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Sepang MotoGP Test Results in New Lap Record from Enea Bastianini

The first official MotoGP test of 2022 was held Saturday and Sunday at the Sepang circuit. Two things were clear from this test, including that the different riders are very closely competitive (the top 20 positions were approximately 1 second apart, in total), and several manufacturers have made significant steps in improving their MotoGP bikes.

Enea Bastianini set a new lap record at Sepang aboard his 2021 Ducati (the same bike rode so well by Pecco Bagnaia during the second half of the 2021 series).

Other surprises included the speed of the Aprilia machines under Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales, who finished with the 2nd and 5th quickest times, respectively. Aprilia is a concessions manufacturer, so each of these riders had the advantage of putting in laps earlier in the week before the start of the official test. The 2022 Ducati appears to be an improvement over last year’s stellar machine, but is in the early stages of its development. The quickest rider on this new Ducati was Jorge Martin, who finished the test in 3rd.

The radically new Honda also appears to be a success with both Repsol riders, Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro, finishing in the top 10, and less that 3/10ths of a second off the new lap record.

At this point, the championship winning Yamaha seems to be the least improved bike in the paddock. Leaving aside the incredibly talented Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha could manage no better than 21st on the time sheets with its five riders in attendance. Quartararo, on the other hand, finished 7th quickest. In an interview after the test, Quartararo indicated he was most impressed by the improvements made by Suzuki, whose riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir finished 4th and 12th quickest, respectively.

You can find the full, combined practice times here.

15 Comments

  1. Mick says:

    Gush gush gush. Close close close. Funny nobody mentions just how NASCAR this series has become. How close does it have to become before it becomes clear that the compition is clearly being manipulated?

    Whatever. Mick’s crazy post number who cares right?

    • Jeremy says:

      You’re welcome to your opinion of it, of course. My personal opinion is that MotoGP has accomplished seriously close racing without remotely becoming like NASCAR. The various bikes on the grid have clear strengths and weaknesses based on the different go-fast philosophies of the OEM, and the guys riding those bikes also have a multitude of styles and abilities to best leverage (or not) the capabilities of the bikes they ride.

  2. motorhead says:

    Last year’s champion Yamaha has the “least improved bike?” Resting on one’s laurels is a time honored tradition. Definitely looking forward to see what “radically new” upgrades Honda implemented and to see how many of these upgrades make it into the bikes for us commoners.

  3. Burtg says:

    My biggest interest is in the Yamaha to see if they gave Fabio a more powerful engine with higher top speed.
    My second interest is in the Honda which allegedly is a brand new bike from the ground up.

    • Brinskee says:

      The Duc is new from the ground up too.

      • Dave says:

        Looks like Ducati’s update is closer to the mark. The fastest time was set on last year’s (very good) bike, but Bagnaia is not far back at all. Aside from Quatararo, the Yamahas are all at the bottom.

  4. Jeremy says:

    It’s always tough to tell with testing as the teams are trying out new stuff and gathering data for the most part, but things aren’t looking good for Yamaha at this point. The situation at Yamaha seems to be similar to Honda’s these past 6 or 7 years in that they have a bike that only one rider can make magic on. While I think that strategy is fine if you have a resident alien, the bike still has to take enough steps forward each season to stay in the game. I can understand not making drastic changes to the bike that won the championship last year, but I’m not sure Fabio is going to have enough bike to work with this season. It seems like Yamaha stood still relative to the rest of the grid.

  5. Old Skool says:

    Get rid of traction control, wheelie control, ABS, etc., and let’s see how close those times would be.

    Maybe this is closer racing, but I’m not sure if it is more skilled, and better racing. Let’s face it; when Freddie was doing the double, we knew for sure he was the most highly skilled rider on the track. Now? Who has better electronics?

    • dt-175 says:

      freddie did it w/ carbs!!

      • Scotty says:

        Ah, but Freddie had less than half the horsepower didn’t he!

      • Todd says:

        They all did it with carbs back then, even the 2002 M1 was carbed.
        Ducati new from “ground up”, that is news to me. I wasn’t expecting Suzuki to make the power gains but it is early and perhaps some sandbagging . This is the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, it would seem silly to eliminate technology that is common place in street bikes. I think the spec ecu’s and tire had a bigger role in bringing the times closer together. Dovi’s comments on Fabio were quite telling of his alien status. I think it’s a gonna be a great year and unpredictable .

    • Dave says:

      Judging by the number of crashes that happened last season it is clearly skilled racing. High sides still happen, the monkey behind the bars still decides how deep to go on the brakes and riders still get injured badly. Considering a dominating performance is winning by a small handful of seconds with the top-10 usually finishing within ~15 seconds of each other, it is also unquestionably better racing than back in the days when the winner would lap everyone up through 5th place.

      As for the bikes, it’s always been a technology competition. When Honda leased NR500 2-strokes to teams, the lease was $1m/year without wheels, suspension or brakes. At the end of the lease, they’d pick up the bikes and put em’ in the crusher to make sure nobody could steal their tech.

  6. Dave says:

    Top-18 all inside of the same second. It’ll be interesting to see how they stack up over race duration.

  7. VLJ says:

    Fabio won’t be sporting Yamaha blue much longer.