Рубрика: Motosport News

Yamaha still too far from MotoGP rivals after 2024 test

Tuesday’s outing in Valencia marked the true first test of the 2024 season, with Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales leading the way.

After a lukewarm reception to its first 2024 prototype – and particularly the engine – at Misano in September, Quartararo ended Tuesday’s Valencia running 0.769s off the pace in 12th, albeit without doing a proper time attack run.

Due to the new concession regulations announced on Monday, Quartararo will have three extra days of testing in the winter of 2024 as he will be able to take part in the Sepang shakedown in February.

Yamaha will also be able to test with him in-season and freely develop its engine.

Quartararo says he is happy to take on this extra testing role, but admits disappointment at the lack of a bigger step on Tuesday in Valencia.

“Yes. I mean, of course, I expected more also from… it was not really a big expectation from this test,” he replied when asked by Motorsport.com if he was disappointed with the latest 2024 Yamaha, even if he has more options to develop it.

“But you always try to look high and of course, for me, it was some improvement.

“But the reality is we are still as far as before. But it’s true that me as a rider, I want to race and fight for victories.

“And if I have to make extra tests to really perform, I’m happy to do it. But we have to work hard and in a real idea with what we need to get back.”

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

He added: “If it’s enough [the extra testing], I don’t know. But for me, it’s really important to get closer to them. I mean, the gap today is still too big.

“Of course, today we didn’t go from one lap or whatever. But still we are very, very far from what we want. But I think and I hope that these three extra days in Malaysia will make us arrive closer in Qatar.”

Quartararo praised the prototype aerodynamics he tried and says the engine was a small step from what he tried in Misano, but nothing huge.

“So, new bike there was a lot of jobs to do today, especially on the aero side,” he began, noting that the aero fairing was not the final carbon fibre version due to its newness.

“I think we made a step in this area, which is positive.

“But it changed a little bit the balance of the bike. We didn’t have enough time [to work on this] because this morning we started one hour later.

“And I think we have to adjust the setting of the bike. We tried a new chassis, but it was not so great. The engine was really similar, a little bit better but just a little.”

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Yamaha is working with ex-Formula 1 engine chief Luca Marmorini on its motors for 2024 as part of a bid to bring a more European-centred mentality to the Japanese marque.

Asked if he felt there was more of a shift in this direction on Tuesday, Quartararo added: “I think they changed their mentality.

“We are getting closer to a European [mentality], which is what we want, everything [developed] faster.

“I think the more important moment will be from February to July. These months will be really important in the way of really improving the bike, making updates super fast and this will be the key moment to see their mentality.”

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Marquez fourth on Ducati debut as Vinales tops Valencia MotoGP test

The major story of the first official test ahead of the 2024 season was Marc Marquez’s debut on the Gresini Ducati.

It marked the first time in his MotoGP career that he took to the track on a bike that wasn’t a Honda and generated a considerable amount of buzz on Tuesday morning as he prepared for his first run.

Taking to the circuit on his sponsor-less Ducati at 11:14am local time, about an hour and 15 minutes into the session, Marquez ended his first run third fastest.

With just over an hour and a half to go in the day, Marquez shot to the top of the order with a 1m29.460s before improving to a 1m29.424s.

His time at the top of the standings wouldn’t last and he would finish up his day well before the 5pm chequered flag.

Ending the day fourth, Marquez was just 0.171s off the best pace set by Vinales, who put the 2024 RS-GP through its paces and led the day with a 1m29.253s.

Only six riders posted lap times inside the opening hour of running under cold and windy conditions, with Vinales fastest at the end of hour one on a 1m31.256s.

Bike of Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Red Bull KTM

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bike of Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Red Bull KTM

His session-best lap would come in the closing stages of his 86-lap day, Vinales ending up 0.028s clear of Binder.

The South African leapt up to the top two late on his 2024-spec KTM, with Binder and team-mate Jack Miller testing a new aerodynamic concept – among other things – disguised by a camo livery.

Marco Bezzecchi was third on his 2023-spec VR46 Ducati, edging ahead of Marc Marquez by 0.078s as Raul Fernandez tested for Aprilia despite RNF Racing’s recent collapse.

Alex Marquez was sixth on the second Gresini Ducati as he got to grips with the power delivery of the 2023 Ducati, while Fabio Di Giannantonio was seventh on his VR46 debut.

Enea Bastianini led Miller on his factory Ducati, with Luca Marini 10th and 0.703s off the pace on his Honda debut.

World champion Francesco Bagnaia was 11th ahead of Fabio Quartararo on the updated 2024-spec prototype Yamaha, while Joan Mir was 13th.

Championship runner-up Jorge Martin crashed twice on Tuesday, his first coming on his first run of the 2024-spec Ducati.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

The Pramac rider was 15th, 0.054s ahead of new Pramac team-mate Franco Morbidelli.

Johann Zarco was 17th after a crash on the LCR Honda, while MotoGP rookie Pedro Acosta was 1.2s off the pace in 18th after a tumble on his Tech3 GasGas.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) ended his day after only 17 laps to return to Barcelona for treatment on the leg he fractured in Qatar two weeks ago and was 22nd.

Alex Rins was 19th on his Yamaha debut, 1.3s off the pace.

Cla  Rider  Bike  Time   Gap   Laps 
Maverick Vinales Aprilia 1’29.253   86
Brad Binder KTM 1’29.281 0.028 51
Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1’29.346 0.093 62
Marc Marquez Ducati 1’29.424 0.171 49
Raúl Fernandez Aprilia 1’29.516 0.263 64
Alex Marquez Ducati 1’29.638 0.385 56
F.Di Giannantonio Ducati 1’29.662 0.409 60
Enea Bastianini Ducati 1’29.796 0.543 56
Jack Miller KTM 1’29.901 0.648 62
10  Luca Marini Honda 1’29.956 0.703 72
11  F.Bagnaia Ducati 1’29.970 0.717 51
12  Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1’30.022 0.769 63
13  Joan Mir Honda 1’30.051 0.798 69
14  A.Fernandez KTM 1’30.077 0.824 72
15  Jorge Martín Ducati 1’30.152 0.899 51
16  F.Morbidelli Ducati 1’30.206 0.953 69
17  Johann Zarco Honda 1’30.283 1.030 61
18  Pedro Acosta KTM 1’30.476 1.223 70
19  Alex Rins Yamaha 1’30.564 1.311 54
20  Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 1’30.765 1.512 74
21  Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1’30.976 1.723 63
22  Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1’32.312 3.059 17
23  Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1’32.684 3.431 27


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First images of Marc Marquez on Ducati MotoGP bike revealed

The eight-time world champion made his MotoGP debut at the Valencia test in 2012 with the factory Honda team after stepping up from Moto2 as the title winner.

He spent 11 seasons with Honda, winning 59 grands prix and six world titles in seven years between 2013 and 2019.

Since badly breaking his right arm at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2020, Marquez has struggled to recapture that form – first through a lengthy recovery and multiple surgeries, and then due to the Honda’s lack of competitiveness.

This reached its nadir in 2023, with Marquez scoring just one grand prix podium in 20 rounds and surpassing his season record for crashes at 29 – five alone coming in a German GP weekend in which his future with Honda became seriously in doubt.

After the Japanese GP, he informed Honda that he would be quitting his contract a year early and subsequently signed with Gresini to race a year-old Ducati for 2024.

Marquez was granted permission by Honda to ride the Ducati at the post-season test in Valencia on 28 November, despite still being under contract until the end of the year.

On Tuesday morning, he took to the track on a blacked-out 2023-spec Gresini Ducati, with it thought to be the bike Johann Zarco rode this season at Pramac.

Bike of Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing MotoGP

Photo by: Lewis Duncan

Bike of Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing MotoGP

Marquez will not speak to the media after the test on Tuesday due to his contractual situation with Honda.

He will leave behind most of his Honda crew, bringing only tyre technician Javi Ortiz to Gresini with him, while his new crew chief will be Frankie Carchedi – who worked with Fabio Di Giannantonio in 2023 and previously with Joan Mir at Suzuki from 2019 to 2022.

Tuesday’s Valencia test will also see Luca Marini make his Honda debut as Marquez’s replacement, with the Italian taking over the latter’s technical crew.

Zarco will make his first Honda appearance since the 2019 Valencia GP with LCR, while Franco Morbidelli swaps the factory Yamaha for the Pramac Ducati.

Alex Rins will ride the Yamaha for the first time, while Pedro Acosta will make his public MotoGP debut with Tech3 GasGas. Di Giannantonio will take to the track with VR46.

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10 things we learned from the 2023 MotoGP Valencia Grand Prix

The 2023 MotoGP season came down to a dramatic finale at the Valencia Grand Prix, with Francesco Bagnaia emerging as world champion.

The gap between Bagnaia and Jorge Martin was 21 points coming into the weekend, and only 14 by the start of the grand prix. But a crash for Martin ended his hopes and seemingly those of his hopes of stepping up to the factory team. Bagnaia didn’t need to, but he won his seventh grand prix of the season to become the first Ducati rider ever to win back-to-back titles.

Marc Marquez was caught up in the crash that ended Martin’s championship, but it didn’t dampen his farewell weekend with Honda having achieved a sprint podium on the Saturday. However, Marquez earned the ire of Marco Bezzecchi after their lap one clash, which led to the raging VR46 rider calling at Marquez the “dirtiest rider” to set up a bit of an intra-Ducati rivalry going into 2024 when the eight-time world champion joins Gresini.

The dreaded tyre pressure rules didn’t impact the championship, but it did rob Fabio Di Giannantonio of a hard-earned podium. He’s secured his MotoGP future at least, replacing Honda-bound Luca Marini at VR46.

Elsewhere, the RNF team was rejected from the 2024 grid by Dorna owing to financial problems bringing disrepute to the championship by title partner and the team’s majority owner CryptoDATA. But this has paved the way for a new entity to join from the world of four wheels.

In a packed final weekend of the year, here are 10 things we learned from the 2023 MotoGP Valencia GP.

1. Bagnaia showed his true champion’s credentials in showdown

Bagnaia has claimed back-to-back MotoGP world championship titles

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia has claimed back-to-back MotoGP world championship titles

Francesco Bagnaia may claim that the pressure he felt last year in his maiden title success was worse than this year, despite having just one race to think about and a 23-point buffer over Fabio Quartararo.

But the Valencia finale in 2023 came with much more jeopardy. Leading into the round by 21 points, another average sprint performance next to Jorge Martin’s supreme win cut the gap down to 14 for the grand prix.

Bagnaia may only have needed fifth to win the championship, but that was far from assured on a grid full of riders with podium potential – one of whom (more on him later) came through from 11th to almost win.

Promoted to pole by a Maverick Vinales penalty, Bagnaia seized the holeshot but Martin leapt up to second. Clearly the faster of the two, the Pramac rider made a critical error at Turn 1 on lap three when he got sucked into the slipstream and ran off.

Martin’s collision with Marc Marquez on lap six ensured the championship to Bagnaia. But it can be argued the factory Ducati rider somewhat goaded Martin into the aggression that cost him dearly. In the first half of the season, Bagnaia outscored Martin by 62 points after the first 10 rounds while in the final 10, Martin only outscored Bagnaia by 23.

“I couldn’t be happy with a second position in the championship,” Bagnaia said afterwards, “because a number one plate means that you need to demonstrate that you are the number one and I think we did everything perfect to be considered the number ones.”

Sure enough, when it mattered most, Bagnaia stood up as the better rider. LD

2. Martin implosion showed the weaknesses he needs to arrest in 2024

Martin must show he has learned from 2023 if he is to challenge for championship honours next year

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Martin must show he has learned from 2023 if he is to challenge for championship honours next year

Martin is 100% correct when he repeatedly stated over the Valencia round that from the San Marino GP onwards, he has been the fastest of the two title challengers. But several key mistakes unravelled his title challenge.

His crash while leading comfortably in Indonesia was at least five points that went begging. In Australia, his decision to go with the wrong rear tyre cost him another nine points to Bagnaia. Even with the tyre woes of Qatar, that extra 13 points would have meant his gap trailing into the grand prix in Valencia after his sprint win would have been just one.

And in a head-to-head for glory, Martin would have come out on top. Running off at Turn 1 while trailing Bagnaia’s slipstream was an error not totally of his own making. But his admittedly impatient charge to get back to Bagnaia which resulted in his tangle with Marc Marquez and the ending of his championship hopes was.

The fact he was 14 points adrift of Bagnaia coming into the grand prix finale means Martin felt afterwards that he “didn’t lose” the title as his chances were slim. Now he’s learned what it means to fight for a championship, next year he has to show this. LD

3. Tyre pressure rule mercifully stays out of title result…

Aleix Espargaro had spoken of concern that tyre pressure penalties could controversially decide the title

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aleix Espargaro had spoken of concern that tyre pressure penalties could controversially decide the title

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro didn’t mince his words when the subject of the tyre pressure rules potentially deciding the championship was brought up.

