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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

10 issues we discovered from the 2023 MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix

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The championship battle took a dramatic swing within the Qatar Grand Prix as a new MotoGP winner took to the top step of the podium.

There was lots at stake coming to the penultimate spherical of the championship, with Francesco Bagnaia going through his first match level having held a lead of 14 factors over Jorge Martin.

Victory in the sprint for Martin with Bagnaia fifth on account of a rear tyre problem minimize the hole to seven factors and ensured the championship will likely be determined this week in Valencia.

However 24 hours later, an analogous tyre problem for Martin noticed him drop to tenth and Bagnaia take a 21-point lead in second having survived a late scare at Flip 1.

Martin raged at tyre provider Michelin, claiming it “stole” the championship from him.

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None of this mattered to Fabio Di Giannantonio, nonetheless, as he put within the experience of his profession to grow to be a MotoGP grand prix winner. It comes as he doesn’t have a experience for 2024, with the Honda possibility slipping away to Luca Marini and VR46 eyeing Moto2 star Fermin Aldeguer.

Elsewhere, Aleix Espargaro sparked controversy when he slapped Franco Morbidelli throughout an on-track incident in follow, whereas we bought the primary glimpses of MotoGP’s 2027 ruleset.

After a memorable weekend, listed below are the ten issues we discovered from the 2023 MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix.

1. Di Giannantonio’s kind deserves 2024 experience, however he wanted to indicate it sooner

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Di Giannantonio’s efficiency put him into a brand new standing within the pecking order

Fabio Di Giannantonio got here to Qatar believing he might battle for the victory, telling the media as such on Thursday at Losail. The Italian has been in a good run of type of late, scoring a maiden podium in Australia final month.

Qualifying his Gresini Ducati second on the grid, he handle to maintain maintain of that within the dash for a primary rostrum within the half-distance races for the season.

After initially getting crushed up within the grand prix, come lap 5 Di Giannantonio was again as much as second and gave Francesco Bagnaia a great chase earlier than overhauling him on the nineteenth tour having simply been given the infamous ‘mapping 8’ signal on his dashboard.

Because it occurred, this was not a staff order however a notice to inform him that he had simply 5 laps to go and if he needed to win the grand prix then he ought to pull his finger out. When Bagnaia virtually collided with him on the run into Flip 1 on lap 20 and gifted Di Giannantonio a lead of over three seconds, the job was carried out.

It was a efficiency that has put Di Giannantonio into a brand new standing within the pecking order, vaulting him from arguably the lowest-rated Ducati runner to somebody massively extra credible.

He admitted after the race that he’s “speechless” to be in a scenario the place he’s profitable races however doesn’t have a experience for 2024. The place just some weeks in the past he was Honda’s favoured selection, the choices have seemingly dried up. Luca Marini is now prone to be a part of Honda, whereas VR46 is eyeing Fermin Aldeguer to switch him.

And it’s a disgrace {that a} grand prix winner might be going through the exit having lastly hit his stride. However, till Indonesia this yr, he’d by no means seen the highest six in a grand prix since making his debut in 2022. Even earlier than Marc Marquez signed for Gresini, the staff was purchasing round for a alternative.

VR46 stated final weekend that he wasn’t actually an possibility, and Aldeguer’s run of three-straight Moto2 wins makes the 18-year-old an attractive prospect. Maybe his “fuck the whole lot and go for it” strategy in Qatar could nicely have provided him a lifeline, however it might have come too late.

2. Tyres susceptible to ruining 2023 championship battle, a technique or one other

There is a serious risk that the outcome of the 2023 MotoGP title battle will be dictated by tyres

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

There’s a severe danger that the end result of the 2023 MotoGP title battle will likely be dictated by tyres

It’s unavoidable that tyres are one of the vital a part of a racing motorbike. However there’s now a severe danger that the end result of the 2023 MotoGP title battle will likely be dictated by tyres.

Heading into the ultimate spherical in Valencia, each Bagnaia and Martin had one warning apiece for breaking the minimal tyre strain rule. Ought to they accomplish that once more, they are going to be hit with a three-second time penalty.

