Enea Bastianini finishes the Sepang test in P1 with all 6 manufacturers making steps forwards.
The Sepang test has finished with nearly every rider making improvements and the top 6 riders finishing faster than the all-time lap record of 1:58.303 set by Fabio Quartararo, Enea Bastianini would be the fastest rider overall with a 1:58.131 on the one-year-old GP21. He has been the only man today to stand between Aprilia and P1 once again, the Noale manufacturer making huge steps forwards this pre-season with Aleix Espargaro a mere 0.026 from the ‘Beast’s’ lap time, unfortunately due to rain riders weren’t able to try and post faster times later into the session.
Jorge Martin, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales and Francesco Bagnaia were all able to finish under the outright lap record of 1:58.303 and the 1:57 lap times are beckoning.
Following on from yesterday, Marco Bezzecchi once again was the fastest rookie in P16, the VR46 rider was also the only rookie to finish in the 1:58’s with Raul Fernandez and Fabio Di Giannantonio split by a mere 0.017 seconds in P19 and P20.
Ducati are looking to make some steady progress with the factory riders focusing on their new ride height device which allows a rider to lower both the front and rear shocks whilst riding, this aims to improve corner exit and acceleration, working in tandem with their new engine. It has been confirmed that their top speed has been improved due to the new engine but there are still improvements to be made to ensure the bike is stable and operates well, this could be why the GP21’s are doing so well, because they can focus on lap times and not on development.
The new fairing which was debuted at Jerez continues to be used, the bike looking slimmer and narrower, this looks to have been a positive upgrade for the Ducati’s.
Luca Marini and the new fairing on his GP22.
Over at Suzuki it’s been confirmed that the engine has been improved, the inline-four engine has shown a huge lack of speed in recent years compared to the V4’s of Aprilia, KTM, Honda and Ducati with only Yamaha and Suzuki left with inline-fours, their lack of top speed has always been justified by the superb cornering abilities of the blue machine however now is the time for Suzuki to try and build a bullet. They look to have made improvements with Alex Rins in P4 and have been working to improve their ride height device.
Much like Suzuki, Yamaha have been yearning for more power, they may be the 2021 MotoGP World Champions but if they want to beat the likes of Ducati and Honda this year they are going to need a lot more top speed. Yamaha received a new engine but it hasn’t been as expected meaning the riders representing the Iwata manufacturer have had to turn their attention over to the aerodynamics sporting an ‘Aprilia-like’ front wing to try and improve the bike.
Fabio Quartararo was rapid only 0.010 from his own lap record in P7 and 0.182 from Enea Bastianini, however was by far the fastest Yamaha with Cal Crutchlow the second-fastest down in P22 ahead of Andrea Dovizioso in P23, Morbidelli and Binder occupying the P24 and P25 spots, Quartararo once again making the factory look a lot stronger than reality.
Yamaha’s new front fairing modelled by Andrea Dovizioso.
Over in Aprilia they can be in high spirits after a P1 and P2 on day one and a P2 and P5 on day two, the 2022 bike looks to have made steps in the right direction with the bike looking incredibly fast and reliable, the Noale riders were sent out to complete long runs during the day 2 session to assess how the components fared under lots of pressure over an extended period, right now everything moving in a positive manner. It has been noted that the new bike is narrower than last years.
With Maverick Vinales in P5 only 0.130 from Bastianini’s time and setting a time identical to Alex Rins in P4, there’s no doubt they will be gunning for podiums this year.
KTM’s woes look to continue, they are looking to improve the base motorcycle and have a lot of new parts to test and try out which is positive for the Austrian brand who are aiming to bounce back to the front of the grid in the 2022 season, however with Miguel Oliveira their fastest rider down in P15 it looks like they have some way to go before they find their feet with Brad Binder in P18. The manufacturer has debuted some new fairings and winglets to aim to improve the balancing of the bike.
Marc Marquez on the wildly different 2022 machine.
Finally we arrive at Honda, the Japanese brand continued to work on their new RC213V which has a brand new aero package including a new tail unit, an exhaust that runs to the side of the unit instead of through the middle and also a new engine. Marc Marquez has confirmed that the bike feels a lot stronger with the rear now and noted that the bike has changed a lot and needs time to understand it and where the limits are, if we know Marc Marquez then we all know how he finds said limits. suffering two crashes in the two days.
Marc Marquez came home in P8 leading teammate Pol Espargaro in P10 with all four Honda’s in the 1:58’s showing consistent improvement across the board for all four riders.
Featured images – MotoGP