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Marini ‘at peace with handicap’, hoped WorldSBK held the key

Mooney VR46
Luca Marini

Luca Marini is ready and raring to go as his third season in MotoGP kicks off at the end of March on the Mooney VR46 Ducati.

While the coming year brings unknown elements such as the introduction of Saturday Sprint races, Marini will be competing on the proven championship-winning GP22, after the Bologna factory decided to run just four upgraded machines - utilised by Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini and Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco - for 2023.

“This season the test was really relaxed for everybody,” Marini said of his current situation, compared to last season’s promotion to a factory-spec prototype. “Also I saw the people working on the bike feeling better, and this also helps my job because the bike every time is ready, every time is at 100 per cent. So for me is much easier, but I know that for the rest of the season will be a little bit the worse because we don’t have any upgrade.


“If I can be fast and fight for the victory, for sure Gigi will support me with something new, I expect, like they did with Bastianini last year.”

A promising start in preseason testing saw Marini head the Sepang combined times, just as he had at Valencia back in November. A total of seven Ducati riders making up the top nine ahead of Portugal’s final two days of preparation this coming weekend. 

“I think we need to wait to the test in Portimao to see our potential also on that track because I was really strong in Valencia and in Sepang, but they are completely different tracks compared to Portimao,” the Italian confirmed. “So I think this Saturday and Sunday we can work well on the bike and prepare everything for the weekend but everybody will be ready for a fight for the victory.

“In this moment, all the Ducati bikes are strong and all the Ducati riders can fight for the podium and for the victory.

“For sure I will be one of them and I will try to do my best for reach this goal but it’s not as easy as we can think because in the test the situation is completely different compared to standard GP,” he continued. “Everybody will have two more days for prepare their bikes for the weekend so it will be even more difficult. We have a package that you take out the bike from the flight case and our bike is ready for win but with two more days of testing on the same track, everybody will be ready for the race on the 26th of March. So I think we will start on the same situation and it will be not so easy.”

While the traditional MotoGP Sunday race will indeed line up on March 26th, the half-distance sprint will see the grid form one day earlier, in a change to the schedule for 2023.

“It’s difficult to prepare now, because we don’t know exactly what we’re gonna have with the sprint race but for sure, I tried to do my best,” Marini explained on how his winter training has been tailored to the new demands this season. “I’m ready now, I feel really good.

“After three/four sprint races we will know what we need more for the rest of the season. So will be very important to finish all the races and try to understand also on the physical side, the weakness or the strong point of every rider and try to improve in your training at home. It’s difficult because we are already elite athletes so it’s difficult to do better than this. I think one of the most important things is feel comfortable on the bike because this also on the physical side, change a lot.”

Talking of the lanky Italian’s physique, one major talking point - also seen across Dorna’s other two wheel championship - is the possibility of a rider/bike minimum weight limit. Added demands on the rider’s strength and stamina with the intensity of an all-out sprint must be played off, especially by riders as tall and lean as six foot Marini, against the eternal ‘every tenth counts’.

“I’m not worried, sincerely,” the 25-year-old said. “But for sure will be important because if I train more and I put more muscle then I have more difficulties on the lap time, it’s just the matter of physics. If I put two/three kilos more then the bike will be slower or just put more energy in the rear tyre for acceleration, and this is not good because our tyres are so sensitive. We need to ride very smooth and well for performing the best way. Also the acceleration, the speed is very important for the overtakes.

“I think that the smaller riders this year can train more, put more muscle and just have two/three kilos more will help for have more energy for these two races, that for sure the effort will be unbelievable, but I just tried to do my best.

“I hope that this rule can change in the future but I saw that in Superbike won’t change. I expected that Dorna tried something on Superbike for then bring us some new regulations but they take another decision. So on my side just I need to focus on what I can do with my potential, with my talent, with my speed. Trying to work better than the others, because this handicap will be for my entire career the same and I am at peace with this.”

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