The bike characteristic MotoGP is chasing in 2023

Reigning riders’ and constructors’ champion Ducati has become the reference in MotoGP in terms of bike design, with the Desmosedici’s stopping power and its engine grunt something rival marques have been trying to copy.

Espargaro was sixth-fastest overall in last weekend’s Sepang pre-season test, which was topped by Ducati riders across all three days, and he believes Ducati is still superior in those two areas.

“Two things: they still have the best engine,” said Espargaro, whose Aprilia team-mate Maverick Vinales was third overall at the test, when asked about Ducati.

“They are not super far [away] anymore, but they still have the best engine. And they are super good at stopping the bike. It’s crazy how good they are at stopping the bike.

“The feeling I have with the Aprilia is that I stop the bike just with the front tyre, and when [Ducati] brakes it looks like both suspension goes down and they use a lot the rear tyre to stop the bike.

“With the videos, we analysed this a lot. I tried different set-ups to put more load on the rear on the brakes and it really worked, which is why I did my fastest lap.

“But it’s not enough. Hopefully we can close the gap.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing

Photo by: MotoGP

Espargaro says the Ducati riding style that has become the gold standard in MotoGP was first pioneered by Andrea Dovizioso in the middle of the last decade.

Where once the key to a quick lap time was by maximising cornering, Ducati’s fast-in/fast-out philosophy is seen as a shift in how riders now approach braking.

Espargaro, who claims he is the fastest rider through corners now, added: “I said to Romano [Albesiano, Aprilia technical manager] many times, I love the riding style of the Aprilia.

“For me, it’s the best chassis in the world. I have the videos, we have a data guy doing videos on the track: there is no other guy faster than me on the centre of the corner.

“But it’s not anymore super-important. In the past it was. But now [Ducati] can stop the bike at zero and then go.

“The first rider to do this was Dovizioso, five, six years ago. It was a nightmare for Marc [Marquez] to overtake him, Marc lost many races and Ducati kept building on this.

“It’s crazy how they can stop the bike and then accelerate. So, we are working on this, trying to put more weight on the rear, trying to change the curve of the torque of the engine. But we are on the way.”

Espargaro says the 2023 RS-GP has improved in many areas over its race-winning predecessor, but doesn’t feel the package he had at the Sepang test will be enough to fight with come the opening round in Portugal in March.

“The bike is slightly better in many small details: the aerodynamics, the chassis is a little bit lighter, the bike turns a bit more due to the aero, the engine is slightly faster,” he explained. “So, everywhere is a little bit better but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough.

“But they tell me the race engine will be one step better, they are already on the dyno and say it’s working good.”

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