2022 Sepang MotoGP Test Preview: Making Sense Of All The Changes


Marc Marquez' Honda RC213V at the 2014 Sepang 1 MotoGP test

It is dangerous to draw too many lessons from the results of the Sepang test. In the ten years between 2011 and 2020, the rider who set the fastest time at Sepang has only gone on to win the MotoGP title twice: Casey Stoner in 2011, and Marc Marquez in 2014. (That stat is complicated by the fact that between 2011 and 2015, there used to be two Sepang tests – I've taken the fastest time from both tests in those years.)

Casey Stoner was fastest in 2012 as well, but ended up losing to Jorge Lorenzo that year, after smashing his foot at Indianapolis. Dani Pedrosa was quickest in 2013, but was overshadowed by his rookie teammate Marc Marquez who took the crown at the first attempt. After his dominant year in 2014, Marc Marquez was quickest at both tests in 2015, but notoriously ended up finishing behind the two Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

Yamahas were quickest in 2016 and 2017, Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Viñales taking the honors at the test, but both lost out to Marc Marquez. Lorenzo was quickest in 2018 again, and Danilo Petrucci topped the 2019 test, but both Ducati men lost their way for various reasons during the season, Marc Marquez having a battle on his hands with Andrea Dovizioso. The Desmosedici was good, but Marquez was better. And in 2020, before the pandemic struck in earnest, Fabio Quartararo was fastest at Sepang, but would have to wait another year to be crowned champion, Joan Mir holding off Quartararo's erstwhile and current teammate Franco Morbidelli for the title.

So being fastest at the Sepang test is nice. But it doesn't necessarily mean all that much. Sure, it's good for your pride, and for intimidating your rivals. But it would be unwise to start preemptively spending your championship bonus.

Lessons to be learned

That is very much why everyone goes testing, of course. There are no prizes handed out at the end, but the reward of grinding out, in this case, two days in the intense tropical heat are the lessons learned about the strengths and weaknesses of the bike you are going to start the new season with. Where you are going to struggle, how to mitigate that. Where your strengths lie, and how to exploit that. Prioritizing areas where upgrades are desperately needed, and working out what you can cope with until the engineers back in the factory bring you new parts.

It is also, of course, a chance to be surprised and concerned about what your rivals have been doing. You might be secretly (or not so secretly) proud of having done something very clever with your bike. But at the test, you get a chance to see what everyone else has done, and be upset that they (in most cases, Ducati) have come up with something you hadn't thought about. Then you have a couple of weeks before the start of the season to worry about it.

This year, the teams have only two days at Sepang instead of the usual three, a result of the addition of Mandalika to the calendar. As a new circuit on the calendar, riders and teams get to test at the Indonesian ahead of MotoGP's first visit, to set gearing and learn the layout of the track, but also for Michelin to figure out what tires will work at the circuit.

Too many variables

That makes the two days at Sepang all the more important. As a known quantity, it should provide a better baseline to assess changes. Even so, it has been two years since MotoGP last visited the Malaysian track, and a lot has changed, including the mass adoption of ride-height devices, which radically change the dynamics of the bike. The shakedown test will have been used to understand how the latest generation of bikes work at Sepang, taking some of the testing load off the shoulders of the factory riders.

Ride-height devices and aerodynamics will be one of the main focuses for all of the factories at Sepang, simply because they have become such an important part of motorcycle performance. The introduction of spec electronics sparked the exploration of new avenues of managing acceleration out of corners, to reduce wheelie and find extra acceleration and drive. Once those particular cats were let out of the bag, they have taken on lives of their own, manufacturers gaining data and understanding of vehicle dynamics, and how to go faster without electronic aids.

All six manufacturers will be working on both those areas. Some, like Suzuki and to a lesser extent Honda, have a lot of catching up to do. Others, like Ducati and to a lesser extent Aprilia, already have sophisticated systems which automatically deploy the ride-height device on corner exit using the way the weight balance of the bike shifts.

What we believe happens is that the rider decides on corner entry that they will want to use the device on corner exit, and so presses a lever. That charges a canister which is then triggered by a movement of the bike – presumably the rise of the forks as the brakes are released, or perhaps the squatting of the rear as it touches down after braking – which engages the ride-height device and lowers the rear of the bike at a precise rate on corner exit.

