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David Emmett

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With the summer break over, MotoGP is set to resume at Silverstone. Was a five-week break a long time? “It was short!” Pol Espargaro insisted.

He would say that, though, having ended the first half of the season with a cracked rib and a couple of disastrous weekends.

“I think it was the first time I enjoyed a break so much, because I was mentally and physically quite injured, and I needed to stop, to take a deep breath.”

The rest of the field were not quite as emphatic as Espargaro, but they all said that having a proper break, rather than just three weeks instead of two between races, made a difference. They returned refreshed, motivated, and genuinely keen to get back on a MotoGP bike.

The official announcement that Alex Rins has signed a two-year deal with the LCR Honda team means that the 2023 MotoGP grid is now officially half full. The factory Yamaha, KTM, and Aprilia seats are all confirmed, as is the Gresini Ducati team.

There has been official confirmation of one side of the Repsol Honda, Ducati Factory, and LCR Honda teams.

Does that mean that the remaining 11 seats are still wide open? Not all of them. There are some which are sure bets, while others are still very much open.

Suzuki and Dorna have finally agreed terms for the Japanese factory’s withdrawal from MotoGP.

In a press release issued today, Suzuki made official that it would be pulling out of the MotoGP championship at the end of the 2022 season, and ending the participation of the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team.

At the same time, they announced they would be withdrawing from official participation in the EWC Endurance World Championship, where they race under the Yoshimura SERT Motul banner.

Alex Rins is to race for the LCR Honda team for the next two years. The official announcement only came today, but that Rins would end up at LCR was a foregone conclusion since the MotoGP race at Assen, where the Spaniard had admitted as much.

“We are almost done and everybody can imagine where I will go next year with the exit of Alex Marquez going to Gresini,” Rins had told us on the Sunday night of the Assen race.

Pecco Bagnaia has been involved in a car crash while vacationing on the Spanish island of Ibiza, which occurred while he was under the influence of alcohol.

According to local Spanish media, Bagnaia crashed the car he was driving at a roundabout, losing control when he caught a wheel in a ditch.

Though no other vehicles were involved, when the police arrived, Bagnaia failed a breath test, showing a blood alcohol level of 0.87g/l. Spanish law states that the legal limit in a breath test is 0.25 g/l, while the limit for a blood test is 0.5 g/l.

In many ways, Ducati’s MotoE project is the opposite of all the electric motorcycle projects which have gone before.

Up until very recently, conventional motorcycle manufacturers have mostly stayed well away from electric motorcycles, preferring to wait and see how the technology, and the political and legislative framework in which this all takes place, will play out.

Exceptions have been few and far between: beyond electric scooters, KTM have the Freeride, an electric enduro machine, and Honda worked with Mugen on their bike which dominated the TT Zero race on the Isle of Man.

That has left the field open for a host of new companies, which have operated with varying success. Silicon Valley produced a large swathe of start ups, mostly run by motorcycle enthusiasts from the area’s electric vehicle and technology industries, and funded with VC money.

A few others, such as Energica, are engineering start ups producing electric vehicles and based in areas with strong automotive industry links. Small companies with limited manufacturing and engineering facilities which relied on widely available components and techniques for a large part of their bikes.

So when Energica won the first contract to produce the MotoE racer, they were competing against other specialist electric motorcycle manufacturers, sometimes no bigger than a handful of people based in of small workshops.

But all had the same philosophy: to take their existing products and turn it into a race bike, by stripping unnecessary ballast and upgrading suspension, braking, and various chassis components.

Their race bikes, and the Energica Ego Corsa which became the MotoE bike when the series first started in 2019, are basically the electric bike version of Superstock spec machines: production bikes which have been turned into racing machines by upgrading existing components to racing spec.

At the technical presentation of their MotoE machine on Thursday, the contrast between what has gone before and Ducati’s approach couldn’t be greater.

Is the 2022 Yamaha M1 a good MotoGP bike? It is a simple question with a simple answer: it depends. If Fabio Quartararo is riding it, it is good enough to have won two races, get on the podium in three others, and lead the 2022 MotoGP championship by 22 points.

But if anyone other than Fabio Quartararo is riding it, it is not quite so good. The best result by the trio of Franco Morbidelli, Andrea Dovizioso, and Darryn Binder is a seventh place, by Morbidelli at Mandalika. That seventh place is one of only two top tens for the other Yamahas, Darryn Binder being the other at the same race.

Together, Morbidelli, Dovizioso, and Binder have scored a grand total of 40 points. Fabio Quartararo has 147, over three times as many. And he has never finished behind any of the other Yamahas throughout the season.

In fact, the closest any other Yamaha rider has gotten to Quartararo is Franco Morbidelli’s eleventh place, two places behind his teammate, at the season opener at Qatar. Since then, Quartararo and the other Yamaha riders have been operating on different planets.

The next piece of the 2023 puzzle has fallen into place. Today, KTM and Ducati announced that Jack Miller would be leaving the factory Ducati squad at the end of 2022, and joining KTM for the 2023 and 2024 season to race in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing squad.

Miller is no stranger to KTM. The Australian raced for KTM in his final year in Moto3, before making the move to MotoGP. He is managed by Aki Ajo, the veteran team manager of KTM’s Moto2 and Moto3 squads.

So a return to KTM is no surprise, and had been the subject of rumors for several weeks now.

The WithU RNF team is to switch from Yamaha to Aprilia for the coming seasons. An agreement was reached with Aprilia between the Le Mans and Mugello rounds for the team to become a satellite team for the Noale factory, and field two more Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP machines from 2023 and beyond.

The deal came about after talks with Yamaha failed to yield satisfactory results for RNF. The Malaysian team had long been hoping to play a role as a junior team to the factory, in the mold of Pramac at Ducati and Tech3 at KTM. But RNF never felt they got the support from Yamaha which they had wanted.

A switch from Yamaha to Aprilia allows them to make that step forward. Though details are sparse in the press release, it is clear that RNF will get much stronger support from Aprilia than they did from Yamaha, with the team to serve as a conduit for talent into the factory team.


The deal was announced just before MotoGP FP1, a surprising moment to choose. But that was a result of factory rider Aleix Espargaro prematurely tweeting and then deleting a welcome to RNF to Aprilia. But by then, it was too late to retract.

The original plan had been for an announcement to be made in the afternoon, but Espargaro’s over-eager thumbs forced Aprilia and RNF to announce earlier.

The move by RNF leaves Yamaha with just two bikes on the grid for 2023. The Japanese factory had been in talks with the VR46 Mooney team to race Yamahas next season, but the team is currently still set to race Ducatis.

RNF’s departure is the second time a satellite team have left for greener pastures. Tech3 dropped Yamaha and switched to KTM at the end of 2018.

Source: RNF; Photo: Aprilia