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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

10 issues we discovered from the 2023 MotoGP Thailand Grand Prix

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Jorge Martin responded to his latest MotoGP defeats in good vogue in an exciting Thailand Grand Prix because the title race hots up.

The Pramac rider got here to Thailand beneath scrutiny after his crash from a cushty lead in Indonesia and shedding victory in Australia to an pointless tyre gamble. However he bounced again emphatically, taking pole, profitable the dash and holding firm in an epic grand prix to chop Francesco Bagnaia’s championship lead down to only 13 factors.

With three rounds to go, Bagnaia should buck up his concepts on Saturdays if he needs to arrest Martin’s cost, with the manufacturing facility Ducati rider solely seventh within the dash earlier than scoring second on Sunday.

KTM’s Brad Binder completed second within the dash and repeated this on the street within the grand prix, just for a monitor limits penalty to demote him to 3rd. Nonetheless, it was one other wonderful exhibiting for the South African who continues to show he’s a lower above the remainder of the KTM secure proper now.

Aprilia endured a depressing grand prix as excessive warmth from the RS-GP cooked its riders, whereas off-track a brand new identify has emerged because the frontrunner to take Marc Marquez’s seat at Honda in 2024.

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So, with simply three rounds remaining in 2023, listed here are the ten issues we discovered from the Thailand Grand Prix.

1. Martin steps up after latest errors

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Having made key errors in latest rounds, Martin produced perfection in Thailand

Jorge Martin admitted to being “mentally destroyed” after profitable the Thailand GP. Clearly, the masks has lifted on his feedback that the stress to win the championship shouldn’t be on him.

Coming off of two grands prix in Indonesia and Australia through which he misplaced wins whereas main comfortably, the steadiness of the championship battle very a lot swung again in favour of Francesco Bagnaia.

Martin wanted a bulletproof Thailand weekend to counter that stress. And he rose to the event in a approach befitting of a potential champion. Smashing the lap document for pole once more, he was untouchable within the dash to take his fifth Saturday win in succession. It was an enormous one, with Bagnaia struggling to seventh and seeing his factors lead lower to 18.

After the pointless tyre gamble in Australia, Martin performed it secure and went with the bulk on Sunday in Thailand with the laborious rear choice. On no account the quickest rider within the GP (his greatest lap 0.191s slower than Bagnaia’s), Martin managed his race brilliantly.

His lead by no means surpassed 0.330s as he ensured his tyres had been stored in reserve for the onslaught to return from KTM’s Brad Binder and Bagnaia – each of whom shredded their rubber by the tip.

Now simply 13 factors behind Bagnaia, Martin felt his win was “an actual hit on the desk to make folks see that I can battle”. With simply three rounds left in 2023 and all at circuits Martin is robust at, he could properly have discovered from his hardest classes on the vital time.

2. Bagnaia should remedy his Saturday malaise

Bagnaia is leaking points in the Saturday sprint races

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia is leaking factors within the Saturday dash races

Francesco Bagnaia has spent all of 2023 utilizing his Fridays to work on race tempo, however this flyaway portion of the marketing campaign has seen him falter an excessive amount of on Saturdays.

The sprints could solely be price half factors, however he has solely scored 21 on Saturdays since India whereas Martin has tallied up 48 and hasn’t been toppled in a dash since Barcelona – earlier than he started his run of 5 wins from Misano onwards. By way of Sunday factors, Bagnaia has scored 85 since India whereas Martin has 81.

Bagnaia at the least made direct passage to Q2 in Thailand however might solely convert that to sixth, and he paid dearly for a poor start and a “useless” battle between Alex Marquez and Johann Zarco within the dash. Seventh was all he might muster, and this was regardless of feeling “so, so good on my bike”.

Sunday was a distinct story, with Bagnaia beginning higher and using faster. However he used a bit extra of his tyre than he would have appreciated battling the likes of Marc Marquez early on.

Beginning on the entrance row with the launch he had, he would have prevented this and possibly have been capable of take the higher hand in his battle with Brad Binder and Martin. Tellingly, he was “angry” with the points loss of the sprint after ending the GP third earlier than a Binder penalty boosted him to second.

Within the Bagnaia/Martin battle, the latter nonetheless has the out-and-out pace. However Bagnaia lower a assured determine after the GP, stating how he had “found one thing necessary” for the ultimate races in a failed double overtake into the final nook on Binder and Martin late on.

What he discovered, he didn’t say, solely including that he has “discovered our pace once more”. However he should begin exhibiting this on Saturday now to cease Martin eroding his championship lead additional.

3. Honda appears like shedding one rider to Gresini and gaining one other for 2024

Is this the face of a future factory Honda rider?

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Is that this the face of a future manufacturing facility Honda rider?

Initially of this triple-header, Miguel Oliveira emerged as Honda’s favorite to switch Marc Marquez subsequent season.

On the finish of it, it appears Fabio Di Giannantonio – the rider Marquez will substitute at Gresini Ducati subsequent yr – is in line to get that experience. As reported by Autosport on the eve of the Thailand GP, Honda’s choices have turn out to be restricted by its insistence on signing a rider for just one yr.