Ducati, as the factory which forced the ride-height device onto all the other factories – it is said to be worth two or three tenths a lap, too big of an advantage to be sniffed at – are the factory who have come closest to perfecting the system. Which makes you wonder if they believe there is much more advantage to be squeezed from the system, or if they have already moved on to the next big idea which nobody has thought of before. What might that be? If I had thought of it, I would have sold it to Gigi Dall'Igna already...

Sepang is an important track to test ride-height devices at, as it has a number of slow corners followed by hard acceleration, and with two massive straights. The reprofiled last corner has taken a chunk off the top speed on the front straight, but the bikes are still going fast there. Fast enough to get a feel of how big a factor top speeds are. Because of the more flowing nature of Sepang, terminal velocity alone is not enough to be fast here – Hondas, Yamahas, and Ducatis have all led the tests here – but the track does have a way of showing up speed differentials.

Waving or drowning?

The task, for Suzuki and Yamaha especially, is to try to close the gap with Ducati. This may be hard: at the Jerez test in November, the riders were already praising Ducati's new engine. It accelerated better, more usably, and Gigi Dall'Igna recently told Sky Italia that he was pleased with the power gains made with the new engine.

That doesn't necessarily mean peak horsepower, of course. The "power gains" made could be anywhere. The Ducati is almost certainly the most powerful bike on the grid already, and any power a bike produces has to make its way to the asphalt without the tire being shredded, or more likely, the tire spinning pointlessly. But a few more horsepower further down the rev range might help acceleration, and the quicker you get out of the corner, the faster you can go at the end of the straight.

Already during the shakedown test, Michele Pirro has been using the long lower exhaust which was tried at Jerez. That suggests that they are looking for acceleration rather than outright hp numbers. More acceleration married to a sophisticated ride-height device would produce a bike which gets out of corners very well, and can carry that speed a long way down the straight.

Suzuki have already tested an engine at Jerez which had more power, and both Joan Mir and Alex Rins were happy with the gains made. But Mir was also keen to make sure that the Suzuki could get the power to the ground. That means work on electronics, on aerodynamics, and on the ride-height device. Suzuki went through two generations of the device in a relatively short time at the end of 2021, so the next evolution should make another step forward.

Yamaha also tried a new engine at Jerez, but it left Fabio Quartararo rather disappointed. He had been hoping for a sizable dollop of extra power from Yamaha, but that had not been forthcoming. Quartararo had won the 2021 MotoGP title by making use of the braking of the Yamaha, and carrying corner speed through the fast turns. But it meant taking risks to make up for ground lost on sheer top speed, and giving up more speed to Ducati could tip the balance toward the Bologna factory.

Quartararo's strength, using the stability of the Yamaha M1 in braking to catch and pass his rivals, is a sign of where the current frontier of MotoGP lies. It is getting harder to find more time on corner exit – hence the focus on ride-height devices – yet there is still room for improvement on corner entry. That made the difference in 2021, and with Yamaha, Suzuki, KTM, and Aprilia all working hard on this area, it remains a key factor for 2022.

Spotting improvements in corner entry is hard, though. Revised frames help, but the changes can be subtle, if not entirely invisible, as sometimes it is a change in frame wall thickness of specific sections. The Suzuki, for example, has a section of welds near the top of the frame, which suggests parts of three different thicknesses welded together to achieve a specific stiffness. Suzuki have also used carbon fiber inserts and patches to modify stiffness during testing, in pursuit of a particular feel.

So while everyone is working on corner entry and braking, it may be difficult to see. No doubt all of the factories will have different frames, though the purpose of the changes may be hard to identify.

Corner entry was a particular concern for KTM, especially when Michelin changed the front tire allocation to bring more asymmetric fronts to some, which were less stiff on one side of the tire. That meant the KTM couldn't load the front as they had done previously, making braking and turn in more difficult. Though they managed to improve the situation significantly by the end of the year, they will need a bigger step in 2022.

