The two factories which saw the biggest changes at the Misano test were KTM and Honda. Honda were at a disadvantage here: they had Marc Marquez back, which obviously brought with it a lot of attention; they had a widely publicized and visually conspicuous new aluminum swingarm from Kalex; and Marc Marquez was trying new aero. It was hard for HRC to hide what they were doing. Or some of it, at least.
KTM were flying under the radar a little, but they were also bringing some major updates. The bike Dani Pedrosa was testing had some major changes to it, though you had to look carefully to see them exactly. The fact that their riders spoke mostly about the work for this year, and avoided talking about the 2023 bike meant we really did learn very little about the bike.
But let's start with KTM. Brad Binder offered a good explanation of KTM's method of working compared with last year. "I think we needed to start at a point at the beginning of the season, so we locked in the chassis, we locked in the aero, we locked in a whole lot of things, and said, OK, that's our base, now, how do we make this better?"
This was a reversal of the approach of previous years, after riders and crew chiefs complained they simply had too much to test on race weekends, and no time to work on race setup. "Last year we were changing everything every week, and we didn't actually know sometimes if we'd made a step forward or a step back," Binder said.
The new approach is to only bring things which the factory were convinced are a step forward, part of the validation work done by Dani Pedrosa. "Now it's very clear to me that everything that they bring is to touch one of our issues. They're here for a purpose, not like shooting in the dark," Binder explained. "So it's clear that when you put things on the bike, often things aren't positive, but it gives you a clear direction of, OK, this is better, that's better, that can be better when you put them together, and we check them like that."
On Tuesday, Binder had worked on issues for the remaining six races of 2022. "We had specific things we wanted to work on, one being stopping the bike on corner entry," the South African explained "We've always had an issue, especially lately, we've been struggling with the rear pushing the front tire. So we managed to improve that slightly today. And for tomorrow we have a bigger step."
It was mainly a lot of small changes, Binder explained. "Other than that, we tried some front forks, didn't really work too well. We tried a few things. Played especially with the clutch and the engine brake, to be honest, to try and help us with corner entry. We managed to find something that helped us to turn in a little bit better as well, so the combination gave us a small step. That's about it. To be honest, we tried no really huge things, but the small things that we did try made a difference. So tomorrow is the day where we can maybe see some different things out there."
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