until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


The top 10 MotoGP prospects of 2022

by Simon Patterson, Valentin Khorounzhiy
10 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

If the 2022 Moto2 title race was a lot like the madness of the 2020 MotoGP season, its Moto3 counterpart was more reminiscent of one of Marc Marquez’s premier-class titles.

But in both classes there were plenty of fascinating and promising performers who, even if you watch only MotoGP, are worth being familiar with due to the high likelihood many if not most of them will get their premier-class debuts sooner or later.

As 2022 winds down, we select the standout campaigners from MotoGP’s two feeder classes this year.

Those two categories don’t necessarily embody the full spectrum of MotoGP prospects – but someone such as World Superbike frontrunner Toprak Razgatlioglu had already made his case a year earlier and has never fully committed to pursuing a MotoGP ride, while the riders below Moto3 are notoriously hard to project (even if Jose Rueda did impress by winning both the Junior Moto3 title and the Red Bull Rookies Cup crown this year).

And with just 10 selections, even among those in Moto3 and Moto2 there are absentees you may well object to – such as consistent Moto3 frontrunner Deniz Oncu, top Moto3 rookie Diogo Moreira and early-season Moto2 leader Celestino Vietti.

10. Aron Canet


23 years old, Spain
2022: 3rd in Moto2 with Pons
2023: Staying in Moto2 with Pons
#4 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

It’s September 25, lap four of the Moto2 race at Motegi. Canet is leading by nearly two seconds. He is finally about to get that long-awaited first Moto2 win. It would simply be too weird for this one too to get away from him.

Moments later, he’s on the ground.

It’s been that kind of season for Canet, who is a better rider than his victory drought makes him look. Aside from the Motegi crash, he suffered a wrist injury in that Portimao crash where 11 bikes went down at one corner due to sudden rain (Canet was, of course, leading at the time) and then was in a June car crash that led to recurring nosebleeds. Said nosebleeds forced him out of the Assen race even though he’d had his nose cauterised to try to stop them.

With all that in mind, he didn’t do too badly. The title challenge was only really snuffed out by a barren late-season run, and finishing third doesn’t reflect badly on Canet, even if it’s a result he’ll need to better if he’s to force himself into MotoGP conversations.

9. Dennis Foggia


21 years old, Italy
2022: 3rd in Moto3 with Leopard
2023: Moving to Moto2 with Italtrans
#10 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

Just as expected, Foggia enjoyed a close battle with Sergio Garcia across 2022. Alas, it was only for the runner-up spot.

The Italian’s fifth Moto3 season was not a huge downgrade on his fourth, in which he’d finished as a relatively close runner-up to Pedro Acosta. This year, he again had a better second half of the season, and again was a patchy performer, rarely able to string two great results in a row.

But on the weekends when things clicked he was still super-impressive, and he was responsible for two of the season’s four winning margins of over a second.

8. Sergio Garcia


19 years old, Spain
2022: 2nd in Moto3 with Gas Gas Aspar
2023: Moving to Moto2 with Pons
#7 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

You have to feel a little sorry for Garcia in 2022, given that he went into the year with all the elements needed to be the title favourite, only to be overshadowed by his younger team-mate (who will, of course, appear further down this list).

But despite only finishing runner-up, he still rode a superb season, winning three races and being consistent enough to come home on the podium in half the races – no mean feat given the ruthless nature of Moto3.

Signing up with Pons Racing for 2023, he’s on a path that will undoubtedly end in MotoGP – and, given the fact that he’s going into the season with quite a bit more experience than Izan Guevara, it might not even be a surprise to see Garcia outperforming his former team-mate and rookie rival in their opening season in the intermediate class.

7. Ayumu Sasaki


22 years old, Japan
2022: 4th in Moto3 with Max Racing Husqvarna
2023: Staying in Moto3 with Intact GP Husqvarna

It’s sometimes easy to forget how young Sasaki is, he’s been a Moto3 stalwart for so long. Completing his sixth full season in 2022 yet still only 22 years old, he’s always been given chances because of his obvious talent – but it took until this season before it all came together for him at the right time and place to realise what many suspected was possible as long ago as his back-to-back Asia Talent Cup and Red Bull Rookie wins in 2015 and 2016.

Taken out of title contention in 2022 by a bad crash in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix that meant he missed two rounds, his end to the season was as strong as anyone’s – and his immediate goal for the start of 2023 needs to be to build on that, sign a Moto2 deal early on, and start moving up the ranks sooner rather than later.

6. Tony Arbolino


22 years old, Italy
2022: 4th in Moto2 with Marc VDS
2023: Staying in Moto2 with Marc VDS
#6 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

Throughout his time in Moto3, the tall and lanky Arbolino was always at something of a disadvantage to his smaller, lighter rivals – something that, realistically, means that his rather impressive CV from there should always have hinted at more success to come in the future on larger capacity machinery.

That wasn’t really the case, as it isn’t for many a rider, in his debut Moto2 season – but, boy, did the Italian come good in year two. Winning early on in America but more impressively putting together a consistent run of form to end the season with two wins and a podium from the four final races, he’s remaining with Marc VDS and will start 2023 as an obvious title contender.

There is MotoGP potential here, with the fact that he’s managed by paddock maestro Carlos Pernat (who also looks after Enea Bastianini) meaning that there are very real routes into both Aprilia and Ducati for him in the coming years should 2023 pay off.