For Aprilia, much of the focus was on the engine, Aleix Espargaro another rider disappointed in the power gains made at Jerez. He was hoping for a new engine at Sepang, and judging by the pace of both Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro during the shakedown tests, the signs are relatively positive. Of course, the Aprilia riders were only measuring themselves against test riders and rookies, so that muddles the picture a little. The real proof will come at the weekend.

Which brings us to Honda. HRC are continuing to work on the completely revised bike first seen at Misano last year, as discussed in detail here. That will be the starting point for everything Honda are working on, the changes, already tested by Stefan Bradl at Jerez and at the shakedown test, likely to be minimal.

The main change for the Honda is a shift in weight balance, more weight on the rear to try to find some grip on corner entry. That means sacrificing some of the insane strength of the RC213V on the brakes. But Honda, like KTM, were suffering with the asymmetric front tire, and so could not exploit the strength they had, while sacrificing drive in the corners. The 2022 bike needs to have more rear grip, more rear drive, while avoiding the tendency to run wide as a result of giving up some front grip.

Return of the king?

This will be a particular challenge for Marc Marquez. The Repsol Honda rider won his six MotoGP titles as a result of being able to rely on the front to get the bike stopped and turned, in combination with top speed. If he is to make it a 70% record at the end of his tenth season, then he will have to learn to cope with a bike that feels different.

But adaptability has always been one of Marquez' strengths. Throughout his career, he has always been able to ride around problems, getting the most out of what the bike can do, instead of held up by what the bike can't do. I saw Marquez briefly at the Sepang circuit on Thursday, and he looked focused, hungry, and very fit. If his eyes and his shoulder are as good as he says they are, then Marquez will be a factor whatever bike Honda bring.

All that is speculation, however. On Saturday, the talking stops, and the timesheets will tell the story. Not the whole story, by any means. But the challenge the factories face will be much, much clearer.


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Comments

Bravo indeed! Thanks a bunch.

Thursday Maverick and Savadori did ANOTHER day flexing their concession muscles on track at Sepang. Vinales w two 2022s trying different things, Savadori has a 2022 and a 2021. There are extensive updates on the new bikes. Maverick is genuinely happy, the bike looks good, and bless this marriage that it produces podiums. Amen.

Changes happening around the bike are interesting too. KTM has done some re-org and high level staffing addition. Dani Pedrosa is, along with Test/Development work, in the box as an active rider coach. Fellow Spaniard and new Lorenzo/Iannone attitude Raul Fernandez is the most involved and benefitting. Looks smart! A strong link synergistically upping the program. 

Ducati has not only 8 bikes, they have integrated the VR46 program. FOUR riders now, more on the way, have extensive support. So very Italian! The Japanese duopoly lockout at the top is gone.

Aprilia has a refreshed vitality and optimism around the new bike and riders. I believe there is something of note up above between the racing dept and Piaggio but may be confused. If I think of it will add?

Note: the last couple of years of historically horrible flu pandemic has impacted the Japanese differently than the European manufacturers in terms of disruption of program. The Japanese have had more significant measures in place to mitigate exposure risk. Italy was initially worse off than other countries in terms of infection rate, but it appears that they continued on with their program of development with less interruption after the initial impact. This may be a significant factor, and both Red and Black may have just gained some. 

Suzuki HAS been chugging along, albeit not promptly. The racing dept were given more freedom and flexibility re HOW they spend their budget. It is a really small one though eh? But sometimes it is how you use it more than outright size (ask me how I know, I dare you). Guintoli continues to be doing a great job as a Test/Development strength. 

Honda has been humbled. They are PROUD, and if they have been quiet a while it is because they have applied themselves to intense efforts to atone for shameful results. No Marc, nearly broken and feared lost, has brought progress. That a healed Marc gets. Change in attitude for Honda and a (betcha it is great) fresh bike.

Yamaha? ....? I am concerned. If Quartararo leaves, disaster.

Perhaps HRC pushed back against the radio silence from the Marquez camp over the past 2 years by making an honest play for Mir & Fabio. In times past, Marc would have had a very big say in these things, but his voice isn't as loud as it once was.

