Stefan Bradl: “HRC’s race to catch up has begun” / MotoGP

Stefan Bradl: “HRC’s race to catch up has begun” / MotoGP

Stefan Bradl is testing in Jerez, new Technical Director Ken Kawauchi is there for the first time. ‘But no miracle will happen. It will take some time before we get back on track,” says Stefan Bradl.

Stefan Bradl tested the newest version of the Honda RC213V at the Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto today for the first time since December 14-16. “But in December it counted for three days, nothing worked,” recalled the Honda MotoGP test rider. The 33-year-old Bavarian met new Technical Manager Ken Kawauchi, who was responsible for the Suzuki Ecstar team for almost ten years, for the first time during the HRC test.

Honda is under pressure. Because Marc Márquez discovered in the autumn during the tests in Misano with the first examples of the 2023 season that the improvement did not meet his expectations. “We’re running out of time, we need more than one stage, we can’t win with this bike,” Márquez said after 13th place and 0.644 seconds back at the Valencia test in November.

Of course, Stefan Bradl is not allowed to reveal any technical secrets about HRC’s latest developments. “But I can say that no miracle will happen and suddenly we will be setting records and winning. The process of getting back on track is taking and will take time. This is the start of our sprint,” says the 2011 Moto2 World Champion, who has 53 top results in the MotoGP class so far.

“Undeniably we have to improve,” Bradl says. “But how big should the steps be, because there aren’t any at the moment. It’s also not clear if it’s the chassis, the engine, the electronics or the aerodynamics. It’s a complex problem we have. And at a step like this you have to solve every piece of the puzzle and put it back together again. “

In MotoGP at the moment there is no work that brings 3 or 5 tenths of a second. Details must be worked out in all areas, progress is made in ten second increments.

‘Yes, that’s right. Since the time intervals are so narrow, there is no longer a miracle part where you can quickly get the second half. You have to make the tires work so that they don’t just work for one lap, but you have to use 100 percent in all conditions. At this point we are too far for one lap and also for the distance of the race. But there are a few methods that we are now trying and testing and seeing that we can make progress step by step. In any case, I can reveal that I am riding with a Kalex aluminum swingarm and an Akrapovic exhaust system.

However, the conditions in Jerez are not ideal. “At night it’s zero degrees, sometimes even minus 1 or minus 2, during the day it’s 13 or 14 at most. I’ve never seen Jerez so cold at this time of year. It’s very cold. The track temperature doesn’t rise either. By MotoGP standards, these are exceptional conditions.”

“We must look for improvements in all areas of the motorcycle,” summarizes Bradl. “Ken Kawauchi is also there. You can tell something is up at HRC. For Kawauchi comes a breath of fresh air, and in Japan the designs have changed somewhat. Maybe new employees will bring new ideas. Something happens. I also have a new chief of staff in Ramon Aurín, who I have known for a long time. I worked with him at Repsol-Honda in 2019 when I replaced Jorge Lorenzo after his spinal injury at Assen.

“It fits, I feel good, it’s fun. And now we look at how we can take the next steps,” explained Stefan Bradl.