Motorcycle Racing

Has Morbidelli found his MotoGP mojo again after years of struggles at Yamaha?

Franco Morbidelli, Pramac Racing

Pramac rider Franco Morbidelli showed glimpses of his former self as he battled team-mate Jorge Martin and reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia for a podium in last weekend’s German GP.

While his strategy to play aggressive early on ultimately and dropped him to fifth at the finish, there were only positives to take for a rider who is rebuilding his career after going from fighting for the championship in 2020 to becoming an occasional top-10 scorer in MotoGP.

In fact, Morbidelli’s results over the last few years with Yamaha were so underwhelming that many questioned how he managed to land a top seat with Pramac on a factory-spec Ducati GP24.

The criticism wasn’t completely invalid when you look at how easily he was overshadowed by team-mate and 2021 champion Fabio Quartararo during their time together at the factory team.

Even after showcasing a major improvement in his speed last year on an underpowered Yamaha M1, he still finished three places and 70 points behind Quartaro in the standings – and without a single podium to his name. It was perhaps no surprise that the Japanese marque made a decision not to renew his contract and poached Alex Rins from LCR Honda instead.

While it was unfortunate that Morbidelli could never turn around his performances at Yamaha, despite the Japanese manufacturer publicly supporting him for the longest of times, the Italian has now been given a new lease of life at Pramac and he must take full advantage of it. If the Sachsenring race was any indicator, one can see him delivering on his promise again after years in the doldrums.

“A version of me that we haven’t seen in a while. I’m glad it came back out,” Morbidelli said of his showing on Sunday. “I’ve been there for a few races now, seeing the podium and getting closer – but this one a little bit more. At one point I thought I had to win! So, good. It was a positive weekend that everyone needed.”

It was clear that Morbidelli was going to face a challenging first half of the year when a training accident at Portimao prevented him from riding the GP24 during the official pre-season testing. Adapting from the M1 he has raced since his debut in 2018 to the Desmosedici was always going to be a tough task, but he then had to complete the transition during race weekends.

Franco Morbidelli, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

But after surviving the madness that was the Spanish GP sprint to take his first points…

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