Climate situations are set to be chilly in Valencia and the tight nature of the Ricardo Tormo observe makes overtaking troublesome. Thus, attempting to guess what tyre strain you will have to start out the races there will likely be a nightmare for technicians.

But it surely’s not simply tyre pressures that will likely be a fear. In Qatar, each Bagnaia and Martin had been hit with duff rear tyres: the previous within the dash, which meant he struggled to fifth whereas Martin gained and minimize the championship lead right down to seven factors. Then within the grand prix, Martin had an analogous drawback which meant he might do not more than tenth with Bagnaia second and swelling his result in 21 factors.

Martin was livid, stating: “I feel you might see initially when the rear tyre began spinning, it was like a stone. Usually this occurs when the observe is soiled. It wasn’t, as a result of it was the grid, and when the tyre possibly has 30 laps [on it], and it didn’t as a result of it was new.

“So, you’ll be able to guess what occurred. From that time I attempted to handle somewhat bit however I felt I used to be crashing each nook on the rear. It’s a pity {that a} championship like this, after such an amazing season, working arduous, I really feel like they [Michelin] stole it from me as a result of I feel I might do it [win] earlier than this race. Now it’s actually troublesome.”

A number of riders complained of rear tyre issues over the Qatar weekend, with Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli says the sensation he had on his within the grand prix was “not regular”.

Michelin says it’s investigating the offending tyre, whereas noting that the unit had by no means been used previous to the grand prix – ruling out the prospect that it was a pre-heated possibility, which typically provides much less grip.

It have to be accepted that high quality management can’t be infallible. However the truth both that or the maligned tyre strain rule might in the end resolve the championship is a bitter prospect.

3. Martin might want to muster all of his maturity in Valencia

Martin will need to show that maturity from the off in Valencia to have any chance of winning the title

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Martin might want to present that maturity from the off in Valencia to have any likelihood of profitable the title

Since Bagnaia had his horrible accident on the Catalan GP, Martin has very a lot stepped ahead, scoring 206 factors to Bagnaia’s 177 in that point. And that tally ought to have been greater, had he not crashed out of a cushty lead in Indonesia.

Arguably, he’s nonetheless the out-and-out quicker of the pair. And in Qatar, he confirmed a degree of maturity that proved he has the psychological mettle to be a championship challenger.

Friday proved disastrous as he spent much of second practice battling grip issues. And whereas he made it straight into Q2, he just about misplaced his race set-up time. How he responded within the dash was a transparent signal of his skill to surmount adversity.

On Friday, he says he was capable of put the issues of the follow session behind him to safe a Q2 place “in a mature method”. Understandably, Martin was in equal components livid and dejected after the Qatar GP.

But when he has any hope of profitable the championship now, he might want to present that maturity from the off in Valencia.

4. Bagnaia’s championship will hinge on getting dash kind again

Bagnaia needs to overturn a fairly meek sprint form relative to Martin of late

Photograph by: MotoGP

Bagnaia must overturn a reasonably meek dash kind relative to Martin of late

With the dramas of the Qatar GP, Bagnaia can win his second world title this Saturday within the dash race if he outscores Martin by 4 factors.

However to take action, Bagnaia goes to need to overturn a reasonably meek dash kind relative to Martin of late.

The place within the first half of the season, the sprints had been very a lot propping up Bagnaia’s championship lead having suffered three non-scores within the first 5 rounds, the Ducati rider hasn’t gained a Saturday contest since Austria.

Since Barcelona, he has scored 49 factors within the sprints in comparison with Martin’s 86 – which incorporates 5 wins on the bounce from Misano to Thailand (the Australia dash was cancelled attributable to unhealthy climate) and eight for the season thus far.

In Qatar, Bagnaia’s dash was compromised by a nasty rear tyre. However normally, he hasn’t had the measure of Martin on Saturday since early September.

