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Destination Misano: MotoGP saddles up for San Marino

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Destination Misano: MotoGP saddles up for San Marino

Destination Misano: MotoGP saddles up for San Marino
Destination Misano: MotoGP saddles up for San MarinoWho can take the spoils as MotoGP™ touches down on the Adriatic?

As the dust settles after the Catalan GP, there is a LOT to talk about. And first, it has to be reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) after that huge highside out the lead, from which he escaped with no fractures and relatively unscathed. Still, the #1 has to be passed fit to race at Misano, so it’ll be an important Thursday check for the Ducati rider.

If he is able to race – and he appeared adamant even before he left Barcelona that he was going to try – we can expect him to be fast. But as fast? The home crowd will be cheering him on but it could be a tougher weekend, and that could leave the door to the win ajar at the very least.

HOME GLORY
There are a few out for some home glory. But first, let’s talk about Aprilia. It’s not a home race for the riders – they just took a historic 1-2 in that – but it is for the Noale factory, and there’s no better way to arrive than that. It was just 0.377 between the two, too, so a close contest. Could Misano be a re-run? Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) will be full of confidence, and teammate Maverick Viñales has won at the venue. That was on a different machine, but he is also the rider with Aprilia’s only podium at the venue so far…

Miguel Oliveira (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) also had some great pace in Barcelona on the 2022 RS-GP – the very bike that took that podium with Viñales – and arrives fresh from a first front row with Aprilia and another top five. What can he do? And can teammate Raul Fernandez turn flashes of speed into a sustained attack?

Meanwhile, at Mooney VR46, it’s a home race three times over: for the riders, for the team, and for their machinery. For Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) it wasn’t an ideal precursor at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya though, as he wasn’t quite at the front before that Turn 1 incident then more than compounded a tougher weekend. He finished with some points but rode through the pain barrier. Teammate Luca Marini, meanwhile, didn’t make it out of Q1 after a weekend out of sorts compared to his form so far in 2023. He beat ‘Bez’ by just over a tenth, but both want to be fighting for much more at Misano. Marini also came fourth last year.

At Gresini Racing MotoGP™ it’s another home race for the team and machinery, and for Fabio Di Giannantonio, who’ll be looking to consolidate some of his speed from Barcelona. Alex Marquez, meanwhile, will want to see the last Grand Prix as more of a blip after a tougher – by his 2023 standards – finish. Can he fight for some home glory for the team?

Home glory for the team is also on the cards for Prima Pramac racing, and after an Austrian Grand Prix to forget, the Jorge Martin – Johann Zarco combo came out swinging in the Catalan GP. They took third and fourth. Good for Zarco, and even better for Martin as he made a 16-point gain after the early race drama. Now it’s enemy territory in terms of his biggest title rivals – VR46 Academy local heroes Pecco and Bezzecchi – so can he make the weekend for Pramac but spoil the party for those key contenders?

One thing we do know is that Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) will sit it out. With a stunning record at Misano, that could prove a reprieve for his rivals as he recovers from that Turn 1 incident, his part in which also earned him a penalty to be served on his return. Michele Pirro won’t be stepping in though as he is on wildcard duty with the Aruba.it squad once again, so it’s a one-bike Ducati Lenovo entry heading in.

Franco Morbidelli, meanwhile, is another home hero and VR46 academy alumnus. He’ll want a lot more from Misano than he got at Catalunya, as he scored points – the other rider, along with Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), to have done that in every GP so far this year – but came home a way off teammate Fabio Quartararo. Morbidelli was further off his teammate than Quartararo was off the victory. Can he find more as his races with Yamaha start to tick down?

LOOKING TO SPOIL THE PARTY
There were some positives to be found for the aforementioned Quartararo in Barcelona. The Frenchman won at the venue last year and this time around seventh may not sound like much, but he was just on the heels of Alex Marquez and pipped Miller to the flag. Misano is another venue that should suit the machinery, so as Quartararo awaits an important test for the Iwata marque on Monday, could it be a more positive weekend again?

KTM will be an interesting watch at Misano. And where could Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) have finished the Catalan GP? After that early contact with Bagnaia left his machine forced to pull out on the restart, we can’t know. But we do know he’ll be looking to fight back at Misano. Teammate Jack Miller had a much better finish than Austria too, so that was a positive, AND the factory squad will be joined by Dani Pedrosa in another wildcard appearance for the Little Samurai. Jerez was a stunner, so can he make life hard for the Austrian factory’s rivals again at Misano?

Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) wants more after a damp squib end to the Catalan GP, but Augusto Fernandez took more points and remains one of only two riders to have scored in every GP race this season. It was a top ten too, overhauling Diggia.

At Honda, there were some more points for Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) on home turf in Barcelona. Now, we’re heading into one of the most partisan crowds of the season, and not in his favour, but the venue where Marquez took that most recent win at the Emilia-Romagna GP in 2021. Can we expect another step forward? And as the rumour mill keeps swirling around his future, what will we see unveiled at a crucial Misano test as MM93 looks for Honda to bring something to make a real difference?

Teammate Joan Mir needs that too, after a very tough weekend in Barcelona. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) will have a compatriot in the garage too as Takumi Takahashi subs for Alex Rins, with Iker Lecuona back on WorldSBK duty at Magny-Cours. Finally, Honda also have a wildcard for Stefan Bradl. As that test arrives on the horizon, it makes sense that the now-veteran German would be out on track for the Grand Prix – and his feedback could be key.

With so many fast faces, enough narratives to fill a decade and another Tissot Sprint and Grand Prix race just around the corner, tune in for a pivotal race weekend at the stunning Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli!

SHOWTIME FOR SAN MARINO
The Gran Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini has MotoGP™ last on the menu:

Tissot Sprint: Saturday 15:00 (GMT +2)
Grand Prix Race: Sunday 14:00 (GMT +2)

For more MotoGP info checkout our dedicated MotoGP News page

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