“If one penalty decides the championship, the image for the championship is worse than what I did to Morbidelli,” he said, referencing his slap of the Yamaha rider in Qatar.

This comment came after penalties were awarded for the first time a sprint for Morbidelli and Luca Marini breaking the tyre pressure rule. Given it’s not something the rider has any control over, and with the cold temperatures of Valencia this time of year, a disaster was potentially on the horizon for the grand prix with both Bagnaia and Martin carrying warnings already for breaking this rule.

Mercifully, Bagnaia’s pressures were fine and the crash for Martin meant even if the world champion was out with the rule, it wouldn’t have mattered. But the fact it was a major talking point of the championship decider shows how damaging this rule is for MotoGP even without it affecting results. LD

4. But it robbed a worthy podium finisher and left egg on MotoGP’s face

Di Giannantonio's podium celebrations were short lived in Valencia

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Di Giannantonio’s podium celebrations were short lived in Valencia

Minutes after Fabio Di Giannantonio departed the post-race press conference, triumphant in his second consecutive grand prix podium, it was taken away from him courtesy of a three-second tyre pressure penalty. Di Giannantonio was the first real casualty of the controversial regulation, which came into effect at this year’s British Grand Prix.

For the 2023 season, a new minimum front and rear tyre pressure was implemented, which riders had to keep within for 50% of grands prix and 30% of sprints. From the outset, riders were unhappy at the forced minimum front pressure being set at 1.88 bar (27.26psi), as it left them little margin to play with before the front became harder to manage once it went above 2.0 bar (29psi).

Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales was the first to receive a warning for running underneath the minimum tyre pressures at the Catalan GP, while team-mate Aleix Espargaro was the first to receive a three-second penalty, handed out for a second offence in Thailand. But until Sunday’s race, no rider had lost a podium because of it.

A worthy podium finisher, Di Giannantonio had started 11th before a valiant charge through the field saw him cross the line just 0.176s behind two-time champion Bagnaia.

The time it took to issue the penalty was the other issue: Bagnaia saw the chequered flag at 3.45pm, and the press conference did not start until 5pm. It was another 15 minutes until Di Giannantonio’s penalty was confirmed, a full 90 minutes after the race ended. Surely, with an automated system, the process should be quick enough to sort any penalties before the post-race press conference?

Although it was a relief that tyre pressures didn’t decide the championship result, as some had feared it might, to see the Gresini rider lose a hard-earned second-place finish to the rule felt cruel. With many riders calling for a rethink, perhaps this incident could prompt a second look at the impact this rule could have in 2025 – and avoid embarrassing the championship. MW

5. Marquez ‘fought like a champion’ in Honda farewell

The end of an era as Marquez bid farewell to Honda

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The end of an era as Marquez bid farewell to Honda

Marc Marquez’s Honda farewell – at least for now, as he continues to say – was a mixed affair. It started with a fine ride to the podium in the sprint, something he said was the perfect way to repay the team that gave him his chance in MotoGP and with whom he won six world titles.

The grand prix didn’t go to plan. A lap one tangle with Marco Bezzecchi (more on that later) gave way to a race-ending crash with Martin, after the Pramac rider collided with him at Turn 4 on lap six while battling over fifth.

Mercifully escaping serious injury after a heavy fall, Marquez came away from his final Honda MotoGP weekend with his head held high and going down swinging.

“We didn’t finish in a good way or in the way I would like our relationship with Honda, because honestly speaking I approached the weekend like I was fighting for the championship,” Marquez said.

“I was fully concentrated all the laps, all the races, all the practices. Yesterday we achieved the podium. Today, I don’t like to say it, but the podium was possible because the pace was there and I felt strong and I was managing the tyres.” LD

6. Marini’s factory Honda step makes sense in the long run

Marini's move is clearly one with a long-term view

Photo by: German Garcia

Marini’s move is clearly one with a long-term view

While stepping away from the best bike on the grid might seem like an odd move in the short-term, Marini’s move to Honda announced on Monday enables his dreams of developing a factory bike – a chance he was unlikely to get given the factory Ducati seat logjam.

