Motorcycle Racing

Top 5 things we learnt from the 2023 Portimao Test

Top 5 things we learnt from the 2023 Portimao Test

Bagnaia 100% ready, crucial gains for Quartararo, Marc Marquez welcomes “best feeling” on the final day and more

So that’s it, 2023 pre-season testing is officially in the history books. Five fascinating days in Sepang and two days in Portimao have been and gone, but what did we learn from the final two days of action at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve?

Here’s the top five things we learnt as Round 1 of the 2023 season appears over the horizon: 

Ducati and Bagnaia on song

A total of 12 riders were able to beat the previous Portimao lap record held by reigning World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team). However, only one person was able to set a 1:37s lap time across the two days of testing – and it was the #1 plated 2022 King. A scintillating 1:37.968 put Pecco 0.296s clear of second fastest Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), as he and Ducati laid down the gauntlet to the chasing pack.

“We are ready” were three words that signalled it’s all systems go for Bagnaia and Ducati heading to Round 1. Unlike last year’s problematic pre-season, Pecco heads into the year with a settled Desmosedici GP23 that he admits has been designed a little bit around his riding style.

The Italian marque in general look to have got things right ahead of the 2023 season, with Luca Marini, his Mooney VR46 Racing Team teammate Marco Bezzecchi, Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team), Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) all inside the top 10 in Portimao. Those names are going to be fighting up the sharp end a lot throughout the year.

Quartararo finds crucial gains on the final day

Ducati won’t have it all their own way though. For much of pre-season, 2021 World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) cut a frustrated figure. On one hand, Yamaha had found the extra horsepower they were craving from their 2023 engine. That was hugely encouraging. On the other hand, soft tyre pace was nowhere to be seen.

At the end of the penultimate day, this was still a massive issue. But gains were found on the final day of testing, with Quartararo and Yamaha basically going backwards to make a step forwards. 2021 set-ups helped pave the way for Quartararo to claim P3 on…

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