MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Can Honda be Ducati’s biggest threat in 2022?
Honda’s 2022 RC213V is the factory’s biggest MotoGP redesign in 16 years – so what’s the focus of the new bike and what does HRC technical director Takeo Yokoyama think it can achieve?
If Ducati’s Desmosedici is favourite to win the 2022 MotoGP title, who or what might stop it?
The last two MotoGP championships have been won by inline-fours – Suzuki’s GSX-RR in 2020 and Yamaha’s YZR-M1 last year. Why? Because both factories built good bikes, but also because Honda’s six-time MotoGP king Marc Márquez was out of the game and because Michelin’s new-for-2020 rear slick suited inline-fours better than V4s.
This grippier rear tyre features a softer construction, so it works more naturally with the inline-fours, which use smoother cornering lines while the V4s – especially the Ducati and Honda – deformed the tyre too much with their more aggressive stop-and-go lines.
That’s why 2020 was Ducati’s worst season since 2016, with just two race wins. But by the end of 2020 Ducati engineers were on top of the problem and had signed several new riders who could get the best out of the tyre. That’s why Ducati was so good in 2021, winning seven races.
Honda, meanwhile, continued to struggle with the new rear tyre, because when you lose your number-one rider, how do you maintain the same development direction? You don’t, which is why last year Márquez often used his 2019 RC213V instead of the 2021 bike, which was engineered via input from Honda’s other riders.
“When you miss rear grip you miss braking, turning and acceleration, so you miss everywhere,” affirmed Márquez last summer. “We need something more, we need maybe one tenth per lap and we need to be able to be fast at every circuit.”
Honda’s struggles convinced HRC to undertake its biggest MotoGP redesign since the RC212V V4 replaced the RC211V V5 in 2007. The 2022 prototype looks nothing like earlier RC213V machines, which were closely related to the 800cc RC212V.
This redesign was probably overdue, but when you’re dominating MotoGP – with championship wins in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 – why would you change everything, even if you’re relying on one rider to make magic on your motorcycle?
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.