Crashes like the one here in Le Mans (France) by Alex Marquez with number 73 and Lica Marini (number 10) are normal in two-wheeler racing, but the frequency they have had since the Tissot sprint race was introduced in 2023 now seems threatening. In addition, the pilots are injured more often and for longer periods than in previous years. Some of the reasons for this are addressed in this article, accompanied by suggestions for improvement before pilots’ health is threatened even more than it is at present.

Increasingly dramatic series of injuries in MotoGP

To anticipate one thing, we and many fans are looking forward to the newly introduced Tissot Sprintrace on Saturday morning. This short race, which has been known from WorldSBK since 2019 and will also be adopted for the MotoGP for the 2023 season, definitely brought a breath of fresh air into the scene. On the other hand, the “Fan Parade” that came into force at the same time met with quite a few skeptics, especially among the pilots in the premier class. According to Pramac Ducati figurehead Johann Zarco, it could be one of the reasons for the unusually high number of injuries MotoGP is currently suffering. After all, it disturbs the concentration of many drivers in the preparation, but they have no choice. Dorna and FIM are in charge, and these autocratic organizations are certainly responsible for many of the problems of recent times. Our following statistics with the World Cup standings show absences (due to falls or technical problems marked “nc”) and injury breaks (marked “inj”) in red. The number of these cases is simply outrageous compared to previous years.

All test and reserve riders are listed in italics and GasGas-KTM newcomer Pol Espargaró has yet to score any points due to his horrific crash in Friday practice at Portimão. As we announced at the time, he is not expected again until after the summer break. Incidentally, the only man who never fell out in the first 8 laps and never crashed in any race is Franco Morbidelli, who may not be under contract with Monster Energy Yamaha for long.

Honda the logical main victim of the new schedule

When looking at our graphic, it is striking that pilots in particular had many failures who changed brands or teams this season. Crash pilot Jack Miller, who still wanted to impress early on before his risky switch to the KTM, had (too) many falls already on the Ducati his trademark. If we also leave out Marc Marquez, his new brand colleagues Alex Rins and Joan Mir, who switched from Suzuki, are among the main victims of the reduced training opportunities. Likewise Pol Espargaró (switched from Honda to GasGas-KTM), Alex Marquez after switching from LCR Honda to Gresini Ducati, as well as the two Aprilia newcomers Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez. Because the Honda is considered particularly difficult to set up, Rins and Mir often suffer the most on the RC213V. Because you have to attack right from the start in FP1 and the decision for Q1 or Q2 is already made in the second free practice session, the pressure on all drivers increased enormously. This is the price the pilots will pay for the new schedule on Friday.

Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) is also one of the many riders plagued by the new schedule with the new M1. The fast man from Nice can definitely keep up in the race, but due to the reduced training opportunities, the Frenchman rarely makes it directly into Q2, which, interestingly, was always one of his strengths in the 4 years before. True experts are convinced that the new Yamaha is not the only one to blame, let alone the 2021 World Champion.

What is currently wrong and what can be improved?

Instead of pre-season testing at Sepang, which is utterly worthless for most other circuits for teams and pilots, the Dorna should bet on southern Europe. The Autodromo do Algarve near Portimão can be driven all year round, as can Jerez de la Frontera, which is very close by. This saves huge amounts of unnecessary flight and transport costs compared to the long journey to Malaysia and the findings from the official tests would be much more valuable early in the season. In addition, rookies and pilots who change teams or brands are much better off with two or three tests before the start of the season. In addition, the schedule should be changed and for this a free practice session on Friday morning of at least 40 minutes would be very important, which should not yet be about qualifying. After that, as before, the FP1 for Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP as usual and also in the afternoon. Instead of the questionable fan parade at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, I prefer the second race of the MotoE. With such a change, we guarantee that there would be a sudden improvement in relation to the dramatically increased number of injuries.

LCR Honda newcomer Alex Rins as the winner of the US Grand Prix – he turned the claim of many so-called experts and commentators on its head that the Honda lacks competitiveness in 2023. With second place in the sprint race and his victory in Austin (Texas), the Catalan proved that with the right attitude and perfect preparation, any motorcycle can win the current MotoGP. Because the RC213V is still new to him and Alex didn’t have the opportunity to test it, it doesn’t work on all routes and as soon as you force it, you have to reckon with falls and injuries.

Equally important – consistent application of rules

When, like at the Le Mans Grand Prix, a man like Francesco Bagnaia completely freaks out after falling and charging at his opponent, he should be severely punished. Especially when he throws his fists at a man like Maverick Viñales, who innocently crashed from “Pecco” when he fell. The punches on his helmet from the reigning world champion are unbelievably unsportsmanlike, but the Italian got away with it. This is a sporting scandal for which completely incompetent and inconsistent FIM commissioners are responsible. Instead, far too often they punish the wrong people at their whim for alleged offenses that others get away with unpunished. While many journalists and commentators initially rarely or never addressed this, from 2019 we were among the critics of this questionable handling, which far too often falsified the results.

Start of the US Grand Prix in Austin (Texas) with the reigning world champion Bagnaia in the front with the number 1 on his Lenovo Ducati. The Italian behaved like a bully at Le Mans after his own mistake against Aprilia driver Maverick Viñales when he beat him up. In football, for example, such behavior inevitably results in a red card and suspension. Had it not been for Ducati pilot Bagnaia being the culprit, the FIM stewards would certainly have fined him, but for scandalous reasons he got away with it.

There are countless instances of inconsistent application of the rules
A good example of this was Brad Binder’s double relegation in the Dutch Grand Prix when the South African was given 3rd place for touching the green marked ‘forbidden zone’ (first in the sprint race and then in Sunday’s GP). A race before that, his Red Bull Moto2 colleague Pedro Acosta committed exactly the same offense with his long lap penalty, but remained unpunished and retained third place. Such incidents not only damage racing, but also the reputation of the highest racing authority FIM, which absolutely does not want to admit. On the first weekend in July, Spielberg showed impressively how bad track limits can be for sport, when there were over 1000 so-called offenses and the inspectors were completely overwhelmed to pursue them. Nico Hülkenberg received a warning from a driver who was no longer in the race. The official race result could only be announced more than 5 hours after the checkered flag had fallen.

The Argentine Grand Prix begins with Round 2 of MotoGP and the first wet race of the season. With the number 22 second from the right Franco Morbidelli, who is at risk of losing his place at Monster Energy Yamaha going into the end of 2023 despite some good results. The Italian has publicly complained about FIM decisions, promptly making him the target of further sanctions from the highly unforgiving commissioners.

Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© MotoGP).