What did we learn from Sepang and what can we expect from Indonesia?
The MotoGP™ riders are ready to resume 2022 pre-season testing and coming up are three days at the brand-new Pertamina Mandalika Circuit in Indonesia. It will be a crucial time for the riders to not only learn the layout – which will host Round 2 of the season – but also confirm what’s working on their bikes, and what’s not.
So let’s have a look at what we learnt from the two-day Sepang Test from each factory, and what we can look forward to seeing at the Mandalika Test.
Ducati left the Sepang Test on the front foot on the timesheets thanks to Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), with the sophomore putting in the fastest ever lap of Sepang on his GP21. The new GP22 also acquitted itself well, with the new engine showing gains in top speed and the new aero and updated air intake remaining a fixture. However, the feedback from riders at Sepang suggests there remains a margin for improvement and the Borgo Panigale factory will be keen to iron everything out ahead of Qatar. Ducati’s updated ride-height device – which appears to now lower the front and rear of the machine – will likely steal more headlines at Mandalika too.
The Noale factory was one of the headline-stealers of the Sepang Test. After a 1-2 on Day 1, they ended the test second and fifth respectively – with both Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales sounding positive about the new, narrower 2022 machine. Espargaro hailed improvements in turning and corner speed, although he remained undecided on which chassis is best. Aprilia have said since the Jerez Test that Mandalika would be where they would finalise the machine. Will they have the same speed as we head for Indonesia? And are there are more innovations in the locker?
Suzuki also made their improvements a headline act. The Hamamatsu factory confirmed they’ve improved their engine in the search for more top speed without compromising the established assets of the GSX-RR, and there were ripples of interest up and down pitlane at the steps forward on show in Sepang. There were reportedly some more varied comments from the riders regarding aero and chassis updates, but with plenty working a treat. How will the Suzuki fare around the 17 apexes of Mandalika?
The Iwata marque wanted more top speed heading into 2022 and there has reportedly been a small step forward, but not enough. Monster Energy Yamaha Team Manager Maio Meregalli admitted they expected a bigger improvement and in lieu of that, work has been focusing on finding more gains via aero. Meregalli also said that the “real test” will be in Mandalika, so it’s almost time for Yamaha to choose their direction after another three days to try and maximise the 2022 YZR-M1.
The new RC213V is one of the most compelling attractions of pre-season so far, as is the return of eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). The number 93 is recovered and raring to go, despite feeling pretty tired after his return to the fray, and was the quickest Honda at Sepang. He says he needs to find its limits, but was positive about the package. Honda will continue refining the new machine at Mandalika, with all riders – Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) – working on the 2022 bike.
Many would give more than a pfennig for KTM’s thoughts as the Austrian factory continues to prove coy. New Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Francesco Guidotti did confirm the overall plan at Sepang, however, with KTM looking to find a solid base from which to begin the season and then use that as a development springboard after a tougher 2021. Evaluating new parts and re-examining plenty from last year, it’s been all hands on deck for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, alongside test riders Mika Kallio and MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa – with Tech3 rookies Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, of course, more focused on their own machines and adaptation.
Keep up with everything that goes on during the three days in Indonesia right here on motogp.com. Live Timing, midday updates, After the Flag, reports, highlights and interviews will be available throughout!