After returning to KTM with the newly-branded GASGAS Tech 3 team, Espargaro’s dark days from his time with Repsol Honda could be over.

The Spaniard gelled with the RC16 immediately upon his return to the Austrian manufacturer, which is a complete 180 compared to his two years with Honda as Espargaro often lost the energetic personality he’s so often displayed. 

A very strong test in Sepang indicated that Espargaro could not only lead the GASGAS team, but also challenge factory KTM riders Brad Binder and Jack Miller in 2023.

The two-day test in Portimao brought with it more struggles for Espargaro and KTM as a whole, although the 2013 Moto2 champion remained competitive at times.

Speaking about his first race after returning to KTM, Espargaro said: "Finally we are about to start the MotoGP season in Portugal. With twenty-one rounds, this is going to be a very long season and we will need to stay consistent all year long. 

"We worked very well in both Sepang and Portimao Tests to start this new campaign in the best way possible. 

"As the races go by, I think that our feeling on the bike will get better and better, and I hope that my personal feedback will be a great asset to improve the machine, so we can target points and get the results we want. Let’s Get On The Gas!"

Despite achieving a career-best finish of second with Honda at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Misano during the 2021 season, most of Espargaro’s premier class success came with KTM during his first stint with the brand.

Espargaro claimed a total of six podium finishes between 2018-20, all of which were third place results.

Lining alongside Espargaro is Fernandez, the only rookie in the MotoGP class this season.

But like Espargaro, Fernandez showed potential in pre-season, particularly when it came to race runs. 

"After an intense pre-season and all the testing we did in both Sepang and Portimao, I am really excited to finally start the season and make my debuts in the MotoGP class," added Fernandez. 

"Taking the start of my first MotoGP race is going to be a very special moment for me, but I am up for the task! 

"I hope to improve my feelings from the last test and get closer to my teammate and the top guys. Everyday will be a learning experience, so let’s take it step by step!"