Morbidelli starting 2023 season with ‘clean slate, will give it best shot’

Franco Morbidelli says the beginning of the 2023 MotoGP season is a ‘clean slate’ as he looks to return to form following a dismal 2022 campaign
Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha MotoGP Portimao 2023
Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha MotoGP Portimao 2023

19th in the MotoGP standings while teammate Fabio Quartararo led the championship for most of the season before finishing second to Francesco Bagnaia, Morbidelli enters the 2023 season needing to reduce the margin.

Quartararo was again faster than Morbidelli during pre-season testing, however, the former runner-up to Joan Mir was able to match the Frenchman’s performance at times, before a breakthrough on Quartararo’s side of the garage saw him catapult up the order during day-two of testing in Portimao. 

Morbidelli faces huge amounts of pressure heading into the opening round, not only because of the lack of results in 2022, but because he’s the only factory rider with a contract that ends after this season.

Portimao has been a strong circuit for both Yamaha and Morbidelli in the past, so while a good start to the season can’t be ruled out, the expectation is that Morbidelli could endure a tough round due to the performance of other manufacturers, namely Ducati and Aprilia.

With that said, Morbidelli feels as though he’s in a good spot to start the year: "Over the long winter break, Yamaha prepared a lot of items for us to test. We tried a lot of things and gathered as much data as possible. 

"This last week, after the Official Portimao Test, the data has been analysed, and the team is ready to go. 

"The atmosphere in the team is always nice, but there is extra excitement in the air now because we are starting the new season. It‘s a clean slate, anything is possible, and we will give it our best shot."

Meregalli hoping previous Portimao success steers Yamaha in right direction for MotoGP opener

Fabio Quartararo, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Fabio Quartararo, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

A podium for Morbidelli in 2020 and two wins for Quartararo during the last two seasons show that the M1 is a bike that works around the rollercoaster that is the Algarve International Circuit.

And while it’s not a foregone conclusion that previous results are an indication of what’s to come, it’s also true that Yamaha would have preferred to start in Portimao over many other venues. 

Speaking about the season-opener, Meregalli said: "The first GP is always exciting because it‘s back to school for everyone. However, this time it‘s even more interesting because we have a new GP format. 

"This will be the first time we get to do a Sprint, so that is something we look forward to. It‘s also the first time that we open the MotoGP season in Portugal. 

"This is a good circuit for us, as shown by Fabio‘s two Portimao race wins in a row. We ended the test here almost two weeks ago on a positive note. 

"It‘s important that we keep working in the right direction this weekend and set the right tone for the season. Like the fans, we can‘t wait any longer to watch some MotoGP racing!"

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