Jerez MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Two Champions Emerge, The Trouble With Front Tyres, And Marc Marquez Is Back Again.

We have spent a lot of time saying that the 2022 MotoGP season starts at Jerez, and it really felt like it on Sunday. Driving into the track on Sunday morning I was surrounded by motorcycles – if you get a chance to go to a MotoGP race on a bike, you should, it is a wonderful experience – all of whom I did my very best not to run into, whatever their antics. The grandstands were full and attendance was nearly back to pre-pandemic levels – over 58,000 on Sunday, about 10,000 shy of a normal Jerez Sunday, or at least, the 'unskewed' numbers which suddenly appeared at the 2016 race, down from double that the previous years.

More importantly, normal order has been restored. There were two riders head and shoulders above the rest, finishing 10 seconds ahead of the battle for third. Marc Marquez showed a lot of his old form, the Repsol Honda rider looking like Marc Marquez on a bike again, not an impostor who sneaked into his truck and stole his leathers for a glorified track day. And all six MotoGP manufacturers are racing under the same rules again, after the last factory lost its concessions. This was a good weekend of racing.

In these notes:

  • MotoGP's strongest factory
  • Pecco vs Fabio, 2021 continued
  • Aprilia is now for real
  • the trouble with tire temperatures
  • the real effect of wings
  • Marc Marquez turns up

First, though, the one thing which emerged from Jerez was the fact that there are now two clear candidates for the 2022 MotoGP title. Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo were a cut above the rest of the pack, the pair getting away at the start and quickly opening a gap once the freshest edge was off the tires. Three laps into the race, and Jack Miller was still within touching distance of Fabio Quartararo, and running just a tenth slower than Bagnaia and Quartararo. A lap later and the gap was up to a second, and another lap, and the leaders were into the 1'37s while Miller's time was dropping from the low 1'38s and heading toward mid 1'38s.

Making the difference

Where Bagnaia and Quartararo made the difference was after those first five laps, when the tires take their first slight drop in performance on a hot, greasy track slick with Dunlop rubber laid down by the Moto2 race. The pace of the two leaders was relentless, where Miller, Marc Marquez, and Aleix Espargaro started to drop away.

It is also a sign that the two have a step over the rest of the field, and are emerging as the two championship candidates. That ability, to impose a relentless pace on a race and force others to follow or be dropped, is the difference between fighting for a title and occasionally being in a podium fight.

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More crashing than passing today. At the start someone’s black wing was flying around - whose? Did that affect their race? Second turn Remy Gardner and Alex Marquez collided breaking his wing off. His bike pulled one way, had head shake, and wheelied more with an angle to it. Poor kid. 

The Aleix/Marc/Miller fight was lovely. Well, the only one on TV today really, but great stuff regardless. Aleix pulling away with a gap on the Aprilia? Gorgeous. Mir was right there, reeling them in. Did anyone else think that he might well take advantage of them slowing each other up and be in that mix? I did! I will readily admit it, I am a fan of Mir and Bastiannini. It colors my mind slightly. So does my frustration with Yamaha over the years. Same for anger towards Honda for various transgressions. So is it just me that sees Mir passing Miller and mixing it up with The Marc today? To his credit, Mir is doing his thing stacking up decent points. Worked in 2020.

At the start Marc did a right shoulder test pushing Aleix aside while on the gas. Asparagus was drifting left towards the race line, Marc was having none of it. Contact pass on Taka. Then the "went wide, lost front, big save on the left knee in close battle" moment? He held his position sandwiched between them. Marc was really aggressive and deserves credit. He isn't making any friends lately, but is impressive.

Aleix's helmet is a size too big, which isn't so safe. We have head shapes for helmets, round and oval. Then there is Aleix's long oval plus teeth? Visibly far too loose! Who lets you go so big? The helmet rep must have tried to talk sense into you.

Apology that it sounds rude, but it was an odd feeling to see Biaggi with Aleix before race in the box. It reminds me of disliking him, preferring he not be here. Similarly I felt nothing re Lorenzo being inducted to Champions, sort of like taking out recycling. Just plop it in that bin and keep moving along. Amazing rider? Yes. And I dislike seeing his face. Red X? Yes, my feelings exactly. I care not where Lorenzo Land is, nor wish to visit on holiday. Contrast our current top riders, what a good bunch of kids coming up. Fairly brutal but clean on track, thoughtful warmth off of it. 

