"That's a motorbike that looks phenomenal" – Tom Jojic

The former MotoGP™ crew chief joined us on the latest MotoGP™ Podcast to fascinatingly dissect the Misano Test

Tom Jojic, former MotoGP™ crew chief to the likes of Kenny Roberts Jr, Hiroshi Aoyama and Bradley Smith, joined us on the latest MotoGP™ Last on the Brakes Podcast to take a technical deep dive into what we saw at the Misano Test.

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Plenty of topics were discussed in great detail, including Marc Marquez’s (Repsol Honda Team) return and Yamaha’s engine update, but Tom was eager to point out Aprilia’s sensational rise to regular podium – and victory – contenders in 2022. The former KTM crew chief sighted the Noale factory’s average top speed increases over the past few seasons as a sign of a great job done, while also pointing out their lack of substantial testing of big parts – engine, chassis, swingarm – shows what a good place they find themselves in.

“Simon Crafar hit the nail on the head, Maverick in the fast right was phenomenal,” said Tom, talking about Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli’s ferociously quick Turn 11 right-hand kink on the back straight.

“I was watching that and he was turning inside everybody with the same top speed, and that looks incredible. He is a man on a mission and he could win a race this year, I hope he does. Let’s hope he helps Aleix. Aleix is the character, he’s such a nice guy, those Espargaros are aren’t they? He’s one of those that looks across and goes ‘ok that guy did what lap time?’ and off he goes and he matches is.

Maverick Viñales, Aprilia Racing, Gran Premio Gryfyn di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini

“That’s what you need as a teammate. And I hope they have that atmosphere like we had at Kenny’s (Kenny Roberts) where you have two guys in the garage, the whole team are helping each other but the guys are sorting it on the racetrack. That is a great place to be and fair play to them because that is a motorbike that looks phenomenal. It really does, the Aprilia is the all-round package I think.

“I’ll give you some numbers. How we would quantify top speed is go to the race results, look at all the speeds and make an average of all of them. I haven’t exactly done that but I’ve taken an average of the time five. In 2019, 289.3km/h was his (Aleix Espargaro) average. In 2020, 293.7, so +4 km/h, that’s huge. But that’s nothing. In 2021, 301.1, 7.4km/h faster average top speed between 2020 and 2021. This year it’s a little bit less, 297, so -4, but from 2020 that’s a good step.”

“So let’s talk about Misano,” continued Tom. “300km/h is probably the maximum you’re going to get at Misano because on that straight you have to turn right, so you can only put down so much power. Let’s talk about Yamaha because this is interesting. In 2019 they were 288.6, in 2020, 289.6, in 2021, 293.7 and in 2022 294.7, so they’ve made a step there’s no doubt about it. And in the test Quartararo did a 298, he said he got a good slipstream but that doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t get dropped that’s the key.

“But what I like about Aprilia is those jumps are on their own, that is really amazing. Remember Aprilia dominated 125 and 250 two-strokes. If you weren’t riding an Aprilia, you weren’t winning the Championship. We had another brand that was basically an Aprilia with another brand on it and Hiroshi (Aoyama) won the last 250 title on a Honda. But the thing is, they really understand Grand Prix racing. And here we are in MotoGP™, two rider Aprilia team fighting for the Championship, they grabbed Maverick when they had the chance and haven’t they turned him around?

“And the good thing is, when you say Aprilia haven’t tested much, that means they’re in a good spot. That means what they have tested is going to mean something. So if they’d done a tiny bit of aero here and there, maybe they didn’t throw a new chassis, swingarm or new engine at it, but looking at top speeds they don’t need a new engine. They just need stability now. They have two riders there that can win a Championship, next year they’re going to have a satellite team so they’re going to need to focus on all four bikes at the same level when they start the season. I think that crew inside that team are gold.”

Tom joined hosts Elliott York and Jack Gorst for over an hour to fascinatingly dissect the Misano Test, so it’s well worth a listen or watch when you get a chance. You can watch on YouTube or Twitch, or listen on your favoured Podcast streaming platform (links above).

The next episode will be on Friday morning of the Japanese Grand Prix due to the time schedule change. Keep your eyes peeled for that! 

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