The special Covid technical freeze preventing most MotoGP manufacturers from changing engine design until 2022 means it will be harder to make a big step forward with bike performance this winter.

That stability should make it harder to catch those that were strongest in 2020, with Suzuki top of the list, having won its first premier-class rider's title in twenty years courtesy of Joan Mir.

But Suzuki project leader Shinichi Sahara disagrees, saying the freeze will also stop some new ideas being used to improve the GSX-RR, although he concedes the bike 'wasn't so bad in 2020'.

“I’d say no; from the engineering point of view we always have new ideas to make the bike better. But luckily the package of our bike wasn’t bad in 2020, so we will do careful development to the areas that we’re allowed to work on," Sahara said.

"Anyway, you never know how new regulations will affect things, but I think it is the same situation for all manufacturers. These are the same rules for everyone, so fair play is on the table and we all have to deal with this."

Sahara added: “Like we have been doing in the past, we are trying to improve all the areas of our bike’s performance without losing good balance. Probably we should aim to have better grid positions without losing any performance for race distance.”

Qualifying was the stand-out weakness for Suzuki last season with Mir starting from an average of just tenth on the grid. Team-mate Alex Rins took two front rows in qualifying, but the GSX-RR didn't claim a pole position.

Nevertheless, the pair went on to celebrate a combined eleven podiums, including two race wins, for first and third in the world championship.

One theory for the difference between Suzuki's qualifying and race performance was the GSX-RR's gentle tyre behaviour, allowing the bike to set an impressive pace at the end of a race but perhaps not working the rubber hard enough over a single flying lap.

Mir felt a qualifying cure could be found from the set-up: "The bike you need for qualifying and the bike you need for the race are totally different.

"Probably in our side what we are missing is the setting for the bike for qualifying. Because they are really different things. The fuel tank is nearly empty, the electronics are fully powered.

"This is why we have to improve the setting for qualifying but without forgetting the other ones [for the race]."

Mir felt that Ducati was the manufacturer that seemed to make the biggest step in terms of a qualifying set-up, relative to their race pace.

Current Concession manufacturer Aprilia and former Concession manufacturer KTM are the only factories allowed to change their engine design ahead of the 2021 season.

 

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