Two days of intense testing work brought the 2023 MotoGP pre-season to a conclusion for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing at the Algarve International Circuit. Brad Binder and Jack Miller sifted through solutions for the settings of their KTM RC16s both for the long Grand Prix year ahead and for the first round of the series at the same circuit in a fortnight’s time. Binder ended the weekend 9th fastest while Miller was 17th but both less than one second from times that shattered the Portimao lap-record.
MotoGP teams left the heat of Malaysia last month to reassemble and bask in the sunshine of the Algarve for the second and last appointment in preparation for 2023. The two-day session allowed the Red Bull KTM works squad to drill through solutions and options to be ready for the 21-race championship (and brand new Sprint format) as well as look towards optimum settings for the Grande Premio de Portugal at the same fast and technical circuit at the end of March.
Brad Binder and Jack Miller were given a second opportunity to give their feedback on the potential of the RC16s around the 15 corner and 4.5 km layout in southern Portugal. The climate was steady and ideal for testing duties, even if the undulations of the track and diversity of the curves means it is a unique setting for bike behaviour and competitiveness.
Binder sat in P6 at one stage and ended the second day with the 9th fastest circulation just half a second from P1 and close to the lap record. The South African was reaching for rear grip but noted an improvement on Sunday. Miller, who is still trying to unlock the full possibilities of the race bike in what was just his third outing, was continually making gains. The Australian was just nine tenths of a second from the peak of the overall classification.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing now have a few precious days back at the race workshop in Munderfing to condense the rest of the data accumulated in Portugal before the whole effort returns to the Algarve for the first real race action of ’23 on March 25-26.
Brad Binder: “We made a good step forward today. We had to re-think things last night because I wasn’t that happy with what we were doing: the team did a great job to make me more comfortable on the bike and I could push a bit harder. We are closer to where we need to be. The time attack went better than I expected. There is definitely a step we can still make before the race but I think we are more or less ready to go into the season.”
Jack Miller: “We’re getting there. We cut almost another second today and got closer to the top rider who was six tenths under the lap-record! I’m just trying to understand the bike and try different things to get comfortable. We are improving every day and it is taking some time but we’re getting to a decent spot before the first race. Our [engine] maps need a little polishing but I think we can be quietly confident.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “This test was the first time we tried the 2023 spec of the bike and we had some unexpected issues but also some progress. We perhaps don’t have enough time now to fix everything but we hope to give the riders a better package asap. Jack is gaining confidence and speed run-by-run and Brad was a bit surprised by this test but turned it around today. We know where we need to improve and thanks to the whole team for another big effort. Let’s get the season underway now.”
Sebastian Risse, Red Bull KTM Technical Manager MotoGP: “I would say we had a difficult start to the test and had to work through a lot on the first day. The main topic for some riders was rear grip, and looking at the lap-times overall, it was clear that the track today was in better shape and this helped us but we also improved our cause. We made a step and now we just have to see how much we can transfer this on the race weekend. I think we can be happy with the evolution we made these two days and we have the baseline. Now that we have had this test everybody should be up to pace right away at the GP and I think there is still some room to work there.”
Algarve International Circuit Official Test final combined times
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 1:37.968
2. Johann Zarco (FRA) Ducati +0.296
3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +0.334
4. Luca Marini (ITA) Ducati ) +0.342
5. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Ducati +0.383
9. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.512
17. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.941