2022 Honda MotoGP prototype ‘much better’ but needs speed to compete against Ducati | MotoGP

After two difficult seasons, exacerbated by injuries to star rider Marc Marquez, Honda has radically changed its RC213V for the 2022 MotoGP World Championship.

One of the top priorities with the modifications covering almost every aspect of the bike is increasing rear wheel grip.

The problem not only limited lap times but also increased the level of risk for its riders over the past year, with Marc Marquez (22), Pol Espargaro (20) and Alex Marquez (19) crashing more often than all but Iker Lecuona (KTM, 26) . .

“Last season we definitely had big problems with rear grip,” said LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami, who escaped with 12 accidents. “And unfortunately we have tried many things, but the main problem has not gone away. So we fought hard for the qualifying lap and the race distance. Then I have to take additional risks. And then unfortunately I had some crashes during practice and races so it was really tough.

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“Definitely the new bike is a big improvement in terms of rear grip and also engine performance. Many parts have changed, as can be seen from the outside. First impressions were really positive. All Honda riders say that the new bike had good potential. “

“What we asked for, as Taka said, the rear grip was something important for all of us. But even though we have seen over the past year that the Ducatis are super strong on the straights, this is the key to overtaking and their key to fighting for the races,” added Espargaro.

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“So if we want to have a good season next year, when there will be more Ducatis on the grid, we need to be quicker on the straights to try and fight with them, retake positions and even defend against them.

“I think the way is good but we have to keep calm a bit and see what happens in the next tests.”

So far the new Honda has only been tested at two circuits, Misano and then Jerez. Both relatively narrow and winding routes, with similar European autumn weather conditions.

“The new bike is a lot better than the 2021 bike, but we still have a lot more things to test,” added Nakagami. “Jerez was only to understand in which direction. Luckily me, Pol and Alex, [wanted] the same direction. That’s really positive and I’m really happy to hear the same comments.

“Now we have the tests in Malaysia and Mandalika. Different conditions, different layouts, different tire distribution. The test in Jerez was good, but we have to start from scratch in Sepang.”

Espargaro also believes Malaysia will offer a truer picture of how the new bike compares to the other 2022 prototypes.

“The new bike is better, but it’s too early to talk about how much better it is,” he said. “We have to put the bike on the track with the other bikes and see where we stand.

“We’re not the only ones entering this game, and we’re not the only ones bringing a new bike to the track. Everyone will take a step up. So how good will the bike be?

“We will see in Malaysia in a few days along with the other bikes.

“We’ll have five days of testing, which I think is enough. If all four riders are at full power, it means the bike will get better much sooner,” he added, referring to Marc Marquez’s improving vision.

Younger brother Alex Marquez, again teammates with Nakagami at LCR, strongly emphasized the psychological boost to start a new season.

“Like Pol said we will only have five days of pre-season, so every day will be really important to draw conclusions and find the right feeling on the bike to arrive well in Qatar,” said the #73 with a view to returning on his podium form of the rookie season at Repsol.

“We have to start the season better than last year because if you start well you already have something in your pocket and then I think the season will be a bit easier.

“I tried the new prototype in Jerez in November. It was a great feeling. Some parts were really good, especially where we struggled in 2021, mainly the rear grip. Okay, some other parts we still have work to do and we need to try this 2022 bike on more circuits to get a better result and Honda will certainly give us more improvements.

“So it looks like the potential is great and I’m looking forward to starting the 2022 season at the level we finished in 2021. That will be really important.”

The last time a Honda rider other than Marc Marquez won a MotoGP race was with Cal Crutchlow in Argentina at the start of the 2018 season.