The World Champion heads to Round 1 as the favourite, but what about the chances of the three men also riding GP23s?
Ducati’s pre-season preparations could not be more different when compared to this time last year. Unlike the “disaster” of 2022 that saw them ditch their new engine just hours before the first Grand Prix of the season, there’s now total serenity surrounding the red part of the MotoGP™ paddock.
The Bologna factory managed to improve on their dominant showing at the opening test in Malaysia by having seven of their machines occupying the top eight places in Portugal rather than the top nine places we saw at Sepang.
“I’m very happy about everything” were World Champion Francesco Bagnaia’s final words before starting the season; an ominous statement for the rest of the field. But the Ducati Lenovo man is set to have some strong competition from the three men also riding GP23s in 2023.
MotoGP™ Sprint is guaranteed to provide extra drama throughout the upcoming season with there now being 42 opportunities to add to your Championship tally from March to November. It could also mean that Bagnaia’s Achilles heel over recent seasons – unforced errors – could bite him harder than ever before. It’s true that the Italian was nothing short of imperious in the second half of last season in order to secure the premier class crown, but we also know that that was possible due to him finding the perfect rhythm on and off the bike.
Recent history tells us that the Italian isn’t the type of rider to be able to wrestle a far from perfect machine to podium success. A slight disruption to the serenity he currently finds himself in could be an opportunity for the chasing pack to pounce.
“Quartararo was fast” – Bagnaia ready for Round 1 battle
However, it’s pretty clear to everyone that the man with the number one plate is by far and away the favourite to start his title…
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