MotoGP 2023 Round 4 – Jerez


Premier class qualifying took place in the middle of the night, Eastern Daylight Time, and, accordingly, our erstwhile reporter missed it entirely. Apparently the schedule had been massaged to allow the big bikes to run in the dry which, of course, failed. A few early showers gave way to sunny and dry conditions for the rest of the day. Pecco Bagnaia and Brad Binder made it through Q1, abandoning Marco Bezzecchi and Alex Rins to the great unwashed. Q2 was great fun, riders on rain tires at the beginning recording Moto3 times, gradually switching to slicks late in the session and threatening the ATTR.

Grizzled veteran Aleix Espargaro left it to way late before sticking his Aprilia on pole, joined on the front row by KTM NKIT (New Kid in Town) Jack Miller and Fast on Saturday Jorge Martin on his Ducati. Row 2 featured Brad Binder, whose name will come up again in a minute, Pecco Bagnaia and one Dani Pedrosa, guesting on the shiny new KTM at age 37. Farther down on the qualifying food chain were Bezzecchi, the woebegone Fabio Quartararo (P16) and flash in the pan Alex Rins (P18). Enea Bastiannini, the hard luck second bike on the factory Ducati team, tried to race with his knitting right shoulder blade, but withdrew from the festivities after the third practice session.

The Saturday Sprint was great fun for the first 30 seconds until Frankie Morbidelli lost the front in Turn 2, collected Alex Marquez and skittled Marco Bezzecchi. The action completely spooked rookie Augusto Fernandez, who pooped his pants and fell off his satellite KTM. The red flag waved as Bezzecchi’s Desmo went up in flames. A few minutes later the restart found KTMs crowding the front, Binder and Miller leading the way with Mighty Mouse included in the lead group. Round and round they went, with Pecco Bagnaia liotering in the top three. Aleix crashed out on his own on Lap 6, joining Marquez, Nakagami and, a few moments later, the downtrodden Joan Mir in the Have Nots. Miller, Binder and Bagnaia jousted over the last few laps for podium steps, with Martin, Miguel Oliveira and Pedrosa lurking. In the end, it was the surprising Brad Binder claiming the title of Sprint Maven, joined by Bagnaia and Miller on the podium.

KTM has arrived. Binder has won two of the four Sprints. Miller has added something to the overall team effort. It was interesting to note that the top 10 qualifiers and top 11 finishers all rode European bikes. These are, indeed, lean times for Honda and Yamaha. There are bound to be some high profile riders defecting from the Japanese teams–Fabio and #93 at the top of the list–which will put huge pressure on the lower-ranked Aprilia, Ducati and KTM riders wishing to hold on to their seats in 2024. Ten years ago one wouldn’t have been able to give away a Ducati, and neither KTM nor Aprilia were even involved in the premier class. What a difference a decade makes.


The changing of the guard amongst the manufacturers continued in full force today. It was not that many years ago that the KTMs were only competitive at the Red Bull Ring, MotoGP’s equivalent of Daytona, with eight turns instead of three. The bikes were fast in a straight line, but impossible to turn. Today, they showed that they are both quick and nimble, at a track where riders spend a third of their time on the brakes and only hit sixth gear once, perhaps twice at the max. In a replay of the Saturday Sprint, the main event was red-flagged after about 30 seconds, during which time, Fully Frustrated Fabio dumped the hideous Yamaha and, in the process, sent Miguel “The Victim” Oliveira tumbling into the gravel, where he dislocated his left shoulder and had to sit out yet another round due to no fault of his own. All this while the factory KTMs were flying at the start, with Pecco fending off Austrians on the left and more Austrians on the right.

The restart was a replay of the first, with Miller and Binder hauling Bagnaia around the circuit, the three of them taking turns in the lead. Bagnaia settled into P2 for the bulk of the day behind Binder, finally going through on Lap 21 for the lead and, ultimately, the win. Binder and Miller took steps 2 and 3 on the podium, followed by Jorge Martin and Aleix. Dani Pedrosa finished a very respectable P7 in between the satellite Ducatis of Marini and Marquez. Takaa Nakagami was the top finisher for Honda in P9 followed by Quartararo, who survived not one but two long lap penalties–the second assessed for his having screwed up the first–for a gritty P10. Crashers for the day included Alex Rins and Joan Mir, both of whom are coming to terms with the Honda RC213V in gravel traps, Zarco, and Bezzecchi, with your boy Cole Trickle retiring with a mechanical on Lap 24, for God’s sake. He helped my fantasy team get hammered today.

The Moto3 tilt was a fire drill, as usual, with Ivan Ortola, rookie David Alonso and my boy Jaume Masia ending the day on the podium. In Moto2, Sam Lowes avoided his usual brain fart to win easily in a procession, followed in due course by a stunned Pedro Acosta and Alonzo Lopez. Tony Arbolino, Aron Canet and Jake Dixon took P4 – P6.

