The MotoGP™ grid underwent a number of changes between 2022 and 2023. In total, no less than eight riders made the transition to a new manufacturer ahead of the campaign, including rookie Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) - who not only had to adapt to the KTM RC16 but a MotoGP™ machine as a whole having made the leap following his Moto2™ title success. During this summer break, it’s a good time to take stock of these riders and see how each of them has adapted.
Firstly, we have to say that we must wait and see when it comes to GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3's Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard, of course, has been sidelined for the first eight rounds of the season after suffering that horrendous crash on the opening day in Portimao. He's set to make his racing return at Silverstone following the summer break, so we can properly evaluate his adaptation across from the Honda once MotoGP™ returns in August.
With a total of 79 points, Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) sits in seventh place overall and is the rider who has best adapted to his new machine. Previously on a Ducati until last year, the Australian quickly tamed the KTM RC16, notably with two podium finishes at the Grand Prix of Spain. In addition to impressive agility of the line, the Australian has also shown strength in the complex task of qualifying, securing a spot on the front row at the Sachsenring and Jerez. Despite forgettable weekends at Le Mans, Assen and Austin, the number 43 has made a strong start to the season with his new package and seems capable of achieving his first victory for a third manufacturer, which would make him a MotoGP™ history-maker.
In 10th position in the standings, Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) has also managed to score important points. Riding the Ducati GP22, the number 73 had challenging weekends in Austin, Le Mans and Mugello, but has been beset by some misfortune so far this season. He showcased his talent in Argentina where the Gresini rider secured his first pole in MotoGP™ at Termas de Rio Hondo before stepping onto the podium in third place on race day, marking his best Grand Prix of the season. The Spaniard has accumulated 63 points so far in the championship after eight races, despite failing to score points in seven of the 16 races we’ve had in 2023. The native of Cervera is still chasing his first victory in the premier class, which he could achieve with another outstanding performance before the end of the season.
As for Augusto Fernandez, he is not yet at the stage of aiming for race victories, but the Spaniard has perfectly mastered his entry into the premier class. With a highlight of a fourth place finish at the Grand Prix of France following his first Q2 appearance, the rookie has had a more than convincing start to the campaign. With no team leader since Pol Espargaro’s injury in Portimao, the 25-year-old is still one of only two riders, along with Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™), to have scored points in every race, demonstrating an excellent level of consistency.
Alex Rins (LCR Honda Castrol) and Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) have had mixed starts on their new machines. Now with Honda, the Spaniard is the only rider on this list to have secured a victory this season. He won in Austin after finishing second in the Tissot Sprint, earning 34 of his 47 points all in Texas. Despite being forced to sit out the last three Grands Prix due to his crash at Mugello, the Spaniard still outperforms his teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in the overall standings.
On the other hand, Miguel Oliveira has been terribly unlucky since joining Aprilia. Only 27 points to his name doesn’t tell the full story, with the Portuguese rider being sidelined due to injuries caused in crashes involving first Marc Marquez and then Fabio Quartararo at Rounds 1 and 4 of the season. He qualified in fourth place on the grid in front of his home crowd at the opening round and then showed his podium potential, so don’t be surprised to see Oliveira shoot up the standings in the second half of the season after fully recovering over the summer break.
A change of factory hasn’t been the new lease of life that Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) was hoping for. After a challenging year with KTM last season, Fernandez hoped to make a fresh start with RNF. Although he has scored points four times this year, the Spaniard has not achieved better than a 12th-place finish, which he secured in Assen. Hindered by arm pump at the beginning of the season, the number 25 underwent surgery that forced him to miss the Grand Prix of France. Now without any injury concerns, Fernandez must show a noticeable improvement in the second half of the season.
The same story goes for Joan Mir, whose first half of the season has been plagued by crashes and injuries. The 2020 World Champion had to withdraw from the Grand Prix of Argentina, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands all through injury in what has been a nightmare start to life in the colours of Repsol Honda. Struggling with the RC213V, the Mallorca has scored just five points in the World Championship, which were earned in the season-opening race at Portimao. Despite this rough patch, there’s no doubting the two-time World Champion’s abilities, and, once fully fit, he’ll be as determined as ever to try and turn his season around.