Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can Honda be Ducati’s biggest threat in 2022?

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Can Honda be Ducati’s biggest threat in 2022?

Honda’s 2022 RC213V is the factory’s biggest MotoGP redesign in 16 years – so what’s the focus of the new bike and what does HRC technical director Takeo Yokoyama think it can achieve?

If Ducati’s Desmosedici is favourite to win the 2022 MotoGP title, who or what might stop it?

The last two MotoGP championships have been won by inline-fours – Suzuki’s GSX-RR in 2020 and Yamaha’s YZR-M1 last year. Why? Because both factories built good bikes, but also because Honda’s six-time MotoGP king Marc Márquez was out of the game and because Michelin’s new-for-2020 rear slick suited inline-fours better than V4s.

This grippier rear tyre features a softer construction, so it works more naturally with the inline-fours, which use smoother cornering lines while the V4s – especially the Ducati and Honda – deformed the tyre too much with their more aggressive stop-and-go lines.

That’s why 2020 was Ducati’s worst season since 2016, with just two race wins. But by the end of 2020 Ducati engineers were on top of the problem and had signed several new riders who could get the best out of the tyre. That’s why Ducati was so good in 2021, winning seven races.

Honda, meanwhile, continued to struggle with the new rear tyre, because when you lose your number-one rider, how do you maintain the same development direction? You don’t, which is why last year Márquez often used his 2019 RC213V instead of the 2021 bike, which was engineered via input from Honda’s other riders.

“When you miss rear grip you miss braking, turning and acceleration, so you miss everywhere,” affirmed Márquez last summer. “We need something more, we need maybe one tenth per lap and we need to be able to be fast at every circuit.”

Honda’s struggles convinced HRC to undertake its biggest MotoGP redesign since the RC212V V4 replaced the RC211V V5 in 2007. The 2022 prototype looks nothing like earlier RC213V machines, which were closely related to the 800cc RC212V.

This redesign was probably overdue, but when you’re dominating MotoGP – with championship wins in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 – why would you change everything, even if you’re relying on one rider to make magic on your motorcycle?

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

<p>I don&#39;t see the point of linking to the Motor Sport website when the content in only able to be viewed by subscribers</p>

I love Mat's writing (started following when he was writing for Bike UK) and purchased a number of his books, but I've stopped visiting MotorSport since the paywall addition. It's not the same value prop as motomatters.com.

Don't sweat it this time, it isn't much of an article and you aren't missing anything. Basic drivel.

It crossed the mind (like so many toots in the breeze) to cut and paste the rest in over here, but not comfortable doing that as a boundary amongst Oxley and Krop. If I see something that sticks out in one if these, I can pull that part out and quote it for discussion's sake though?

Well when he was drawing parallels between the Nazi Party's "pure propaganda" supporting/sponsoring racing and German brands in the 1930's being comparable to Rossi and Saudi that's when I tuned out.

Adolf was Time Person of the Year in 1938, and certainly don't get me started on propaganda. Oxley is pushing his own brand right there for all to see. Saudi Arabia is a known quantity. Ain't no-one giving Prince-ten-names Time Person of the Year and he's certainly not there purely supporting "Saudi vehicles and technology" for the morale of his countrymen.

David openly called out the sponsorship deal. Oxley tried to play it down for those Rossi-bucks. Maybe a bone saw would change his mind?

I gained a lot of respect for David after that short article. I lost a great deal for Matt after his.

He didn't play it down, he didn't say it was right or wrong, he just commented that 'bad money' has been in the game since year dot. The only parallel is money from bad folks.

Imagining that Adolf was not a known quantity by the late 30's tends to ignore a lot. 'Time Person of the Year 1939' was also a known quantity. Time person of the year does not indicate plus or minus if anything it just indicates effect. A good example would be King Faisal of Saudi Arabia who was Time Person of the Year 1974 for withdrawing Saudi oil from the world market and causing an oil crisis.

Weird, if I click on the link at the bottom following 'Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog' I can read the article. I don't have a subscription. Maybe it's a regional thing ? I'm in UK.

The link takes me to the complete article for free.  I live in the the USA, maybe that is the difference?

Same here. Just click the link, read the article, BOOM, Bob's your uncle. Paywall? I didn't see no stinking paywall.

The link took me to the full article. But I am restricted to a few articles per month.