Martin fell off. Two crap sandwiches with a side of gravel on the trot. What the heck? Rins went out exploring the gravel traps too. I expected that today. 

The camera shot just missed Marc's save for the TV feed. Matt B simply commented that he "goes wide" there. Understatement eh? Damn, he crashed and dragged it back on the precipice just like the good old days. For him and this bike now 4th place is a win.

Bagnaia is back. Simon Patterson I think asked another great question in the presser, "Pecco what is the strength of the 2022 bike and what did you change in your riding to take advantage of it?" Pecco said that, like last year, he is working to increase corner entry speed to carry through and carve. They made another step away from the big late Dovi braking stable bike and V shaped turn lines. Today on tight twisty Jerez he the Duke out noodled Blue Quarty. Brilliant! 
High track temp Sunday. Lots of talk of tires, front pressure in traffic. We also have bike balance considerations re front tire construction stiffness to think about. Everyone went Hard F Med R. But Honda and KTM didn't thrive. Red has really been outstanding in development congruent with the tires. Perhaps if it was cooler and a step softer could work Suzuki would have excelled today? 

Nakagami 7th, Bezzecchi 9th are both fantastic. I sorely missed seeing Lavender and Pink #23 on the TV. Decent points, stayed on it in a crashy race, but not quite where I want to see The Beast. What Red brass are thinking now is hard to know. It is sounding like they are going with Martin to a Factory seat. Perhaps just because it is his turn and he shows potential? But isn't it BASTIANNINI showing the actual business? And what of this Bezzecchi kid? Surely he gets snapped up by the Italian marque? Or the collaboration with Yellow becomes more official and he stays there? Odd new dynamic. 

Speaking of yellow, anyone else notice who grabbed a new fan flag/swag color recently? #12 Vinales swooped in and jumped on the Vale color, with grey print on it. Hmm. And a special Top Gun helmet, that was never seen anywhere because he finished well off behind the mid pack. Better get cracking Maverick.

Dovi languished again with a 6 second gap behind Marini with DiGi and slow rookies/Test pace. Not a good look. Dovi quitting mid season rumors may hold water? Level headed hard worker, but he may decide it is his time. He rode the older Ducati so well and so long that turning himself upside down and going Lorenzo (too soon to start saying Quartararo?) isn't within adaptation reach. The bikes are opposites. We aren't going to see lots of riders making the swap amongst V4's and Inlines after lots of successful years on the other. Right WaveyD and Fabio?

Darren Binder, is he going to just be a non-starter came and went on the big bikes? It was a huge stretch for him to be here at all. The market for seats is SO competitive this era. Like Savadori last year, being a backmarker is a glaring nail to hammer.

Post-Aqua may have lost big funding, but there is interest in having the 2nd Yamaha team successful. Losing Fabio, getting stuck with sunset Vale, losing Morbidelli, losing Petronas money, losing ground to competitors' bikes...losing. So difficult for the Malaysian program! They NEED a rider and the improved next bike. For now, Herve finds himself in a similar situation. But there is and always has been quite a difference between how Blue and Orange do their 2nd team. Tech3 is not a customer, they are Orange. An integrated program brings strengths to Herve that Razali lacks. The Michelins went away from the KTM and towards the Yamaha or this situation would look worse. Concerned for RNF, tough to watch.

Bagnaia revealed that he has been in a very dark time until the previous Round. He nearly publicly apologized to those close to him. Happy now though! And fast. Welcome back.

When you look at the riders that were complaining the most about Marc following them in FP, they're also the ones complaining the most about being caught in dirty air and cooking the front tyre. Marc's insistence on data collection while running in traffic (and getting a free tow to boot!) paid dividends, and he didn't complain about dirty air at all post-race even though he sat up Jackass's clacker all race. The screeching about his tactics and lack of pace certainly went quiet didn't it!

His out-foxing Asparagus at T1 got the race off to a cracking start and was a thing of beauty - especially with the politics between them. What I don't see much mention of (apart from Shrink above) is that not only did Marc pick up that save on his elbow and knee, but he immediately cracked the throttle open and held his position in front of Jack. Insanity -

He saved his best for last though. His pass on Jack to seal the deal was utterly breath taking and then he just laid rubber and drifted the rear around on his way around to squaring it off. I could watch this all day long and never tire of it -

Those three moments are all the evidence you need of him being BACK physically and mentally. If they get the bike sorted and we get more of this throughout the season.. we are in for a real treat.

on Jack WAS awesome. One can even see the black line he leaves while drifting the bike around the bend!!