With two-time champion Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini at the factory team, 2023 runner-up Jorge Martin and new arrival Franco Morbidelli at Pramac, three-time GP winner Marco Bezzecchi at VR46 and the Marquez brothers at Gresini, Marini – the only Ducati rider not to win a race this season – was unlikely to see himself on the red bike any time soon.

Speaking at Sepang, Marini admitted that going to a factory team was a “completely different thing” from being a satellite rider, and would be “something really incredible”.

When asked by Motorsport.com if it made sense moving to Honda from a competitive standpoint, he replied: “You have the best bike, but going in a factory team and develop your own bike and talk with the engineers and follow a direction – your direction – everybody together, is a completely different thing. 

“I know that my package now is fantastic, the team is working very well, and Ducati is a fantastic bike performing well every time in every situation, every condition. But also, as a rider, I have dreams to achieve and to ride and work for a factory team is something really incredible, in my opinion. But it needs to be the correct project, the correct situation.”

He appears to have now found that correct project at Honda, with a two-year deal seemingly better than that offered to other riders considered for the ride. Stepping out from his brother Valentino Rossi’s team is a way for Marini to show that he is not simply protected by the nine-time world champion, and reignites Rossi’s links to the Japanese marque 20 years after his departure from the brand he won the first of his three MotoGP titles with. MW

7. Bezzecchi rage at Marquez hints at stable clash in 2024

2024 stablemate's Bezzecchi and Marquez haven't ended the season on good terms

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

2024 stablemate’s Bezzecchi and Marquez haven’t ended the season on good terms

The collision between Marc Marquez and Marco Bezzecchi on lap one of the grand prix wasn’t replayed much on the world feed during the broadcast. It was investigated by the stewards, but deemed a racing incident.

It made little difference to Marquez’s grand prix, ultimately, but Bezzecchi was not a happy chap when he came to speak to the media – beer in hand – about his afternoon. He felt Marquez is always getting away with incidents like this and that the stewards, nor Dorna Sports’ sporting director Carlos Ezpeleta, would not entertain speaking with the Italian.

When asked if he felt Marquez got special treatment from the stewards, he said: “Yes, for sure. They never make nothing to him, because it’s Marquez, and he’s the dirtiest rider.”

Marquez said he “would not lose time” thinking about Bezzecchi. But given they will be on the same bike next year and with the expectation of the Ducati stable that you don’t go over the limit with those on Desmosedicis, this tiff threatens to rumble on into 2024.

“For sure he won’t [race fairly with other Ducatis], but I will do the same,” Bezzecchi added. “I don’t care.” LD

8. Di Giannantonio gets his reprieve

Di Giannantonio's recent form has seen him earn a reprieve with VR46

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Di Giannantonio’s recent form has seen him earn a reprieve with VR46

Despite having had his second podium of the season taken away on Sunday, Di Giannantonio has proved himself a worthy contender in the second half of 2023.

He had a tough start to the year, managing just five top 10 finishes in the first 11 rounds, but his form has consistently improved since India. He took eighth place in Japan before finishing fourth in Indonesia and scoring his maiden podium in Australia at Philip Island. A first win came in Qatar, followed by his third podium visit of the year in Valencia – until the belated penalty call.

Despite this, it had seemed possible that Di Giannantonio might find himself without a ride next year, with rumours that the VR46 seat vacated by Marini could be taken by Moto2 sensation Fermin Aldeguer. Even Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti told motogp.com it was “unacceptable” that Di Giannantonio could be left without a ride.

But VR46 saved the day, announcing on Monday that it had opted to sign the Italian for a season alongside Bezzecchi and giving him one more year to prove his worth.

It is a gamble which should pay off. Having finished 20th in his rookie season in 2022 with 24 points and a best race finish of eighth, Di Giannantonio improved to 12th this season. If he can continue his strong upward curve, VR46’s new signing could prove to be one of the stronger satellite contenders in 2024. MW

9. Michelin finds no manufacturing fault in Martin’s Qatar tyre

Michelin have ruled out a manufacturing fault had anything to do with his poor start in Qatar

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Michelin have ruled out a manufacturing fault had anything to do with his poor start in Qatar

Martin had a torrid Qatar Grand Prix, struggling to a season-worst 10th in the penultimate race of the season having battled with a lack of rear grip from the off. After title rival Bagnaia finished second to take a 21-point lead into the Valencia finale, the Pramac rider said Michelin had ‘stolen’ his championship with its problematic rear tyre.