Yes I like Mat Oxley's words to. Much better value here at MotoMatters so I don't subscribe to MS magazine. Too much car stuff!

"If Ducati’s Desmosedici is favourite to win the 2022 MotoGP title" big IF. All six manus have been working on engines for 2 years. Developements will be interesting to see. Gigi the gadget man seems to have dropped the spoon aka the rear tire cooling device.

So what's next? Wait and see. Personly I would like the DesmoDuc to be the best bike. Right now we don't know. Honda want to save face after being beaten by both Suzuki and Yamaha. Who is the best Japanese manufacturer? Not Honda!

Oh it gives me great pleasure to say that. Honda isn't the best! Beaten by little Suzi (2020) & Yamaha in MotoGp plus WSBK '21 !

As VR46 said the rider is more important than the bike! I'm sure M1R and Fabulous Q would agree.

Pol Espargaro, Stefan Bradl & Marc Marquez have a lot of work to do. Sorting the new RCv & getting it to work with the 2021 tires. edit 2022 tyres, whatever they turn out to be? Round & black as Croz would say.

Testing starts soon. 8 or 9 weeks until Race 1 at Qatar. Then we will see what's hot & what is not.

As VR46 said the rider is more important than the bike! I'm sure M1R and Fabulous Q would agree.

Except for the fact that they immediately throw the manufacturer under the bus the moment they're not competitive. Rossi quite obviously had a "you can't talk shit about the bike" in his contrac at Ducati so he was very careful with his public statements.. but he never said a positive word about the Desmosedici. He had to swallow that bitter bitter red pill that showed him Casey was the superior talent. Imagine bouncing around inside his grey matter the first time he rode the bike and then looked at Stoner's data. It's poetry.

All through 2021, Mir spent his time quietly shitting on Suzuki because his riding skills weren't enough to make up the difference even though the bike appears reasonably competitive. Both he and Rins were at the pointy end for many races but never put it together. Commence the cheese and whine.

SOME riders make the difference.

Greetings mates.

Yes, and, there are greater factors, the dynamic in the garage and Team doings. We see this! Ben Spies was AMAZING, but shite around him that worked in Superbikes went poop in GP. Burgess was important. 

Also synergy of a certain rider w a certain bike. They are not equally adaptable. We can talk of how good Mir might be relative to, say, Quartararo. But then put Mir on a Honda and Quarty on a Ducati and what do you have then? Different bag of goods there! Hard to know. We can collectively come up with some shared perspective though. As things lay, M.Marquez and Quartararo look top notch. Bagnaia is thereabouts too. Mir just below. We have some question marks around a few, like B.Binder, given the bike they are on and where they are at in their big bike journey. Martin and Bastiannini are on the radar screen...and importantly ON A DUC. It is the BIKES that are being mostly discussed this Winter.

Bikes need to be sufficiently performant for "the rider makes the difference." Like so many things, it isn't a duality of either this or that. Several essential ingredients need balance, AND there is the cooking experience of the environment for these dishes, right?

Look at Rins too last season in viewing Mir...Rins had to push even harder to get where he had in 2020. The result was bad. He had the same bike as 2020, surrounded by a changing milieu. Crash. Boom. Losing his seat. Mir had to do SO much, just to fight with 2nd or third Ducati in paint swapping barging slashes. And now a Honda (or two) may be arriving up there as well. Mir and Quarty, they know. 

Everything is changing so very much right now! I promise, we are going to have to reshuffle our deck of basic assumptions about lots.

Example from a previous adjustment - "Is this a Honda track, or a Yamaha track?" No, that was a long time ago. Almost every single one of them is a Ducati track right now, and it JUST became that way. Bogey tracks for them don't mean mid pack anymore either. 

If you take Quartararo out of the Yamaha picture they look horrible. (Like Marc at Honda). They just brought NO more motor after two years. Quarty is leaving. I think the Mir and Quarty signings will come soon, then a pause for the remainder unless there is a sprint to the Suzuki. 

It was 2017/2018 when so very many riders and bikes could win. That time? GONE. 

Look at the 2022 Top 5 tipping here for example. 32 people, just Bagnaia and a handful of M.Marquez. A Quarty or two, and an outlier Miller. Just last yr it was a hodge podge, a half dozen riders looked viable.

