How will Marc Marquez fare?
Peter McLaren: You’ll be able to rely on Marc Marquez to tug off his ordinary magic at locations like COTA and Sachsenring, so I might be stunned if he does not get a number of wins. Barring different accidents, I might positively anticipate his greatest season in MotoGP since 2019.
However the strain is on Honda as, after winter testing, the RCV doesn’t appear like a daily contender for victory in opposition to Ducati, Aprilia and Fabio Quartararo’s Yamaha. Thus, a Marquez title problem might rely extra on the errors of others.
Robert Jones: I believe he’ll end within the high 5 of the World Championship, however not be a title contender as a result of Honda’s struggles shall be an excessive amount of to beat, even for a rider who’s arguably the best of all time. I believe we’ll see him win a number of races, three to be actual, which shall be at COTA, Sachsenring and the primary Grand Prix of Kazakhstan.
A shock race winner?
Peter McLaren: With 42 races this yr, half of them new Sprints, there’s loads of alternative for a shock. What would you say:
- Luca Marini or Alex Marquez to step out of the shadow of their well-known brothers and step onto the highest step.
- A primary Aprilia victory for the RNF satellite tv for pc staff with Miguel Oliveira or Raul Fernandez.
- Jack Miller to tame questionable climate for a KTM win. If he does on Sunday, he can even develop into the primary particular person to win with three completely different producers from the MotoGP period (except Maverick Vinales arrives first).
- Alex Rins repeated final yr’s season-ending exploits at Suzuki to grab LCR Honda’s first win since Cal Crutchlow.
Robert Jones: My alternative right here is for Alex Marquez to do what he ought to have finished in his rookie season at Repsol Honda, which is to win a race for the Gresini Ducati staff.
Which teammates will fall?
Peter McLaren: And the roommates? Alex Marquez has joked that Marc might lock him out after beating him within the Sepang check and Alex seems to be greater than able to doing the identical in some races this yr.
All joking apart, given Marc’s feedback on the ‘All In’ collection about him “by no means being a great teammate”, it will likely be attention-grabbing to see how Joan Mir fares at Repsol Honda. Likewise, how will Marquez react to having a youthful teammate for the primary time?
Teammates usually quarrel when battling one-on-one for a similar factor, whether or not it is a seat for the following yr, race wins, or a world championship.
A title duel between teammates hasn’t occurred since Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha in 2015. Ducati definitely seems to be able to placing each riders in rivalry for the world championship this season, however every thing appears relaxed between Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini for now.
Robert Jones: As they begin to get increasingly more aggressive, a lot in order that they’re vying for a number of wins in direct monitor competitors, I am going for the manufacturing unit KTM duo of Brad Binder and Jack Miller.
A partnership that has nice potential to deliver KTM nearer to Ducati might additionally see them struggling to work cohesively because the battle for supremacy at KTM takes precedence.
The important thing state of affairs to observe
Peter McLaren: The impression of recent ‘real-time’ tire strain guidelines, with offending riders going through the cancellation of their pitched laps in observe and qualifying, or disqualification from a race.
The precise penalty tolerance (eg 50% of a race distance) will solely be agreed with the producers after the third spherical. However normally riders are more likely to begin with greater pressures than final season to keep away from any penalties – however that too will increase the danger of driveability issues if he will get caught behind one other rider throughout a race.
Till the deliberate introduction of penalties in Spherical 4, groups are anticipated to proceed to satisfy minimal pressures whereas amassing actual information to stay 100% compliant going ahead.
Nevertheless it’s not not possible that some groups will resolve to run on the low facet within the first three rounds, to attempt to acquire a bonus earlier than penalties kick in.
Robert Jones: Given their on-track battles, but additionally their seemingly fragile off-track relationship, the tandem of Francesco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini have the potential to supply fireworks not seen since Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have been teammates.
Each riders will not wish to give an inch as they begin the yr as title favorites given their performances in 2022 and the machines at their disposal.
Predicting the foremost overhaul of the entrance seats in 2024?
Peter McLaren: The one manufacturing unit seat recognized to be out there for 2024 is alongside Fabio Quartararo at Yamaha, with Franco Morbidelli’s contract expiring. If Morbidelli does not get his mojo again on the M1, it will be pointless for both occasion to pursue the deal.
Everybody is aware of the opposite supposed names – Toprak Razgatlioglu, Jorge Martin, and many others. It would all rely on how aggressive Morbidelli and the brand new M1 are, however Razgatlioglu has his palms full in WorldSBK in the intervening time, whereas Martin already has entry to the very best bike on the grid, the Ducati GP23, at Pramac.
If we play the “what if” recreation, possibly VR46 (tied to working Yamahas sooner or later) might supply Marco Bezzecchi or Luca Marini to the manufacturing unit staff as a part of a change with one other driver from the Academy, Morbidelli? It is not even one thing I’ve heard of, however stranger issues have occurred. Bezzecchi and Marini have made their manufacturing unit ambitions clear whereas VR46 would absolutely wish to have Morbidelli, who was the primary Academy world champion (Moto2 in 2017).
Robert Jones: For me there is just one start line which is the second manufacturing unit Yamaha seat alongside Fabio Quartararo. Franco Morbidelli is in grave hazard of dropping his manufacturing unit rider standing and WorldSBK (Toprak Razgatlioglu) and MotoGP (Jorge Martin) stars are potential upgrades. The Italian faces strain that no different driver on the grid has confronted this yr.
My prediction for 2024 is that the Monster Vitality Yamaha staff will line up with Fabio Quartararo and Jorge Martin as riders.
Who would be the 2023 champion?
Peter McLaren: It is laborious to look previous Francesco Bagnaia at this level. The Italian would have wrapped up final yr’s title a number of rounds earlier with out all 5 DNFs and, like his Ducati, seems to be stronger than ever in 2023.
That mentioned, after being hounded for a lot of the final two seasons, Quartararo might relish turning the tide and attempting to hunt Bagnaia if the extra highly effective M1 improves because the yr progresses.
Robert Jones: Whereas the competitors shall be powerful, particularly from his teammate, I am leaning in direction of Bagnaia turning into a back-to-back MotoGP champion. Bastianini will make a great run for the title, as will Quartararo, nevertheless, Bagnaia will show too good in erasing the early season errors that made him an unlikely winner in some unspecified time in the future in 2022.