We're on the verge of an action-packed, blockbuster season. More race weekends than ever, two new destinations, and the debut of the MotoGP™ Sprint across the calendar mean we're in for quite a ride in 2023, but that's not all! We also welcome GASGAS as a new brand on the premier class grid, and there are, of course, some rider switches and swaps that already have us chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of the class of 2023.
BAGNAIA AND THE BEAST:
The biggest headline in the rider changes is the arrival of Enea Bastianini to partner the reigning Champion, Francesco Bagnaia, at Ducati Lenovo Team. The two have already staged some incredible duels, and now they share a garage... setting the scene for the best kind of fireworks.
Then, at Prima Pramac Racing, Jorge Martin has a point to prove having missed out vs Bastianini for that very seat, and the others in the Ducati armada will want to share the spoils. Meanwhile, Alex Marquez arrives on Ducati machinery with Gresini and will be an interesting watch. Trophies don’t grow on trees and AM73 has a few.
THE BALANCE OF POWER:
A big talking point heading into 2023 is Yamaha’s engine. Can they find that balance between a little more top speed and retain the manoeuvrability of the inline-four? On the timesheets at the Shakedown the signs looked good in terms of top speed gains.
Quartararo, for one, was vocal about needing to find that power, so we await his comments. His Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammate Franco Morbidelli will also have plenty of eyes on him, needing to take a few steps forward in 2023.
WET WINS ARE NOT ENOUGH:
In 2022, KTM’s victories were both in the wet. Glorious performances and points, but the Austrian factory are here to win whatever the weather and if they can take a step forward with the machine, we already know Brad Binder will pull every drop of potential from the bike. And now, he has a new teammate.
Jack Miller has won on two other machines in the premier class, and he’s won with KTM in Moto3™. It’s an exciting prospect to see him begin a new adventure at Red Bull KTM and he already had a fair grin after his first taste of the RC16 in Valencia. Pol Espargaro was another grinning at the Valencia test and his experience should be an asset to the RC16 project as he saddles up with GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 too.
Binder eyes title glory: "It's the best shot we've ever had"
GUNNING FOR GLORY:
Glorious as it was, that single 2022 Grand Prix win is not enough for Aprilia. After a title campaign that was on course until late in the season, Aleix Espargaro wants to fight for even more in 2023 and teammate Maverick Viñales wants to beat him to it.
Now, we have four Aprilias as RNF field two piloted by Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez. Oliveira’s class has been clear throughout the Grand Prix classes and now he’s at the start of a whole new adventure – having already featured high up the timesheets in the Valencia Test. Raul Fernandez, meanwhile, also has a fresh start after the promise of a record-breaking rookie season in Moto2™ turned into a tougher debut season in MotoGP™. Now it’s time to show what he’s got.
THE QUEST FOR (MORE) SUCCESS:
Marc Marquez wants to win. And so do Honda. The two biggest mountains of the past few seasons are arguably shared between the two: Marquez with his injury struggles, surgery and comebacks; and Honda with their search for steps back towards the top. Winning is what it means to be Honda. They are the last factory to win the triple crown before Ducati’s 2022 success, after all, and their long history in the sport sparkles with trophies. Can they add more?
They’ve certainly added a few interesting pieces to the puzzle already. 2020 World Champion Joan Mir partners Marquez at Repsol Honda, and Alex Rins arrives at LCR. Both offer some serious firepower. They also retain the experience of Takaaki Nakagami, and of test rider Stefan Bradl, in their quest for more success… whilst adding the know-how of new Technical Manager Ken Kawauchi, too.
The upcoming three days in Sepang, followed by the two in Portimao in March, will provide us with some answers to how 2023 might play out. However, it will also raise plenty of questions ahead of the season getting underway in Portugal at the end of March.
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