That Honda is going to do the business. They won't call it the RC214V because the displacement is the same, but they haven't revutionized their bike formula so completely differently EVER in the 4 stroke era. (And I am a Honda un-fan). Mir or Quarty is getting on it. Ducati is getting Quarty if it was Mir. Yamaha and Suzuki are right now feasting on humble pie. Suzuki's kick in the balls is not so deserved, they ARE making progress and have a dinky war chest. Yamaha? Regretful. Negligent shortsighted mistakes. Honda learned their lesson. Yamaha Tshould have. Back to pre-Furusawa/Burgess/Rossi days? Maybe. Me being dramatic? We are going to see! 

D9's, are you taking whine and cheesey orders? Italian Sangiovese and Provalone for me please. 

Well I am off to whine country this weekend actually, but I'm skipping the Hot Air Balloon ride. I'd rather fly in and out of AFG another dozen times.

https://www.bwallpaperhd.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/PokolbinWineCountry.jpg

You're welcome to come join me sometime? Perhaps a road trip down to the Island one year?

Great breakdown too btw. I don't have much to add prior to the tests. I do wonder how much harder the front will be pushed this year and the ramifications that will have on the pecking order. Things could blow up in short order.

Marc has me worried too. The last time I said "He's the master of mind games, he could be sandbagging" I was wrong, he was seeing four Suzuki's on Videopass from the couch. But that's the nature of Marc in that his latest injury.. even if it has/will resolve is the perfect ramp to again - sandbagging and playing games with everyone. Would anyone *really* be surprised if he stayed quiet for months, kept everything in-house, randomly cancelled an online HRC event (after attending multiple events and flaunting training sessions on social media), furiously seeding doubt only to rock up at the tests on a new RCV and setting things straight?

I dunno what to think because the kid has always carried on like this.. and it sure is entertaining.

I'm not a Marc Marquez fan as such, but by-Christ am I a Marc Marquez fan.

Yes some do and some can't. Like the bikes, changes and improvements can happen, riders don't stay the same. Watching from the grandstand it seems some riders work hard on fitness & strength, some try to improve their mindset.

Mir is a mystery to me. He scored more points in 2021 than his championship year 2020, iirc. Didn't have a bad year in 21 and has steadily improved since arriving in MotoGp.

Fabulous Quartararo did have some criticism of the Yamaha. Quite uderstandable to me. It's not the best bike. Second in the teams chip for Yamaha was all down to FQ 20. Why wouldn't Fab demand better?

Not the same level of complaint as was demonstrated by Maverick Variable. See mindset above.

Getting ones head together at this level is very important. For example Aussie Remy Gardner. Before 2021 he was up and down like a bi-polar kangaroo. Working with Aki Ajo and his team last season brought out the best in RG87. Remy won the title!

Agree about Casey, Vale & the GP11,12 debacle. Italian dream team turned nightmare.

Rossi didn't win a championship after 2009, Stoner did.

MM93 could ride a pork chop through a pack of hungry wolves. But not when he is broken. Not every race as once happened.

Even goats get old and get eaten.

if Mir had to be disappointed with the Suz in 2021 and i tried to setup a crude performance indicator and crunched some numbers. Basically it is just the gap (in seconds) to the winner in each finished race related to the race duration (in seconds).

The formula would be like ... Performance =  [1000*(RaceDuration + Gap)/RaceDuration] -1000

https://1drv.ms/x/s!Am_Y0gGi-2RstxzDvQYvv1hnVNLr?e=8XXJwv

The lower the number the better the performance ... hopefully?

Interestingly Mir's performance numbers were on a comparable level like FQ20 and FB20, but ... No victories ... seems like the Suz is reliable but not the sharpest tool on the grid and furthermore Rins clearly struggled more and got somehow lost in the end.

For me its more likely that Mir is looking for a new ride, rather than Quartararo. Furthermore i don't see Ducati blowing up their rider lineup with a multi-million-dollar investment into french goods, with young guns like Martin or Bestia waiting on the sidelines.

A simple points tally across the season shows 2 riders with near straight lines, Fabio and Mir. Fabio with the slightly steeper gradient. It's hard to say what is what. Is Mir just a little bit slow but amazingly consistent ? I think more likely is that Mir is a bit of a gem and he is getting the best out of that Suzuki, doing an amazing job every race. I think it's a very nice, well sorted, beautiful, efficient and amazing machine...but short of a tenth or two. It is very difficult to say though. Definitely would love to see him on another bike...or Suzuki find that extra tenth or two.