An extremely distinctive rear spoiler has appeared on the Yamaha on the final day of MotoGP 2023 pre-season testing, in the latest turn in the series’ fast-accelerating aero development war.
The seat unit of the bike increasingly emerged as an aero battleground last year – with rear winglets becoming common and what were effectively rear wings being trialled. Aprilia fitted one such wing again earlier in the Portimao test weekend, along with a host of other extreme aero appendages.
But now Yamaha has gone even more extreme with its looped, triangular version compared to the T-shaped Aprilia unit.
Along with fellow Japanese manufacturers Honda and Suzuki, the latter now gone from MotoGP, Yamaha had fallen behind in the aero development stakes in recent times, and catching up in that area has proven a major emphasis of the off-season.
Whether this has paid dividends is unclear yet, as while the other big Yamaha novelty – a new engine – has clearly delivered crucial extra power, the various aero tests haven’t yielded a definitive step forward.
In a sense, they came across as a potential distraction given both Yamaha’s 2021 champion Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli have spent pre-season testing not entirely comfortable and particularly puzzled by an alarming lack of fresh-tyre performance.
But Quartararo managed a truly massive single-lap improvement on Sunday, going a remarkable 1.3 seconds faster than he had in time attack mode the day prior – and, perhaps not coincidentally, the rear wing appeared on his bike soon after.
Quartararo said he “didn’t really feel” the wing on his initial run and is not expecting it to be raced.
“I mean, it’s not worse or better but I don’t think we’re going to use it,” he said.
He also joked that his mechanic had said “I hope it’s not working, sorry!” in reference to its looks.