I thought the Aprilia contingent would have a better day today, but it was not to be. Sure, Aleix took pole, but spent the day pedaling hard in P5. Ducati claimed P1, P4, P6 and P8, to no one’s surprise. But the factory KTM effort is starting to resemble their dominating little brothers in the lightweight and intermediate classes. If history is a teacher, we can expect better things in the not-too-distant future from both Honda and Yamaha, at which point Dorna will need to start measuring times to four decimal places.

Look who made a cameo this weekend.
Aleix avoids a cat on Saturday
Moto3 rider David Salvador (?) doing it wrong on Saturday.

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12 Responses to “MotoGP 2023 Round 4 – Jerez”

  1. Starmag Says:

    Typical fun report. Agreed with all of that.

    El Diablo firmly in MotoGp hell now.

    Ants can carry many times their own weight but maybe not an entire MotoGp team, especially when they re injured.

    The rest of the grid needs to secretly hope for more Baggy DNFs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Old MOron Says:

    Wow, today was fun. As usual Moto3 was like a knife fight in a phone booth. (I wonder if kids these days even know what a phone booth is.) Yes, Moto2 was processional, but I’m happy for Sam Lowes. I used disparage him as “Sad Sack Sam,” but a year or two ago he made a very gracious speech in Parc Ferme, and that persuaded me that he’s a good guy.

    Very interesting to compare the factory KTM’s against Baggy’s factory Ducati. Brad and Jack were consistently sideways and out of shape. Baggy looked composed and fast. It was a lot of fun to watch them hammering on each other. I like Baggy, but I was rooting for the KTM’s. It’s fun to cheer their spectacular form.

    Crazy championship so far. Baggy failed to score points on two out of four Sundays, yet he still leads the standings by 22 points!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Old MOron Says:

    Considering Yamaha, is it possible that the decline of their bike is related to their loss of Rossi? I’m not saying he carried the development team, but it’s likely that his input was an important ingredient.

    Rossi 3rd. in championship. Wants more.

    2019 and 2020
    Rossi did a lot of crashing, but he was still on the factory squad and probably contributing to bike development.

    Yamaha wins the championship with Fabio. Moves Rossi to satellite team. Maybe stopped consulting him for bike development, too.

    Fabio is second in championship, but he must over ride an obviously declining Yamaha. Winds up crashing a lot, and BaggyEyes catches him. Yam’s other riders are nowhere.

    Two years after they stopped consulting Rossi, Yamaha is in last place – even behind Honda who don’t have Marquez.

    Here’s a look at Yam’s placements for perspective:

    2018 Yamaha championship standings
    Rossi: 3rd
    Cole Trickle: 4th
    Zarco: 6th
    Syahrin: 16th

    2019 Yamaha championship standings
    Cole Trickle: 3rd
    Quartararo: 5th
    Rossi: 7th (four DNF)
    Morbi: 10th

    2020 Yamaha championship standings
    Morbi: 2nd
    Cole Trickle: 6th
    Quartararo: 8th
    Rossi: 15th (five DNF or DNS in 12 races)

    2021 Yamaha championship standings
    Quartararo: 1st
    Morbi: 17th
    Rossi: 18th
    Cole Trickle: quit his job

    2022 Yamaha championship standings
    Quartararo: 2nd
    Morbi: 19th
    Darryn Binder: 24th (rookie season)
    Crutches: 25th


    • dmensch Says:

      I am of the opinion that it was Lorenzo, not Rossi, whose departure tanked Yamaha? Ducati also took a big step while Lorenzo was there.


      • Old MOron Says:

        That’s an interesting consideration. State your case.


        • dmensch Says:

          Hard to have rock hard evidence considering all the possibilities, but Rossi went to Ducati in 2011/2012 and I don’t think Yamaha development suffered in his absence. Lorenzo left for Ducati and 2017 when Yamaha seemed to start their decline and Ducati ascended. Lorenzo left Ducati for 2019, and they had a bit of a decline for a year or two


  4. Vrooom Says:

    Pedrosa was absolutely impressive coming and finishing mid top 10s in both races. Pop Gun was his usual inconsistent self, he can’t seem to help but crash after any good race, sometimes 2 races running. Jacko seems quite happy with KTM, I have to think Ducati is second guessing that move. I’m afraid you guys are starting to catch me in the fantasy league.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Buzz Says:

    Trickle tossing his chain and Bez’s crash really hurt my fantasy efforts.

    I might have passed Vroom for the top spot!


  6. dmensch Says:

    Apropos of not much, the MotoGP fantasy editing page seems to be getting debugged: I was able to correct my team name (but haven’t yet figured out how to hack my standings 😦 )


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