5. The opposite winner in Qatar deserving of a nod

Carchedi guided Joan Mir to the 2020 world title and joined Di Giannantonio’s side of the Gresini box for 2023

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Carchedi guided Joan Mir to the 2020 world title and joined Di Giannantonio’s facet of the Gresini field for 2023

Di Giannantonio’s win in Qatar is a particular second for the 2023 MotoGP season and the response from his friends on the cooldown lap stated lots about how this victory is being considered.

And whereas he wouldn’t step into the highlight himself, a lot credit score has to go to his crew chief Frankie Carchedi. The Briton guided Joan Mir to the 2020 world title and joined Di Giannantonio’s facet of the Gresini field for 2023 when Suzuki stop the championship on the finish of final yr.

Di Giannantonio’s constant to 10 appearances within the first half of 2023 giving solution to podium and race-winning kind within the latter half is in no small half because of Carchedi.

“I’ve to say that my crew is improbable,” Di Giannantonio stated on Sunday. “As soon as Frankie Carchedi joined our staff, we began to work actually carefully collectively and there’s an incredible power contained in the field. So, race by race we began to construct this efficiency. We deliberate each single lap, and the whole lot caught to the plan. It was simply unbelievable.”

Marc Marquez is in secure fingers subsequent yr.

6. Espargaro strop dangers sullying his credibility as MotoGP’s voice of cause

Espargaro's practice outburst was wholly unnecessary

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Espargaro’s follow outburst was wholly pointless

It grew to become the speaking level of the Qatar weekend and Aleix Espargaro’s altercation with Franco Morbidelli in third follow stays some extent of debate on social media.

Contained in the opening 10 minutes of the weekend’s third follow (ridiculously designated as FP2 beneath the present format) Morbidelli overtook Espargaro at Flip 5, earlier than the Aprilia rider botched a countermove at Flip 6.

Each riders ended up operating vast and Espargaro misplaced his cool, earlier than slapping Morbidelli on his crash helmet in frustration because the Yamaha rider tried to inform him to settle down. Espargaro was hit with a six-place grid penalty and a €10,000 fine.

That will appear to be a reasonably mild sum for a manufacturing facility MotoGP rider. However that can sting much more for an underfunded Moto2 or Moto3 riders partaking in the identical behaviour. So, hopefully it serves as a deterrent for youthful riders.

Morbidelli was, unsurprisingly, unhappy with the incident. He known as it a “large disrespect” and felt the stewards “did nothing” by means of punishment. He went on to level out that “you’ve seen him overreacting many, many occasions in his profession. He has far more episodes to be ashamed of than to be pleased with,” in a scathing smackdown of Espargaro.

Morbidelli isn’t incorrect. In India final month, Espargaro screamed at one among his mechanics for sending him out when pitlane was nonetheless closed, having not seen the pretty sudden change in schedule. He later apologised for his response, although then took goal at Morbidelli for having “no respect” for rivals, highlighting occasions when he has gotten in riders’ methods.

We need to see emotion from riders and the adrenaline of racing is such that fiery responses to incidents are comprehensible. However his outburst in a session which had actually no bearing on the remainder of the weekend – and over an incident that was largely his fault – was wholly pointless.

And as one of many grid’s voices of causes in the case of issues of security particularly, Espargaro dangers undermining his credibility on this regard if doesn’t begin to management his feelings higher.

7. Stewards should align its penalty messaging for 2024

As the Espargaro case proves, a rider can commit a punishable error and still be injured in an unrelated incident

Photograph by: Aprilia Racing

Because the Espargaro case proves, a rider can commit a punishable error and nonetheless be injured in an unrelated incident

The stewards took a dim view of Espargaro’s transgression, however they as soon as once more uncovered the inconsistency of its personal guidelines.

Espargaro’s grid penalty was issued just for the Qatar GP, reasonably than for the following race he’s match to compete in – as has typically been the case because the chaos the FIM triggered with its dealing with of Marc Marquez’s punishment for his Miguel Oliveira tangle in Portugal.

Struggling a small fibula fracture after getting collected by Oliveira in a lap-one crash within the dash, Espargaro was not a assure as a grand prix starter at Losail. Thus, had he been dominated out, he wouldn’t need to have served his grid penalty.

