The wait is almost over and on Sunday the first race of the year will officially kick off the 2023 MotoGP championship. We would have written it in this way up until last season, but the premier class of the world championship has been revolutionized and the opening appointment is set for Saturday, with the first sprint race in the history of the world championship.
Sprint race and tyres: what changes in 2023 for MotoGP
The race weekend starting this year will change radically, especially for MotoGP. There will be 3 practice sessions instead of 4: on Friday the first will last 45 minutes and the second 60 and only these two will be counted to decide direct access into Q2. On Saturday, the 30-minute session in the morning will be used to prepare for qualifying and the first race in the afternoon. The sprint race will be held over half distance and will award half points. No change, on the other hand, on Sunday, with a 10-minute mini warm-up to make room for the riders' parade in the morning.
For Moto2 and Moto3, on the other hand, the 3 practice sessions are confirmed (all valid for direct access to Q2), but the two classes lose the warm-up on Sunday morning.
Going back to the premier class, there is another new aspect regarding the tyres because, as in the past, the riders will have three options to choose from for the front, but on the rear the choice will be reduced to two.
Everyone in pursuit of Ducati, Aprilia second force
This is the program for the coming weekends of 2023, with a format that will radically change the way of understanding racing for MotoGP riders. Among the many innovations, however, from what we saw in the winter tests, there is one certainty: Ducati. The Borgo Panigale army led by world champion Bagnaia looks to be in better shape than ever. While the GP22 is a mature project that is giving satisfaction to the riders of the satellite teams (Bezzecchi and Marini for VR46, Alex Marquez and Di Giannantonio for Gresini), the GP23 also seems to have been born under a lucky star and already at the level of the bike that preceded it. With quantity (8 Desmosedicis on the track, equally divided between new and old model) and quality (a Ducati was always ahead of everyone else in each of the 5 days of testing) it will be difficult to get the better of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer.
An Italian derby is on the cards because, at least on paper, Aprilia has become a candidate for the role of second force in the championship. This year it has doubled its commitment with the RNF team and the RS-GP has been evolved in a non-trivial way. While Aleix Espargarò and Vinales need no introduction, Oliveira and Raul Fernandez could be a surprise in more than a few races.
The Japanese sisters are left in two after Suzuki's abandonment and both have some problems to solve, but also two champions to count on. Marc Marquez for Honda and Fabio Quartararo for Yamaha are the two jokers in the pack, because the bikes didn't impress very much. While at least the Frenchman seems to have sorted out the M1 in extremis (unfortunately the same cannot be said for Morbidelli), the Spaniard will have to put some of his own into it on an RC213V which is still in crisis. The arrival of Mir and Rins should help in development, but the HRC-branded bike still doesn't seem to be at the level of the best competition.
Like KTM, the big enigma on the grid. New technicians and riders (Miller above all) have arrived, but the RC16 is still missing something, even if Binder has often patched things up in the past.
However, we will have to wait a little longer before doing the maths and finding out what colour will predominate in this 2023 season.