Five reasons to get excited for the Sepang Test

The former 500cc race winner and pitlane reporter, Simon Crafar, looks ahead to 2022 kicking off in Malaysia

On Saturday the 5th of February, the MotoGP™ riders of 2022 will be back in action at the Sepang International Circuit for pre-season testing. After the winter break, everyone will be buzzing to see how each factory and rider are shaping up ahead of Qatar’s eagerly anticipated season opener.

Ahead of the Sepang Test, 500cc Grand Prix race winner and pitlane reporter, Simon Crafar, has given his thoughts on why he is more than excited to see the action get underway in Sepang. From rookies to an eight-time World Champion’s return, there’s plenty to be looking out for. Check out Simon’s thoughts below:  


"Top of the list has to be the rookies. Anyone that knows me, knows I’ll always stick these guys at the top. Some people don’t get excited by rookies but I think they’re making a mistake. Rookies change the Championship, plain and simple, and we’ve got some really exciting ones being thrown into the mix this year. It’s the new blood injected into the Championship. For me, seeing how they make friends with their crew chief, seeing them on the bike, seeing their face light up is so special. I suppose I feel this way about the rookies because I know how life changing this opportunity is. It's truly awesome.

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing_ 2022

"The last couple of years, the Championship has also been really stirred up by rookies as well. Just look at the class of 2019: they’ve won the last two MotoGP™ titles. Even last year, look at how Martin stirred things up. Now we've got another crop of fast, exciting, hungry rookies and it's super exciting."


"Machinery is always close to the top of my list. Especially this year because it's the first time in two years that the development freeze has finished. For two whole years, due to COVID, all the manufacturers couldn't change too much at all. They’ve all had the winter now to spend more time on their engines following the last time we saw them on all at the Jerez Test. That means more time spent tweaking this and that, whether that be chassis stuff to work with the new engines or whatever it might be.

"When we finished last year there’s no doubting that Ducati were leading the way. Top speed, acceleration, overall Ducati was the machine to beat. So how much more have they found? Have they made yet another step forward? Because they’ve been on the dyno like everyone else for the past two years developing something new. Now we’re going to see, with everything on it, how fast it really is for the first time.

Francesco Bagnaia,Bike, Ducati Lenovo Team, Jerez MotoGP™ Official Test

"Yamaha won the Championship last year but it was obvious they needed some speed. It’s a great handling bike, especially in Fabio's hands who was damn impressive to win the Championship, but they need some speed. The question is have they found it without ruining anything else? The engine effects everything more than you could imagine. Suzuki are pretty much in the same boat. They did find a little bit of extra speed at the Jerez Test, so have they managed to squeeze anything more out with their engine seemingly confirmed. Exhaust, throttle body, electronics can all help with that once the engine is confirmed.

"KTM had a rough year last year. They really did. As a result, they've made some big changes, the most obvious being Team Manager. But, at the same time, they were close. It's just the class is so close at the moment. I strongly believe it's only going to take a small tweak to get them back on track. They only need that small breakthrough, like they found at Mugello last year, and that will keep the riders happy.

"Honda is the big one. To say that they were in big trouble is not overstating it, they really were. I suspected it was something to do with the engine because they couldn't fix it over the past two years. They managed to improve it slightly but they were simply doing what they could in a tough situation. Now that they're allowed to change the engine, and that’s not the only thing they’ve changed by the way, it looks like they have made a step forward. They've found some rear grip, which was the most common complaint from their riders. We all know how serious Honda are. When they want to do something, they do it. I can imagine them being really competitive if they put everything together. They could be the big surprise.

Alex Marquez, LCR Honda Castrol, Jerez MotoGP™ Official Test

"Aprilia had their best year ever in 2021. But the others were held back. Of course, not with the chassis and other things, but the others were held back by not being able to develop their engine. Aprilia continued to develop and made steps forward. Now everyone is in the same position, it’ll be interesting to see if they get left behind. I really hope that doesn’t happen. They could, however, make another step and continue to knock on the door."


"It’s always exciting going into a new season because some teams and riders do far better than anyone expects. There’s also the chance some underperform slightly as well, but that’s just the way it goes. Who will be the surprise package of 2022? Will it be one of the rookies, like Quartararo or Martin did when they burst onto the scene? Will one of the manufacturers make a big step forward? We always get a good idea over these pre-season tests."


"Marc Marquez has to be on this list. He’s just incredible. What he managed to do last year by winning races after those horrible injuries was mind-blowing. So, the question now is what he’s able to do now he’s a bit fitter and he has a new bike underneath him. Can he continue winning? Marc and the full Honda line-up have had a tough time of late. The bike has been difficult and if they now make it less difficult, which I believe they have, I think one of the surprises I mentioned above could be Marc and Honda in general."

Marc Marquez_Repsol Honda Team_MotorLand Aragon Private Test


"This might be a bit of a cheesy one but it’s the start of a new year and that’s exciting. Bikes are back on track, we go racing again and I get to catch up with everyone again. The paddock is a big family, so it’s great to see everyone in their new roles. Crew Chiefs have moved around or are stepping up to the role for the first time, other people have changed teams as well. Two new tracks on the calendar, including Indonesia that I can’t wait to get to in a week or so. New colours, new team wear, new everything. Every year people take on new responsibilities and it’s so exciting to see it all play out. Let’s go racing!"

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