5. Ai Ogura


21 years old, Japan
2022: 2nd in Moto2 with Honda Team Asia
2023: Staying in Moto2 with Honda Team Asia
#3 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

Ogura proved two things in 2022: that he absolutely has the talent needed to be a future MotoGP rider (just in case anyone was still doubting it after a title-fighting Moto3 season in 2020) – and that he very much still needs another season in Moto2 to iron out the wrinkles that in the end cost him a title he had one hand on.

One of a multitude of characters who got stuck into the fight for the title early on but one of the few who remained there until almost the end against Augusto Fernandez, it was, ultimately, unforced (and perhaps even somewhat reckless) errors from Ogura that gave his rival the crown – and 2023 will be all about making sure there’s no more of those mistakes in his future.

Amid his successes came plenty of talk about a potential MotoGP move for 2023 to replace Taka Nakagami, but it was Ogura all along who was insistent he wasn’t quite ready for it – something he proved with his actions. But he’ll be firmly in the frame for a promotion in 2024, and he’s got to ensure that when that time comes, he looks like a more complete racer.

4. Augusto Fernandez


25 years old, Spain
2022: Moto2 champion with KTM Ajo
2023: Moving to MotoGP with Tech3 Gas Gas
#5 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

Fernandez has had better seasons than this. In 2019, he was much more of a revelation en route to fifth in the Moto2 standings. This year, the weight of expectation was heavy, as he’d found himself plugged into the team that had just taken Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez to a dominant 1-2 in the standings.

Over the first few rounds, he was at sea, trailing points leader Celestino Vietti by a monumental 59 points after just five races. But just as Vietti started to fall apart, Fernandez and his Ajo team jolted back to life, beginning to reel off wins and podiums.

It wasn’t quite as dominant a comeback as Pecco Bagnaia’s in the premier class although like Bagnaia, Fernandez did hinder his ambitions with a needless (and much costlier) late-season crash – but his Phillip Island fall wound up completely overwritten by two subsequent crashes for his main title rival.

He is, ultimately, a pretty good champion – but rookie Ajo team-mate Pedro Acosta was already starting to get the better of him towards the end of 2022, and will be first in line to take his seat if Fernandez fails to shine in MotoGP.

3. Pedro Acosta


18 years old, Spain
2022: 5th in Moto2 with KTM Ajo
2023: Staying in Moto2 with KTM Ajo
#1 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

After his stunningly successful rookie championship win in Moto3, it is perhaps tempting to look at Acosta’s first season in Moto2 as somewhat disappointing, such was the hype around his move up to the intermediate class.

But the youngster himself was adamant from day one that his time in Moto2 would be a two-year project, given that many who’ve made the move claim that the step from Moto3 to Moto2 is actually a much more significant move than that from Moto2 to MotoGP.

And with that in mind as the way in which to frame his season, it’s very hard not to be anything other than impressed with what he did manage to achieve. Three wins and a further two podiums despite breaking a leg in a training accident mid-season is a great showing, and the fact that he built into it winning the last race of the year hints at the expectations he’ll have for kickstarting 2023.

2. Alonso Lopez


21 years old, Spain
2022: 8th in Moto2 with Speed Up
2023: Staying in Moto2 with Speed Up

After three years of Moto3 that yielded championship finishes of 23rd, 17th and 23rd again, Lopez was shown the door by his outfit at the time – Max Biaggi’s team – and replaced by Adrian Fernandez (brother of Raul) at late notice in the 2020-21 off-season.

This year, he was on the other end of things, benefitting from a mid-season Romano Fenati sacking by Luca Boscoscuro’s Speed Up team that alarmed several premier-class riders.

So that’s one difference between his Moto3 and Moto2 stints. The other, more interesting difference is that Lopez has been absolutely stunning in Moto2.

Extrapolating his points tally to a full season lifts him to third (though others did also miss races), but there’s an argument to be made that, while the established title contenders on Kalex bikes spent the season not just tripping over their shoelaces but also oscillating in pace, Lopez was actually the fastest rider on the grid on his Boscoscuro B-23.

Mistakes happened, but Lopez led a field-high (by far) 83 laps and vastly overshadowed team-mate and 2021 CEV Moto2 vanquisher Fermin Aldeguer. It was a career-changing season.

1. Izan Guevara


18 years old, Spain
2022: Moto3 champion with Gas Gas Aspar
2023: Moving to Moto2 with Gas Gas Aspar
#12 pick in our pre-2022 ‘draft’

Individual moments and the highlight reels that comprise them can be particularly deceptive in racing. You can probably put together a Marc Marquez clip show of last-lap defeats to Andrea Dovizioso and Alex Rins that paints him as a choker rather than the defining rider of the generation. Consistent speed wins more trophies than simply being ‘clutch’.

With all that said, check out this individual moment of Izan Guevara being ‘clutch’ at Jerez!

Isn’t that something? And it might not even be the best race-winning, last-lap overtake of Guevara’s season – there’s a case to be made that his mugging of Deniz Oncu in the Valencia finale was equally if not more aesthetically pleasing.

The actual numbers are great, too. Guevara – who beat Acosta (and Xavi Artigas) to the CEV Moto3 title in 2020, meaning this didn’t exactly come out of nowhere – led more than twice as many laps as anyone, had the most wins, podiums and front-row starts, and the joint-most poles. Expected to be the third wheel in a Garcia/Foggia title battle, he instead turned the championship race into a unicycle.

That would’ve been enough for top spot here. But it was the individual moments imbuing his campaign with a joyful ‘look at him go!’ flavour that made picking the top spot a complete no-brainer.

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