The 75th anniversary season of global motorcycling series MotoGP will be one of considerable change.
A record-breaking 21 Grands Prix are set to be staged this year, with the all-new sprint races to be introduced on Saturdays, while two countries are new to the calendar for 2023.
Last season was originally planned as a 21-race campaign before the event in Finland was postponed, so this year represents the largest MotoGP calendar in history. History will also be the buzzword when the series arrives at Le Mans in May for MotoGP’s 1,000th Grand Prix.
While the 2023 season will likely see many a tribute to the foundations of the series, it also presents a chance to gaze into the future of MotoGP. Every weekend will feature a sprint race on the Saturday, planned to be approximately 50 per cent of the full race distance.
In a departure from the model Formula One is set to use for its six sprint races this season, MotoGP’s version will not have any bearing on the main Sunday race. Carlos Ezpeleta, chief sporting officer at Dorna Sports, told BlackBook Motorsport last year that “it was important for us for the sprint race to not set the grid for Sunday [like Formula One] so the riders know it’s an actual sprint race, they’re free to race, they can race hard”.
With raceday attendance and live viewership suffering in recent years, the hope is that this change can draw eyes back to the series. But there are worries that this is the latest sign of a series running out of ideas to keep viewers engaged. A joint survey conducted by Dorna Sports and Motorsport Network last year discovered that 66 per cent of fans believe MotoGP needs to do more to attract new fans.
Existing viewers, and those tempted back to watch, will see two new countries debut on the calendar this season. Kazakhstan signed a five-year deal to host MotoGP at the purpose-built Sokol International Raceway near Almaty, while India will welcome the series to the Buddh International Circuit on a seven-year deal.
However, a recent report from national newspaper the Times of India indicates the Indian circuit is not ready for its September debut, and recommended safety changes made after a visit from the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) are under pressure to be delivered in time due to financial difficulties and legal wrangling.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is waiting in the wings to join the calendar after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dorna Sports last year.
Ahead of this weekend’s season-opening race at Portimão, BlackBook Motorsport runs through its annual overview of all the commercial details you need to know ahead of the 2023 MotoGP campaign.
Owner: Piaggio Group
Chief executive: Massimo Rivola
Riders: Aleix Espargaró, Maverick Viñales
Base: Noale, Italy
Sponsors: 21, Akrapovič, Beta, Bike-Lift, Boost, BS Battery, Came, Capit, Carear, Castrol, Case, Cima, Dellorto, Diadora Utility, Fast Trade, Förch, FPT, Gulf, ItalianGesture, Ixon, JetPrime, L1 Berner, Lifenet, Manpower Group, Marsh, Michelin, Pan Compositi, PBR, Piaggio Group, RCB, Regina Chain, SC Project, Sharebot, Sky, Sprint Filter, Unibat, Yashi, Zanasi Group
What they’ve been up to: Following their first season as a factory team since 2004, Aprilia Racing will be looking to build upon a promising 2022 that included Aleix Espargaró emerging as one of the title contenders.
The team remains the only one of the six manufacturers without a title sponsor. Chief executive Massimo Rivola revealed last summer that work was being done on rectifying this, with rumours that Red Bull may be interested, but at the start of the 2023 season this is yet to come to fruition.
Now that the team has the secret weapon, we can start having fun. It's time to hit the track! ��— Aprilia (@ApriliaOfficial) March 10, 2023
More: https://t.co/5f5E3wbjek#Aprilia #MotoGP @AleixEspargaro @lorysava32 #MaverickVinales pic.twitter.com/8MbySlH7bl
Owner: Ducati Motor Holding
Racing director: Luigi Dall’Igna
Riders: Francesco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini
Base: Bologna, Italy
Title partner: Lenovo
Sponsors: Akrapovič, Amaro Montenegro, Aruba, AutoGrill, Bancomat, Bosch, Carrera, Contadi Castaldi, Daiko, Diadora, Esaote, FlexBox, Frecciarossa, Givi, Mission Winnow, Monster Energy, Motorola, NetApp, Parmacotto, Podium Engineering, Randstad, Riello, SAP, Shell, UnipolSai, Vmoto
Suppliers: AVL Racetech, Beta, Brembo, Cobo Group, DID, Domino, Mahle, Marelli, NGK Spark Plugs, Reflexallen, Roboze, Siemens, Streparava, Tecno Elettra, Thermal Technology, Var Group
What they’ve been up to: Francesco Bagnaia became Ducati’s second-ever MotoGP champion - and first in 15 years - last season. Even though he eventually triumphed, it was a messy season for the Italian as he failed to finish on five occasions, four of which were through individual errors.
This season will also see discussions to extend or conclude Lenovo’s title sponsorship, with the three-year deal signed in 2021 entering its final season. Having initially joined in 2018, it would be a surprise to see the long-time partner step away from Ducati given the team’s current level of performance.
