2023 MotoGP Calendar
The 2023 MotoGP Calendar:
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The 2023 MotoGP Calendar:
As predicted earlier this month, the MotoGP calendar is to expand even further for 2023. Next year, there are to be 21 races in total, with two new circuits being added to the calendar.
The news that Sokol in Kazakhstan is being added had been expected, given the announcement on Tuesday. The surprise is that India is to have a MotoGP round next year, with the expectation in the paddock that it would not happen until 2024. But MotoGP is to race at the Buddh International circuit at the end of September in 2023. There had been concerns over customs and tax issues importing equipment and bikes into India, but paddock sources indicate these issues have been settled.
It is no secret that aerodynamics is a big deal in MotoGP. The winglets, aerodynamics packages, and various scoops, spoons, and other attachments aimed at modifying the behavior of the modern generation of MotoGP bikes have become increasingly important.
Aero has now reached the point where it is such a major part of bike setup that it is getting hard to change without needing a lot of work to balance out the rest of the behavior of the bike. As Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Brad Binder explained when asked about the two different versions of KTM's aero package he has available. "I think the most important thing is to really choose one and really stick with it. Because when you do play with the aero, it has such a massive impact that your whole setup really has to change completely. So it's not so simple to say, OK, one race we'll use them and one race we won't."
The Lusail International Circuit is to undergo major renovation work at the end of 2022 and into 2023, to upgrade the facilities and paddock. As a result, it will relinquish its position as the first race of the MotoGP season, instead being moved back to the end of the year.
With Qatar out of the frame as the first race of 2023, this hugely increases the chances of Phillip Island as the first race of the season. There were rumors in 2019 that Dorna was looking at a calendar shake up starting in 2021, but the Covid-19 pandemic put those plans on hold. Those plans included having the season start in Phillip Island, rather than Qatar, and this would be the ideal opportunity to try this.
Previously, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, which runs both the F1 and MotoGP races in Australia, had opposed such a move, but it is believed that they lifted their objections a couple of years ago, and were open to rescheduling the Phillip Island race to the start of the year.
Fortunes in MotoGP can change fast. Before the opening weekend of the 2022 MotoGP season, Pecco Bagnaia was the most tipped rider to take the title, the Ducati GP22 was the hot bike to have. The question was not whether a Ducati would win one of the early races, but rather which one, and how many Ducatis would end up on the podium at them.
That prediction turned out to be accurate, but not in the way those making it expected. Enea Bastianini rode an outstanding race in Qatar to win the first race of 2022, and the first for the Gresini squad since Toni Elias back at Estoril in 2006. A Ducati stood on the top step of the podium, as expected. Only it was a satellite rider on a year-old bike, Bastianini riding a Ducati GP21.
After the first MotoGP race of 2022, the Qatar Grand Prix was over, an observant Twitter follower asked me why the symbol used for Marc Marquez' front tire choice was different to everyone else. Watching the replay and then consulting the analysis PDFs on MotoGP's new results section made clear what Marquez had done. He and his team and chosen to fit a soft front tire which had been scrubbed in, and consequently, had been used for 1 lap already.
Running through the data in the various sessions confirms this. During the heat of FP1, Marquez used a medium and a hard front, before using two soft fronts during FP2. He used a third soft front in FP3, before switching to a hard front. He did a single, slow lap on the soft front at the start of the session, then came in to switch front tires.
Most factories want to get rid of so-called shapeshifters, but the current system doesn’t allow a ban. Yet. Here’s the latest on MotoGP’s politics of technology
MotoGP rights-holder Dorna is running out of patience with the MSMA as it tries to get a grip on controversial technologies like shapeshifters.
Shapeshifters adjust the geometry of motorcycles exiting corners to improve traction and reduce wheelies, which limit acceleration. Ducati introduced this tech a few years ago, dropping the rear of its Desmosedici via a complex mechanical/hydraulic/pneumatic system (because electronic adjustments are banned). All the other factories followed. This year Ducati has a front-end shapeshifter that further reduces wheelies
The upper exhaust on the KTM RC16, for the rear cylinder bank of the V4. No torque back pressure valve on it, unlike the Ducati and Aprilia.
It was good to get racing underway again in 2022, given everything that has happened over the past couple of years, and what is going on right now in a corner of Europe. If racing is escapism, we had some of best stories of recent years, with plenty to talk about. So here are some initial thoughts after the opening round of the season, before taking a deeper dive later this week.
Moto3 standings after Qatar: