The Year of Dwindling Prospects

2023 may prove to be the year when the MotoGP title was decided earlier than ever before. Rather than being the most competitive year in history, as was widely anticipated during the off-season, we may find ourselves twiddling our thumbs by early October.

It is fair to say that after the first of 21 rounds of racing the number of plausible contenders for the championship has been cut from 22 to 11. Let’s discuss.

First, there never were 22 actual contenders, as at least seven riders never had a snowball’s chance in hell of capturing the title:

  • Augusto Fernandez
  • Raul Fernandez
  • Franco Morbidelli
  • Fabio Quartararo
  • Alex Rins
  • Takaa Nakagami
  • Fabio di Giannantonio

Making this little list involves some combination of a lack of riding talent and lousy machinery. There is also the fact that I’m looking to stir the pot a little by including the 2021 champion herein. So sue me.

Events in Portugal added another four names to this miserable list, as follows:

  • Pol Espargaro–Dude is going to take a long time to get back to racing. He was a long shot before getting crushed on Friday. We wish him all the best, but he needs to be thinking 2024. Or just walking away from racing while he can still walk.
  • Enea Bastiannini–Things looked great for EBas during winter testing, having joined Pecco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati team. He was having arm pump issues before getting collected by Luca Marini during the Sprint on Saturday and fracturing his right shoulder blade. His people report he will not need surgery, which is a surprise. Missing the first two rounds of 2023 and rushing back at way less than 100% spells trouble.
  • Miguel Oliveira–The victim of Marc Marquez’s reckless aggression early this past Sunday, Oliveira will not return to action until Round 3 at COTA. Before getting skittled on Sunday, he looked capable of a top six finish for 2023, but that would have necessitated absolutely everything going right, which it never does in this sport.
  • Marc Marquez–Dude is his own worst enemy, which is saying something, as he is roundly loathed by a number of other riders and millions of MotoGP fans. His bike is terrible. He recorded a DNF in Portugal and will record a DNS in Argentina. When he returns at COTA (his second-favorite track on the calendar next to The Sachsenring) he will be wounded and saddled with a double long lap penalty, putting him squarely behind the eight-ball before the season is fully underway. His slim prospects heading into the season have been reduced to none.

It may be fun to keep track of the hashtag #MotoGPContenders this year if I can ever figure out how to format the hashtag. Heading into Round 2 it stands at 11. It is likely to decline steadily as we move through the calendar. There will be occasions when the current favorites–Bagnaia, Vinales, Aleix, maybe Jack Miller–crash, which might see the number go up. But if events unfold as expected here, that number will fall to “1” before October, at which point we can all get together and whistle “Dixie.” Practice in Argentina starts in a few minutes. I’ll be back with some stuff on Saturday. Ride on.


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5 Responses to “The Year of Dwindling Prospects”

  1. Starmag Says:

    I’m a mild Antman fan because of his wins and saves. This was a bit of a rookie mistake, facilitated by his very high level of determination mixed with a sub par bike. If he wasn’t over riding it, he’d be back in 10th with other very fine Honda riders Mir and Rins. Honda has been lost for years, covered up by MM’s over-the-top riding. So lost now that they are considering outside frame makers, (Kalex).

    Everybody except Honda would be happier if he took a pay cut and left Honda. It would even be better for Honda because it would show them where they really stand.

    IMO he’s still a force to be reckoned with, and might have another championship in him on another bike.

    I sympathize with his situation, but he got a deserved penalty for his next appearance.

    I thought Yamaha swallowed their pride and brought in a F1 engine specialist to get El Diablo more power. He seemed optimistic about that before the season started.

    It’s way too early for predictions, except for the brave and/or foolish such as yourself, but it’s hard at this point not to consider Baggy a lock for the championship. There are a LOT of races to go though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Hello all! Thought I’d pop in and say hi. I haven’t even had a chance to watch the race yet – last weekend was a busy one and I’ve been watching the weightlifting after work this week, but should get a chance to swear at the screen this weekend sometime. Definitely looks like it’s going to be a long season … sigh.


    • Bruce Allen Says:

      As my dad used to say, once more with feeling…Don’t click on the BLOG TITLE to post a comment. Click on the ARTICLE TITLE. I don’t mind approving your posts, but I don’t want you to feel, um, oppressed. 🙂


  3. Old MOron Says:

    Dwindling prospects? Yeah, probably.
    But with all those points available, it’s also possible for someone to mount a crazy comeback – make up even more points than BaggyEyes did last year.


  4. Spiff Says:

    Binder baby.

    Anyway the Ducatis are unstoppable. It is a shame they have 8 bikes collecting data. The year old Ducati is still improving, and showing little weakness. It is going to be hard to hang when they have twice the data and at least 5 riders capable of winning.


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