It needs to maintain its choices absolutely open for 2025 when all however Brad Binder come onto the rider market. However with the likes of Oliveira eager for job safety, Di Giannantonio has hopped the queue.

He remained tight-lipped concerning the affair however famous on Sunday after ending ninth within the grand prix that “one thing good” for his future is on the best way.

Whereas DiGia will, in actuality, be buying and selling the perfect bike on the grid for the worst in 2024, the younger Italian’s latest enhance in type with back-to-back career-best finishes – together with his podium in Australia – have proven he isn’t merely a seat hotter.

4. Marquez’s feedback about sturdy Honda environment ringing true

Marquez is stilling giving his all to finish his time at Honda on a high

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marquez is stilling giving his all to complete his time at Honda on a excessive

Over the previous couple of weeks, lots of people have tried to clunkily draw comparisons to Valentino Rossi leaving Honda to Marc Marquez doing so.

When Rossi elected to depart, it was as a result of he felt undervalued by the Honda prime brass, who moved to dismiss the significance of the rider relative to the bike in its title success with the Italian legend between 2001 and 2003.

The scenario for Marquez couldn’t be any completely different. He agonised over his determination and wanted to make a change for the sake of his personal thoughts – to rediscover his enjoyment for using and discover out if he can nonetheless actually be aggressive in MotoGP.

In the course of the Thailand weekend, Marquez remarked that the atmosphere within Honda hasn’t changed since he made his determination to depart. That definitely tallies with Honda workforce supervisor Alberto Puig confirming over the weekend that Honda will enable Marquez to check the Ducati in Valencia subsequent month. This was not afforded to Rossi all these years in the past when he signed for Yamaha.

Fourth and sixth in Thailand confirmed Marquez isn’t easing off the gasoline, noting after the grand prix that he needs to maintain that “depth” going to the tip of the season because it’s one of the best ways to start his new mission with Gresini.

Whereas even he thinks it’s unlikely that he can rating a farewell win for Honda, there’s nothing to counsel he will not give it a rattling good go: for each his personal glory and for a workforce he nonetheless considers household.

5. MotoGP title struggle formally turns into all-Ducati affair

A Ducati rider will win this year's MotoGP world title...

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

A Ducati rider will win this yr’s MotoGP world title…

Ducati is already within the midst of its greatest season ever in MotoGP. It’s now only one win away from matching Honda’s all-time document of 15 in a single marketing campaign after Thailand.

With the constructors’ championship already secured and a Ducati team assured to win that title, the Italian marque will, for the primary time ever, rejoice successive riders’ crowns.

Already an out of doors hope, KTM’s Brad Binder has formally fallen out of the mathematical threshold to win the championship. This leaves simply Martin, Bagnaia and VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi within the recreation now.

Bezzecchi is 79 factors off, so wants an enormous weekend in Malaysia with simply 111 factors up for grabs after ending sixth within the dash and fourth within the grand prix in Thailand. The Italian set the quickest lap within the grand prix however misplaced an excessive amount of time battling with team-mate Luca Marini to have the ability to make a dent on the lead battle.

6. Aprilia is cooking its riders

Aprilia's MotoGP bike is becoming too hot to handle, but not for the right reasons

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aprilia’s MotoGP bike is changing into too scorching to deal with, however not for the best causes

Aprilia’s first stint in MotoGP isn’t fondly remembered, with probably the most notable second for the RS Dice the day on the Sachsenring it burst into flames and tried to kill Colin Edwards in 2003. Whereas not as dangerous these days, excessive warmth appears to be a difficulty nonetheless plaguing Aprilia riders.

All through this flyaway portion of the season, and in recent times, Aleix Espargaro has famous how the RS-GP has struggled with reliability in scorching temperatures and the way it radiates immense warmth. In Thailand, the Spaniard – having completed fifth on monitor however dropped to eighth because of a tyre stress penalty – made fairly a scary revelation that the heat being kicked out of the bike was making it hard for him to breathe.

“It was a tough race,” he stated. “I couldn’t breathe. It was the toughest race of my life. Within the final three laps I used to be panicking as a result of I attempted to breathe and I couldn’t. So, I used to be tremendous, tremendous anxious. After I got here into the pits I believed I used to be going to die, I couldn’t breathe.”

Maverick Vinales retired from the GP because of bodily issues from the warmth of the RS-GP, whereas RNF’s Raul Fernandez battled the same factor to Espargaro on his technique to fifteenth.

Aprilia has tried in latest rounds to repair this warmth problem, however nothing has labored thus far.

7. First tyre stress penalty dished out

Espargaro dropped down the order with the first tyre pressure penalty since the rule came in

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Espargaro dropped down the order with the primary tyre stress penalty for the reason that rule got here in

Aleix Espargaro’s Sunday didn’t actually get any higher as soon as he’d climbed off his bike. Solely as soon as he received his breath again did the FIM stewards give him one other punch to the heart.

