2021 Jerez MotoGP Test Deep Dive: What Makes Ducati The Big Winners At Jerez?

MotoGP got lucky at Jerez. Not perfectly lucky – strong winds made Turn 11 treacherous, and made it hard to assess some of the aerodynamics and chassis changes being tried. But for two days, the sun shone, and temperatures were high enough to ride for most of the day. November in Jerez can be hit and miss, but it was mostly hit, with little time lost to conditions.

With so much track time, it is instructive to note that very few riders actually went for a time attack. Most years, leaving the last test of the year with the fastest time, or at least, a very fast time, is a matter of pride, and of momentum. MotoGP riders want to go into next year having shown their rivals that they have something to worry about, to intimidate them going into the long winter break.

Not 2021, however. Riders were too busy actually testing new parts to waste time on braggadocio. That factories and teams were busy testing new parts suggests a number of things, and has a few possible explanations. Firstly, there has been a dearth of testing over the past two Covid-stricken years, with little winter testing between 2020 and 2021, and limited testing during the 2021 season.

Secondly, there have been development freezes: for 2020, aerodynamics updates were banned, factories had to start the 2021 season with their 2020 aero, with only one update allowed. Engine development was frozen for the 2021 season, meaning the factories and teams were racing with their 2020 engines, the only updates allowed being electronics. So the post-season test at Jerez was the second chance to try the new 2022 engine designs, after their initial run out at Misano in September.

End of the never-ending weekend

Thirdly, and a perhaps underappreciated factor, is the lack of a Valencia test. Previous Jerez tests have taken place after two days of desultory testing at Valencia, on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the final round of the year. This was the first year that the Valencia test has been scrapped, and though that test provided only limited value – a tight track, mentally exhausted riders and teams, cold conditions – it gave enough of a head start for the factories to have already filtered out a lot of data ahead of the Jerez test later in the month. This year, the factories effectively have to cram the equivalent of three days worth of testing into two days.

This is the grand bargain Dorna has made with the teams, much to the irritation of the factories. Teams don't get paid for testing, but they do get paid for racing, so they have agreed to Dorna expanding the calendar of races in exchange for less testing. Good for the teams – less cost, more income – and good for Dorna – more races means more money from TV rights, circuits, and sponsorship. But less time for the factories to test with the official MotoGP riders. (Hence also the money being invested in really, really fast test riders capable of holding their own on a MotoGP grid.)

All this means that there was quite a lot we could learn from the Jerez tests. Not necessarily from raw lap times – there are many unknowns, not least fuel loads, tire choice (unlike race weekends, tire usage is not publicly available), bike configuration etc. But from watching what the factories were testing, and trying to read in between the lines of what the riders told us, those who spoke to the media afterwards.

So here is a look at some of the winners and losers from the Jerez test. Who was testing what, who has the most to be happy about, who has the most to fear. Why Ducati will go home feeling confident, and why Fabio Quartararo will be trying not to think about 2022 until after the Sepang tests.

To read the remaining 3533 words of this article, you need to sign up to become a MotoMatters.com site supporter by taking out a subscription. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here. If you are already a subscriber, log in to read the full text.

This is part of a regular series of unique insights into the world of motorcycle racing, exclusive for MotoMatters.com site supporters. The series includes interviews, background information, in-depth analysis, and opinion, and is available to everyone supporting the site by taking out a subscription.

If you would like to read more of our exclusive content you can join the growing band of site supporters, by taking out a subscription here. If you prefer, you can also support us on our Patreon page and get access to the same exclusive material there.


Back to top


Yamaha are frustrating. They've had two years to produce a significantly stronger engine, and they haven't; if it wasn't at this test, I'd be surprised if it shows up in Sepang. I could be wrong, of course, but going off past experiences I would imagine that the attitude in the boardroom is "we just won the world championship, so therefore our bike doesn't need improving". Just look what happened to Suzuki this year.

I said it before in the test preview but a 10% bhp deficit is in their corporate aesthetic, you would think that at some stage they would bring a grenade engine out of embarrassment just to try but no, just slow bikes as it has always been.
It's waaaaaay too early to be making predictions but I doubt FQ becomes double champion next year.

True though isn't it ?

Joan Mir had a very similar season to 2020. A little worse because Peco and Fabio had better consistency and less DNFs than 2020. Out of 14 races in 2020 Peco missed 3 and finished 5, the other 6 DNF. Fabio had his excellent roller coaster. I don't think Suzuki have gone backwards relatively, they've made some small steps forward or glimpses of.

I hadn't heard Martin's comments on the new Ducati fairing. Certainly point a finger in the direction of the Ducati DNFs this year. Lets see what tyres arrive.

In addition  for fun.... Fabio's speed deficit.

The speed trap numbers at Jerez...Fabio had the same deficit -10kph in the race this year and without the arm pump would have probably walked it.

17th at -10kph, Qatar, win.

20th at -13kph, Portimao, win.

20th at -13kph, Mugello, win.

21st at -11kph, Assen, win.

