until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


German Grand Prix 2023 MotoGP rider rankings

by Simon Patterson
10 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Heading towards this year’s German Grand Prix, we all expected one thing and one thing only: Marc Marquez domination.

The Repsol Honda rider had been the undisputed king of the Sachsenring as long as he’s been in MotoGP, undefeated every time he started a race there.

Yet this year he wasn’t even competitive (and wasn’t even there by the time the Sunday race started), leaving the door open for a new star to emerge in the vacuum.

But, while number one on this week’s rankings list might be abundantly clear (as is probably last position as well), there are still plenty of talking points within the field

Scoring the grid in order based on their performances not just in the main event but also Saturday’s sprint race, the rankings are obviously all subjective – but come not just from their final race results but taking into account things like the machinery they’re on and the pre-race expectations.

1 Jorge Martin

Started: 6th Sprint: 1st Race: 1st

Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP

Until fairly recently, there was something of a standard expectation of Jorge Martin. Blisteringly fast in qualifying and aggressive in the opening laps of races, he’d turn a front row start into a brilliant few laps and then either fade back through the pack, or, worse, crash out hard.

Sunday’s race rather conclusively proved that version of Martin is gone, replaced with a new, more consistent and mature guy who has absolutely launched himself into title contention.

Holding his cool in the closing laps while under attack from Pecco Bagnaia was quite the feat, and combined with his recent run of results, it’s hard not to see this as his new standard level going forward.

2 Johann Zarco

Started: 4th Sprint: 5th Race: 3rd

Johann Zarco Pramac Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP

There’s no better way to answer speculation about your future than to finish on the podium, again.

Sure, Johann Zarco’s maiden MotoGP win might remain an elusive thing, but how on earth could anyone even countenance sending him to World Superbikes next year when he’s returning consistent podium after podium in the premier class?

3 Luca Marini

Started: 2nd Sprint: 4th Race: 5th

Luca Marini VR46 Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP

If there’s one rider who is the role model for hard work paying off, it’s got to be VR46 Ducati racer Luca Marini, whose slow but steady chipping away at MotoGP is finally starting to yield consistent results.

Especially promising at the Sachsenring, though, has got to be the fact that he had the match of hard-charging team-mate Marco Bezzecchi.

It bodes well for what’s to come and it’s hard not to see Marini standing on the top step of a podium before too much longer.

4 Jack Miller

Started: 3rd Sprint: 3rd Race: 6th

Jack Miller KTM Sachsenring MotoGP

It wasn’t an easy weekend at the Sachsenring to be someone not on a Ducati – only Jack Miller was able to break its monopoly with two impressive results for KTM.

The sprint podium was an unexpected treat, and while he might have done the usual Miller trick of sliding back a little in the main race, he was nonetheless the only rider able to split the Italian bikes at the front and prevent absolute and complete domination of the weekend.

5 Pecco Bagnaia

Started: 1st Sprint: 2nd Race: 2nd

Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP

Look, it’s obviously tough to argue that a pair of second places are a bad result for someone fighting to retain a title this year, and Bagnaia certainly didn’t finish either race looking particularly disappointed with himself.

But while he might have scored a healthy collection of points, he also conceded a fair chunk to the on-form Martin. Though that might not be too much of an issue at this point in the season, it’s a trend he’s eventually going to have to reverse if he wants to keep the MotoGP trophy sitting on his mantlepiece.

6 Enea Bastianini

Started: 11th Sprint: 10th Race: 8th

Enea Bastianini Sachsenring MotoGP

Not an amazing weekend for Enea Bastianini, but a useful one to remind the grid that he’s still there and is still fast, as he continues his return from a championship-wrecking injury at the opening round of the season.

Still obviously not physically strong enough to be competitive and lacking bike time compared to his rivals, he’s nonetheless playing catch-up now.

Once he gets Assen and the summer break out of the way, these results are enough to suggest that he’ll start back where he left off at the end of 2022.

7 Miguel Oliveira

Started: 16th Sprint: 16th Race: 10th

Miguel Oliveira RNF Aprilia Sachsenring MotoGP

Coming to the Sachsenring, a circuit where nine of its 11 corners are left-handers, was never going to be easy for the still-recovering Miguel Oliveira with an injury that was going to hurt him more when turning left – so to do what he did is rather impressive.

Riding, according to his team boss, with one hand tied behind his back thanks to his ongoing shoulder injury recovery, it bodes well for what the Portuguese rider will be capable of once he returns to full fitness after the upcoming summer break.

8 Augusto Fernandez

Started: 15th Sprint: 14th Race: 11th

Augusto Fernandez Tech3 Gas Gas Sachsenring MotoGP

At a time when there’s endless speculation about what the future holds for KTM’s rider line-up next year, you’ve got to give significant credit to what Augusto Fernandez is doing on the Gas Gas-branded bike.

Chipping away weekend after weekend, he’s established himself as an impressively consistent points-scorer.

He’s looking like someone who’s going to be increasingly hard for the occasionally mercenary Austrian manufacturer to get rid of.

9 Marco Bezzecchi

Started: 5th Sprint: 7th Race: 4th

Marco Bezzecchi VR46 Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP

We’ve got used to seeing Bezzecchi at the sharp end of MotoGP races this year, meaning that it’s a cross he’s made for his own back that seventh and fourth is now seen as disappointing for him.

But, with something missing compared to the trio of Ducatis in front of him and, unusually, compared to VR46 team-mate Marini (at least in early-race pace), it was Bezzecchi far from his best at the Sachsenring.

10 Aleix Espargaro

Started: 10th Sprint: 9th Race: 16th

Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Sachsenring MotoGP

Rather mediocre all round from the 2022 podium contender.

