Mandalika, Indonesia

2022 MotoGP Testing Review: Suzuki – The Quiet Threat

The Yamaha M1 and the Suzuki GSX-RR have a lot in common. Both are inline four cylinder machines, and both rely more on corner speed and maneuverability than outright speed. And the riders of both machines have complained about a lack of speed at great length.

So great was Joan Mir's frustration with the Suzuki's lack of power in 2021 that he made a veiled threat to seek solace elsewhere. "A lot of people finish their contracts in 2022 and we are hoping to renew, or to take a different decision," the 2020 world champion said before the test at Sepang. "Honestly, the test will be important for me. It will be important to understand everything. As a Suzuki rider now, I feel great here, I feel like I am at home, but it's true that a change is something that in some moments can be good, also. But at the moment, I cannot speak more about it, because there is nothing decided. But let's see."

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2022 MotoGP Testing Review: Yamaha – Already Hitting The Limit Of Its Potential?

In 2021, the Yamaha M1 as the fastest motorcycle around a grand prix race track. The evidence for that is clear: 2021 MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo. Quartararo had five race victories, more than anyone else, and five race fastest laps. He also had five pole positions, one less than Pecco Bagnaia.

So the bike was good, despite the chaos elsewhere making it look otherwise. Quartararo was the only constant in 2021. Valentino Rossi never managed to get his head around the new construction rear Michelins, and despite his protestations, was never the same after he returned from his bout with Covid-19. Maverick Viñales won a race, got another podium and a pole, but also finished last, tried to sabotage his engine, and left Yamaha after Austria.

Franco Morbidelli snapped a knee ligament riding a flat track bike, missed much of the season, and was still not fully fit when he returned. And the Petronas team saw a veritable parade of characters taking Morbidelli's place, culminating with Andrea Dovizioso, who is still struggling to adapt to the Yamaha, and to the Michelin rear tire he has never liked.

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2022 MotoGP Testing Review: Ducati - Are They Really The Threat We Think They Are?

Leaving the Sepang MotoGP test, all eyes were on Ducati. In part, perhaps, because they had brought yet another technical innovation which is set to upset rival manufacturers, and captured the imagination of fans and media. We were all talking about Ducati's front ride-height device.

That enthusiasm was supported by the fact that there were two Ducatis in the top three after Sepang, and three Ducatis in the top six. Take away the Aprilias (who had had the benefit of extra days riding and testing during the shakedown test), and there were three Ducatis in the top four. Things were looking ominous.

Heading into the Mandalika test, we were expecting that Ducati dominance to continue. Luca Marini setting the fastest time on the second day on the Mooney VR46 Desmosedici GP22 reinforced that idea. And yet by the end of the three-day test, the idea that 2022 would be the year of the Ducati was far less obvious than it had been a week prior.

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Mandalika MotoGP Testing Round - How Honda's Radical Redesign Reshapes 2022

What did we learn from the Mandalika test? First of all, we learned that building a circuit is hard, and every aspect of it needs to be carefully monitored. Because using the wrong stones in the aggregate for the asphalt can mean you have to resurface the track just a few weeks before the race is due to be held.

Despite the state of the asphalt, once the track cleaned up – something the riders had to be bullied into to doing, even though it was for their own good – the riders put in a lot of laps, the reward for effort going to Takaaki Nakagami, who racked up a grand total of 91 laps on the final day, or over 390km. Spend 390km on a motorcycle at road legal(ish) speeds, and you'll know about it. Spend the same distance on a MotoGP bike, pushing at the effort and intensity levels required for testing to be useful, and you enter a very different level of pain and discomfort. As made plain by LCR Honda team boss Lucio Cecchinello's photo of Nakagami's blistered hands on Instagram.

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Mandalika Circuit To Be Partially Resurfaced Ahead Of MotoGP Race

The MotoGP paddock were extremely enthusiastic about their return to Indonesia. The series had long wanted to return to a country which is at the heart of the MotoGP fanbase in Southeast Asia. Once at Mandalika, the teams and riders loved the setting and the scenery, and were very positive about the layout of the track. It was fast, and it was fun.

They were less happy about the surface of the track. It was filthy on arrival, with mud and dust all over the track, and the riders were forced to make laps on the first day of the test to clean it up, creating a single racing line. Once clean, the track had plenty of grip.

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Mandalika MotoGP Test Sunday Times: Espargaro Puts Honda On Top As Test Ends

Pol Espargaro has ended the Mandalika test on top of the timesheets, the first time a Honda has topped the timesheets since Marc Marquez went fastest at the Jerez test which preceded the kickoff of the 2020 season. Espargaro came up just short of the 1'30s, recording a fastest time of 1'31.060 at the start of the day.

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Mandalika MotoGP Test Saturday Round Up: Real Work Starts And The Cream Rises To The Top

You could tell testing was underway in earnest at Mandalika on Saturday by the fact that for most of the day, Brad Binder's name was stuck at the top of the timesheets. The time Binder set was already well under Pol Espargaro's best time from Friday, hitting a 1'31.814 on his third exit from the pits. But nobody followed suit until the final hour or so of the test, with Luca Marini eventually ending up fastest with a lap of 1'31.289. The teams and riders were too busy with the hard graft of testing, optimizing parts and refining setup, figuring out the best base with which to launch their assault on the 2022 MotoGP championship at Qatar in three weeks' time.

A day of riding had made a huge difference to the track surface, with a clean line with high grip appearing. Off line, the track was still filthy, and quite dangerous – Raul Fernandez took a very big tumble and was wandering round on Saturday afternoon with bruises on his face from the impact, and one of Marc Marquez' practice starts ended in a massive fishtail with a lot of sideways motion and not much forward momentum.

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Mandalika MotoGP Test Saturday Times: Marini Fastest As Work Starts In Earnest

Luca Marini has taken top spot on the second day of the Mandalika test. The Mooney VR46 rider shot to the top of the standings in the final half hour of the test, as the riders switched from testing mode to chasing a fast time. Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez took second spot, two tenths behind Marini, and a fraction ahead of Maverick Viñales, the Aprilia continuing to go well.

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Mandalika MotoGP Test Friday Round Up: Sweeping The Circuit To Start

It was a good day for attention-grabbing headlines at Mandalika. Pol Espargaro ended the day with a scorching lap which took him under the WorldSBK Superpole by four tenths of a second. There were six different manufacturers in the top six. The lead on the first day changed hands time after time in the last couple of hours.

But the headlines don't really mean very much. Times were dropping because the track started off filthy and only really started to clean up in the last hour or so of the day. This is the first outing at Mandalika for MotoGP, so the teams and factories have very little data to go on, with teams working on such basics as figuring out the best gearing for the track.

The track was incredibly dirty, because it is still in the middle of a building site and has not been used since WorldSBK left the circuit back in November of last year. There has been plenty of building work done, the pit complex is much closer to completion than November, but the combination of building work and torrential tropical rains left a lot of dirt and mud on the track.

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