13th at -9kph, Silverstone, win.

23rd at -9kph, Misano1, finished 2nd hot on the heels of Peco who strangely enough had a best top speed only 4kph faster than Fabio and 5kph slower than Mr Zarco.

20th at -14kph, USA, finished 2nd as good as win in MM land.

I don't think Yamaha lack motivation to produce a more powerful engine but i do think they look for it with the caveat of not killing the bike.


KTM has let Team Boss Leitner go! 

After a poor season, they poached Francesco Guidotti from Pramac to replace the most of his duties. They are also adding "technical boss" Fabiano Sterlacchini, formerly Gigi’s main help at Ducati, to share in leading the Team. 

Leitner was Austrian. He was key in bringing over some staff from HRC that he had worked with in Pedrosa's garage. And, Dani!

Huh. Interesting news.

but this is the way KTM/Pierer/Beirer run their operations, goals will be agreed in the beginning of year and if these goals are not met, "modern" management principles play to their drum and someone has to take the blame/responsibilty.

In hindsight i recall that Leitner wasn't covered anymore on austrian ServusTV since Spielberg II ( aka Binders balls !!!).

I personally think Leitner was an excellent crewchief in HRC - i remember one Honda top brass saying, ... as long as Leitner was onboard, Dani was the benchmark rider for the RC213's development.

I think it's a good move to split company management and technical lead into two roles, but it will be really interesting to see how Ducati-leaning brainpower will fit to a steely orange HRC clone.

Suppose we'll never know .

nb didn't HRC poach a data tech from KTM earlier this year ? 

Everybody does it , quickest way to get faster , once you are faster it doesn't work so well of course .

Pirro and Guintoli were out yesterday testing on Jerez. A few other manufacturers haven't looked so busy with new stuff to sort. 

Not a good time to be on your back foot. Nor fail to make a significant engine step. They aren't!


Just watched a video of the Ecstar team test. Joan Mir & Alex Rins reckon the new for 22 engine is good. "Works quite good" AR42. Ken Kawauchi said it's an evolution of the engine tested earlier in the year. Good news, although Jerez isn't exactly a horespower track, we will see.

Video reveals Suzuki still using an aluminium swingarm. I thought carbon fibre was the most fashionable material these days.

Riders champion in 2020, second in 2021, probably not 1st or 2nd in 2022. Good luck to them. Rins will need some luck. MM93 will be back near the top. And some Ducs. Honda & KTM will be better. Quartararo will be improved, maybe not the step he made between 2020 & 21 but he keeps working on himself. Yamaha's biggest asset.

Pirro playing on the Didgeridoo edition Ducati will make delightful music. The "didge" may help Aussie Jack feel more at home. Motoshrink I still think Miller can improve his riding & results. 

Riders champion 2020 ? Mir ? Finished 3rd this year 44 points off Peco in 2nd. I hate points averages but 2020 -> 12.2 and 2021 -> 11.6 same same but different. The difference is an extra DNF in 2020 and other riders being more consistent in 2021. Mir is...'always there'...but he cannot go and take the title with the Suzuki. He can only be 'always there' and take advantage of others problems. If they can give him a better bike...difficult to beat him over a season me thinks.

You're right WaveyD1974. My mistake, brain fade. Mir was third in the championship. I knew Pecco finished 2nd in the chip.

I realized shortly after, have been busy. There was a break in the la Niña rain! So I went riding.

Still think the Suzuki is a good bike and Mir is a good racer.

^ Apical, agreed that Miller can keep developing. And, he is amidst a SWARM of great rising talent. Bagnaia just solidly overtook. Martin looks to have a bit more,, and settling in perhaps with some consistency? His style shows the "next" Red riding Pecco does. And Bastiannini is on song, putting the 2019 way ahead of where it should be, look out on the newer bike. Plus look who is coming. Very tough days to be trying to keep a Factory Ducati seat. I think Jack is at his peak. Will praise him if wrong. 

Its look ominous for this paddock if you ask me! Those Ducati's look seriously strong, and if they can turn and increase their power, I am not sure which factory will come in close. With so many Dukes filling the grid, will might see more results like Valencia in 2022! 

Right? Or the Duc 999 in WSBK? The Honda V5 starting 4 strokes too maybe.

Think you have a 2022 Top 5 and Rookie Emlupi? Reddish? Stick it here and I will add it if you'd like...

I was actually being somewhat facetious with that question . With the MotoGP technical rules being what they are, I think it would be extremely difficult to recreate the kind of utter domination displayed by Honda in 1997. 
To put it in perspective, of the 45 available podium places Honda captured 39, Yamaha 5, and Aprilia snagged one with Doriano Romboni in Assen. Obviously a much different time in the history of grand prix racing.

As for a Top 5 prediction, I am no good at this but how about                                                           
1. Bagnaia.                                                           
2. Marquez.                                                         
3. Quartararo.                                                      
4. Mir.                                                                 
5. Martin.                                                            
Top rookie Diggia