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MotoGP, After the Shakedown: Ducati still the hare, Yamaha in its slipstream

The three days reserved for test riders offered some interesting information, with Aprilia and KTM on the right track and a Honda still with some way to go

MotoGP: After the Shakedown: Ducati still the hare, Yamaha in its slipstream


The year might be new, but the benchmark bike in MotoGP doesn't seem to have changed. Drawing conclusions from the tests is always a complicated operation, let alone from the Shakedowns, in which the testers have a lot of things on their mind but certainly not that of the stopwatch. And yet, that best time set by Michele Pirro at the end of the three days at Sepang has a meaning. First of all, it's certainly not a surprise, because the Desmosedici was the most advanced bike at the end of 2022 and Gigi Dall'Igna and his men are well aware that it takes very little to ruin the balance (the front lowering device was a lesson) .

In fact, at least on the outside, the Rossa has changed little. Probably (indeed certainly) the aerodynamic innovations will be seen later, at Portimao, but the refinement continues. Starting with the engine, a true jewel of Borgo Panigale which in the first 2022 evolution hadn't gone very well, so much so that Bagnaia chose an engine closer to the one of the previous season.

Yamaha: the time has come for a change, now the M1 is 'extreme'

You learn from your mistakes and the developments made on the GP23 seem to be the right ones, with the Ducati in the role of hare and all the others playing catch-up. From this point of view, Yamaha seems to be the one that has worked the hardest. No point in mentioning that the lack of top speed was the M1's Achilles heel, but the Japanese engineers have worked all round, abandoning that conservatism which proved to be a double-edged sword.

Finally they concentrated on aerodynamics with a personal and very extreme solution, almost at the limit of the regulations. The one that requires the wings to close in on the fairing, which those of the M1s actually do, but only leaving a slight gap.

Even the swingarm mounted by Crutchlow is very different from the previous one and then there's what you can't see, the in-line 4-cylinder engine that seems livelier than usual. How much? Impossible to say and for two reasons: the first is that the information on the top speeds available during the Shakedown are more than partial, the second is that Sepang isn't exactly the best circuit to evaluate them. An example? In last year's Q2, the difference in top speed between Bagnaia's Ducati and Quartararo's Yamaha was only 2 km/h.

Aprilia and KTM: evolution and not revolution to reach the top

Having said that, the M1 seems to be on the right track and the same can be said of Aprilia and KTM. Both the Italian and Austrian bikes are close to reaching the top and both manufacturers - rightly so - have focused on evolution rather than revolution. A lot of work for the test riders (Lorenzo Savadori even took turns on 6 different bikes) and very similar shapes for their fairings (but it is the RS-GP that has been 'copied').

The work on aerodynamics went hand in hand with that on different areas of the two bikes and it will be the team riders who will be given the job of demonstrating its potential (even if Pedrosa's 'unofficial' times on the RC16 weren't bad).

Honda: restructuring underway but the road may not be a short one

Even though we left them for last, we haven't forgotten about Honda. It is the bike that most needs to improve and Stefan Bradl is working overtime. Before Malaysia, he had already been to Jerez for tests and tried to make the most of the Shakedown days, partially ruined by the rain.

The RC213V might boast a new frame and who knows what else; it is not only the bike that is undergoing a major renovation but all of HRC, with the arrival of Kawauchi from Suzuki and the return of Kokubu full-time in MotoGP .

It's difficult to know how long it will take for all these changes to bear fruit. Marquez's performance will certainly be an important litmus test and we won't have to wait long. From Friday to Sunday it will be up to the riders to have their say on the track.


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