Owner: Nadia Padovani (also team principal)
Riders: Fabio Di Giannantonio, Álex Márquez
Base: Faenza, Italy
Sponsors: Aspira, Battipav, Bold Riders, Dea System, Deltomed, Estrella Galicia 0,0, Federal Karyatama, Gianneschi, Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, Modula Case System, MS Glow for Men, OLI, Risposta, Unibat, Youli
Suppliers: Akrapovič, Alpinestars, Azimut, Bacio della Luna, Berner Group, Chiaravalli, Kapriol, Michelin, Moto-Tron Racing, UMA Racing, Valofin
What they’ve been up to: The Ducati satellite team have had a busy offseason commercially. At the end of last season, Deltomed extended its partnership for the 2023 season and Gianneschi partnered with the Faenza-based team on a one-year deal.
Elsewhere, in the lead-up to the start of this season, Azimut, Dea System, Modula Case System and Chiaravalli all entered into agreements with Gresini Racing, while Battipav, Unibat and OLI have extended existing deals.
Youli, through its Youall brand, has agreed a two-year contract extension that includes greater visibility for the brand.
Nadia Padovani is the first female team owner and team principal in MotoGP history
Owner: Honda Racing Corporation
Team principal: Alberto Puig
Riders: Marc Márquez, Joan Mir
Base: Aalst, Belgium
Title partner: Repsol
Sponsors: Akrapovič, Asics, Astra Honda Motor, Castore, Eikoh Design & Creation, Estrella Galicia 0,0, Endurance Racing, Gikenseiki, Global Active Technology, GS Yuasa, Hidaka, Honda Vietnam, Iveco, Koganei Seiki, Michelin, NGK Spark Plugs, Pearl Giken, Puig, PWR, Red Bull, RCB, RK Japan, Samsung, Sasaki, Sekidai Industry, Shindengen, Shinsei, Snap-on, Sprint Filter, Tokiwa, Tokorozawa Keigoukin, Uchida, Uchino
What they’ve been up to: The iconic partnership between Honda and Repsol will be continuing until at least 2024 after a contract extension was signed towards the end of last season. Since the relationship began in 1995, the team has won 183 races and 15 riders’ world championships.
Honda’s extension with the Spanish petrochemical company comes as MotoGP begins its transition to 100 per cent sustainable fuels from the start of next season. The full variation of the new fuel will be introduced in 2027, but the two-year contract extension does not confirm whether Repsol will stick around for the transition.
Repsol and HRC first joined forces in 1995, in an historic alliance in the world of sport, combining passion, technology and the constant search for innovation. The story continues.— Repsol Honda Team (@HRC_MotoGP) October 25, 2022
�� https://t.co/W0sI58M5kx pic.twitter.com/cJQhA2KI0s
KTM Factory Racing
Owners: Pierer Mobility, Bajaj Auto
Motorsport director: Pit Beirer
Team manager: Francesco Guidotti
Riders: Brad Binder, Jack Miller
Base: Munderfing, Austria
Title partner: Red Bull
Sponsors: Akrapovič, Cupra, ExxonMobil, RAM, Michelin, Motorex
What they’ve been up to: Jack Miller returns to KTM machinery for the first time since his Moto3 world championship in 2013 as the team looks to build on a promising 2022 season in which they finished second overall thanks to an impressive level of consistency.
The lack of outright pace, which returned just four podiums during the season, will be a concern moving into 2023.
But the team has continued restructuring its leadership, something that began before the start of the 2022 season, with the latest appointment seeing former Ducati crew chief Alberto Giribuola join KTM in a senior role.
Owner: Lucio Cecchinello (also team principal)
Riders: Takaaki Nakagami, Álex Rins
Base: Monte Carlo, Monaco
Title partners: Castrol, Givi, Idemitsu
Sponsors: 110%, Agos, Bacco, Beta, CMS, Custom, Draco, Estrella Galicia 0,0, Flow-Meter, FourTeam, Fren Tubo, Garnet Trade, Honda, Honda Racing Corporation, Lavor, Michelin, Monster Energy, Rizoma, Sena, Sifi, Viar, Zelos
Suppliers: Akrapovič, Caffè Milano, DID, Hevik, MIW Filters, NGK Spark Plugs, Öhlins, OZ Racing, Piolanti Truck, PBR, ProGrip, Special Impianti
What they’ve been up to: The LCR Team continue to run two separate entries for Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami and Spaniard Álex Rins, who joins the team following the departure of Suzuki at the end of last season.
Nakagami will once again run with title sponsor Idemitsu and Rins will take over the Castrol-sponsored entry that Álex Márquez piloted for the previous two seasons. With Rins picking up two race victories last season, the Monaco-based team will hope this winning mentality can lift an outfit that only achieved five top-eight finishes last season.