He's tied up on a multi-year contract and has had to essentially sit for for 2/3's of the races over these past two years. He contributed towards his time out of the game too ("Opening the window/rushing his return" and the "Small high side on the dirt" etc), then the closed-circle relentless lack of news to his employer, leaving Puig to look even more awkward and disillusioned as his default persona usually is. Remember at one stage Marc even came out and said he was prepared to give HRC back his 2020 salary if they wanted it after things were starting to boil over between the two.

Honda gave Alex the boot and installed his old nemesis Pol. Much passive aggressiveness followed in addition to a few chirps about his hopes of having his brother back in the factory squad in short order etc.

This time it's been public knowledge that they're in play for the big boys on the market.

That long contract is a double edged sword as Marc's leverage has diminished substantially. Interesting times and a good part of me hopes that he sticks it up them by becoming a dominant force at the front again and then come contract time - have them bent over a barrel in return. I'm only in it for cheap thrills.

Fun times.

They'd be bonkers. Since the accident...1 podium for Pol out of 17 races, 2 for Alex from 32 races and 3 wins + a 2nd for Marc in 14 races. I can well understand conversations about the amounts of money I imagine they pay Marc but if they have any hopes of coming near 2019 again in the near future. Or, they can shot themselves in the foot.

Their main rider dilemma now might be letting Alex or Taka go now. It is underway. Idemetsu and the whole country, or Marc? Which disapproval is tolerable? Marc/Alex wins this one via rider age, and that there is a Japanese kid shining from lower classes. Alex is lucky? 

Another factor on the other hand, salaries just dropped 25% paddock wide due to the plague. So having an option in house may guarantee better pay via extension of the previous contract. Suzuki and Yamaha can get lucky that opponents seeking their top rider are working with 75% the hand. Inline four factories, PAY that and be happy! This isn't your next 2 yrs in the sunlight. Be thankful if you get to keep Mir or Quarty because they can extend at the same rate. You are lucky to have them.

I think, as has been shown countless times, the rider and the team are lucky to have each other. There's this idea, 'Fabio is a legend, we can put him on any bike and he will win'. Yet in 2020 without the front he liked he finished 8th in the points and 3rd best Yamaha. Fact. Yes it was a strange year, yes it was his second season, yes he didn't have Forcada, yes there was no Marquez...nevertheless...8th. With the front end he liked and an extra year under his belt he nails it...on the Yamaha.

Jumping to any other bike is as much a risk for Fabio as it is for the team that accepts him. In the modern era it's a very rare thing. Champions...Rossi and Stoner. Race winners...Biaggi, Rossi, Stoner, Dovi, Mav, Lorenzo. High company indeed. Biaggi uniquely having won on two bikes in both the 500 and the MotoGP classes. Dovi and Mav having scored 1 win each on their 'first' bikes.

While more money can always be attractive I get the impression it is not the motivation. So, you have the risk. Even if the Ducati wins every race, every pole, every fastest lap in 2022 you still have to sit, look and think...hmmm maybe it's 1 year or 1.5 years of looking slow before I adapt to the bike enough, if I can adapt to the bike. Hmmm Lorenzo. Hmm fast rookies. Hmm fast Italians. It would take a couple of dire seasons to make him look elsewhere I think. Last year wasn't bad.

As usual here these days, you make more sense than me Wavey. Sincerely, I think you are solidly right and appreciate the clear picture. I WANT Blue to do well and keep Quarty. 

Still I sense another "disturbance in the force." A very substantial pile of smaller more subtle bits pointing together at a big shift just underway. They say dogs sense earthquakes. I am barking.

If I am just howling at a shadow, ready to be even more of the Motomatters village idiot than I already may be. So be it. The racing might be better if I am wrong, and that will be even better. 

Will gladly swap Winter musings for Summer's succinct "wow, three way battle Sunday was a cracker! No guess who will win the next one." I see a bias in my perspective too. It is cumulative disappointment and frustration with what Yamaha has not done over the years that they could going way back (Herve's customer bikes, what the hell happened around Spies, et al). Hopefully mitigating the emotional pain reactivity bias here with awareness. 

