2023 Misano World Supersport FP1 Result: Montella Leads Ducati Onslaught
Shortly after the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, controversy erupted surrounding statements Pecco Bagnaia had made during his media debrief on Sunday evening. Bagnaia had crashed out of the race on lap 5 after a collision between himself and Maverick Viñales.
Though the crash had been a racing incident, both riders conceded, Bagnaia raised a recurring theme in the 2023 MotoGP season, especially since the introduction of sprint races on the Saturday of a grand prix. With the field so close together, and overtaking so difficult, it was becoming ever more imperative to be aggressive at the start of the race, and try to pass as many other riders as possible before your front tire pressure became too high to risk a pass.
We have a very special guest on this episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast. David and Adam traveled to Bologna to interview Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, to ask about Ducati's stellar year in racing and sales in 2023, about MotoE and the future of road bikes, and about the lessons learned from racing which transfer to street production.
Before we get into the interview, Steve English, David Emmett, Adam Wheeler, and Neil Morrison talk Pecco Bagnaia's statements on the difference between satellite and factory bikes, an injury update, and why Toprak Razgatlioglu decided to stay in WorldSBK with BMW
What motivates a rider? Winning championships, winning races, and making money are three big factors that go into the decision-making process. The news that Toprak Razgatlioglu will leave Yamaha at the end of this season has left more questions than answers about what motivates the Turkish star.
The paddock rumour mill in Catalunya centred on a proposed move to BMW. It’s fairly sure that there will be more than a million reasons why he chose the German manufacturer. Toprak is a unique rider in many ways. His motivation has always been to be a Superbike star, and while he has recently flirted with the prospect of a move to the MotoGP class, the chances of that are limited.
His Yamaha MotoGP test didn’t go as well as he had hoped. Arriving to Jerez to find a bike that, rumour has it, didn’t quite fit his frame left him feeling that the chips were falling against a move to the premier class. That test could have proved crucial to Toprak deciding to leave Yamaha. Having seen that the Japanese manufacturer didn’t back him to the hilt he might have felt slighted. That’s the feeling that led him to leave Kawasaki in 2019 to switch to the blue bikes.
The Suzuka decision
Toprak Razgatlioglu has officially announced that he will be leaving the Yamaha WorldSBK team and joining BMW in the World Superbike series.
With MotoGP taking a break until June 11th, I will also be taking a small break. My elderly mother is visiting for a week, and so I will be concentrating on spending time with her. The site won't be completely silent - there are a couple of subjects I want to touch on if I get a spare hour or two - but I will be back up to full speed in a week's time, after May 28th.
The Le Mans MotoGP round was all about the big numbers: 116,000 fans on race day and 286,000 over the whole weekend for the 1000th Grand Prix. In this episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast, we take a deep dive into exactly what makes Le Mans such a popular venue, and what lessons other promoters can learn from their experience.
Then we get into the racing proper, hearing from Jorge Martin's Pramac Ducati crew chief Daniele Romagnoli after his sprint race win, and discuss the revival of Marc Marquez as a factor. Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola explains what makes consistency so difficult. And as always, we finish up with our winners and losers, and hear from new Tech3 GasGas team boss Nico Goyon about Augusto Fernandez' impressive fourth place.
If you had made your MotoGP fantasy picks for the Le Mans grand prix on Friday evening, as I did, you would have been all in on Jack Miller and KTM. The Australian was fastest in both the morning and afternoon sessions, and his pace looked good too. Teammate Brad Binder was third in the morning, seventh in the afternoon, and on pace for another strong result.
Or so it seemed. Qualifying went reasonably for Miller, the Red Bull KTM rider ending up in fourth, just behind polesitter Pecco Bagnaia. Brad Binder had a tougher time, struggling with the front tire locking, and ending up in tenth on the grid.
In the sprint race on Saturday, Binder made up for his poor qualifying by getting one of his trademark rocketship starts and steaming through to finish second, behind an unleashed Jorge Martin. Miller chose the medium front, on the advice of KTM and Michelin, and ended up losing the front at Musée, always a tricky spot when the left-hand side of the tire isn't quite up to temperature. But both riders had shown real potential.
Yesterday, I wrote about the stupendous crowds at Le Mans for the 1000th motorcycle grand prix. The circuit and event were the right place to celebrate such a memorable occasion. But the fans who packed the circuit at Le Mans got their money's worth in terms of racing too. The MotoGP race was spectacular and tense in equal measure.
It was also a very messy affair. Of the 21 riders who lined up at 2pm on Sunday – Raul Fernandez had tried to ride after arm pump surgery, but that had proved impossible – only 13 made it to the checkered flag. It was a war of attrition.
Why all the crashes? A lot of reasons. There's a lot of hard braking at Le Mans, and more right than left corners. Temperatures can be relatively cool, and tires can cool off quickly. And riders found themselves caught between choosing a softer front tire and suffering in braking, and going for the medium or hard front and nursing the left side of the tire through Musée and Chemin aux Boeufs.
Yes I have a…