Aleix Espargaro was quick to pin the blame for the poor weekend not on the state of his own Aprilia but the relative strength of rivals’ Ducatis, insisting that right now the RS-GPs are simply being outclassed.

That’s somewhat backed up by his team-mates’ results, because while it might not have been the weekend that Espargaro – nursing not just a heel injury but two broken ribs as well from his dumb Mugello accident – was hoping for, his one small consolation is that he ended it in much better form than struggling team-mate Maverick Vinales.

11 Taka Nakagami

Started: 18th Sprint: 17th Race: 14th

Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda Sachsenring MotoGP

You can’t really blame Taka Nakagami for wanting to take it easy at the Sachsenring, after getting a front seat view of his Honda RC213V’s attempts to launch Marc Marquez into orbit in Sunday morning warm-up.

Himself a victim of the bike earlier in the weekend – in a crash that risked worsening a long-term finger injury – it’s pretty obvious that he understood early on what Marquez didn’t.

The realisation in question was that even seeing a chequered flag at the German track was going to involve settling for some rather disappointing results.

12 Brad Binder

Started: 9th Sprint: 6th Race: DNF

Brad Binder KTM Sachsenring MotoGP

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Brad Binder at the sharp end of MotoGP races lately. But one thing we’ve definitely not seen is both him being conclusively outclassed by team-mate Miller and making mistakes.

After looking far from his usual level of sprint race competitiveness on Saturday, Sunday’s race was a little better until he threw away a third place, an error that already risks being terminal for any lingering title aspirations.

13 Alex Marquez

Started: 8th Sprint: 8th Race: 7th

Alex Marquez Gresini Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP

Aside from a Friday crash, it was, in all honesty, a bit of a quiet weekend for Alex Marquez at the Sachsenring, with the Gresini Ducati rider not exactly setting the world alight with his performances.

Partly born out of a desire to see the finish line after a number of punishingly tough weekends that weren’t necessarily his own fault, there was a feeling that something was certainly missing from his riding.

14 Jonas Folger

Started: 20th Sprint: DNF Race: 17th

Jonas Folger Tech3 Gas Gas Sachsenring MotoGP

Yet another average race weekend for Pol Espargaro’s injury replacement, with Jonas Folger once again well off the pace and last in most sessions by a substantial margin.

He also wasn’t able to finish the sprint – although that at least wasn’t his own fault but rather the result of a technical problem with the Tech3 Gas Gas machine.

15 Franco Morbidelli

Started: 17th Sprint: 15th Race: 12th

Franco Morbidelli Yamaha Sachsenring MotoGP

Obviously finishing outside the top 10 isn’t what former championship contender Franco Morbidelli came to the Sachsenring to do, yet at least compared to previous races there are a few positives here and there to take from his weekend.

Able to make forward progress on both a bike and a circuit that aren’t conducive to overtaking, he also finished ahead of team-mate Fabio Quartararo, a small win in the ‘Yamaha Cup’ as Morbidelli himself sardonically christened their intra-team battles.

16 Fabio Di Giannantonio

Started: 14th Sprint: 12th Race: 9th

Fabio Di Giannantonio Gresini Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP

On one hand, Sunday’s race was one of the best results of Gresini rider Fabio Di Giannantonio’s MotoGP career.

But, when there are eight Ducatis finishing inside the top nine and you’re still the last one of them, it’s perhaps not the advertisement for your future that it might seem to be, and it’s hardly a weekend of performances likely to have secured his spot with the squad for next year.

17 Fabio Quartararo

Started: 12th Sprint: 13th Race: 13th

Fabio Quartararo Yamaha Sachsenring MotoGP

We know, of course, that the Yamaha isn’t an easy bike to perform on this year, and there was clearly something of an element of self-preservation for the 2022 German GP winner Quartararo.

But while that’s all well and good in the context of the season, he still can’t let himself get beaten by his team-mate – especially when a soft-tyre gamble meant he went backwards in the race while Morbidelli was able to come from a substantially worse position to overhaul the Frenchman.

18 Raul Fernandez

Started: 19th Sprint: 18th Race: 15th

Raul Fernandez RNF Aprilia Sachsenring MotoGP

There are plenty of caveats to Raul Fernandez’s results of late, such as a slumping Aprilia and the might of the Ducatis.

But the stark reality is that he really shouldn’t be getting beaten by a team-mate who essentially has one arm tied behind his back by injury.

Fernandez wasn’t just outclassed by Oliveira at the Sachsenring though, he was thoroughly embarrassed by most of the grid, and it’s perhaps no wonder there are rumours about his future even as he sits with a two-year deal with the RNF squad.

19 Maverick Viñales

Started: 13th Sprint: DNF Race: DNF

Maverick Vinales Aprilia Sachsenring MotoGP

Vinales has turned into something of an invisible man recently, both in the paddock and on track.

Never once featuring during the sprint race before crashing out and absent from the main event with engine problems early on, it’s a continuation of the disappearing act that the Aprilia rider performed at Mugello as well, and it’s quite telling about the mood he’s in that he’s completely stopped talking to the media.

20 Marc Marquez

Started: 7th Sprint: 11th Race: DNS

Marc Marquez Honda Sachsenring MotoGP

It’s rare to see a weekend in MotoGP so utterly self-destructive as Marc Marquez’s was at the Sachsenring. It’s pretty apparent that he went to Germany with a win-it-or-bin-it mentality and expected to find a Honda at least somewhat compliant to his wishes.

Instead, he found something rather more rigid and, rather than accept the limitations, tried to force a square peg into a round hole all weekend.

The end result is a trail of broken bikes and a freshly injured rider. Again.

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