He rowed back slightly on his criticism a little, but on Thursday in Valencia, he said there had been no answers from Michelin yet over what went wrong.

On Friday, Michelin motorsport boss Piero Taramasso said initial analysis of the tyre showed no manufacturer errors. Though it reasoned that further work was still needed to determine what went wrong, Michelin stressed there was “no quality problem” in the hard compound tyre.

The data the manufacturer has at its disposal did reveal that Martin’s “pressures were higher compared to all other riders front and rear” which could be explained by the Spaniard pushing hard to make up ground from his poor start.

Taramasso said: “We saw different things but at this moment we don’t have a clear answer. We still have a different hypothesis. We will do some work and analysis and we will come back to you, to the team if we see something more.” MW

10. RNF collapses as Trackhouse gets set to take over

Legal action and a potential takeover of the RNF team dominated headlines on Monday

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Legal action and a potential takeover of the RNF team dominated headlines on Monday

Over the Valencia weekend, the future of the RNF team was cast in doubt as reports emerged about a takeover by NASCAR squad Trackhouse and team boss Razlan Razali being fired.

RNF – or, to be more accurate, majority owner and title partner CryptoDATA – rubbished all of this. Then on Monday Dorna announced that it was rejecting RNF for the 2024 season, citing “repeated infractions and breaches of the Participation Agreement affecting the public image of MotoGP have obliged this decision”.

CryptoDATA has taken to social media to threaten Dorna over legal action, which isn’t likely to go anywhere.

Razali has pointed the finger at CryptoDATA for all of this, confirming it had not paid partners – though Aprilia has been squared up. Motorsport.com also learned from a source close to RNF that CryptoDATA had not paid all of what was agreed to Dorna for sponsoring the Austrian GP.

Motorsport.com then learned from a source close to Aprilia that Trackhouse will join the MotoGP grid next season, taking RNF’s grid slots but assimilating the team, while closer technical ties will be formed with Aprilia.

It’s a story that has completely overshadowed the events of the 2023 title decider in many ways, while it also brings to an end a team that – though struggled under its new guise as RNF across 2022 and 2023 – did bring Quartararo to MotoGP under the Sepang Racing Team banner and fought for the 2020 title with Morbidelli. LD

The 2024 MotoGP season starts on Tuesday with the Valencia test

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The 2024 MotoGP season starts on Tuesday with the Valencia test

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Marquez “will raise the level” of Ducati’s MotoGP competitiveness – Tardozzi

On Tuesday, eight-time world champion Marquez will make his first MotoGP appearance on a bike other than a Honda for the first time in the post-season Valencia test.

Marquez will ride the 2023-spec Ducati that won the world championship this year in Gresini colours next season, after electing to leave Honda with one season left on his contract following a difficult campaign.

How Marquez will assimilate into Ducati has been a topic of discussion since the announcement that he will leave Honda came last month.

Tardozzi, who believes Ducati’s approach to satellite teams has helped raise Ducati’s level in MotoGP, says Marquez will take this even further in 2024.

“Raising again the level of the competitivity,” Tardozzi told Motorsport.com when asked what he thinks Marquez will do for Ducati.

“He will raise the level because tomorrow Marc will be very, very, very fast. I almost bet in him [finishing] in first position at the end of the test.

“It’s possible because he will do 300% to show this and maybe he will do this – like [Jorge] Martin will do exactly the same to show to everybody that he is a kind of world champion too.

“While Pecco [Bagnaia] will work because Pecco will work for us and his bike to let us see the way to bring the 2024 bike over the 2023.”

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: German Garcia

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Marquez won’t be allowed to speak to the media following Tuesday’s test due to being under contract with Honda until the end of the year.

However, in Malaysia, while following his brother and team-mate for 2024 Alex Marquez, he offered some insight into why his transition from the Honda to the Ducati will be smooth.

“I mean, just he was riding good,” he said at Sepang when asked by Motorsport.com what he gleamed of the Ducati following his brother.

“It was nothing special, but he was braking on the correct moment, on the correct lines, picking up the bike well and he was riding good.

“On the first time attack I tried to follow him at the end of the practice and I nearly crashed trying to recover what I lose on that Turn 3 and 4.”

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MotoGP confirms concession plans for the 2024 season

During the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend earlier this month, Motorsport.com revealed that MotoGP would be bringing back concessions in a bid to hinder Ducati and help the struggling Japanese manufacturers.

