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.
Onwards to eighth place, where we find Johann Zarco…
|8th - JOHANN ZARCO
|Prima Pramac Racing
|1st [Rd.17 Australian MotoGP]
He may not make so many headlines over the course of a season - at least not as many as a rider finishing inside the top five overall should make - but the value of Johann Zarco’s understated efforts within the Ducati fold shouldn’t be underestimated.
A year to remember for the Frenchman after finally breaking his MotoGP canard, while it may have taken almost seven full seasons for Zarco to stand on the highest step of the podium, a strike in the ‘victories’ box doesn’t change his long-held status as one of the series’ elite racers.
The low-key, dependable pair of hands to Jorge Martin’s more fiery antics on the sister Ducati GP23, Zarco could often be found waiting for races to come to him, a tactic that would help net him six full-length podiums in total - including that win in Australia - but also leave him adrift during Saturday’s shorter, sharper Sprint encounters.
Given the time it has taken for Zarco to get his moment in the winning spotlight, it’s ironic that his victory at Phillip Island came somewhat out of the blue, his familiar strategy of meticulously working his way forward paying dividends when team-mate Martin did the opposite and went backwards on the very final lap.
A deserved result for efforts that have often gone unnoticed in the face of his younger, more exuberant stablemates at Ducati, it’s perhaps little surprise that Zarco was left feeling a little unloved when the manufacturer rather unceremoniously went over his head and offered up his seat to Marco Bezzecchi for 2024.
Fair enough then for not changing course when Bezzecchi eventually decided he didn’t want the Pramac seat, Zarco proceeding to follow through on a move to LCR Honda for 2024…
While it just remains to be seen how much ‘saving face’ is worth against the stopwatch over a single lap, Ducati’s loss is still very much Honda’s gain.
BSN's Top 10 MotoGP Riders of the Year
10 - Aleix Espargaro