Features 14 Sep 2023

Q&A: Misano test talking points

Detailing key focal topics in the 2023 MotoGP mid-season outing.

The recent Misano MotoGP test provided a rare chance for competing riders and their teams to gain valuable data outside of a race weekend on select new parts and prototypes. With a number of hot topics to break down, our latest Q&A feature takes a look at some of the talking points from the latest San Marino outing.

Image: Supplied.

Q: Can we read into the fastest time from Monday at Misano?

A: It’s clear the primary focus for all wasn’t outright times, but it was Mooney VR46 Racing Team’s Luca Marini who set the benchmark with a 1.30.602s. That effort would have seen him qualify second on the race weekend prior, and was over six-tenths faster than he managed two days prior in Q2 at the San Marino GP. Marini did not test any major new components, but rather tweaked geometry, suspension and different damping settings on the GP22. When reading into his outright lap time from Q2 compared to Monday’s, it would indicate that he made a positive step, which Marini himself confirmed, even if the track was in better condition with more rubber down. He was one of just two riders inside the 1m30s bracket on the day.

Q: What was the feedback on the new chassis Aprilla brought to the table?

A: Other than Marini, Aprilia Racing Team’s Maverick Vinales was the only other rider to post a 1m30s lap time, his best effort being a 1m30.836s. Chassis improvements were key on the agenda for the Noale factory, with Vinales stating pre-event on Thursday he never realised the Misano circuit had bumps until he rode the RS-GP. Vinales also wanted to improve on braking and said he found some ‘interesting’ solutions, while Aleix Espargaro – who was 11th quickest with a 1m31.381s – said after testing the new chassis that overall it was not better or worse, just different. Indications from Aprilia suggest that its 2024 package will not be a revolution, but rather a careful evolution of the current platform.

Q: Did Quartararo gain an improved feeling onboard the M1?

A: It’s clear that Yamaha is in need of a serious uplift to get back to its winning ways, and the manufacturer brought its first prototype 2024 engine and an aero package as key updates to the recent test, while the new double exhaust was also used. With five bikes in the pit, Yamaha was eager to make the most of a full-on testing schedule. Quartararo has been vocal in his displeasure with the current Yamaha platform and lack of positive updates moving forward, and unfortunately, that tone remained following the Misano test. Long story short, he stated that he ‘expected much better’. While there was no major improvement that he was hopeful for, one positive was the spoon that was tried under the swingarm, and the number 20 believes they will start using it at the next race. He concluded the day sixth fastest with a time of 1m31.177s.

Image: Supplied.

Q: Will Marquez stay with Honda following the outcome of the test?

A: Much speculation at Misano was stirred by the Marquez to Gresini Racing rumour, with a variety of theories brought up or teased. Officially, the facts are that Marquez has a contract with the Repsol Honda Team through to the end of next year, however, it’s obvious that he is displeased with the performance of the RC213V – the 2024 prototype not impressing at the lastest test. You would have to think the decision comes down to how hard it would be to get out of his current contract, and the implications financially and other of doing so. It’s hard to say a clear-cut answer when Marquez stated post race he has three options for next year, a ‘plan A, plan B or plan C’, with a decision to be made during the Indian or Japanese Grand Prix. Is Marquez enjoying sparking the media attention and stirring up the plot, or is there a genuine chance he will move teams for next year? Time will tell, but you can be certain an eight-time world champion is not happy riding around fighting to scratch the top eight.

Q: Why did Ducati have only half of its riders on track?

A: Looking at the timesheets, it’s clear that a number of Ducati riders were absent from Monday’s proceedings. The main reason for this was prior crashes. The Ducati Lenovo Team had no representation whatsoever, with Bastianini sidelined for multiple races following that turn-one crash at Catalunya, and Bagnaia opting to sit the day out as he manages a leg injury sustained in the Catalan GP. Likewise, test rider Michele Pirro didn’t take part after he collided with Miller during the San Marino GP, and Marco Bezzzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) chose to prioritise recovery as he manages damage from the Catalan GP. Also, Gresini Racing’s Fabio Di Giannantonio did not circulate on Monday. Of the Ducati’s that were out on track, no major updates were seen, but both Prima Pramac Racing bikes used bigger side fairings.

Q: Did Miller and Binder use parts from Pedrosa’s RC16?  

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing test rider Dani Pedrosa used a different chassis across his impressive San Marino GP weekend, rumoured to be fully carbon. Miller did have one chassis to try that Pedrosa used at Misano, while Binder also sampled a black chassis that looked similar to what he has been using in 2023. Of the two chassis that the South African sampled, he said they each had potential and strong points and if they could be brought together it would be ideal. Miller maintained that the RC16 platform has plenty of promise, but he needs to continue to adapt his style to extract the maximum from it.