, now it’s just a matter of working on the weak points without losing the balance that has been achieved. Bagnaia & Co. left Spain with a smile, a sign that the path is the right one.

Yamaha: Don’t change a winning motorcycle

It’s always the same old story with the M1: for years it has been the job of a lynx to find visible differences. So the same old story repeats itself, ‘nothing has changed’, but on the track the stopwatch proves Yamaha is right. It was the same in Jerez, with a new panel that looked like the old one, a new frame that looked like the old one, and so on.

However, that’s the way Iwata engineers work, and it makes no sense to expect otherwise. If anything, the drivers are screaming for horsepower and you can’t blame them for that. The Yamaha is a nice bike to ride, honestly, even if it doesn’t go without saying that you can’t push it to the limit, but when it comes to performance it is consistently at the bottom of the table when it comes to the top Speeds.

Quartararo has complained about this several times, also because it is not easy for them to overtake. Now the ball is in the hands of the engineers, because the first evolution of the engine tested in Spain was not enough. “Give me a fast bike, whether it’s easy to ride or not,” wrote Fabio in his letter to Japanese Santa Claus.

Honda: It’s time for a change

The RC213V was the only really “new” bike that could be seen in the test. The old project seemed to be over and it was time for a change. HRC is unmatched when it comes to firepower, and in fact, the first prototype was seen this summer. It doesn’t have much to do with the current bike: from the fairing, to the frame, to the engine, and so on.

“A new concept,” said Alex Marquez, and underlined how a bit of agility was lost while you gained a lot of traction. It could be argued that they followed the path of Ducati, the “most modern” bike from various angles.

The goal is clear: to make a bike for everyone and not just for the acrobat Marc Marquez, who is still in the infirmary and therefore cannot give his important feedback on the development. The first step has been taken, but it is certainly the project that needs more work.

Suzuki: Clothes don’t make a man …

The GSX-RR did not have a good year in 2021. While it appeared to be one of the best bikes on the grid last year, this season it couldn’t keep up with the best of the competition. The farewell to Davide Brivio also weighed heavily and forced Shinichi Sahara, the manager of the MotoGP project, to spend more time on the track and less in the racing department.

The new features (including lowering the rear end) came late and development was slow. The Japanese know this and have tried to catch up with the best competition. The motorcycles seen in Jerez showed no noticeable developments, but they did exist. Above all the engine, the version of which was even tested in Qatar at the beginning of the year in 2022. As with Yamaha’s cousins, the goal is to find horsepower in order to lessen the downside of the V4 motorcycles.

Incidentally, it’s a matter of fine-tuning, because the base is there and it’s solid, but not enough to fight, it seems, with the best on an equal footing.

Aprilia: under the dress … a lot

Aleix Espargarò complained that he had nothing to test in the final tests of the year, but what he said scared the men in the garage a little. Apart from looks (apart from a new exhaust from a new component supplier) the RS-GP was the same as before, but actually it was a lab for the new year.

The project has recently been updated and there is still a lot of room for improvement. Aprilia reached her first podium this year, but also struggled with a certain quirk for the cold conditions at the end of the season. The road ahead of us is almost complete, but the last steps are always the hardest.

KTM: The best is yet to come

The RC16 took a step backwards in 2021 and there also seems to be some confusion as to which direction it should go. So it’s no wonder that the decision was made in Austria to change the technical management and Fabiano Sterlacchini to move in.

There was little to be seen in Jerez, except for a disguise whose philosophy is reminiscent of that of Ducati. The impression is that the engineers are still working on bringing the most important innovations into the tests in February. Returning to 2020 levels is the first goal, not only in terms of results, but also to convince the drivers not to leave the ship.