Pre-season may be over for the MotoGP™ class, but there is still official track action left for the Moto2™ and Moto3™ fields. After both have had their own private tests at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, they now head for Portugal for their official outing over three days of activity.
Where? The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, the venue for the season opener, hosts on Friday the 17th, Saturday the 18th and Sunday the 19th of March.
There will be Live Timing on motogp.com and a host of content from the track to keep you up to date, including reports, interviews and more. A round up covering the three days will provide plenty of content on its conclusion too, including photos and the combined timesheets.So where were we? Below is a rundown of some expected contenders – from the top ten returners in each class – as we get ready to glimpse the lay of the land for 2023.
With the reigning Champion moving up to MotoGP™, there’s chance for a new name to take the throne. First on the list of hopefuls is 2022 challenger Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), but with some injury struggles in pre-season it might take a little longer to see his hand, and he won't be at the test. Once back up to speed, however, we can be very sure the Japanese rider has plenty in the locker… and teammate Somkiat Chantra is far from a slouch either, the Thai rider already a Grand Prix winner. That makes two… so who else can we expect to fight at the front in 2023?
The wonder rookie of Moto3™ was wonder rookie of Moto2™ more than a few times last season, including in Valencia to close out 2022 on the top step, but a mid-year injury derailed Pedro Acosta’s (Red Bull KTM Ajo) assault on the top. He won races though – as well as taking Rookie of the Year – and that pace was backed up in private testing at Jerez just this week. We can expect much, and with quick new teammate Albert Arenas in the box, both the Ajo garage and the dynamic inside it are sure to deserve some serious spotlight in 2023.
???????? @37_pedroacosta #JerezTest pic.twitter.com/cbHKGPxEIl— Red Bull KTM Ajo (@RedBull_KTM_Ajo) March 15, 2023
It’s an ongoing tussle: Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) vs the top step in Moto2™. And only in Moto2™, because the Spaniard is a winner in the lightweight class six times over. So that will be a key goal for 2023 after some stunning performances last season, but he’ll also want to retain his consistency. With his injury struggles – and ironclad ability to ride through them – teaching him a lot about pressure, or more about how to free himself from it, he'll be an interesting one to watch. And so will Sergio Garcia, his new teammate fresh from fighting for the title in Moto3™.
When Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) is on it, he’s on it. With some impressive performances in Moto2™ already, we can be confident of more but his focus will also be on creating a more consistent season to really challenge for the crown. Teammate Sam Lowes has also got proven speed, and he’ll also want more consistency… as well as a dash more luck.
Jake Dixon (GASGAS Aspar Team) is now a multiple podium finisher, but that isn’t a Grand Prix win and doesn’t taste like it. He wants victories and more consistency, and he has a very interesting new teammate: Izan Guevara. The reigning Moto3™ World Champion was in a class of his own last season in the lightweight category… what has he got on the next step of the ladder?
The top three may have moved to Moto2™, but they were the top three by just eight points – with Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) hot on the heels of both Garcia and Foggia by the close of 2022. And my oh my did Sasaki put in some performances, including that incredible victory in Austria despite two Long Lap penalties. The pre-season favourite? Likely for many.
Deniz Öncü wanted so badly to sign off from Tech3 with a first win, but it wasn’t quite to be in Valencia. Now his new adventure is already underway at Red Bull KTM Ajo, and that first win will be a serious target – as will the crown. Multiple podiums and some serious speed mean it won’t be a surprise to see the Turkish rider fighting right at the front from the off.
Jaume Masia returns to Leopard Racing in 2023, and he’s partnered with Tatsuki Suzuki to make a formidable force. Both have speed, experience and past success, and both will want a lot more of both.
Rookie of the Year in 2022, Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) already had some buzz before that as Maverick Viñales picked him as a pre-season favourite. That first podium evaded him but the Brazilian took consistent, considerable points and he’ll want to visit parc ferme on Sunday this season – as often as possible.
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