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MotoGP, Sepang test: Yamaha in the hands of Cal Crutchlow for Quartararo's M1

The 38-year-old champion is entrusted with the first test of the new developments in the shakedown in Malaysia. He will be on the track for 4 days, focussing on engine and aerodynamics that will have to work together in order not to mortify the power increase obtained by Marmorini

MotoGP: Sepang test: Yamaha in the hands of Cal Crutchlow for Quartararo's M1


During the winter there has been a lot of talk about the gap that Honda is called upon to make up from the competition. It has also been accused of depending totally on Marc Marquez. In fact, there is one other manufacturer more concerned than Honda: Yamaha.

Not only that, in fact, the Iwata-based company lost the 2022 world championship after gaining an advantage over Bagnaia's Ducati of no less than 91 points at the Sachsenring, exactly in the middle.

The advantage was squandered, precisely because Yamaha was able to count only on Fabio, given the problems of Franco Morbidelli and the absolute inconsistency of the RNF satellite team, which then moved to Aprilia.

The result is that in 2023 there will be only two M1s on the track, with the Iwata engineers called to recover the engine disadvantage, but not only that, without having any other data available than those of El Diablo and Franky.

It is true that the signing campaign led to the arrival of Luca Marmorini, a former Ferrari engineer to solve the power problems of the in-line four-cylinder, but the competition did not stand idly by with KTM which hired technicians from Ducati and Red Bull F1, not to mention Aprilia which above all strengthened the aerodynamics area and was the only manufacturer, together with Ducati, to provide new ideas in this field. Just think of the lower part of the fairing and the small spoiler on the tail of the RS-GP tested at Mugello which preceded the stegosaurus fins of the Ducati.

All innovations that Yamaha then introduced later to verify their effectiveness.

Already because now in MotoGP, thanks to the restrictions with freezing and the number of engines and aerodynamics, every detail counts and the result depends on the harmonious functioning of each component.

If aerodynamics in fact improves grip in certain situations, on the other hand it "eats" up power. To fully exploit it, therefore, it needs 'expendable' horsepower because the drag or aerodynamic penetration coefficient (indicated as Cx) due to the wing elements has increased a lot compared to the fairings of Kenny Roberts' times.

That's not enough: the lower the Cx, the more easily the bike will cut through the air and as a result the lower the fuel consumption.

Crutchlow in Sepang together with our very own Carlo Pernat

So Yamaha, while trying to increase the power of the engine, but at the same time looking for a more efficient aerodynamic shape, will see on the one hand a part of the power dissipated by the wing appendages and on the other an increase in consumption.

Not knowing the data, we venture that it may have been precisely these problems that diminished Fabio Quartararo's enthusiasm for the efficiency of the renewed engine after the Misano tests.

And this without counting that every innovation needs careful testing before being approved, with all that follows. We recall the delay accumulated by Ducati precisely in 2022 for the choice of engine configuration, but also of the front lowering device. Or the valve swap issue that Yamaha ran into in 2020.

In short, they are in the same boat. The Sepang tests are upon us. Perhaps this is why Yamaha is trying to keep the initial shakedown as ‘secret’ as possible. Unlike Ducati, which it seems will not bring any substantial innovations in aerodynamics to avoid revealing them before the Portimao tests so as not to be copied, Yamaha will have to dare by bringing everything possible. Not being able to count on particularly fast testers, nor subsequently on a second team for cross-reference.

Luckily, at least Cal Crutchlow will be on the track: he will ride for two of the three days of shakedown and two of the three days of testing. Probably the second and third day of both tests. A considerable commitment for the now almost 38-year-old rider from Coventry, a great cycling enthusiast to the point that he trains with Mark Cavendish.

Cal recently said that Yamaha has become more aggressive, both in terms of innovation, which is fine, but also in terms of riding.

“Yamaha give me loads of stuff to test – added Crutchlow - The difference between when I started with them and now is incredible. They move 27 staff to each test! It's a full effort. Which is great. I enjoy doing it, and the test team is working better every time. It's hard to say because sure, we have got a lot more top speed, but that comes with new problems.” Good luck with that.



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