Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) ended the Jerez MotoGP Test at the top of the time-sheets despite a crash, the Frenchman putting in a speedy 1:37.136.
There was plenty of important running at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto on Monday, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) finishing inside the top three but the test was about much more than the lap times.
Suzuki to pull out of MotoGP?
The Jerez MotoGP Test also set the scene for a fresh wave of rumours that strongly suggest Suzuki are expected to pull out of MotoGP Racing at the end of this season. A decision has apparently been made strictly for financial reasons by the senior management bean-counters back at Hamamatsu.
It is currently Golden Week in Japan, a collection of four national holidays within seven days that is one of the primary holiday seasons for the Japanese people, thus it would perhaps seem a strange time for the news to break but it does appear to be true. Unless this is the Japanese version of dropping bad news late on a Friday afternoon scenario…
If the decision to shut up the Suzuki MotoGP shop is true, and it certainly appears to be so, then this of course would leave both Alex Rins and Joan Mir free agents. Mir has apparently been the subject of keen interest from Honda, while Rins’ name has been connected to speculation of a seat at Yamaha. But speculation is all that is… The Suzuki out of MotoGP story though seems to be very real, although after only 12 months ago inking a deal with Dorna to continue their MotoGP involvement through to 2026, it might also be an expensive exit strategy for Suzuki if it goes ahead.
Ducati Jerez MotoGP Test
Two-time 2022 race winner Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) was able to have a play with Ducati’s GP22 front fairing, while Spanish GP race winner Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) completed his test schedule before midday – 24 laps in the bag for Pecco.
“We tried many things and maybe we did make a step forward, despite the track being very different today. With medium tyres we improved our pace by 2-3 tenths of a second, so overall this is good news. The wind came in the afternoon and I chose to not take any unnecessary risk. The new fairing has pro and cons surely, and we’ll take out time to evaluate it, then we’ll decide on whether to use it at Le Mans or not.”
“Today our work programme was fortunately not intense and I only had to try one different setup. In addition, without painkillers, my shoulder was a little more uncomfortable when I was riding and we preferred not to put too much stress on it after the intense weekend we just had. Anyway, we are satisfied and now we will take a few days to relax before the next round at Le Mans”.
Pace-setter Zarco lapped quicker than he did in Q2 to finish top of the pile by a tenth-and-a-half, as the Frenchman pocketed 54 laps ahead of his upcoming home Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was the second fastest Ducati rider on track, the Australian was P4 and completed 53 laps.
“I’m happy with the work we’ve done today. We didn’t have a lot of new items to test, but having a full day of free practice was still useful to be able to do some testing that we don’t have enough time to do on a race weekend. We basically tried different configurations of the bike, testing different geometries, and we’re pretty happy with the results. With the lower temperatures and wind today, the track was slower than yesterday, but we still managed to get a good pace and a good feeling with the bike.”
Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) was ninth on the timesheets as fellow GP22 rider Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) spent the test riding a GP21, working on his positioning on the bike and focusing on setup to find more consistency.
“A good test, I am satisfied, in terms of riding feelings it was as I expected. We had a lot of time for working, which is what we miss during the GPs, and to try important changes on the bike at the setting level. I improved my lap time, I managed to do 37.8 with the medium tire, then we had to give up the time attack for the red flag. At the end of the day it didn’t make sense to go out with new tires because the temperature was lower and the wind stronger. Overall I’m happy, the feeling in the last run is very good and we just need to bring these changes into a real race weekend to understand how to move for the future.”
Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was 13th fastest and was able to lap 56 times, with fellow rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP) clocking 64 laps.
“A really positive day of testing, we were able to try many different things that we don’t have time to test on race weekends. Important changes on the setting and electronics to understand my riding feelings and a specific work on braking to be more agile and have more grip. This is where I struggle the most but at the same time there I can make the difference. Today, in fact, is the first day in which I can dedicate myself to this type of activity: doing this kind of work at the first winter tests, would have been premature and confused me. Now with a little more experience, consistency in the laps, I can make a real step forward.”
Fabio Di Giannantonio
“We needed this test and we made the most of it. The work done during the weekend has naturally carried over to today; we concentrated on the feeling with the bike and I think it was a good day. Even though the times don’t show it (the wind affected his outing on soft tyres), I feel the bike a bit more mine. I was also able to try a new tank, a little bit more slender: as it often happens, I liked it on some aspects and liked it less on others.”
KTM Jerez MotoGP Test
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Brad Binder both tested a radically new exhaust, while the Portuguese rider was also working on setup. Binder was testing some geometry and front fork settings and finished the test second, with Oliveira 21st after lapping 65 times.
“We tried a new pipe today and the guys can now go back and see the full extent of the difference. I liked the sound! Importantly the power delivery of the bike was a bit stronger but with the KTM RC16 we haven’t really lacked anything in that regard. We’ll keep working with it. Otherwise we played with our base setup and trying to improve rear contact with the braking point. I’m happy that we managed to make some progress.”
