Analysis

KTM MotoGP Launch: Brad Binder And Miguel Oliveira Look Back At 2021, And Ahead To 2022

While the most interesting parts of the KTM launch had to do with the personnel changes, and the shift of focus from the purely technical to the human (for a full review, see here), factory riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira were still fascinating on the weakness of the 2021 KTM RC16 and what they wanted fixing for 2022.

What the riders were missing above all was some consistency, Miguel Oliveira said. "Through different key moments of the championship I wasn't able to finish the race. Two big examples; Austria race 2 and Misano race 2 where the result could have been quite good."

KTM paid for that lack of consistency down the stretch, leaving too many points on the table and making a championship campaign tough. "The other thing is the pure consistency of the results, finishing the races pays off a lot at the end of the championship. And of course that's of course the main reason why I think consistency must be improved," Oliveira pointed out.

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Pit Beirer And The KTM MotoGP Launch: It's The Human Factor That Makes The Difference

Not all team launches are the same. They vary in style, substance, length, medium. There are live presentations, long prerecorded presentations, and short videos. Their length or content inevitably have no correlation to their information density. When you start, you never know what you are going to get.

The KTM MotoGP launch kicked off with a 4:35 video presentation which was all style and no substance, four minutes of spectacular images, dramatic electronic music, and empty cliches about racing. After the launch, however, things got good. Really good. Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira gave a glimpse of where they felt the KTM RC16 was lacking in 2021, and what needed to improve. Interesting, but not earth-shattering.

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What We Learned From The WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Launch

The setting for the launch of the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team was genuinely spectacular. From the stunning Philharmonic Theater in Verona, Italy, and featuring a couple of doses of opera – a refreshing change from the standard MotoGP diet of electronica or metal – the team walked through the presentation of its riders, its livery, and its team management. The launch was let down by technology – though the Facebook feed was pretty smooth, the YouTube video was stuttery and barely watchable.

Not that it mattered all that much. Team launches, especially of satellite teams, are mostly dog-and-pony shows aimed mostly at flattering the egos of sponsors, and generating a headline or two on a slow news day. In that, it was successful. There was plenty of chatter on social media over the launch.

Afterwards, the media got to talk to some of the protagonists over Zoom, a technology that looks set to stay in MotoGP for the foreseeable future. And that did lead to a few interesting insights, some about the team, some about the state of MotoGP, and what might change.

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Room For Optimism: What We Learned From The Honda MotoGP Presentation

Team presentations tend to be rather turgid affairs. Hours of talk for a few brief moments of enlightenment. Which is why we sit through all those hours of talk, of course, because if you listen carefully and read between the lines, you might learn a thing or two.

Past experience left the MotoGP media looking at the Honda motorsport Q&A with some trepidation. Would it be worth sitting through the long presentations to dig out nuggets of interest?

That calculation changed on Thursday night, when HRC announced that Marc Marquez had been riding a motorcycle again, and would be present at the launch on Friday. Both developments which meant the media would get a chance to talk to Marquez about his eye injury, about the accident which caused it, and and how soon we might expect to see him on track again.

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The 2022 MotoGP Silly Season Primer: Who Is Likely To Move Where Next Year?

It is the second week of January, and there as yet no substantial rumors of MotoGP rider contracts being signed. Compared to recent years, that is a bit of a late start to Silly Season, given that all but a handful of riders have their contracts up for renewal at the end of 2022.

In past years, January has been a hive of activity. In 2020, there were rumors over the new year period that Maverick Viñales was being courted by Ducati, with Yamaha forced to make an early announcement to keep the Spaniard in the Monster Energy factory team (and we all know how that turned out). A couple of weeks later, rumors followed that Ducati had signed Jorge Martin, and at the end of January, we learned that Fabio Quartararo had been signed to the factory Yamaha squad, displacing Valentino Rossi.

Two years earlier had seen a similar story, with Yamaha signing both Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi up in January, in time for the team launch. And to think, Valentino Rossi bemoaned Casey Stoner's move to Repsol Honda for the 2011 season as a decision taken early, when the deal was sealed after the Jerez round of MotoGP in early May, 2010.

By those standards, the current lack of movement on the contract front almost qualifies as tardiness. Riders are not jumping on contracts early, and factories are not pushing hard to sign riders before they get poached by someone else.

A different environment

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Will Life At Speed Do For MotoGP What Drive To Survive Did For F1?

There was a period during the previous decade where F1 was steadily losing ground to MotoGP. While Bernie Ecclestone had made four-wheeled grand prix racing successful in the era of TV and print media, his dismissal of social media, combined with processional racing, saw the ratings of the sport flag.

