Mandalika Pre-season test report: Honda and Marquez are back!

The official MotoGP pre-season training sessions at the Mandalika Circuit, Indonesia are now over and there is a lot to be said by the apparent state of form of each of the teams. Fortunately, Honda has notably improved its unruly RC213V, by way of smoothing out its temperament.

Its drivers, Marc Marquez & Pol Espargaro ended very happy with their bike. Aprilia has also has demonstrated to be very competitive with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales making it to the top of the timesheet. 

In the middle zone, Suzuki would also have raised its competitive level. Both Joan Mir and Alex Rins have said to be satisfied, although they still have to improve their one lap time. 

As for the disappointments coming from the island of Lombok, Yamaha has not been able to offer Fabio Quartararo the type of machine that his skill demands. Either things change considerably during the campaign or the crown defender is going to find it very hard to fulfil his job. And KTM does not find the way to overcome the performance crisis that they continue to suffer from. 

Yamaha: The great disappointment  

Crown defender Quartararo has not tried to hide his disappointment with his M1 and its lack of power which is calculated to be at least 10 km/h slower than the rivals’ bikes at the tests in Mandalika. El ‘Diablo’, whose future in the sport is pending after his contract expires at the end of the season, has been very open in criticising his machine. 

Frustrated with his bike, he even went as far to declare: “after so much time developing the engine, we have nothing.” Tired of complaining about the low top speed of his Yamaha, he is understandably pessimistic about the inaugural round of March 6 in Qatar. 

The front slides, the rear drifts, everything is shaking everywhere…” – Quartararo said of the M1’s behaviour-.


Honda finds its way   

The team of the golden wing has taken a decisive step forward. Pol Espargo dominated the first and third sessions, while his teammate Marc Marquez finished second on the second day. Beyond the timesheets, and perhaps something merely anecdotal during the preseason tests is that both riders have been visibly comfortable with the new machine. 

It seems that after sailing adrift during 2020 and 2021, following Marc Marquez’s injuries and the change to Michelin tires, Honda has regained its course. The six-time MotoGP World Champion has completed the tests fully satisfied with his adaptation to the new machine. 

I have managed to make the new Honda mine”  Said the Spaniard -. 

In the same vein, Pol Espargaro declared he believes that the Japanese bike “is ready to start the season playing a good role.It´s been the best riding of my life” .


Ducati: Are the favourites playing dumb?  

Ducati arrived in Indonesia as favourites, but have left surrounded by doubts. Or maybe they just didn’t tip off their opponents. Their best results have been a fifth place for Pecco Bagnaia on the final day and a sixth place for Jack Miller on the first day. They have, however, displayed a very calm and confident attitude, which may lead us to believe they might be hiding three tenths of a second in their pockets.


Suzuki: Improves but, is it enough 

Suzuki leaves Indonesia with good sensations. Both Joan Mir and Alex Rins seem comfortable with their upgraded GSX-RR. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if that jump in performance demanded by the 2020 World Champion will be enough to fight for victories. 

Rins fourth place on day 1 and Mir’s fifth place on day 2 are two good reasons to be optimistic, although, as Rins himself acknowledged: “We have two or three Ducaties in front of us and although we will improve our Saturday’s times, probably it won’t be so much”.


Aprilia: A great leap forward  

Aprilia is probably the manufacturer that has improved the most this winter. Favoured by the concessions that have allowed it to continue with the development of its RS-GP, the Italian team has shone at the very dirty Asian track.

Aleix Espargaro finished in second place on the first day and Maverick Viñales, in third on the following day. They could no doubt aspire to be among the top three. Does they will spread the champagne? 

KTM, very lost

As happened to Honda in previous courses, the Austrian brand is completely lost. This has been made clear in the rehearsals prior to the World Cup. Neither the South African Brad Binder nor the Portuguese Miguel Oliveira, remember, both winners with that mount, have managed to make it competitive in Mandalika.
The concern does not stop growing within the orange force. Faced with such confusion, the constant technical changes undertaken in the RC16 to try to turn the tide have only deepened the crisis. It seems difficult that, after what was seen in Indonesia, they can take flight this campaign. This sinking represents a case as unusual as it is unexpected in MotoGP.
 Images MotoGP: Repsol Honda HRC.

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