There might finally be light at the end of the tunnel for reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo, after his first chance to test the new 2023 Yamaha M1 at Misano seems to have delivered the missing top-end power and speed that he’s been crying out to the factory for quite some time.
With Quartararo having complained since the start of the season about the disadvantage he faces – especially against four-in-a-row race winner Pecco Bagnaia’s Ducati – the lack of top speed even forced Yamaha to give key concessions to the championship leader before he put pen to paper on a new two-year deal earlier this season.
Part of that was to inject new life into the Japanese engineering department – something that the team did by hiring ex-Ferrari and Toyota F1 engine development chief Luca Marmorini to join the project.
And, with the two-day Misano test the first chance to sample his work, it seems that so far it’s been a massive improvement, with the Frenchman left very happy indeed with the first step towards next year’s bike.
“We made a test with the first engine of 2023,” he said, “and it was a good step. I’m really happy with it considering there’s still a lot of time until the first race in Portimao. At the moment, I’m happy with the first step because for the first time, this afternoon I could look at the top speeds and be more up than down.
“When they make a good job, we have to say it, not only bad things. I still have a lot of requests, but at least I know that the first step is really good. Now we need more steps, and of course, I know that the others won’t be as big as this one, but I think we [have gone a] good way forward.”
That’s something backed up by data, too, with both Quartararo and team-mate Franco Morbidelli (who normally fares even worse in the speed rankings) only 2mph slower than the dominant Ducatis at the end of the first of two days of testing at Misano.
Admittedly up against this year’s Ducati not the 2023 power, with its new machines yet to appear, it nonetheless bodes well for Quartararo and Morbidelli considering that there remains time for at least two more engine specifications to be trialled at the end of 2022 and the start of 2023 before teams have to seal the final race specification for March’s first race,
And, on an equally positive note, it hasn’t just been more speed that the Iwata factory has delivered to its race riders. Morbidelli explained that the new engine still very much feels like an M1.
“The engine feels good,” he enthused. “It’s really nice, it still has the nice and mellow behaviour of a Yamaha on the bottom, but in high gears and in higher RPMs it develops quite a good speed.
“Everything we wanted from it.”