Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP tech: how has Suzuki found all that extra top speed?

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.


MotoGP tech: how has Suzuki found all that extra top speed?

Suzuki’s 2022 GSX-RR is much quicker than its 2021 bike, so what’s the secret: more horsepower or less drag?

MotoGP is full of surprises. Even the riders hardly know what’s going on, because lap times are so tight that a two tenths difference can have them spraying prosecco one Sunday, then sobbing quietly on the toilet inside their luxury motorhome the next.

But the biggest surprise of 2022 is the new-found straight-line speed of Suzuki’s GSX-RR.

Inline-four MotoGP bikes – the Suzuki and Yamaha – tend to make less horsepower than the V4s – the Aprilia, Ducati, Honda and KTM – but this year the Suzuki has found so much speed that it can challenge and even beat the V4s on super-fast straights.

Suzuki won the top-speed race at the season-opening Qatar GP, where Joan Mir’s GSX-RR reached 220.4mph/354.8kmh on Losail’s long, downhill start/finish, beating the quickest Ducati, Johann Zarco’s GP22, which did 218.6mph/351.9kmh. No one could even remember the last time a Suzuki did that.

Last Sunday the Suzuki wasn’t quicker than the Ducati down COTA’s huge back straight but it was damn close. In the 2021 COTA race the fastest Desmosedici reached 218.2mph/351.4kmh, a significant 6.3mph/10.1kmh more than the GSX-RR, too much to even catch a slipstream. Last weekend Suzuki closed that gap to just 2.5mph/4.1kmh, which allowed runner-up Álex Rins and fourth-placed Mir to hassle and beat most of the Ducatis.

In many ways the COTA improvement was more impressive than the Losail improvement, because MotoGP bikes accelerate onto COTA’s back straight in first gear, whereas Losail’s final corner is much faster.

This kind of increase in straight-line performance – acceleration and top speed – makes a huge difference, because riders have the chance to draft faster bikes, attack on the brakes, abuse their tyres less and use strategies that were previously impossible.

So how has Suzuki achieved this transformation?

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

If you are stuck b/c paywall, basically he says it got a little bit more power from the motor, he is guessing some is via decreased friction. That most of it came via aero changes. More is there, but that is the gist.

Does Suzuki utilize their mechanically operated variable valve timing system on their MotoGP bike?  Not being electric or hydraulically operated, is their system legal?  Potentially a significant acceleration advantage  via a broader torque curve.