New to motogp.com?Register here
A fascinating two days of track time at the Official Jerez Test kicked off the 2022 season with plenty of technical innovations on display. There are lots of talking points to sink our teeth into, so here’s a tech round-up of the main things we saw from each manufacturer.
It was a huge two days for HRC after what was another below-par season during 2021. Despite the setback of Marc Marquez’ (Repsol Honda Team) enforced absence, on the whole, it seemed that Honda found some of what they were looking for as they rolled out their 2022 bike once again. The engine, chassis, exhausts, seat and tail unit, aero package, fairings are all new and, for the first time, we saw Honda equip a bike with a mass damper at the back.
The prototype RC213V was certainly under scrutiny but it performed well, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) finishing second fastest overall.
So what does it all mean? Well, it appears that Honda’s main goal was searching for grip, and they’ve found it. Honda’s greatest weakness in recent years has been rear grip, whether it’s on entry, in the middle of the corner or on exit. Rear grip has been lacking in all areas. One of the keys to finding this grip is their change in how they mount their engine.
You can see the engine mount bolts above and below the swingarm pivot on the chassis here. Note how the one below protrudes forward from the chassis and the one above the swingarm pivot sits back in the middle of the beam of the chassis. On the bike which this bike is based upon, this is very different.
Something that was also very different was the top exhaust, which now exits to the side and has a mechanical valve. The valve can be opened and closed at certain times to help with engine braking by increasing negative torque when the valve is slammed shut.
With eight bikes on the grid in 2022, Ducati were also very busy over the two days testing. Among a plethora of kit tested was a longer exhaust which they may be using to find torque lower down on the rev range in an attempt to make the Desmosedici’s considerable power more usable.
There was also an evolution of the front holeshot device. As you can see in the picture below, the blade sits behind the fork leg. So, not only have they updated the actual hardware, but they’ve updated the lever to activate it as it’s no longer one of the wing nuts that sits on the top triple clamp.
Elsewhere, Ducati continued work on a fairing seen at the Misano Test as well as a different air intake and aero package. We didn’t see the 2022 bike in action and will have to wait for the Sepang Test in February to catch our first look at that.
Yamaha continued to develop their 2022 chassis with experimental welds which keeps the same differences in the area where the cutouts are but now it also has many additional welds compared to before. It seems that Yamaha are trying to find more strength in certain areas with the hope of improving rear grip and reducing their front end problems.
The Iwata factory also tried out a new, rounder fairing. On the current one, just above the aero wings, the fairing has a small concave section where it cuts inwards, but now with this new version, it is much smoother and rounder and no longer cuts in.
Like Ducati, Aprilia didn’t bring their 2022 bike to Jerez but they did have a new exhaust to test. Similar in design, and feeling according to Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team), to the current version the main difference is a slashed tip.
In addition to a different chassis, the Noale factory also tried three aero packages, two of which had smaller wings than what has been used through the 2021 season.
Suzuki seemed to set their focus on finding the right chassis for 2022, and they were seen testing one that had already been spotted at the Misano Test and The Americas GP, though it wasn’t raced on at COTA. Joan Mir and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) both claimed it helped braking stability, allowing them to brake harder and later, a positive step in reducing one of the GSX-RR’s weak points.
Over at KTM, the biggest difference on the RC16 was a huge new aero package first seen at Misano. An interesting detail is the back edge of the element on the side fairing, you can see it’s serrated somewhat, just like the KTM’s front fairing. The serrations are designed to work as vortex generators, helping to smooth the air coming off the back edge of the aero element, reducing drag and reducing buffeting on the rider.
With all the teams' latest tech innovations on show, it certainly made for an interesting couple of days in the south of Spain, and if you’re interested in carrying on the conversation, then check out our Facebook page dedicated purely to MotoGP™ Tech here!