‘Honda and Yamaha improved, but are still a couple of years behind’

Despite Honda and Yamaha's progress, are they still too far away from Ducati?

Fabio Quartararo, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February
Fabio Quartararo, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February

Honda and Yamaha may not arrest their MotoGP decline anytime soon.

That’s according to Simon Crafar, ex-rider and now broadcaster inside the paddock, who worries that the two Japanese manufacturers’ clear improvements will still not be enough in 2024.

After a dismal year for both, the new concessions rules will allow Honda and Yamaha developmental benefits to hasten their ascent back to the top of MotoGP.

During preseason testing in Sepang and Qatar, there have been rays of light from both garages.

“In the past few years the Italian manufacturers have been years ahead in aerodynamics and electronics,” Crafar reported from Qatar.

“The Japanese have made a step in electronics, clearly.

“Both Honda and Yamaha have gone forwards. They have improved their engine, and lots of bits chassis-wise, and the exhaust.

“But I believe they are still a couple of years behind.

“It might take months to catch up.

Remote video URL

“They are behind in electronics. That’s a big part of what’s holding them back.

“That’s just a gut feeling that I get, from everything I learn, from what I see on track and listen from riders’ debriefs.

“But this is testing. We will come back to a different track condition.

“Everyone will have to adjust to that track condition.

“It will give opportunities to make up [time]. It will not be the same as in the test.

“Then, the real racers come out when the lights go out!

“It’s different! Some are good at going round and round in testing. Others race!”

Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo has largely been happy with Yamaha’s progress over the winter and through preseason, although he has warned that they remain far away from the dominant Ducatis.

“We are still far from the top,” Quartararo said.

“We have a lot of work to do.

“Hopefully we can find a solution during the season. We are still far away but it was positive.”

Luca Marini, the new Repsol Honda recruit, has spoken positively of their bike development and urged them to follow their own path and not solely copy Ducati.

Joan Mir, Marini’s teammate, revealed he was pleasantly surprised by his Honda in Qatar after remembering the nightmare it provided him a year ago.

“Well, honestly, I felt quite good,” Mir said. “I am happy about the day.

“We were able to be, straight away, quite fast. “Especially in race pace with the used tyres.

“I was comfortable. I came with low expectations.

“Last year it was very, very difficult to stay on the bike.

“I was surprised. We have taken the correct steps forward.”

Read More