Dorna, after a similarly difficult start, finally embraced social media in the middle of the last decade, and that attention to the benefits of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram helped build the profile of the sport. That was helped in no small part by the technical regulations conceived in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis and put into place between 2012 and 2016 having their intended effect and making the racing much closer and more exciting. MotoGP grew while F1 lagged behind.

The arrival of Liberty Media changed the face of F1, dragging the sport kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Liberty took a radically different view of the media aspects of the sport, pushing hard into social media, and giving the teams far more leeway and freedom to create and promote their own content online.

Unscripted reality TV

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Why Did Ducati Move Its Front Holeshot Device?

MotoGP is always an arms race. A contest between manufacturers to try to make their bikes go faster. The trouble is, of course, that once you have made your own bike go faster, your rivals turn around and do exactly the same. You find yourself back where you started, or worse, the only difference being that everyone is another tenth of a second quicker, and finding the next tenth is now exponentially more difficult.

Ducati are the current masters of this, though it wasn't always this way. In the past, the Desmosedici was an intransigent beast that only a few riders – or rather, one rider – could wrangle into submission. Ducati have turned that around over the past decade, and now, where they lead, others follow.

So with two years of enforced inaction due to the restrictions imposed to keep costs down during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Jerez test saw Ducati unleash a pent-up torrent of new parts and ideas. Many of the new development parts have been discussed here already, including the new fairing, the new engine, and the extra long exhaust tried on the bike that might become the GP22. (For a full analysis, see my post-Jerez test round up).

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2021 Jerez MotoGP Test Deep Dive: What Makes Ducati The Big Winners At Jerez?

MotoGP got lucky at Jerez. Not perfectly lucky – strong winds made Turn 11 treacherous, and made it hard to assess some of the aerodynamics and chassis changes being tried. But for two days, the sun shone, and temperatures were high enough to ride for most of the day. November in Jerez can be hit and miss, but it was mostly hit, with little time lost to conditions.

With so much track time, it is instructive to note that very few riders actually went for a time attack. Most years, leaving the last test of the year with the fastest time, or at least, a very fast time, is a matter of pride, and of momentum. MotoGP riders want to go into next year having shown their rivals that they have something to worry about, to intimidate them going into the long winter break.

Not 2021, however. Riders were too busy actually testing new parts to waste time on braggadocio. That factories and teams were busy testing new parts suggests a number of things, and has a few possible explanations. Firstly, there has been a dearth of testing over the past two Covid-stricken years, with little winter testing between 2020 and 2021, and limited testing during the 2021 season.

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Valencia Moto2 & Moto3 Review: Neil Morrison Winners And Losers, At Cheste And In 2021

After a dramatic finale in Valencia, we look at the big winners and losers from the final race and indeed the 2021 season as a whole.

WINNERS

Aki Ajo

It’s quite the feat to manage two world champions in the same year. And quite another to have team-mates fighting for one of those gongs, as Aki Ajo did with Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez in the Moto2 class. But it wasn’t just about the Finn’s eye for rider selection. Up to the final round, the battling team-mates remained respectful without tensions ever bubbling over.

During the final round, Fernandez attempted to unsettle his elder team-mate. He hovered around Gardner in free practice, passing, sitting up, watching from behind. Even in the race, the Spaniard slowed the pace to make the Australian’s life difficult, back in the pack.

For this, Ajo has to take great credit. As Massimo Branchini, Gardner’s crew chief testified, “Inside of the box we don’t want fighting. Aki’s so strong about this. We have two riders that use their heads, and don’t create tension. We go to eat together. Everything is shared. Both guys are very clever about this.”

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2021 Jerez MotoGP Test Thursday Round Up: A Mountain Of Parts To Get Through

Testing at Jerez in November is always a little bit of a gamble, but not a shot in the dark. The weather is usually good, but not reliably so. It can be cold in the mornings and evenings, but the sun will warm the asphalt up enough to make testing worthwhile. The real enemy is the wind, which tends to be rather blustery at this time of the year.

The weather gods are looking relatively kindly on the MotoGP test this Thursday and Friday. It was warm and sunny on Thursday, with much the same expected for Friday. Cooler morning and evening temperatures meant nobody went out until well after 11am, and there wasn't much going on after 5pm, except for the practice starts at the end of the day.

A full analysis of the test will have to wait until it is over, and all the data is in. But there was plenty to see and hear on the first day of the test.

It being the first full test ahead of the winter break, there were a lot of new parts, but they were not evenly distributed. Riders across all factories were sharing parts to test, one getting parts on Thursday while another will get the same parts on Friday. After all, there is no point making enough new parts for all of the riders, if those parts are going to be discarded if they are found wanting.

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