A step in motor to keep up with what Suzuki just did will be fine. The Blue Euro Test Team can belatedly come forward with Crutchlow and the solid group around him. There is good stuff there. And, if the Factory does not bring something to START this season with, it may be a watershed moment leaving everyone there but Morbidelli quite displeased. 

Hope our Winter in here provided some bits of interest and amusement in touch with each other and the motorbike racing. Saturday in February at Sepang has arrived. The garages are filled, and the symphony of engines begins.

Look! It is real! 15 min official Sepang Test Preview video with Crafar and crew:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=W2NOxBlcuAU

My opinion. Suzuki still behind Yamaha. Over a season Yamaha still best average, like a cricket average. Was always 'friendly' bike compared to the others. Struggled for 2 years. Ducati struggled for 2020. It's not unusual. Honda a fast bike with a very fast average rider (average like Don Bradman), seems a difficult bike but a fast bike at all circuits just like the Yamaha (maybe not Aragon). That's not the case for Ducati and if they are going to win and finally earn the title 'best bike on the grid' which they seem to have kept since 2017 for some unknown reason, they will need to be fast over the season no matter how many riders they have and no matter how much data they gather. Currently, on the evidence available...not so.

Time to see first impressions !

^ Well said!

Many of us had the Suzuki as best bike for 2019-2020ish. Supplanted by Duc for 2021. I think the zsuzuki would have a better reputation as a Rookie and rider friendly bike like the Yam if they had 4 of them.

The take on where the Ducati is at relative to the others may be in such a swift and strong upturn that the data out there is not painting what it could. The Pecco exited orbital atmosphere very recently. The bike just got a couple new things very right, plus synergized. Atop a great bike that was close to top of the heap. Then, right now, is hitting 2022 with even more bloody motor. 

The Aprilia may be surging. KTM is expected to get back on the gas. Suzuki is known to be making steady smaller steps forward on an excellent base. 

The jury seems to think Honda is back in the game. There isn't something displaying optimism for Yamaha at this immediate juncture. I don't disagree with you about much of the Yamaha recent past, but do see it as in and out of the gutter for 6 yrs. 

Seeing Quartararo as pivotal for Blue. Seeing him seeing sufficient motor as pivotal for his decision to stay. Seeing him pivot on that in the immediate future, already telegraphed as some movement initiated, but that doesn't guarantee the step goes through that way. 

Do you share a view that given what we have seen recently that if Quarty leaves, and the bike is much the same as last yr, that Yamaha is in a very bad situation? I regard that as factual. The bike is looking that way for this critical moment. And I believe he has just started his move to Ducati or Honda. It is a leap to say so, admittedly. I think it is Ducati since he has shown the signs of this early before seeing enough re the Honda, for which we have had such negative view of for years. He started to show signs of leaving before he even tried the 2022 after the last 2021 race. He was clear that it was the same bike basically after riding the 2022, and gave an even stronger signal of leaving. That would not be something easy to sit with unless it was the Ducati you thought you could get. Harder to be clear re this Honda.

Now Mir sees his Suzuki vs Honda decision as much less sure. The Suzuki took fwd steps! 

See you again in a bit Wavey, we get more to see this weekend! Want to bet a shirt? I am an XL men's. Can buy you a new something racing related. Quarty leaves, I win. Stays? You win. I could be a jerk and make it a Quartararo Yamaha one, but more likely to do a Triumph one or something. May have an old sponsor one hanging around somewhere. Hurry up though, the landscape is changing quickly.

;)

In 2020, Yamaha won the most races, 3 riders. Fabio and Franco 3 each, Mav 1.

Yamaha 2021, disaster season for riders. Just swap bikes in your head. Fabio, Mav, Rossi and Franco were riding Ducati, Suzuki or KTM last year. It would also be a disaster. Very probably a worse disaster but that depends who you would have on the Yamaha. Look at Mav's (half) season, Franco's major knee surgery, Rossi at his lowest. Every tom dick and harry riding whichever seat was spare with Franco's injury or the departure of Mav. I don't think it's possible to look at these and say that is where Yamaha are without Fabio.

Will Fabio be top Yamaha ? Very likely, he is 100% a super-fast guy and especially last year he has shown himself capable of adapting his riding to conditions like a second nature. However, I do not think it will be 'my name is Marc Marquez' written down 50 times before the next Yamaha crosses the line. It's not Honda on Michelins.