“A long day. We’ve had a few issues when we put new tires on the bike so we couldn’t really confirm everything that we were testing with performance and speed. We found one or two things that we believe could be good for Le Mans. We’ll go there with an open mind.”
Remy Gardner was the sole Tech3 KTM Factory Racing bike on track as Raul Fernandez recovers from the injury that saw him miss the Spanish GP. Gardner managed 44 laps but the Australian’s day ended with a crash at Turn 4, that resulted in him losing some skin off his left little finger and hurting his back. Thankfully there’s nothing broken.
Francesco Guidotti – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager
“We’ve been continuing our base setting work here. Since we changed our method to go racing we needed to maintain this line but we also had a few new things. It was tricky because it seemed to get windier as the day went on and that meant it was difficult to make comparisons to what we experienced in the race. Brad made some good laps and discoveries and Miguel also found some interesting things that will be helpful for analysis. We will go to Le Mans confident and then we’ll anticipate some new parts at the next test in Barcelona.”
Sebastian Risse – Red Bull KTM Technical Manager MotoGP
“The test went really well but we still have to work out the full evaluation of our progress because the conditions were so different today compared to the race weekend here; that’s quite common at Jerez. So, we need to see how our work can translate to other tracks. We looked at many areas of the bike, around the engine, an exhaust, aerodynamic options and quite a lot of base set-up work. It will be interesting to see what we can carry over to Le Mans.”
Yamaha Jerez MotoGP Test
The big news coming from the Iwata camp during Monday’s test was Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Manager, Massimo Meregalli, confirming that Yamaha will have a new aero package at the Italian GP later this month.
“We didn‘t have a very full-on schedule for today, but we did receive some items to try. We got some little updates, one of them being the rear arm, which gave them a bit of a better feeling. We tried a new front fender, mainly with the aim to cool down water and oil for hotter races. We also tested the bigger front disk from Brembo, which we never had the opportunity to try before, in preparation for circuits that are harder on the brakes. And then, as usual, we tried to improve the settings little by little. I think that the results are not bad. We collected good information, and in a small way we started preparing for the French GP.”
Quartararo was one of the busier riders on track as the Frenchman completed 78 laps before calling it a day, ending the test third quickest.
“I tried a new front fender, swingarm, and the bigger Brembo disc. I tried the swingarm twice, back to back, so that took quite a lot of time. We also tried the setting of last year here, and that was it. It looks like the new swingarm is a little bit better when you look at the numbers, but the feeling is more or less the same. We will start Le Mans with the standard one, but if we are in doubt about rear grip, we will keep this one in mind to try. We basically tried the disks to prepare for the racetracks that are harder on the brakes, like Austria and Motegi. I never used these disks before, and the feeling is a bit different, so it was good to get used to it here. I adapted to it quite fast.”
Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) lapped 83 times, finishing P17, one place ahead of WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.
“We did many laps. We tried different things on the bike, and we tried different items. We ran through the testing programme and we completed it. The day went pretty smoothly. We tried some good things in the test that we will try to bring to Le Mans. Hopefully they will also work there. I have tested the new swing arm and front fender as well. The new swing arm has good potential, and the front fender also feels good. The main area that we will continue to work on is braking.”
“It was pretty good, although it’s always physically hard to do a test straight after a race weekend, but at the same time, it’s always important to do it at the same track, because you have the right references to understand what you can try. We didn’t have new material, but we had the chance to use the day to test several settings, whereas during the weekend we don’t have time for that. We tried some different things in terms of weight distribution and other things. In the end, I felt a bit better. The conditions have been different today though compared to the weekend, because there was more wind. Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with today.”
Rookie Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team) crashed unhurt at Turn 7 before midday and was able to get 54 valuable laps in the bank.
“It was nice to finally be able to have another day at the track after the race weekend once you got all the information and you want to test on different things. It was nice to try some different setups and work on my riding. Unfortunately, I had two crashes today, trying to improve my riding style. It’s unfortunate, I was definitely finding the limits. Anyway, we’ve got to try some things. We have a lot of things we can look over and compare throughout the week and when we arrive in Le Mans, we’ll try to put everything we’ve tried today together.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager WithU Yamaha RNF
“We tried what we needed to try today in Jerez. Andrea was quite pleased with his feeling, especially with a slightly new position on the bike. He managed to stop the bike a bit better and overall, had a better control of the machine, which is important. We didn’t gain a lot of grip yet, which we actually tried to find, so this is something that needs to be continued. Darryn had two crashes, which was not what we had planned. But it’s clear, he needs to try to find his limits and to be as precise as possible. Then you sometimes run into trouble. Let’s go to Le Mans now and see if the weather is hopefully consistently dry, so we can continue our program in France.”