For me though the most interesting thing to watch was the lines Quarty and Peco took and how they differed. Particularily the first few laps when they were close together. Quarty much moer round and curvy, Pecco not excatly a V but still way more pointy. It illustrated taht line choice dilemma beautifully.

It was very reminiscent of the prior and new era of Formula1 - following car/bike intentionally turns late staying wide, and then crossing the line of the vehicle ahead, all in the hopes of keeping 'clean' air on the front wing/tyre. Fortunate perhaps that the Yamaha is able to ride like that, but just like so frequently in F1, passing clearly wasn't on the cards.

but does not have the proven mental fortitude required to not make mistakes and amass the highest number of points available to him - see his crashes from last year in Mugello and Misano. I hope that he and Fabio can go all the way to the end of the season


I'd be a little bit cautious on the subject of Peco being back, Ducati being sorted etc. Definitely didn't expect that performance at Jerez but one swallow doesn't make a summer. Eighth in Portimao, 2 x 5th, a 15th and 1 x DNF. Marc Marquez is having a bad start to his season yes ? Missed two races ? He's only 12 points behind Peco. Le Mans should be good for Ducati but then a run of tracks that last year produced a slump in results. Mugello, ok he crashed out, should be better this year but I think if he can have a good result in Catalunya then hmmm watch out.

Knowing me though, after Catalunya it will be...'if he can have a good result in Germany then...yeah gotta watch out for this new Finnish track and Phillip Island hmm then possibly maybe'

About speculation regarding Pecco’s ‘mental fortitude’. Really? 2nd in the championship last year and clearly a competitor this year. I’ll say it, bad start there may have been, but this is a long season and Bagnia is clearly a very classy rider. He didn’t lack mental fortitude when he beat MM last year after a close final lap battle. 

PB is still a favourite for the title.

You're right of course, it's Pecco. Pecco and Ducati are back to being the best rider, team and motorcycle combination. Not even the genius of Fabio can catch him. Contrary to those whose dislike of Ducati and by extension Pecco is only equalled by their antipathy towards aero and ride height developments, who appear unaware that riders have been winning from the front of the grid and tyre temperature has been a factor in racing  since the year dot - yes, before aero and ride height - the solution, of course, being for the rider, manufacturer and team to adapt and respond.  Finally - and this goes well beyond the point you make, and consequently I must take sole responsibility for it -  I'm saddened to see this, the community that is the traditional home of the most  balanced and fair minded reports and comments, becoming increasingly focussed on the activities of one rider,  a man of considerable talent but whose best is in the past. I hope he does and stays well, but at a time when there is so much talent and wonderful racing elsewhere, isn't it time to give it a rest? 

Oh what a difference a day makes.

It has got nothing to do with hating Ducati or hating aero because of hatred for Ducati or hating Peco because of hating Ducati. Peco had the perfect weekend and as far as Peco is concerned Ducati had the perfect weekend too. Pole, fastest lap and the win. One race and yet, "best rider, team and motorcycle combination. Not even the genius of Fabio can catch him". So far, one race only. I hope he has a lot more, good on him, I like Peco.

Think of Gardener's experience. That was a wing gone, complete, kaput, zero. Having the other wing still on the bike seemed to have made the issue worse in some ways, strange bike. However, as he said, the amount of force these wings create is bonkers. I'm sure, if you removed the wings from the bike, adapted and responded with changes to the software etc it would be fine...slower but ok. The problem was that it happened in the race and the desired changes could no be implemented. When you have all your wings but they aren't working as well as they should because of the turbulent air coming off the bike ahead, also hard to respond. The more the aero gets refined, iteration after iteration, the more efficient it will get, the more sensitive it will become.

Simon mentioned that Marquez was saving his edge grip. Looks like it was for that pass on Jack. The ortho tape on Pecco's shoulder reminded me of the hash tag symbol in #GOFREE. And I must agree, Marquez never complains about front tire overheating, yet he can spend an entire race stuffed up a leading bikes butt.. Odd, no?

Marc has commented consistently over the years that wings make overtaking more difficult. Maybe his front doesn't feel much as it's numb to the abuse. must not be easy being one of MM's bikes. On the one hand, there is no better rider. On the other...they only give airbag suits to the rider.

...will be stiffer/harder. Therefore under braking more stable?

MM has always liked using a hard front for his particular style...