It is because the rule a couple of penalty carrying over solely applies to incidents by which the perpetrator can also be injured within the offending incident.

Because the Espargaro case proves, a rider can commit a punishable error and nonetheless be injured in an unrelated incident. That in some way excuses them from serving their penalty.

Why that’s the case, solely the FIM stewards panel is aware of – they usually don’t ever converse to the media to clarify their choices.

8. 2023 won’t ever see a race began by the total grid

MotoGP’s longest season ever will end without at least one race with the entire full-time grid

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

MotoGP’s longest season ever will finish with out at the least one race with all the full-time grid

It might be MotoGP’s longest season ever, however it would additionally finish subsequent week in Valencia with out all the full-time grid having competed with one another in any races this yr.

Whereas it was already contact and go whether or not this may be the case, with LCR Honda’s Alex Rins nonetheless unsure for the Valencia finale following one other operation final month on the leg he broke, a crash for Miguel Oliveira within the Qatar dash has licensed it.

Oliveira collided with Aleix Espargaro on the opening lap of the dash at Flip 6 and suffered a fracture to his shoulder – an analogous damage to that which dominated Enea Bastianini out of the primary 5 GPs of the yr.

The RNF rider will subsequently miss the Valencia GP and faces a race in opposition to time to be match sufficient to start out the pre-season testing part for 2024 in the beginning of February.

In sequence as chaotic and so long as MotoGP, sustaining full rosters goes to grow to be a lot more durable within the coming years if one thing isn’t carried out to higher handle this.

9. First 2024 penalty already issued

Oliveira will return to Qatar in early March carrying the first penalty of the 2024 season

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Oliveira will return to Qatar in early March carrying the primary penalty of the 2024 season

An unlucky consequence of Oliveira’s accident is that it copped him a long lap penalty from the FIM MotoGP stewards.

It capped off what Oliveira had already described as a “depressing” season, by which he has been compelled to overlook races on three events with damage.

However, simply to obtain one closing kick within the ribs, Oliveira will return to Qatar in early March carrying the primary penalty of the 2024 season.

As he was injured within the incident he was deemed liable for, the wording of the penalty famous that he would serve it on the subsequent race he was match to contest. That was initially put down as Qatar, having not formally withdrawn on the time of the penalty discover.

However with Valencia off the desk for him, that punishment will carry ahead into subsequent season.

10. 2027 engine rules glimpsed

The 2027 regulations will mark the first significant engine regulation change since 2012

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The 2027 rules will mark the primary vital engine regulation change since 2012

Forward of the Qatar GP weekend, Autosport revealed that MotoGP is looking at an 850cc engine as a part of its 2027 rules framework.

It’s going to mark the primary vital engine regulation change since 2012, when the category adopted the present 1000cc four-stroke components. Previous to that, MotoGP ran 800cc engines between 2007 and 2011, which took over from the 990cc components that changed the long-standing two-stroke 500cc rules in 2002.

The thought behind switching to 850cc engines is to cut back speeds in a bid to enhance security.

As talked about above in entry #8, 2023 has been brutal by way of accidents – although the outright velocity of the bikes can’t be absolutely blamed for this.

The 850cc engine concept has been met with approval from Yamaha, Honda, Ducati and KTM, whereas Aprilia believes the present engines might be modified reasonably than gotten smaller to attain safer speeds. The change of engine rules will coincide with the introduction of 100% non-fossil origin gas in 2027.

Dorna Sports activities hopes the 2027 rules will as soon as once more entice a sixth producer to hitch the grid.

Different areas, similar to aerodynamics and experience top gadgets, are prone to be touched on within the 2027 guidelines bundle. Arguably, a discount right here could be way more useful to the general security of MotoGP – in addition to having a Positive affect on the racing – than a change in engine measurement.

A dramatic penultimate MotoGP in Qatar saw Francesco Bagnaia hold the championship advantage

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

A dramatic penultimate MotoGP in Qatar noticed Francesco Bagnaia maintain the championship benefit

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