Fabio Quartararo ended the Monday test at Barcelona as fastest, with a time that was nearly three quarters of a second faster than his fastest lap on Sunday. Pecco Bagnaia ended the day in second, just four thousandths off the time of Quartararo, while Johann Zarco was third fastest, and Aleix Espargaro was fourth fastest.
Not too much should be read into the times. Track conditions on a Monday after a race are always much better than on race day, with nobody having removed the Michelin rubber laid down during the race. In Barcelona, where the track has very low grip, the additional grip was almost welcome, making the track feel almost like a normal circuit. The downside of course is that it makes comparisons with the data and feeling of Sunday difficult, though the data itself is still valuable.
With 11 races left in the MotoGP season, this was the test used to evaluate aero for the remainder of 2022. Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, and Suzuki had all brought aero updates, while Yamaha and KTM went back to retest the two options they have already used this year. For Fabio Quartararo, it was a chance to try the new low downforce aero he had debuted at Mugello, but the test merely reconfirmed his decision to ditch the new aero for the race in Italy. They lost too much to wheelie in acceleration than they gained on the straight on top speed.
Similarly, the KTM riders stuck with their aero update already used this year, which consisted of removing the side pods to reduce the resistance to turning.
Aprilia brought the biggest update, a new fairing with a wider bottom half and a longitudinal ridge. Though the Aprilia riders did not speak after the test, we can assume that the new fairing is to help produce ground force in the corner and perhaps function like side pods, perhaps pre-empting any attempt at restricting aero add-ons.
Aleix Espargaro also tried the tail wing and aerofoil-style tail section Lorenzo Savadori tested at Mugello.
Suzuki also brought a new fairing, which Joan Mir tested alone, Alex Rins ruled out due to a fractured wrist. Mir was positive, and told us it helped reduce wheelie, and that on the basis of his feeling in the test, he would be keen to have it for the Sachsenring, where wheelie is a big problem.
Ducati brought a revised version of the 2022 fairing, already being used by the factory and Pramac riders. The fairing is slightly larger than GP22 version, providing a fraction more protection while still making the bike easy to turn, and even helping with top speed.
Enea Bastianini also tried the new fairing, and was keen to use it on his GP21. He felt it would work well at tracks with fast changes of direction, saying that it would be well-suited to a track like Silverstone. He had no idea whether he would get the fairing after the summer or not, however.
Honda also had a new aero package, a lower downforce package which Pol Espargaro tested. That helped with the wind, Espargaro said. Espargaro also tested the swingarm and chassis used by Taka Nakagami this weekend, confirming that the differences were small.
Apart from aero, there were swingarms and frames also being tried, as well as a lot of setup changes. At KTM, they were working with different front fork setups in the pursuit of more feel and confidence. For Remy Gardner, they found a better feeling by torquing a bolt at the rear of the bike to improve the feeling at the front. Gardner would not be drawn on precisely which bolt it was.
The satellite RNF WithU riders had a good test as well. Andrea Dovizioso found a setting which helped him brake without locking the front, something which helped a lot, while Darryn Binder felt improved confidence from the front with some fork changes.
The paddock packs up now and heads north for the next two rounds, starting at the Sachsenring. But first, a week to rest and recover.
||Fabio Di Giannantonio