In front of everyone in the riders’ championship there is a Ducati, but it is not a new and flamboyant GP22, but the older GP21 (albeit with some updates) driven by Enea Bastianini. That a safe used vehicle is better than novelty at all costs is not so unusual in MotoGP. Just ask Yamaha, which in 2020 saw Franco Morbidelli close the championship in 2nd place with the M1 of the previous year, with all due respect to the factory team.
History therefore seems to repeat itself, albeit in this case it is still difficult to say whether the old bike is better than the new oneto. Bastianini is driving a Desmosedici that has benefited from two years of development (due to the freezing of engines for Covid) which at the end of 2021 had become almost unbeatable in the hands of Bagnaia, who won 4 of the last 6 races, arrived on the podium in a other and fell when he was in command in the last.
Ducati GP21 and GP22: so the same, so different
There is no doubt about the goodness of the Rossa di Enea, but the latest version should always represent an improvement of the previous one, as it is easy to guess. Is that so?
The comparison, it must be said, is slightly uneven because, in addition to Bastianini, the other two GP21s on the track are in the hands of rookies, Bezzecchi and Di Giannantonio. On the other hand, there are 5 GP22s, with some differences between them. Starting with the engine, because Bagnaia and Miller have chosen a sort of ‘hybrid’ version, with some components of the previous year inside that should sweeten the delivery, while Marini, Martin and Zarco use the V4 in the ‘full’ version. 2022.
Then there is that front lowering device that has been discussed so much (and which will be banned starting from next season), the one that can also be activated during the lap. After using it in the first Qatar GP, Bagnaia and Miller abandoned it. Not because it didn’t work, but because it still needs to be fine-tuned. Translated into a nutshell, his intervention was not always homogeneous, making the riders lose confidence in the front end. In the Pramac team box, however, that system is still there and it is above all Zarco who uses it.
Enea beats everyone in the race, Martin in qualifying
Once the technical picture is done, let’s move on to the comparison. Starting from the races, where there was a substantial breakeven. Bastianini finished ahead of the GP22s in Qatar and Austin, where he won. In Losail, the first official bike at the finish line was Zarco’s (Bagnaia crashed taking Martin to the ground, Miller retired due to a technical problem), more than 10 seconds behind the Rimini rider. In Texas, on the other hand, he gave Miller just over 2 seconds, with him on the podium.
The one in Indonesia, on the other hand, had been a race in the wet, the Beast’s weak point. In fact, he finished 11th, almost 30 seconds behind Zarco (on the podium), more for his demerits than for the bike. Argentina was also a complicated weekend, so much so that the first GP21 at the finish was that of Bezzecchi, 9th in the sprint ahead of Enea, and about 12 seconds behind Martin (2nd on that occasion).
In qualifying, however, the GP22 inflicts a dry 4 to 0 to the previous model, but in this case it is more thanks to Martin than anything else. Jorge is a flying lap specialist and in the first 4 GPs he started twice in pole and as many in second place. On the contrary, Enea only this year managed to express himself at his best in qualifying, starting from the front row in Qatar and from the second in Indonesia and the USA.
Ducati impregnable on the obverse, regardless of the year
Now let’s try to compare the two engines and we do it by looking at the top speeds reached over the weekends. In Argentina Bastianini had managed to reach 355.2 km / h, while Bagnaia 352.9. In Indonesia, there were even two GP21s ahead of everyone: Bezzecchi with 315.7 per hour followed by Enea with 313.9, while the best GP22 was that of Zarco (313).
In the Argentine GP the Desmosedici 2022 took its revenge thanks to the 345.5 km / h of Bagnaia against the 344.6 of Bastianini. In Austin the draw: 350.6 for both Bastianini and Miller.
The game is over and the differences are so small that you can’t decide a winner. Or rather, there is a winner and it is Bastianini. In MotoGP the rider is still able to tip the balance and that’s what Bastianini is doing regardless of his technical equipment.
The GP22 is certainly a still young bike, which the riders have not been able to fully understand yet, but it can be said that it is at the level of the GP21. Furthermore, it has yet to express its full potential, which according to Bagnaia is higher. As the season progresses, overtaking on the Desmosedici will easily happen, but it’s hard to say how big it will be.
Bastianini said that the differences between the two bikes are not huge and even the official riders have confirmed it, but in the current MotoGP even a tenth per lap can turn the tide of a race. What is certain is the constancy of Enea, the only rider not only to have won two races, but to have been on the podium twice in this beginning of the championship. With 17 races still to run, everything is open, but whoever gets off to a good start is half the battle.