MotoGP Top Speeds

#QatarTest


If you have been following 2020 MotoGP pre-season testing in Malaysia, and more recently over the weekend at Losail, you would have read much discussion regarding new engines for the new season.

It’s no secret that for much of the four-stroke era Ducati have been consistently dominant in the speed traps and the clear leaders in the horsepower wars. That still rings true as the five quickest machines at Losail were all built in Bologna.

Honda gave the RC213V a major power boost last season though and got close to, and even bested the Ducati speeds at some circuits in 2019.

Yamaha’s lack of top speed has been a trend for at least most of the four-stroke era. A sweet chassis sees their riders regularly swamp competitors in the bends, before those hard won gains then being promptly undone as competitors walk away from them again on the straights. They also have to use a lot of edge grip from their tyres to lever their cornering advantage, which hurts the Yamaha in regards to tyre longevity.

Yamaha have made some strides forward to try and redress their speed deficit and their 2020 engine is more powerful. If we compare speed trap data from Qatar last week versus the same test last year, we can see that Yamaha’s hard work seems to have paid off. Both the factory Yamaha’s of Vinales and Rossi together scoring higher numbers in the speed traps. Vinales +7.6 km/h and Rossi +5.4 km/h respectively compared to 2019.

In fact, Vinales’ top speed of 346.1 km/h last week would have placed him joint third with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso last year. 

The thing is the others have also made forward gains… As you can see from the table below, every manufacturer has made strides, which has pretty much left Yamaha in the same position as before.

The factory Ducati machines have seen a 6.8 km/h and 5.6 km/h speed increase compared to 2019. This number could perhaps have even been higher if not for the new funky aero that Ducati were testing in Qatar. The new aero package is said to produce more down-force, but that generally brings with it more drag at high speeds. Or have Ducati achieved the holy grail and scored improvements at both ends of the aero spectrum..?

Jack Miller’s Pramac Ducati didn’t run the new aero package and it was the Australian that topped the speed charts at 355.2 km/h, 8 clicks quicker than he achieved at the same test last year.  Pramac team-mate Francesco Bagnaia was placed third this year at 351.7 km/h, an amazing 12 km/h up on the 2019 test.

There is another interesting angle to the Ducati top speed angle this year with the adoption of a system whereby the rider can lower the bike on the straights, improving traction and perhaps even aerodynamics. How much has this new development contributed to Miller’s top speed advantage at Losail…?

Pretty much every team has seen an increase in top speed with the exception of Marc Marquez and his factory Repsol Honda. The champ some 2.2 km/h down on his 2019 speed.

Of course, there are many other variables and factors at play, so direct comparisons with 2019 testing top speeds can only tell us so much. What the 2020 test does show is that the factory Yamaha’s are a little higher up in the charts relative to their competitors compared to last year. So at the very least it appears to be a step in the right direction for the factory Yamaha’s, whether that will be enough, we’ll have to wait and see.

The Petronas Yamaha machines were not quite as fast as the Factory Yamaha’s but did see a slight speed increase from 2019.

All other things equal, from what we have heard about new engines, and from the data, it suggests that MotoGP bikes are the fastest they have ever been. It will be very interesting when we arrive at Mugello later on in the year, as if the stars align, we can expect to see the 356.7 km/h top speed record achieved by Andrea Dovizioso tumble. Perhaps the magic 360 km/h barrier will be eclipsed. If that happens, how long will it be before officials take yet more measures to slow the bikes down…?


2020/2019 Qatar Test Top Speed Comparison

Qatar Test 2020 Top Speeds

Pos Rider Bike Speed-km/h
1 Jack MILLER DUCATI 355.2
2 Danilo PETRUCCI DUCATI 352.9
3 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI 351.7
4 Johann ZARCO DUCATI 350.6
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO DUCATI 349.5
6 Aleix ESPARGARO APRILIA 349.5
7 Tito RABAT DUCATI 348.3
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW HONDA 348.3
9 Maverick VIÑALES YAMAHA 346.1
10 Alex RINS SUZUKI 346.1
11 Marc MARQUEZ HONDA 346.1
12 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 346.1
13 Alex MARQUEZ HONDA 345.0
14 Bradley SMITH APRILIA 345.0
15 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 343.9
16 Brad BINDER KTM 342.8
17 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 342.8
18 Joan MIR SUZUKI 341.7
19 Iker LECUONA KTM 341.7
20 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA 340.6
21 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA 339.6
22 Fabio QUARTARARO YAMAHA 339.6

Qatar Test 2019 Top Speeds

Pos Rider Motorcycle Speed km/h
1 Marc MARQUEZ HONDA 348.3
2 Jack MILLER DUCATI 347.2
3 Danilo PETRUCCI DUCATI 346.1
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW HONDA 346.1
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO DUCATI 343.9
6 Tito RABAT DUCATI 343.9
7 Joan MIR SUZUKI 343.9
8 Aleix ESPARGARO APRILIA 342.8
9 Alex RINS SUZUKI 342.8
10 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 341.7
11 Bradley SMITH APRILIA 341.7
12 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI 339.6
13 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA 339.6
14 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA 339.6
15 Maverick VIÑALES YAMAHA 338.5
16 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 338.5
17 Fabio QUARTARARO YAMAHA 337.5
18 Johann ZARCO KTM 336.4
19 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 336.4

Top Speeds Difference 20 Vs 19 Test

Pos Rider Motorcycle Vs 2019
1 Jack MILLER DUCATI +8 km/h
2 Danilo PETRUCCI DUCATI +6.8 km/h
3 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI +12.1 km/h
4 Johann ZARCO DUCATI /
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO DUCATI +5.6 km/h
6 Aleix ESPARGARO APRILIA +6.7 km/h
7 Tito RABAT DUCATI 4.4 km/h
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW HONDA +2.2 km/h
9 Maverick VIÑALES YAMAHA +7.6 km/h
10 Alex RINS SUZUKI +3.3 km/h
11 Marc MARQUEZ HONDA -2.2 km/h
12 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +4.4 km/h
13 Alex MARQUEZ HONDA /
14 Bradley SMITH APRILIA +3.3 km/h
15 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA +5.4 km/h
16 Brad BINDER KTM /
17 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM +6.4 km/h
18 Joan MIR SUZUKI -2.2
19 Iker LECUONA KTM /
20 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA +1 km/h
21 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA 0 km/h
22 Fabio QUARTARARO YAMAHA +2.1 km/h

2019 Qatar All Race Weekend/Session Top Speeds

Pos Rider Bike Speed
1 Jack MILLER DUCATI 351.6
2 Cal CRUTCHLOW HONDA 350.7
3 Joan MIR SUZUKI 349.2
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO DUCATI 349.1
7 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA 347.3
8 Alex RINS SUZUKI 347.2
9 Tito RABAT DUCATI 347.2
10 Danilo PETRUCCI DUCATI 347.2
11 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 347.0
12 Aleix ESPARGARO APRILIA 346.9
13 Bradley SMITH APRILIA 345.6
14 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI 345.4
15 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 345.1
16 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 345.0
17 Andrea IANNONE APRILIA 343.4
18 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA 343.1
19 Fabio QUARTARARO YAMAHA 341.7
20 Johann ZARCO KTM 341.4
21 Maverick VIÑALES YAMAHA 341.1