Spanish rider Maverick Viñales had a really weird 2021 season. He started off racing for Yamaha, even winning the season opener at Losail, but the relationship eventually soured and the two parted ways in the strangest of fashions. Yamaha claimed Mack intentionally tried to blow up his own motorcycle and they eventually parted ways. Two races later the rider was on the grid once more racing for Aprilia. Now, in pre-season testing, he’s far and away the fastest man on two wheels!
The three-day test began with Aprilia testing a new rider, but day two and three saw Viñales and teammate Aleix Espargaro lighting up the time sheets. By the end of it, Maverick was the only rider in the 1:58s, while Espargaro, KTM’s Raul Fernandez, and a pair of Ducatis (ridden by Michele Pirro and Marco Bezzecchi) were the only riders to find a time in below 2 minutes. Perhaps most interestingly, Maverick and Aleix set identical top speeds at 207.8 mph, and they were the fastest of any riders in the three-day test.
So what did Aprilia do to get from a mid-pack team to setting the pace for the 2022 season? The bike now wears new smaller wings, and the whole front fairing has been reshaped and updated. A new exhaust was also seen in use for the test. Maybe the biggest change, however, was a new aluminum swingarm, which is a huge change from the team’s usual carbon arm.
Obviously this is just pre-season testing and there’s no way that any of this will be 100 percent indicative of race pace when the season kicks off on March 6th, right? Clearly there will be some teams sandbagging and others will be running non-homologated parts to artificially run faster than they otherwise would.
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And since you are here, check out this video of Ducati’s new dragster mode which lowers the bike’s center of mass for better holeshot traction at standing starts. Pretty frickin’ cool, even if they’re still working out the kinks.