What MotoGP manufacturers change on test bikes for the future reveals a lot about what they feel is wrong with their current machines. So for example, at the Misano test, we saw Ducati roll out an updated version of their fairing, narrower and smaller, and consequently, likely aimed at creating a little more agility.
Aprilia introduced two different aero packages for high speed and low speed circuits. Suzuki had a new engine and a new chassis, while Yamaha had a different frame and revised engine. All small steps aimed at honing their current bikes into something better, an evolution of the bikes that raced at Misano the previous Sunday.
Not Honda. At Tuesday in Misano, Honda rolled out the latest prototype of their 2022 RC213V MotoGP machine, designed to address some of the obvious weaknesses of their current bike. The most remarkable thing about the machine is the stark and obvious differences between the 2021 bike and this latest prototype. This was no minor upgrade from last year's RC213V, this was a completely new bike, from the ground up. Very little remained the same; revolution, not evolution.
A New Hope
Repsol Honda Team manager Alberto Puig spoke of the bike being "a new concept", and though no one in the HRC camp, neither managers nor riders, would give much detail, the photos of the bike, taken by MotoMatters.com contributor Niki Kovács, speak for themselves.
Puig did admit just how different the bike was. "I can only tell you that changes were major changes, they were big changes in the way we approach this new prototype," the Repsol Honda team manager said. "So of course we have to be confident, and especially very excited about the new challenge we have in front of us to change a little bit the concept and to improve the performance."
Marc Marquez emphasized that a new bike brings with it a lot of work to start to make it competitive. "It's a new bike, it's a new concept. It was interesting, it was the first time on track, so a lot of work to do and a lot of time in the box, and not many laps trying big things," he said.
Getting a change as big as this right first time, Marquez pointed out. "It was a big step in both directions. In some areas, a really good direction, and in some areas missing a lot." But this was the first attempt, and there was a lot of work still to do. "We need to understand the bike balance, we need to understand the setup, we need to understand many things, because there are many new parts, it's not only small things, it's a big thing."
Pol Espargaro felt much the same way. "The bike feels good, but it's a brand new bike. It needs to keep developing until the preseason of next year. Still a lot of time so there is margin to improve." The fact that there was only one prototype to be shared among the three Honda riders – test rider Stefan Bradl, as well as the Repsol representatives Marque and Espargaro – also forced them to be extra careful. "It was important to stay on the bike, because we only have one bike," Marquez pointed out.
So what is new about the 2022 prototype? And what conclusions can we draw. The best way to do that is to use the 2021 Honda RC213V as a benchmark. The scrutineering sticker for Misano on the photo below says this is one of the bikes used by Marc Marquez at the Misano round.
And below is a photo of the 2022 prototype, shot from the side, which reveals a huge amount of details. You can clearly see that almost everything is new: frame, fairing, seat unit, exhaust. And there are details which strongly suggest a new engine too. Let's dive into the details of what we can see.
Let's start with the frame. At the front of the frame, you can see a large gap at the headstock, where the air intake passes through. The routing of the air intake is much less intrusive on the 2021 bike, and no doubt the change is related to the new air intake on the front of the bike. More of that later.
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