Honda desperately needs to get back on track, and the new concessions system is a godsend for the Japanese constructor. Not only will they be able to develop the engine throughout the season – with an extra evolution for the aerodynamic package – but they’ll also be able to do many more tests, even with the official riders.
The concessions also allow title riders to participate (Luca Marini and Joan Mir will also be in Sepang for the three days of shakedown from February 1st to 3rd) but, logically, the bulk of the work will be carried out by the test rider, Stefan Bradl. Details below.
More Than 20 Test Days Scheduled For 2024
This is precisely one of the advantages the engineers in Tokyo have, and the test program during the year is intense, to say the least. Our colleagues at Motorsport learned that the 2024 agenda is full, to say the least, with 22 days of private tests scheduled throughout the season.
Marc Marquez departs, Joan Mir remains, and Luca Marini arrives. The Repsol HRC team is the official Honda MotoGP squad, but it is also a team that has been short on results in recent”?t years.
Some intense and less-than-diplomatic meetings with the MSMA have led to the concept of concessions, an attempt to ‘level’ performance between the various manufacturers. On paper, Honda should benefit from this, but it will be the results to do the talking.
The situation regarding the concessions to be provided to Honda and Yamaha in 2024 continues to be thorny. It is no mystery that Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, would like to help the Japanese manufacturers catch up with the European ones by granting them help in the next championship.
However, the manufacturers’ association, the MSMA, is struggling to find a unanimous agreement on the issue, with Aprilia and KTM who, according to what our Speedweek colleagues have reported, would prefer to hinder Ducati rather than grant advantages to the Japanese manufacturers.
Already on the occasion of the appointment in Misano, Pit Beirer, Motorsport Director of the Pierer Mobility Group, was keen to underline how the gap between the Ducati and the rest of the grid was greater than the difference between KTM Aprilia Yamaha and Honda.
“If Yamaha needs concessions, KTM and Aprilia should get them too, Because Yamaha has beaten us three times with Fabio in the last six races” Beirer declared to the German news outlet, highlighting the growth achieved by the Iwata manufacturer in the latest overseas rounds. Given that Quartararo achieved two third places and two Top 5s in the Grands Prix between India and Malaysia.
New MotoGP Concession Rules
After a disappointing run of form in 2023, Honda – and their Japanese counterparts Yamaha – will be able to have unlimited private testing days in 2024 under the new MotoGP™ Concessions rules that were decided at the end of last year.
MotoGP™ has announced a new system of “concessions” for manufacturers, designed to ensure we get even closer competition in 2024 – and beyond. Check out the articles in the links below and then read on for some of the most commonly asked questions so far
When Does It Start?
Now! The first assessment was at the end of the 2023 season, so factories have already gained – or lost – concessions in the new system. The next checkpoint for them to be reassessed is the start of the 2024 summer break.
Based on the first assessment at the end of 2023, Ducati is ranked A, KTM and Aprilia are ranked C, and Honda and Yamaha are ranked D. Constructor points, so the points scored by the top finishing rider on each machine.
Any rider, any track, anytime. The only two limitations for factories in rank D with “free testing” are:
- No one is allowed to test at a track within the two weeks before a Grand Prix at the same venue. This is a separate regulation and remains as true as ever
- Test tires – rank D gets the most, but they’re not infinite!
All independent teams on that machinery also test. It’s anyone on machinery from that factory – so Yamaha can have Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and new teammate Alex Rins take part in the Sepang Shakedown test if they so choose.
As can Honda with CASTROL/IDEMITSU Honda LCR riders. So we could get a super Shakedown in 2024 – it’s up to the factories who have the option, aka Honda and Yamaha in rank D.
Is Bradl As A Test Rider Enough?
Joan Mir confirmed a contract that will expire at the end of 2024. Luca Marini, newly hired and committed throughout 2025. Johann Zarco holds a two-year contract with LCR and is eager for a factory ride. Takaaki Nakagami is loyal to Honda just as Honda is loyal to the Japanese.
Not a bad lineup, though there is no clear ‘first rider’. Will the ‘chosen one’ emerge as the races go on, or will there be a new strategy, far from the Marc Marquez modus operandi?! Right now, to be honest, perhaps it might be better to focus on improving the coherence and balance between the riders. Just a thought.
The only certainty is long-time test rider Stefan Bradl. The bosses like his work, and the rider is quiet when testing and loquacious when he needs to provide feedback and describe the feeling. Fantastic, as are the wildcard races that are planned for him.
The question though, is whether the 2011 Moto2 winner is able to take responsibility for all that there is to do.
To improve everything – the braking precision and corner entry, stability and efficiency out of the turns, acceleration, traction, top speed, the ability to conserve the tires, and the connection between bike and rider, so that those who climb aboard don’t find themselves having to tame an unpredictable bull.
The RC213 V is very much a ‘work in progress’, the latest version of which was seen during the post-race test at Valencia. When there’s so much material, with more on the way, it takes time to decide what to do – whether to develop it, if it looks competitive, or discard it, if it fails to meet requirements.
We presume the riders are very much involved in the project as it is they who must tackle the races of course. It seems as if they have planned something like 20 days of testing, even 22, but be careful, because it is the results that determine whether or not testing can be carried out. If Honda were to dominate in the first races of the season, the concessions would be scaled back as a result.
One of those, motogp.com has learned, will be at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto on the 24th and 25th of January. Bradl will be putting in the work alongside the majority of WorldSBK teams ahead of the highly anticipated Sepang Shakedown test, which begins on the 1st of February.
In addition, motorsport.com has revealed that Honda is in the market for a second test rider to take some of the load off Bradl primarily, but also Mir and Marini who will be competing in the busiest MotoGP™ season to date.
This current proposal is aimed at helping Yamaha and Honda to return to the front of the grid, with both factories struggling massively in 2023.
The idea is that restrictions will be placed on a sliding scale, with Ducati to get hit the hardest in 2024, while Yamaha and Honda will benefit the most. Do you agree with this? Let us know in the comments. Also, share with others to let them know.
We will soon be back with another article on Honda.