The proposal was for limits to be placed on tyre allocation, testing, wildcards and engine development, among other things, with Ducati receiving the harshest restrictions and a sliding scale of severity for the other marques based on championship position.

On Monday, MotoGP confirmed the return of concessions and the parameters of how the system will work, as agreed upon by the manufacturers.

Manufacturers will be placed into four groups based on the percentage of the possible maximum points they have accrued in each window of assessment.

There will be two windows in which manufacturers will be assessed. The first is from the first event of the season to the last, and the second is from the first event after the summer test ban to the last event before the summer test ban the following season.

The rankings a manufacturer will be entered into are as follows: A, B, C, D.

A manufacturer in rank A will have to have scored at least 85% of possible maximum constructors’ points to be classed as such, and will then have 170 test tyres, private testing with test riders only at only three GP circuits, no wildcards, a maximum of eight engines per year and a freeze on development as well as only one aero update per year.

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team

For a B rank, the points percentage must be less than 85% but greater than 60%, while for C it must be less than 60% and greater than 35%. For D rank, it’s less than 35%.

B and C-ranked marques will be subject to the same testing limits, engine number, development freeze and aero updates as A rank, but can have three and six wildcards respectively.

They will also have 190 and 220 test tyres.

For D-ranked manufacturers, they will be permitted to 260 test tyres, testing at any GP circuit, six wildcards, testing with race riders and a maximum of 10 engines which can be freely developed and two aero updates per year.

If a manufacturer changes rank during the second window mentioned above, the concessions will be adjusted accordingly to reflect this.

For the 2024 season, Ducati will be A rank, KTM and Aprilia C, Yamaha and Honda D.

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“Big mistake” to hold MotoGP Valencia GP at 3pm, says Espargaro

KTM factory rider Jack Miller crashed out of the lead on lap 19, with Alex Rins, Augusto Fernandez and Enea Bastianini all ending up in the gravel in similar incidents.

The cooler temperatures were in part due to the 2023 season finale taking part three weeks later than last year’s race.

The start time was also scheduled an hour later than its usual 2pm slot to avoid clashing with the beginning of Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Factory Aprilia rider Espargaro believes he would have “crashed the same” as Miller had he been leading the race given the “very cold” temperatures.

“[It was a] big mistake to put the race at 3pm, big mistake,” he said.

“I talked with Jack before talking to you, I felt very bad for him and said ‘Jack, you lost temperature in the front when you were in P1 alone?’ and he said yes.

“So it was clear, yeah it was his mistake but in this case, I would crash the same. 

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: KTM Images

Jack Miller, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

“It’s very difficult. You see why Pecco… Pecco is smart, he’s a very good rider and he understood that he was better not to lead today.

“Jack tried because he’s brave and he made a mistake but I would do the same. It was very late, almost 4pm, very cold. With this front tyre is very sensitive.”

Though Miller said he could feel the temperatures dropping as the race progressed, he stopped short of blaming it for his crash.

He said: “It cooled down this afternoon. I mean, lap by lap you could feel it cooling down. 3pm we started the race and it’s nearly fucking dark out there already.

“But we’re racing in the last weekend in November here in Valencia, so that can be expected racing at 3pm.

“So, I’m not going to blame that. It was the same conditions for everybody and Pecco managed to stay on the bike and win the race and win the championship.”

Bagnaia also said it was “quite scary out there,” adding: “In the last five laps I started to feel cold on the bike and I was very scared about the front tyre, it was hard.”

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Di Giannantonio takes Marini’s vacated VR46 Ducati spot for 2024 MotoGP season

The Gresini rider had looked unlikely to race in MotoGP next season until a late reshuffle opened up a space at Valentino Rossi’s team.

He lost his seat at Gresini to Marc Marquez, who joins the Ducati satellite team after 11 years with the Honda factory squad.

Though he was briefly linked to the Honda seat left by Marquez, Luca Marini was confirmed as the latter’s replacement on Monday morning.

This paved the way for VR46 to confirm Di Giannantonio will ride for them in 2024.

The 25-year-old had a late-season surge in form, taking his maiden win at the penultimate round in Qatar.

After that race, Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti told motogp.com it was “unacceptable” that Di Giannantonio could be left without a ride for next season.

