Franky Morbidelli is ready to bounce back in 2023 after a disappointing introduction to the factory Yamaha MotoGP team.
While Morbidelli challenged MotoGP Champion Joan Mir to second place in 2020, his step up from the satellite outfit has provided more frustrations than success. November’s Valencia finale brought his second best result of last season and his highest placing in dry conditions just inside the top ten, with the 28-year-old hoping the positives will carry forward as testing looms in less than a month’s time.
"It was pretty good,” Morbidelli said of his winter break. “I replenished my energy. I had some rest, and then I started moving pretty early in the winter.
"I did some on track motorbikes, karting, and some motocross too. I remained active on the bike and trained. I didn’t go on holiday anywhere far. I wanted to spend some time at home and really appreciate and enjoy it before the whole rollercoaster starts again at the end of January.
The Italian’s 2022 season didn’t go according to plan after his earlier than expected promotion to partner Fabio Quartararo mid-way through the season before. With Morbidelli struck by knee injury and subsequent surgery complications in 2021, his expected return to the heights of 2020 failed to materialise last time out, and despite lining up for the full 20 round campaign, 19th overall and just 36 points was the best he could muster.
“It’s important to rest, and it’s important to detach a bit from all the technical thinking and the thinking about motorcycles,” the number 21 reflected. "We reset and restart, and with a refreshed mind and refreshed energies I’m ready to attack, consolidate what I saw at the last part of the 2022 season, and make another step.
“There’s a lot I’m looking forward to at the start of this new season.
“They say that when you struggle you learn the most,” he continued. “I’ve learned a lot last year, and I want to put on track what I understood last year and step it up with some positive energy that I got from the nice work I did during the winter.
“For 2023, it will be important to start the season with the same speed I had at the end of 2022 and, from that base, step it up and be even faster. We will try to be closer to the leaders and, if possible, fight for top positions. If that’s not the case straight away, we will still work our hardest to get to the top as fast as possible.”
An extended calendar and the addition of sprint races - which his teammate is openly reserved about - brings an extra challenge for 2023 but Morbidelli seems less phased.
“I’m looking forward to facing this new racing format during the race weekends,” he admitted. “I’m looking forward to testing it. I think it’s going to be nice. Let’s see! It’s going to be difficult to prepare because I really don’t know what to expect from the sprint races. It’s a completely blank canvas for everyone, so it’s difficult to understand and anticipate what will happen.
“The strategy is to give everything: in every practice and on every lap. Try to understand well how to extract potential from the new bike and the new features to be fast on every lap and in every session.”