Measuring Progress: How Much Faster Did MotoGP Bikes Get In The Past Three Years?

After an absence of three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, MotoGP is returning to the circuits in Asia and Australia. A lot has happened in those three years in terms of motorcycle development; there has been a sea change in the way that bikes are controlled, as ride-height devices have been introduced to aid acceleration and braking, and engineers have gotten a better understanding of aerodynamics, sufficient to start gaining in the corner, as well as on entry and exit.

When MotoGP raced in Argentina for the first time since 2019 earlier this year, Aleix Espargaro's winning time of 41:36.198 was more than 7.5 seconds faster than the 41:43.688 Marc Marquez took to win in 2019. Argentina, however, is not a great basis for comparison, as the track sees very little use in between races, and the condition of the surface can change a lot.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 298: Motegi Review - Magnificent Miller, Bagnaia's Mistake, and Aron Canet's Bowtie

After a magnificent display of riding by Jack Miller at Motegi, the Paddock Pass Podcast crew chew over the aftermath of the Japanese grand prix. Steve English, Neil Morrison, and David Emmett join the pod, while Adam Wheeler phones in his thoughts on his road trip to the US for the MX of Nations. We cover a lot of ground, starting off with the strange circumstances of the weekend, and the effect a lack of track time had on results.

Part of that was Jack Miller's impressive win at Motegi, and we discuss why Ducati are seemingly incapable of winning a rider's championship. We discuss Pecco Bagnaia's mistake - and Aleix Espargaro's engine map misery - and how that gave Fabio Quartararo a chance to extend his championship lead. Then we talk about Aron Canet, how he revealed to Spanish media the secret behind his podium bowtie, and why he is dropping that custom. We ask whether he would be better off in the WorldSBK paddock where his tattoos would be less of a hindrance, after he claimed teams in the MotoGP paddock turned him down because of them.

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MotoGP Calendar Inflation Continues: Kazakhstan To Join Provisional Calendar In 2023, India To Hold Race In Near Future

The MotoGP calendar continues to expand. Today, Dorna announced in an unusually brief press release that the Sokol International Racetrack, 50 kilometers north  east of Almaty in Kazakhstan, is to be added to the MotoGP calendar for 2023 for a five-year period. The Kazakh track is still in the process of being built, and so will face homologation and safety checks before the race will be confirmed as happening in 2023.

The race in Kazakhstan will take the slot vacated by the now defunct Kymiring in Finland, which failed due to its business case collapsing when Russia invaded Ukraine. That means it will be held in July, two weeks after the Dutch TT in Assen, and three weeks before the series resumes at Silverstone. Its inclusion will bring the calendar up to 21 races. The calendar is set to be published at the end of this week.

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Motegi MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Magic Miller, Why Ducati Can't Win A Championship, And Marquez Up To Speed Again

It has been three long years since MotoGP last embarked on its Pacific tour, the flyway races in Asia and Australia which form the crescendo which build toward the season finale, and invariably decide the MotoGP championship. So the Motegi race, first of four overseas rounds, provided both a solid benchmark for the progress made over the last two and a half seasons, and gave us a foretaste of what is to come.

Motegi also changed the complexion of the championship. The importance of each race ramps up exponentially, as there are fewer and fewer points available. Closing gaps in the championship gets harder each race, the penalties for mistakes harsher, the rewards for success richer. Motegi mattered more than Aragon, and next Sunday, Buriram will matter even more than Motegi.

What we saw in Japan was a masterful display of riding, Jack Miller rising head and shoulders above the rest. We saw two Ducatis on the podium, though both of them the 'wrong' Ducatis in terms of the championship. We saw Marc Marquez complete a MotoGP race without pain for the first time since 2019 (and frankly, probably for much longer than that), and give a taste of what he is still capable of.

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