Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s pre-season preparations get underway this week at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, serving as the first of four tests for reigning WorldSBK Champion Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and last year’s rookie sensation Andrea Locatelli to gear up for the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship. Here’s what Yamaha have to say:
Returning to the track for the first time since claiming the WorldSBK “Triple Crown” in Indonesia, the team is unloading its Yamaha R1 WorldSBK bikes in Portugal today to set up for two days of running on 8-9 February. Acting as a first shakedown for the upcoming season, the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK squad and Yamaha staff will evaluate 2022 technical updates, both mechanical and electronic, with their focus on development confirmations rather than outright performance.
Razgatlıoğlu and Locatelli will then be back in action at a private MotorLand Aragon test on 3-4 March, alongside the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team who will complete their first outing of 2022 with riders Garrett Gerloff and Kohta Nozane.
The target for Aragon will be to re-confirm the development plan completed over the winter and find a strong base set-up at a track that hasn’t often played to the Yamaha R1 WorldSBK’s strengths. It will also be a key opportunity for “rookie-no-more” Locatelli to ride at Aragon again, this time with a lot more experience, four podiums and a plethora of top-five results since his debut at the circuit in 2021.
March weather can be unpredictable in the Teruel region, so Misano (16-17 March), where GRT Yamaha is set to continue its pre-season preparations, has also been penciled in as a back-up option for the championship-winning Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK crew.
Then it’s back to Spain to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where both Yamaha teams will officially unveil their colours for the 2022 season. Fans will also be excited to see Razgatlıoğlu take to the track with the coveted #1 on his Yamaha R1 WorldSBK for the first time from 25-26 March! But most importantly, both teams will look to finalise their full race packages with just a week to spare prior to the WorldSBK Official Test at Aragon on 4-5 April. These two tests will also give Yamaha a chance to square up the competition before the first races of the season.
Finally, Yamaha and the Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK team will begin its much-awaited title defense campaign at the opening round of the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship at MotorLand Aragon from 8-10 April.
Pre-Season Test Dates:
Portimão – 8-9 February (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK only)
Aragon – 3-4 March
Misano – 16-17 March (GRT Yamaha only – back-up option for Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK)
2020 was the year to shake up all years, who could have predicted what happened?
Starting with Marc Marquez missing the whole season due to an injury sustained in Jerez, the possibility of no races even happening due to the pandemic, then the races going ahead but much later in the year to an unpredictable world champion and new tracks!
However, with the new 2021 season fast approaching, there is more to discuss: will Marquez be at full fitness? Will Joan Mir be able to defend his title? Will Yamaha’s engine be problematic again and who have people got their eye on?
After Mir won his first Moto GP race and his first Moto GP championship in 2020 with Suzuki – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished for 20 years – Davide Brivio (Suzuki’s team Manager) announced that he was leaving and starting a new adventure outside of Moto GP. Suzuki have said that they are not currently looking for a replacement and are happy with the teams work-ethic. They may promote someone within the team, but nothing has been officially said. Let’s hope that they will keep the same momentum going through to 2021, with Mir being defending champion. Will he be able to handle the pressure? Will he be as hungry for the win now he has won one title? Will he be able to bring the fight to Marc Marquez, if he returns fully fit? Only time will tell.
Marquez has had to have numerous operations on his arm since the beginning of the 2020 season, which saw him unable to compete for the rest of the year. It has been announced that he will not be back for the start of 2021 in Qatar either, due to the healing process of the most recent operation. This paves the way potentially for Andrea Dovisioso to return to Moto GP, in place of Marc.
Dovisioso decided to leave Ducati last year, due to some differences, which left the “Undaunted” rider with no ride for the 2021. However, as he now has no ties or affiliation with any team, Honda are able to ask him to step in for Marc. Having ridden for Honda previously in Moto GP, starting in 2009, it wouldn’t be their worst decision.
When Marquez does return to racing, the questions are: will he be fully able to compete as he once did? Will he be physically and mentally prepared for the close contact, action packed races? And after having a year off, will the others riders be more focused and the teams more prepared than him and Honda?
Of course Alex Marquez is now going to be racing for LCR Honda, instead of being with his brother on the Repsol. So, Marc will also have to get used to his new team-mate Pol Espargaro and vice versa.
The teams are as follows:
Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro
Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia
Monster Energy Yamaha
Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quatararo
Joan Mir and Alex Rins
Red Bull KTM
Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira
Aleix Espargaro and Lorenzo Salvadori (or Bradley Smith)
Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli
Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami
Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin
Red Bull KTM Tech 3
Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona
Esponsorama Racing VR46 Team
Luca Marini and Enea Bastinini
Jorge Martin and Luca Marini are the rookies for this season and would be good to keep an eye on as they have shown great potential in previous Moto 2 and Moto 3 championships.
2021 also sees three different sets of brothers competing against each other: Marc and Alex Marquez, Pol and Aleix Espargaro and Valentino Rossi and Luca Marini.
As for the tracks they will be competing on, the line-up is looking good. However, there are some reserve tracks should the Coronovirus impede on the championship again, namely: Portugal, Indonesia and Russia.
The calendar for the year is as follows:
Losail International Circuit
Termas di Rio Hondo
America (Austin, Texas)
Grand Prix of the Americas
Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto
Autodromo Internaziole del Mugello
Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya
TT Circuit Assen
Red Bull Ring – Spielberg
Misano World Circuit – Marco Simoncelli
Twin Ring Motegi
Chang International Circuit
Sepang International Circuit
Circuit Ricardo Tormo
However, due to Covid 19 the Sepang tests have already been cancelled. All dates and tracks are up to date and confirmed at the time of writing (January 2021), but can be subject to change.
There has also been a change for the Circuit de Barcelona. Turn 10 has had the shape re-designed, in agreement with the FIM and FIA for both Moto GP and F1, following safety concerns from past years.
There is one new important rule to Moto GP this year: both non-concession and concession manufacturers must start the 2021 season using March 2020 approved parts. After that, normal upgrade regulations will apply for the rest of 2021.
Yamaha had issues last year with their engines and once with brake failure, which led to Vinales having to jump off at the end of the start-finish straight at the Styrian Grand Prix. Will this continue into 2021? Arguably, the Petronas Yamaha seemed to be the more competitive and reliable bike within the Yamaha team, will that still be the case for Rossi and Morbidelli this year? If so will Valentino be able to achieve his illusive 200th podium?
As for BT Sport viewers, they will also not be hearing the familiar voice of Keith Huewen as he has decided he would like to step down from commentating and spend more quality time with his family. It has not been announced yet who will be filling his shoes, but there are plenty of possibilities. Best wishes for him in the future.
Whatever the outcome, audiences are sure to be in for a treat with the 2021 Moto GP Championship.
Who do you think will come out victorious? And also which team will be number one at the end of the season?