You'll notice that Marquez does not stay directly behind Miller for the entire lap. On the front straight, before getting on the brakes he moves into clean air for a moment or two. It doesn't seem to be much but a 290km/h breeze will remove a lot of heat

Is RF25 struggling in this class or is this a prolonged hissy fit?  Reports from the weekend seem to suggest that he didn't push himself to pass medicals and that he was sent out around the track to watch other riders in order to learn from their technique but I got the feeling that it wasn't his own idea.  However, I am often wrong which is why I value the considered input from you all.

"OK Raul, if you can't do 10 push-ups, you can't ride your KTM this weekend."

"But it hurts, and I don't like it Dr."

"Your butt hurts? You haven't even done a pushup!"

"No, I meant the bike. Zarco did this and got a Ducati."

Well did I just read that Suzuki are quitting at the end of this year ? Mir to Honda ? Did I miss something in the week ?

Yep, just read that too! Crazy news. What a shame. I'll miss those beautiful blue-silver bikes and their glorious overtaking lines...

Mir to Honda seems like a potentially career-ending move, if the previous five or ten years are anything to go by. 

Is there anything in the rules to say they couldn't use the type of bleed valve used by, I think, dirt track oval cars to prevent the upward-spiraling pressure issue? I suppose if you bled off some air while spending ten laps behind someone, then passed and cooled the front considerably you could wind up under-pressure, but I wonder how much variation there is?

Ducati are amazing and they make beautiful bikes. Gigi does some really, really cool technical work. I like Bagnaia and am happy for him, but I find that after their dealings with Dovi, Petrucci, and it sounds like Miller, it casts a little bit of a pall over Ducati successes for me.

Good work as usual.  Just one correction: 7 engines for the season, not 6.  Shouldn't be too hard for Aprilia to adjust from 9 to 7 given that they have 15 races and a few tests to figure it out. 

Aprilia will have to homologate their engine design starting in 2023. They will only have one engine spec for the entire season, which will take away their ability to develop or specialize for various circuits. 

The requirement to homologate will make things drastically different for Aprilia, if they are actually exploiting their current concessions to the fullest. 

Now, I'm no tire technician, nor an engineer, but to my simple mind, wouldn't using NITROGEN in the tires help mitigate (at least) the tire pressure increases that come from increased tire temperature when following one of more riders? From my understanding, Nitrogen pressure is unaffected by changes in temperature. So forgive me for asking, but would that not help this problem that MotoGP is having?

I don't know if they use nitrogen or not in Moto GP, but here's a quote from the General Tire website ... "Also, nitrogen is used in professional auto racing where extreme vehicle speeds are involved. Dry nitrogen is used in this regard to help reduce tire pressure variations where the smallest differences in pressures can have a negative effect on race vehicle handling at the extreme limits of performance."

It's a gas, the pressure goes up with temperature as the molecules vibrate more. I think they already use nitrogen. It suffers less thermal expansion but I think that's because it comes dry. Other than that no big change...after all bog standard air is 78% nitrogen anyway.

Does anyone know how far behind a leading rider you have to be to avoid front tyre overheating? (assuming running similar lines)

"Extended 12 mins Highlights" is a great repeated rewatch.

Aleix and Marc are hammer and tongs from the lights going out. Is there anyone that isn't sympathetic with Aleix? I can feel him. Great coverage of this battle here.

Again, the most striking moment for me all race? Marc shooting his bike onto a good exit drive to stay ahead of Miller right off of recovering a crash on his knee. Can't watch it enough times.

Look closely at the Zarco crash while trying to keep up with (grabber of his seat?) Bezzecchi. He plops a fall off the bike when it skates. Quite a contrast to Marc's instincts. Noticing Miller's form relative to Pecco (and Martin when he is on the bike)...Jack's butt is out old school style. Not quite Doohan crossed up, but not the new dynamic elbow dragging form. 

Time for me to move on more loosely from losing Suzuki. The rewatching helps....(forgive the crass reference) hugging Bob and his bitch tits. In lieu of a support group, shall we just do a Fight Club? Marquez seems to be suggesting we do so on track. That sounds a bit much. How about just in the Paddock? Armor up your pit scooters like Mad Max and keep your race gear on. When they resume filming MotoGP Popularized there could be quite a show.

The best aspect of Marquez's corner exit drive after taking Miller was the complete absence of other tyre marking out there allowing his new big black arc to stand out so clearly.