Owner: Pramac Group
Team principal: Paolo Campinoti
Riders: Jorge Martín, Johann Zarco
Base: Ebbw Vale, UK
Title partner: Prima
Sponsors: 100%, Akrapovič, Craft 1861, Fiamm, Havas Media Group, Ixon, Kyrrex, Michelin, Motul, Randstad, SunEnergy1, Wallife, WD-40
Suppliers: Accossato, Afam, Aon, Ariola, Baladin, Beta, Blackzi, Cecchi, Cirfood, CNC Racing, Diba, Flex, Le Marchesine, Loggini Motor, RCB, Regina Chain, Sprint Filter, WRS
What they’ve been up to: Pramac Racing enter the 2023 season in the second of a three-year title sponsorship deal with Prima. With the support of MotoGP’s strongest constructor in Ducati, Pramac will aim beyond last season’s fourth-placed finish, especially as they were the only team to finish in the top seven of the constructors’ standings without a race victory in 2022.
Owners: CryptoData Tech, Razlan Razali (also team principal)
Riders: Raúl Fernández, Miguel Oliveira
Base: Sepang, Malaysia
Title partner: CryptoData Tech
Sponsors: Akrapovič, Angeluss, Barracuda, Castrol, Green Power Systems, Michelin, RCB, Sterilgarda Alimenti, Telcowin
What they’ve been up to: Postponing the official launch of their 2023 entry until after the preseason test in Portimão does not represent the best start to the season for a team that suffered a tumultuous 2022.
Having separated from Petronas at the end of the 2021 campaign, losing a second title sponsor in the space of two years in the form of WithU was not a promising sign for the Malaysian team.
Their financial concerns were eased somewhat following CryptoData Tech’s decision to purchase a majority stake in the team. However, given the volatility of other crypto investments in other motorsport series, it will be interesting to see how solid this partnership proves to be moving forwards.
RNF Racing used an all-black livery during preseason testing two weeks ago after delaying the official launch of their bike
Owners: Hervé Poncharal (also team principal), Guy Coulon, Bernard Martignac
Riders: Pol Espargaró, Augusto Fernández
Base: Bormes Les Mimosas, France
Title partner: GasGas
Sponsors: Akrapovič, Alpinestars, Beta, Binocle, Blinker Group, Caffè Giacomelli, Capit, Château Roc de Calon, Elf, Michelin, Pankl, RCB, RK, WP
What they’ve been up to: 2023 is the first time the Tech3 Racing outfit has not technically competed as a satellite team, having been partnered with Yamaha between 2002 and 2018 and then the Red Bull KTM entry from 2019 to 2022.
The team is no longer ‘technically’ a satellite team due to its new partnership with GasGas, but the Spanish motorcycle brand is part of the Pierer Mobility Group, which also contains KTM.
In 2021, Tech3 extended its partnership with KTM until 2026, so this move is more of a rebrand than a transition to a fresh constructor.
VR46 Racing Team
Owner: Valentino Rossi
Team principal: Pablo Nieto
Riders: Marco Bezzecchi, Luca Marini
Base: Tavullia, Italy
Title partner: Mooney
Sponsors: Akrapovič, Bardahl, Barracuda, Beta, Cupra, Dainese, DID, Fassi, FlyMe To, Hero, Iveco, Michelin, Monitor, Monster Energy, RCB, Schuler, SisalTipster
What they’ve been up to: The team founded by MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi only made its debut in the premier class of motorcycle racing last season, but already has a podium to its name thanks to Marco Bezzecchi’s ride at Assen.
Mooney continues as the title sponsor having unexpectedly replaced Aramco ahead of the 2022 season. The Saudi oil giant had signed on to support Rossi’s team until 2026 ahead of its debut season, but the deal fell through “because of the timing”, according to team principal Pablo Nieto.
Yamaha Factory Racing
Team principal: Lin Jarvis
Riders: Franco Morbidelli, Fabio Quartararo
Base: Lesmo, Italy
Title partner: Monster Energy
Sponsors: 2D, Akrapovič, Alpinestars, Axalta, Beta, Blu Cru, Blue Core, BMC Air Filter, Capit, Debem, DID, Eneos Motor Oil, Furukawa Electric, Gilles, Michelin, Mio, NGK Spark Plugs, Pont Grup, RCB, Semakin Di Depan, VR46 Racing Apparel, Yamalube
What they’ve been up to: Yamaha turned up to preseason testing with an innovative rear wing that looked like something more out of Formula One than MotoGP. While the technological strides are to be commended, Honda rider Marc Márquez has questioned whether this move will be good for the global motorcycling series as a whole.
Often able to put on an exciting show due to the lack of aerodynamic requirements, MotoGP could potentially be opening itself up to similar problems that Formula One has previously suffered where cars were unable to follow each other closely because of their advanced aerodynamics.
The unusual sight of a rear wing on Fabio Quartararo's bike at preseason testing in Portimão