Sprint races, a final round title showdown, trials, tribulations and sensations - that was the year 2023 in MotoGP... but who were the big standouts? This is BSN's Top 10 MotoGP Riders of the 2023.
It’s the runners-up spot for back-to-back MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia…
|2nd - PECCO BAGNAIA
|Ducati Lenovo Team
|1st [Main - Rd.1 Portuguese MotoGP, Rd.4 Spanish MotoGP, Rd.6 Italian MotoGP, Rd.8 Dutch MotoGP, Rd.10 Austrian MotoGP, Rd.15 Indonesian MotoGP, Rd.20 Valencia MotoGP]
1st [Sprint - Rd.1 Portuguese MotoGP, Rd.3 Grand Prix of The Americas, Rd.6 Italian MotoGP, Rd.10 Austrian MotoGP]
It’s hard to argue a case against Pecco Bagnaia being a genuinely very worthy MotoGP World Champion for the second successive season.
Indeed, obvious though that statement may seem, sometimes it’s hard to appreciate such an achievement in isolation when it’s one he’s already achieved before. Put another way, did Bagnaia ‘only’ defend his title, rather than win it?
Either way, Bagnaia’s route to glory in 2023 was a very different one to that of 2022. While he spent much of 2022 on the comeback trail as he battled to find more of the fast and less of the fragile, in 2023 Bagnaia was always the one his rivals were chasing.
With this in mind, it’s perhaps understandable we’d see both the very best and possibly the worst of Bagnaia in 2023 - the former representing the confidence of a World Champion at full swagger, the latter more indicative of the weight he felt from heightened expectation.
For the most part though it was the consistency of this high standard throughout the season that provided the solid bedrock for this title, enough to ensure that he always looked like the rider to beat even when the margins were getting slim.
There were mishaps - his crash out of the lead in Texas is one example, his scuffle with Maverick Vinales at Le Mans another and his slip off in India too - but Bagnaia does at least deserve credit for each time bouncing back with interest at the very next round.
Indeed, at full flow Bagnaia looked every inch the MotoGP authority, in particular his commanding performances at Mugello, Assen and in Spielberg.
Ironically, perhaps Bagnaia’s greatest moment of 2023 emerged from one of his lowest as he powered to victory in Indonesia from 13th on the grid and only 24 hours after a lacklustre result in the preceding Sprint encounter.
Point is, Bagnaia always looked in control overall even when he - literally - wasn’t in control. And that is arguably the value added difference that defines the true worthiness of a World Champion, regardless of whether its their first or second.
Perhaps we’ll find out for sure in 12 months time if Bagnaia makes it a hat-trick in 2024…
BSN’s Top 10 MotoGP Riders of 2023
3 - Marco Bezzecchi
4 - Brad Binder
5 - Fabio Quartararo
6 - Alex Marquez
7 - Luca Marini
8 - Johann Zarco
10 - Aleix Espargaro