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MotoGP’s rider line-up has undergone some very significant changes for 2023, with Suzuki’s withdrawal throwing a curveball into the market.

But which riders have ended up taking a step backwards? And who’s landed in just the right place?

Which teams are now (by luck or judgement) now much better off with their 2023 rider pairing? And who’s going to miss their 2022 line-up?
Here’s our list of winners and losers from the reshuffle:


Honda’s 2022 was historically bad, and yet it was rewarded with the signatures of two genuinely great riders, who had looked like they’d be unavailable and then suddenly found themselves needing to make an unplanned visit to the job centre. Elite sport is kind of goofy like that sometimes.

Even the staunchest defenders of Pol Espargaro and Alex Marquez – and honestly, that category probably includes this writer – can’t argue that Honda hasn’t upgraded its line-up by adding Joan Mir to the Repsol garage and Alex Rins to LCR.

And it’s also made it more youthful – Rins is over four years younger than Espargaro, and only a few months older than the younger Marquez, who himself is a year older than already-champion Mir.

Those two additions are a luxury. The only real downside is that there’s nowhere to hide – if it turns out neither Mir, nor Rins, can get anything out of the RC213V, that’s a Honda problem clear as day, and it’ll inform the 2025 thinking of one Marc Marquez. – Valentin Khorounzhiy


We now know Pecco Bagnaia can handle pressure, dominate races and win a MotoGP world championship. On the way to proving that, he turned the tables on Jack Miller – who’d arguably looked the stronger prospect when they were Pramac team-mates – and now Miller’s off to KTM.

In his place, Ducati brings in the underdog superstar of 2022: Enea Bastianini. He’s proved he can win and even fight for the title (in a long shot sort of way) when not even in a works team or on the latest spec of bike, and has a knack for preserving tyre life for late charges that’s unrivalled in the current field.

Proven champion + pretty obvious future champion = a line-up with no obvious flaws for the factory Ducati team, so it has to be considered a winner. Deservedly so, given the degree to which it’s focused on generating its own talent too.

But will this be a Pyrrhic victory? Miller did an admirable job in both 2021 and 2022 of knowing Bagnaia was Ducati’s best title bet and falling into a support role. Very few would’ve done so with such grace.

Bastianini hasn’t come to Ducati to be number two. Bagnaia isn’t going to want to relinquish team seniority while defending a title.

Ducati’s got the best line-up on the grid, yet that could mean a huge headache in the garage. – Matt Beer

Taka Nakagami should be simply happy that he still had a seat at the MotoGP table once the music has stopped, after a frankly terrible 2022 season.

Saved more than anything else because fellow Japanese racer Ai Ogura made the choice to remain in Moto2 for another season, it’s not a secret that Nakagami remains on very thin ice at LCR Honda.

Whether any performance will be good enough for Nakagami to retain the seat beyond this season, given what’s expected from 2022 title contender Ogura in the middleweight class, remains to be seen.

But the circumstances of others more than anything Nakagami has done himself is what has helped him get one more chance in the first place. So, just for still being in the field, he’s a winner in the rider market. – Simon Patterson


MotoGPThree riders – Alex Marquez, Alex Rins, Miguel Oliveira. Three vacancies – LCR Honda, RNF Aprilia, Gresini Ducati.

Marquez is the least successful of the three in MotoGP terms, yet there’s a good case to be made that, in the mini-silly season involving the trio, he’s made off the absolute best.

Yes, Gresini is at best third-tier in Ducati’s structure, and it’ll be a year-old bike unlike the works-spec available at LCR Honda. But that was also the case in 2022, and Gresini won four times as many races as Honda and Aprilia combined.

The junior Marquez is a very talented rider who’s worked hard to get to where he is – but he really should spend a good chunk of 2023 imitating the famous ‘can’t believe this is my life’ LeBron James image, as he could’ve very well been off the grid instead of on a bike as good as the 2022 Desmosedici. – VK

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