Mav was also just as fast on that Yamaha, he was also Mav for the whole time too, up and down. Franco proved he can be fast on a Yamaha, at least the 2019 spec. He put that on the podium at Jerez last year when all acknowledged it was a big step behind by 2021. We will see how he goes on the 2022 bike compared to Fabio, the jury is out but he has definitely shown himself to be capable.

So, in my opinion, the only 'data' worth looking at with regards to the Yamaha bike in 2021 is Fabio's season. BMW M Award, Riders Champion. After Fabio's arm pump in Jerez dropped him to 13th, Peco had an advantage of 2 points over Fabio. Eight races later Peco was 70 points behind. That's not just one or two off races. Top trumps to one side for just a moment, he's winning on that bike. In performance terms, no reason to leave. Make noises, keep pushing the factory for more ? Absolutely, it's part of his job.

Anyway, no bets sorry and we shall see. Enough of this rambling, 1 month left.

 

^ Fair enough mate. You make lots of sense! If Quartarao goes to Ducati I am going to buy myself my first Red GP jersey. If he goes to Honda, I will buy me a Suzuki one I've wanted. If he stays, no new shirt for me. (I wear an old Tech 3 Yamaha jersey proudly btw!). 

Wishing I had an old Hayate Marco Melandri shirt just to be a rabble rouser for the underdogs. I don't think an HRC jersey will ever be here, even though a BUNCH of their bikes have been. I won't ever have a Duc to ride, but am starting to see them increasingly positively. Loving Yamaha has proven painful for me over the years, despite their 2021 Trophy, and I am experiencing resentment. They can be so very disappointing and frustrating for me. I WANT them to do well! People are funny. I admit it.

I always have to ask the question...and it's not an easy answer...what if Yamaha's line up history read like this...Doohan, Rossi, Lorenzo, Marquez ? Impossible to know.

2004 is the perfect example. 2003 Yamaha, 1 podium from Barros, top Yamaha in the points is Checa 7th and his top race finish was 4th. Every other Yamaha bar Checa looking like they are trying to collect all the finishing positions in a scrap book by season end. 2003, Yamaha, dogs dinner.

2004 Yamaha, 2 DNF, 9 wins, two 2nds and three 4ths, that's it. Oh, plus one 2nd place for Checa in France. Forget 2004 what about 2005 ! 11 wins, three 2nds, two 3rds and one DNF. Worst bike on the grid...?

Now we know, a certain Italian moved to Yamaha in 2004 but it works in many ways. Bad bikes have bad riders. Good bikes have good riders. However, sometimes the good rider on the bad bike is helpless  wallowing around the top ten and the bad rider on the good bike is a genius for getting paid to finish mid field.

Cloverleaf, howdy! Factual source, the entire amount being spent for riders salaries for MotoGP recently dropped 25%. Where I read it? Can't remember. You could Google it though. It was a January article. If I say something represented like a fact, it came from somewhere. I think at least, and am imperfect.

Cloverleaf won the 2021 tipping here. Fact!

I am going to beat you this season. Not a fact. Yet! ;)

I never doubt your voracity, my friend. Ever. That’s fact. I was looking for a primary source, that’s all. The issue caught my eye because I love a contract almost as much as I love my bike and the mere suggestion that anyone would come along and cut 25% off either would have me rearing up like two pieces of fried bread. 
We shall see about the 2022 rider championship, wont we? I like your team, a mixture of skill, youth and experience. The question in my mind is whether you’ve got enough horses. Are you Yamaha? ;) 
 

 

Warmest regards!

Found it elsewhere quoted. 2021 was 25% less than 2018. (A few expensive retirees cover a good bit?)

I know the having a giraffe reference! And a Captain Cook. And love BBQ, shrimp,...maybe I could enjoy your country.

"I don't care if I win, as long as I beat that damn Cloverleaf!" Which one of us is Rainey, and Schwantz?

Welcoming doubt of my ramblings. Skim lots of them, I wouldn't read all that crap.

;)

2022 has begun mate! 