Di Giannantonio also took second place in the season finale in Valencia before he was handed a three-second tyre pressure penalty which demoted him to fourth.

He finishes his second season in the premier class 12th in the standings with 151 points.

Speaking in Sunday’s press conference, Di Giannantonio remained coy about his future but said he would be present at Tuesday’s test.

He told Motorsport.com: “Let’s say that if you find a nice looking guy playing around with a new bike on Tuesday, could be me.”

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing

Following the announcement on Monday afternoon, Di Giannantonio said: “I’m happy to join such a strong team as the Mooney VR46 Racing Team, I can learn a lot and I can’t wait to start working together on this project, we can do really good things.

“In the last two seasons in MotoGP I have grown a lot and in this Team I will certainly be able to mature further and achieve great results. I’m excited, I can’t wait to meet all my new staff and crew and start working on the track. Thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Team director Uccio Salucci added: “I am really happy to announce that Fabio will join our team.

“It was an unexpected arrival, at the last minute but I am satisfied that we have chosen him. He had a great end of the season, he didn’t lose himself when things didn’t go well and I’m sure he’ll be able to feel at home here.

“On a motorsport level, he has proven to be among the fastest young Italians, he will continue to work with Ducati and the objective is to help him be not only competitive, but also consistent in his results.

“It is an ambitious project, it marks a turning point in the history of our team, but I am sure that we will all give our best to go in the same direction.”

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Bezzecchi rages against “dirtiest rider” Marquez after Valencia MotoGP tangle

Marquez and Bezzecchi collided at Turn 3 on the opening lap of the grand prix when the Honda rider tried to overtake him on the inside.

Bezzecchi crashed out and the incident was investigated before no further action was taken.

The VR46 rider raged against Marquez, calling the move “dirty” and suggesting that race direction always acts leniently towards Marquez.

“Well, the race unfortunately for me was very short,” Bezzecchi began. “Marquez decided to end my race on the third corner.

“He did the same as he did in Thailand with me in corners five and six. So, he hit me right here in my back.

“But the problem was this time he hit me a bit harder and he made me crash very early. Also, I hurt myself because I also have pain in my left foot and shoulders.

“So, nothing more to say. I think his riding style doesn’t need any explanation.

“And also what was very good, they didn’t show the replay. It was very, very dirty. I think from the view from the TV you can see very well, but it’s Marquez so they don’t make anything to him.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

“They investigated it but they didn’t do anything, as always. It’s always a racing incident for them.

“The problem is Marquez, we saw yesterday with Jorge [Martin], fortunately nothing crazy, but today with me, in Thailand with me, in Le Mans with Pecco.

“Most of the time, when the other rider doesn’t crash it’s OK. But at least when you make the other rider crash, at least [it’s] a f*****g penalty.

“At least, because then everyone goes into the other ones, makes everyone crash. Brad [Binder] did the same [in Indonesia with Luca Marini] and he got the long lap.

“This is how it has to be. The race is 27 laps. If you make me crash on the third corner, I think you deserve a penalty.”

When asked by Motorsport.com if he truly felt Marquez gets let off easier than other riders, Bezzecchi replied: “Yes, for sure. They never make nothing to him, because it’s Marquez, and he’s the dirtiest rider.”

Bezzecchi added that he tried to speak to the stewards, but said they weren’t interested: “I tried to go to the stewards, I tried to speak with them, they didn’t want to speak with me.

“I tried to speak to Carlos Ezpeleta, he didn’t want to speak with me.

“So, I went to his truck, to Marc, to speak with him. I asked him why. He didn’t see me. I said it’s not possible you didn’t see me. In Thailand he made completely the same.”

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Racing Team

Bezzecchi also doesn’t believe Marquez will race fairly with the other Ducati riders in 2024 when he joins Gresini, saying, “for sure he won’t, but I will do the same. I don’t care.”

Marquez defended his role in the incident and believes Bezzecchi is guilty of plenty of incidents of his own.

“I will not lose a lot of time with this rider because during this season he already push me out many times,” Marquez, who crashed out of the grand prix after Martin collided with him, said.

“It’s normal. I was on inside, he tried to keep the outside line to come back on Turn 4. But, if you are outside you will lose [out] if the rider inside keeps the speed.

“And it’s what we did from Turn 2 to Turn 3, we were parallel and we tried to keep the outside line to come back in Turn 4. But nothing more. I will not lose more time with him.”

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