The fifth place he had fought so laborious for was stripped from him by way of a three-second penalty, as Espargaro turned the primary rider to cop correct punishment for contravening the brand new tyre stress guidelines.

As his second offence this season for the reason that rule got here into power, it dropped him to eighth within the outcomes. Martin, Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro had been handed official warnings for contravening this rule as this was their first offence.

If Aleix Espargaro runs beneath the authorized tyre minimal for greater than 30% of a dash or over 50% in a GP once more, it would end in a six-second penalty.

8. Quartararo finds positives out of Yamaha’s negatives

Quartararo has been upbeat about Yamaha's upturn in results even if performances haven't matched

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Quartararo has been upbeat about Yamaha’s upturn in outcomes even when performances have not matched

Fabio Quartararo’s combating fifth place within the Thailand GP comes on a weekend the place a greater exhibiting for the Yamaha was predicted. Michelin’s stiffer tyre casing to deal with the warmth calls for of the circuit has been an enormous assist to Quartararo already this season.

In India and Mandalika it helped him to the rostrum. And whereas a repeat consequence was by no means on provide this weekend, with Buriram highlighting “all of our weak factors”, Quartararo sounded far more Positive than he has finished for some time.

The 2021 champion felt that the weak factors of the Yamaha being absolutely on show allowed him to offer “actually clear” suggestions to the Japanese marque for the event of the bike. He additionally identified that his greatest outcomes of the yr are coming in a portion of the calendar the Yamaha has sometimes struggled at in recent times.

“We will see that the completely different tyre helps us as a result of the others can not generate that a lot energy on the tyre,” he stated. “And in case you see it’s clearly a bonus [in] India, Thailand, Mandalika. We return to Japan, struggling, Phillip Island, struggling. So, we now have to grasp very well.

“However I’m actually completely happy as a result of the previous couple of years on the finish of the season usually we had been doing our worst. And now we’re doing our greatest outcomes of the season. So, hopefully, Yamaha could make an enormous step ahead.”

9. Binder stars once more as different KTMs battle

Binder flourished while the other KTM floundered in Thailand

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Binder flourished whereas the opposite KTM floundered in Thailand

South Africa’s victory within the Rugby World Cup left Brad Binder with a “win or bust” mentality coming into Sunday’s grand prix in Thailand.

The KTM rider has been with out a Sunday victory since his unimaginable slicks-in-wet win on the Crimson Bull Ring in 2021. The wait goes on, however he gave it a very good go in Thailand, chasing Jorge Martin laborious and briefly overhauling him on lap 23 earlier than in the end shedding second because of a monitor limits penalty.

Binder – who was additionally second within the dash – admits he chewed up his rear tyre a bit an excessive amount of for the ultimate two laps. This additionally had a hand within the second that despatched him onto the inexperienced run-off part on the final tour, incomes him a penalty.

Michelin’s stiffer rear casing delivered to Thailand impacted the KTMs basically, with traction proving a significant problem. Therefore Jack Miller might solely muster sixteenth, whereas Tech3 GasGas pair Augusto Fernandez and Pol Espargaro had been seventeenth and 18th.

Second on the street, the subsequent greatest KTM to Binder on the chequered flag on Sunday was Miller, 17.5s adrift. KTM has made strides with its RC16, particularly with the introduction of its carbon fibre chassis in Japan – which has improved a key weak point in rear grip.

The traction points which blighted the opposite KTMs appeared non-existent for Binder. That is maybe defined by Pol Espargaro, who famous the South African is so sturdy as a result of he can brake laborious into corners and carry plenty of nook pace.

Whereas he could now not be in title competition, Binder is proving once more why KTM signed him as much as the tip of 2026 and simply what he’ll be capable of do when the RC16 package deal is as sturdy persistently as Ducati.

10. Zarco reveals why Pramac workforce orders haven’t been issued but

Zarco's inconsistency has stopped him from being a title showdown spoiler

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Zarco’s inconsistency has stopped him from being a title showdown spoiler

In the course of the Thailand weekend, Australian GP winner Johann Zarco was requested about workforce orders and whether or not Pramac had held any discussions with him about serving to his team-mate Jorge Martin within the title race.

Zarco famous that “Martin is so quick, so even with the crash right now he received the quick lap earlier than. So, nearly he can race with out taking good care of me as a result of in the mean time he’s very, very quick and he might be quick each time he needs.”

Certainly, Zarco was not wherever near replicating his Phillip Island heroics at Buriram. Ending tenth within the GP, Zarco was 9.377s off of Martin on the chequered flag (although his tempo was not too dissimilar to his team-mate’s).

Phillip Island win apart, Zarco’s type within the second half of the season has been too hit-and-miss to make any workforce orders calls efficient. Fortunately for Pramac, Bagnaia’s team-mate Enea Bastianini shouldn’t be ready to be a tail-gunner as he slowly adapts to the GP23 in his closely injury-curtailed yr.

MotoGP has one week off until a triple-header finale to round out the 2023 season

Picture by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

MotoGP has one week off till a triple-header finale to spherical out the 2023 season

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