It's really a shame that MM's contract wasn't set to expire at the end of this season. The "cheap thrills" would be plenty. How much cash can fit in a red wheelbarrow? 

I truly hope Yamaha steps up.  I’ve been a fan of their approach for years. Trusted them to have good concepts, value rider input and develop a balanced, all around good machine. 
 

But whatever the heck is happening with Ducati right now just leaves everyone else in the weeds.  Simply amazing commitment to improvement.  
 

Bring on the official tests and I am on the edge of my seat for 2022   It’s going to be a start of a new era, methinks   
 

 

 

Yamaha news! Big development, everything is JUST THE SAME as 2021 but they have added more black (blech)! 

Jarvis revealed that "last year the bottom of the lower was red. This made our bike more discernable as discretely slower than other bikes. So without the red, if Fabio stays, we should still do okay. Just not quite as okay as last year, but also, more black means less NOTICEABLY so. Okay? Have you seen Quartararo's knees and elbows though? Look there! Very fast."

Team Director Massimo Meregalli added "since 2011, when I came to lead the Team, we concentrated our development project near the Monza track. We recently invested MANY hams in a couple of tepid interviews and a trackday from Jorge Lorenzo. This gleaned for us appreciation of Cal Crutchlow as a hard and fast Test worker. We also discovered that the recent "glory period" we enjoyed was temporary. We are much more comfortable down in third again, as the last handful years in and out of a gutter of outwardly puzzling difficulty shows well."

As per Kouichi Tsuji, appointed President of Yamaha Motor Racing in 2018, "I am not the other person who had a name starting with Ts...you know that, right? Some people confuse me with the one who proudly removed himself from defeat. We had an EXCELLENT 2021 obviously since we won the title! Fabio Quartararo will never leave such a great factory. Do you know what Semakin Di Depan means in Japanese? Do same things, make crisp chassis, buy best rider, avoid wife by working, drink sake. It says it right on the bike. Fabio loves it, talks of Yakuza tattoo."

Wilco Zeelenberg added "I heard Suzuki may need someone to help set up a satellite team, but I hope for an interview with Ducati...I just want to look in their tail section and smell the gas tank, see the tire management simulation tools...I cannot die not knowing!"

The livery has been improved. The bike has, a bit, too.

There is black around the number plate. There is a nice more prominent black oval for 0.0 Beer. The lines have been greatly cleaned up where the lower meets the silver middle. Gone is the wiggly blue spasm. Importantly, gone is the "placeholder" pseudo sponsor of Ecstar. Motul is in the engine, and none of us have ever thought of buying an Ecstar product. It was the sponsor equivalent of an imaginary friend. No one ever sees Snufflufagus but Big Bird. About time you grew up and had a...non alcoholic beer? OK, still though. Looking good.

This is a very good and balanced representation that looks fabulous! Really!

There has been a difficult movement in recent years. How much do black liveries matter? Immensely for Aprilia. Wonderfully here for Suzuki. Our concern lay in the lazy convenient appropriation by several other teams on the grid. Not looking good smeared on the others. 

Lovely Suzuki! Well played. From the lowest of our manufacturers in and out of the class system all together, against all odds and established ceilings? You brought a conventional low tech small budget bike to the TOP. Best bike of 2019-2020 ish? Brilliant. Please keep Mir. Get a satellite squad going for 2024. Sign a kid like Acosta. Take another step. You are our only hope against the exorbitant tech of tomorrow, unless KTM can V4 another outside shot out of orbit. Yamaha and Honda have left the door open for you.

Uhm, pretty bike. Don't you think? Better lines, lovely! (Questionable taste of reference intentional above in support of nudging support for projects not in the position of power, not feeling comfy is mindful). 

Bloody miracle that Suzuki grabbed 2020! And that Ducati is here at the top. Sincerely cheering Aprilia and KTM. Enjoyed Honda losing stranglehold, and quite fine with Yamaha pissing theirs away too.

Bagnaia vs Marc commences. Hopes w Pecco, bet w Marc. Tricky teeter totter. Cheering Black and Orange to join. Expecting Blue losing Quarty and a stunned gutter period. Got my basic wishes after 2016, so this is all lovely gravy.