Honda Jerez MotoGP Test
Ahead of the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) explained that Honda’s test started in FP1 on Friday morning. All things considered, it was a fantastic weekend for the eight-time World Champion in Jerez, but the work continued on Monday. The number 93 was seen testing a 2021 aero package but was mainly focusing on setup, with three bikes on his side of the garage…
“It was a good and important day and we were able to try some things. Like always, some things worked well and other things were not as we needed. We tried a few different aerodynamic parts to understand them at a shorter, tighter track like Jerez because the pre-season was at long and fast tracks like Sepang and Mandalika. The information from today has been good but we need to keep on working. Now we look forward to Le Mans“
Fellow Repsol Honda Team rider Pol Espargaro was lapping on very used Michelin medium tyres in the opening few hours after saying on Sunday that they need to create an environment that has as little grip as possible. The Spaniard was playing with geometry and completed a whopping 85 laps, setting the fifth fastest time in the process.
“We needed to do a lot of laps today to understand everything and it’s been productive. Information is so important in MotoGP so no matter what you try at a test, you are able to make progress and today we got a lot of information. We tried many things today and as always, there were some positives and negatives. Of course you want more and to be faster, but I’m pleased with the lap we did on medium tyres. Let’s see if what we have done will pay off in Le Mans now, that’s the goal.”
It wasn’t the day Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) would have been hoping for as he flew back to Barcelona early after a heavy crash at Turn 1. The Japanese rider is experiencing pain in his left knee ligaments – the same he damaged after the Indonesian GP – and although scans revealed no fractures, Taka flew directly to Barcelona for an precautionary MRI scan to rule out ligament damage.
“Unfortunately, Taka crashed at Turn 1 this morning. Thankfully, on the X-ray performed at the circuit medical centre it was clear there are no fractures. Taka is still feeling some pain in his left knee however, so we decided to fly him back to Barcelona immediately where he will undergo an MRI scan as soon as he lands. We should find out the results in the next couple of days, but we are hopeful about them being good, because after some initial pain, he was able to walk out of the circuit himself. So, we are positive he’ll be recovered and ready for the next round of the championship in France.”
Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) suffered a mechanical problem towards the end of the day at Turn 1, but finished Monday’s test in P11 after lapping 80 times.
“We tried a few things today and looks like we improved a bit, so thanks to the team as it was a tough day for the mechanics as they had to try many, many things. I think after this test we’ll be a bit more competitive. Now it’s time to analyse everything to get ready for LeMans. I’m happy with the day overall and I feel like we’re stronger after this test.”
Suzuki Jerez MotoGP Test
Team Suzuki Ecstar duo Joan Mir and Alex Rins were testing suspension items and swingRinsarms, comparing them to the ones they’ve already tested. Mir finished P6 on the timesheets with a 1:37.756, Rins was P8 and just 0.024s off his team-mate’s time.
“Today we were hoping to work on the front feeling, as that’s something I suffered with in the heat yesterday, but we couldn’t really do it because the conditions are completely different today – it’s colder and there’s a lot of wind. Finding ways to cool the tyre would’ve been good, but today the tyre stayed cool by itself! So, instead we worked on a few set-up options that we hadn’t had a chance to try yet this season. I can feel an improvement with turning, and the next priority is to improve the grip. A test day is always useful, and I feel that today’s findings could help us with Le Mans in two weeks.”
“Today was pretty good, we did some work to try and regain the feeling that I didn’t have yesterday. Luckily I felt an improvement, so I think we found the problem and this was a nice boost. Then, because we didn’t have anything big to try we just worked on general set-up, although I did also try a swingarm that I’d already tested earlier in the year, and some electronics items. But the general feeling after this day of testing is that we’ve made some improvements, which is always the goal.”
Livio Suppo – Suzuki Team Manager
“This is the first test that I’ve done together with the team, because I wasn’t with them during the winter tests, so it was nice to spend the day with everyone and see how well they all work. Both riders found some improvements that they’re happy with, but usually it’s nice to do comparisons during the test, which wasn’t easy today because the conditions were drastically different to yesterday’s race; much colder. But now we look forward to Le Mans, where we want to put our findings into action. Our bike already has a great base, so it’s just a case of fine-tuning it as we continue into the season.”
As their era without concessions begins, Aprilia Racing used the Jerez MotoGP Test to work on suspension, electronics and swingarm settings with Spanish GP podium finisher Aleix Espargaro and team-mate Maverick Viñales, both joined on track once again by Test Rider Lorenzo Savadori.
Viñales suffered a crash at Turn 7 before lunch and then had a mechanical issue on the run into Turn 1 in the afternoon session.
Savadori also encountered a mechanical issue with one of his RS-GP machines, an incident that brought out the red flags briefly in the afternoon.
Viñales got a further 59 laps under his belt to continue his growth on the RS-GP, however, while team-mate Espargaro ventured out for 46 laps, eventually ending the day P7 on the time-sheets.
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