All Fast Things 2024 logo

2023 MotoGP Championship Contenders

2023 MotoGP Championship Contenders

Ah, the MotoGP Championship! As an ardent follower of this electrifying sport, I couldn't be more excited to delve into the world of title contenders, with a talented group of riders vying for the top spot.


The Stars of the Show

Francesco Bagnaia, the current world champion

Pecco Bagnaia is at the very front and rightly so. From the word 'go', he's been up there, winning both opening races at Portimao. I'm convinced he could have been way further ahead of the pack if he'd kept a slightly cooler head during the first few races. But given the fact that Bagnaia has proven himself almighty in the second half of MotoGP seasons, I expect him to come out of the summer break throwing heavy punches. He's my top pick for World Champion.

I truly cringe whenever anybody points to the Ducati GP23 as the reason for his success. Pecco is arguably the smartest rider since Rossi when it comes to dueling. I would like to point out his very first race win against Marquez at Aragon to validate my point. Yes, the combination of Ducati and Pecco seems a bit overpowered, but Pecco isn't winning in Verstappen-fashion. He's fighting every race.

Jorge Martin, the first contender

Another rider on the horizon is Jorge Martin. The current number two in the world standings is doing a stellar job onboard the Pramac Ducati. After a few rocky years, troubled by injuries and inconsistency, Jorge is back! We're starting to see glimmers of the die-hard Moto3 world champion of 2018. Certainly, he'll give Bagnaia a hard time in races to come. But Jorge still has to prove his worth in the second half of the season. It will be interesting to see how events unfold between the pair, as their strengths lie in different areas.

Image credit: mooinblack /

Marco bezecchi, the rising star

Ah, and let's talk about Bez! Marco Bezzecchi is nothing short of a rising star! His charisma, talent, and sheer speed are shaping nicely to place him amongst the most liked riders on the grid. His impressive form has peaked at Argentina where he took his maiden Grand Prix win. And certainly, there's more to follow. Recent races have been a bit of a struggle, but his consistency and determination at Assen have reignited the flame for the young Italian. He only trails Martin by just 1 point in the standings, so it will be very tight between them. I think these two will have to be careful not to trip each other up in their pursuit of Pecco!

Image credit: mooinblack /

Brad Binder, the underdog or dark horse?

And lastly, Brad Binder deserves an honorable mention in this list. Admittedly, I don't consider Binder a championship contender at this time. He's already 80 points behind Pecco, and the KTM seems unable to outpace the Ducati. But he's a force to be reckoned with come Saturday, and he makes his way forward on Sundays too. He's always been there to pick up the pieces. The way KTM has beaten Ducati at launches is nothing short of spectacular. Binder then will have a hard time keeping the Ducatis of Zarco and Marini behind him in the standings, with Jack Miller following closely. Who knows… maybe the Ducatis at the front will be too busy getting in each other's way, allowing Binder to take full advantage.

Image credit: mooinblack /

The Struggling Riders

Miguel Oliveira: Injuries

Oliviera has had a hard time… Being taken out viciously by Marc Marquez at Portimao has basically canceled, what should have been, a great 2023. The switch to Aprilia seemed smooth, and Oliviera was primed to take the Italian manufacturer to the podium next to Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales. But that early DNF and several injuries later leave him far down the order and in need of some time off. Oliveira is a truly talented rider. Let's hope the summer rest has given him time to recover!

Image credits: Alif Omar /

Joan Mir: Suffering from the HRC curse?

Mir is one of my favorite MotoGP riders. I've been a fan of his since his early Moto3 days. Together with Pecco, I consider Mir to be the smartest rider out there. The way he can analyze a rider and plan his overtakes accordingly is shocking. Sadly, he's been tormented with the same curse as Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Alex Marquez, and Pol Espargaro; the trainwreck called the Honda RC213V. I had hoped that Mir's outstanding talent was enough to tame the Japanese disappointment, but no less is true. Mir has been more off the bike than on, and there seems to be little to no improvement in the short term. Plagued by injuries caused by heavy crashes, he too is in need of some downtime. Let's hope he's able to find a bit more stability in the second half of the season. A half that no doubt will be purely used for bike development.

Joan Mir
Image credits: Mark Fann /

Franco Morbidelli: Yamaha's conundrum

Franco is another one of my favorite riders. (Yes, I tend to like the VR46 riders…). I'm convinced that, given the right circumstances, Franco could have been a MotoGP champion by now. He came incredibly close to that illustrious title in 2020 and was primed to do the same in the years to come. But the downfall of Yamaha has postponed any success in the Italian's imminent future as he, just like his sole teammate, struggles with the Iwata's contender. The mid-season move to the Factory Yamaha team in 2021 has paid dividends, with an underperforming bike and a knee injury at the helm of it.

2024 is still very cloudy for Morbidelli. A Yamaha seat seems nearly impossible, and quite frankly the wrong choice for him altogether. Yamaha has a tendency to side with the fastest rider for too long. Franco and Fabio are two very different rider profiles, so he's probably better off at a different manufacturer. Unless, of course, he's looking to fill Toprak Razgatlıoğlu's shoes in World Superbikes. Undoubtedly, Morbidelli will be a star on the R1M. But I feel he has a lot to offer in MotoGP and would love to see him on a Ducati.

Image credit: mooinblack /

Fabio Quartararo: From hero to zero

One must feel bad for Fabio Quartararo… Basically going from hero to zero in less than a season must hurt beyond words. The young Frenchman was primed to take over from none other than Valentino Rossi himself. And, not due to lack of trying, has so far come up short. An exceptional 2021 saw him clinch his first world title, but the decline of Yamaha has dragged him along with it. Lately, he even struggles to outpace Morbidelli, a fact that seemed obvious when the season started. I don't really see any light at the end of the tunnel for Fabio at the time being. He'll have to continue with Yamaha and help them at their best capacity to turn the M1 into a winning machine again. Jumping ship now will only bring other underperforming machinery as the Ducati and KTM queue is already quite extensive.

Image credit: Alif Omar /

Marc Marquez: The horror season and retirement

And lastly, there's none other than Marc Marquez… He's arguably the biggest letdown of the MotoGP field at the moment. Bad results, accompanied by heavy crashes, and sadly, not just for himself but several riders taken out in the process. It's sad to see one of MotoGP's past forerunners on the declining path for multiple seasons in a row. The shock pole position at Portimao seemed to be the big return many of his fans had been waiting for, only to disperse within laps into a chaotic and heavily misjudged slamming crash into Oliveira. It not only sidelined the Portuguese rider but Marc himself.

What followed next was an embarrassing charade of 'to penalty or not' with Race Direction. Eventually, it escalated to the MotoGP Court of Appeal ruling in Marquez's favor. But in all fairness, it didn't do him or his current reputation any good. And that's how he's trending lately, by becoming unpopular and making unpopular statements in the media.

It then seems that 2024 will offer Honda more of the same heartache. With no progress in sight and a failed Kalex experiment, it seems they're staring down a tiresome and painful few seasons of recovery. The question remains if Marquez will stand his ground and stick with a brand that has always provided him with a championship-winning machine. Or will he jump ship? Or is it already time to hang up his leathers and look back at an illustrious career? Wayne Garder recently said that Marc should "retire while he still can" .... 

Image credit: Abdul Razak Latif /