#2022Loading: Takaaki Nakagami puts Honda on top on Day 1 in Jerez.
The Japanese rider opens action fastest, but there are plenty more headlines throughout the pack as pre-season testing begins
2022 is loading, and on first glimpse it’s already shaping up to be a thriller. On Day 1 at the Jerez Test it was Honda on top thanks to a 1:37.313 from Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), with the Japanese rider just denying Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco by half a tenth. Now-sophomore Enea Bastianini (Team Gresini Racing MotoGP) started the season completing the top three, getting a taste of the 2021 Ducati and settling into his new team.
As we saw earlier in the year, Honda have a seemingly brand-new bike for 2022. Arguably the most important news for HRC on Day 1 though was the presence of Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) after his huge Valencia GP crash. The Spaniard was fit to ride at the Jerez Test, vital with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) absent, as we got to see HRC’s radically new RC213V in action again. It’s the only machine at the test that looks completely new, with every other manufacturer having variations and adaptations from what we saw in 2021. Engine, chassis, aero, air intake… you name it. HRC have been working tirelessly to bring a new bike to the party.
Both Nakagami and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) were testing the new bike on Day 1. Both riders were riding both the 2021 and 2022 machines, important to compare how the two feel and how new components feel in comparison. Both were also incredibly busy: Marquez completed 75 laps with fastest man Nakagami lapping 68 times. Pol Espargaro managed to get 45 laps under his belt, finishing P13 on the timesheets, and Marquez ended the day in P16.
Reigning Constructors’ Champions Ducati, meanwhile, now have eight Desmosedicis in their arsenal in MotoGP™ as Team Gresini Racing MotoGP debuted with Bastianini and rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio and VR46 Racing Team began their premier class adventure with Luca Marini and rookie Marco Bezzecchi. Marini was the first rider to head out of pitlane, as both he and fellow Italian Bastianini got to grips with the GP21 Ducati – as did Diggia, with Bezzecchi lapping on a GP19 at first.
Engines are a big priority for the Bologna factory in Jerez, as they are for every manufacturer ahead of the winter. Factory duo Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati Lenovo Team teammate Jack Miller had one new engine each to try according to Ducati Corse General Manager Gigi Dall’Igna, while Pramac Racing’s Johann Zarco and 2021 Rookie of the Year Jorge Martin had one to try between them.
Ducati debuted a new, longer exhaust on Day 1 in the factory ranks, with Martin testing some smaller, more intricate parts, including aero covers on the front fork. Bastianini had some downwash ducts – the bottom inlets on the side fairings – on his GP21 machine, with teammate Di Giannantonio circulating without them. In addition, the Bologna brand had different aero, a new air intake and, seemingly, a new holeshot device. Plenty of stuff in the Ducati ranks.
Zarco, Bastianini and Bagnaia finished inside the top four on Day 1, as Zarco completed the second-most laps of anyone on Thursday – 78. Pecco was happy with how his day went, the 2021 silver medallist admitted he and the team have found something to be more competitive on used tyres… so the rest beware. Miller, Marini and Martin finished under a second away from Nakagami’s time, but that’s not what anyone will be concentrating on during the test. It’s all about testing, testing and more testing, and for the rookies, these two days are about getting comfy on their new MotoGP™ machinery. Di Giannantonio finished 2.3s down on Nakagami’s time, whereas Bezzecchi was 3.4s away from P1.
The Aprilia contingent was led by Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) on the timesheets as the Noale manufacturer begins a new era as a factory team for 2022. The Spaniard did 72 laps, having also already tested at Jerez this week thanks to Aprilia’s concessions, and was working with the bike from the Valencia GP earlier in the day. Setup was a key focus, including changing fork springs, as the number 12 continues to settle in.
Teammate Aleix Espargaro also started out on the bike from the Valencia GP, and when the number 41 did head out on the new bike later in the day he suffered a crashed at Turn 3, bringing out the Red Flag but rider ok. Aprilia test rider Lorenzo Savadori had the new bike from the Noale factory in his box, the Italian putting in 34 laps despite a crash at Turn 1. All riders were testing the smaller wings that Savadori has been using, and both Viñales and Aleix Espargaro tried in Misano. There was also a new exhaust spotted on Noale machinery, although reportedly none of the riders tried the 2022 engine just yet.
At Suzuki, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins was the lead Hamamatsu machine on Day 1 after 76 laps, ending the day in P6 as teammate and 2020 Champion Joan Mir put in 71 for P14. Test riders Sylvain Guintoli and Takuya Tsuda were also out on track as the factory prepare for 2022.
Guintoli, who did 49 laps, was spotted testing a new fuel tank cover, but there wasn’t too much on show – with efforts more concentrated on putting their 2022 engine through its paces, and reportedly a new chassis. There was also a new swingarm for the Hamamatsu factory. On Friday, there will reportedly be some new aero on track as confirmed by Rins.
For Yamaha, Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was the lead Iwata marque machine in seventh, with teammate and reigning Champion Fabio Quartararo down in P9. The Italian did 56 laps and the Frenchman a serious haul of 73.
Quartararo said they tested the same bike as seen at the Misano Test, a new swingarm and new anti-wheelie electronics, doing some back-to-back testing with the 2021 bike too. A new chassis was also on show.
Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team) did another half century of laps as he gets his teeth into the 2021 Yamaha, having so far been on the 2019 machine on his return to the premier class. New teammate Darryn Binder, meanwhile, was concentrating on settling in – having now officially made the leap from Moto3™ to MotoGP™. The South African rookie did 49 laps, and it was solely about settling in and getting to grips with the huge step up from the lightweight class.
The main leg work for KTM in terms of development is down to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s now more veteran duo of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira as Tech 3 welcomes the all-rookie line-up of Moto2™ World Champion Remy Gardner and Marquez-beating Rookie of the Year Raul Fernandez. Binder was the top Austrian machine on the timesheets in tenth, putting in 56 laps, with Oliveira down in 17th after 74 laps. Test rider Mika Kallio was also present, after MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa was hard at work before the official test got underway.
The aero debuted at the Misano Test was out on track for much longer this time around, with both Brad Binder and Oliveira.
On rookie watch, Raul Fernandez was the fastest of the Tech3 duo and the rookies overall after 57 laps, ending the day just 1.7 seconds off the top. Teammate Remy Gardner did 52 laps and was 2.8 off the top, but the Australian remains riding through the pain barrier after cracking his ribs in that Algarve GP Friday crash.
That’s a wrap on Day 1, with more track action coming on Friday. Come back then for more, and catch up on everything with After the Flag LIVE from 17:30 (GMT+1) on motogp.com!
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