Right now, it’s difficult to see past the Ducatis for a sprint win (or any win, for that matter) because two of the Desmosedici’s strengths loom even larger in shorter races.
First, the bike can magic extra tenths out of nowhere in qualifying like no other machine – and obviously your grid position is even more important for a 12-lap race than a 25-lap race. Second, its holeshot device is probably the best out there.
So not only will Ducatis most likely pack the front of the grid, they will also get the best punch towards Turn 1. And once they’re out front, they’re very difficult to pass.
The fastest Ducati riders here are Pecco Bagnaia, Luca Marini, Jorge Martin, Johann Zarco, Marco Bezzecchi, Enea Bastianini and Alex Márquez. Yeah, that’s right, just the seven of them. And depending on their grid positions and starts, any of them could fight for the sprint win.
Bagnaia seems most prepared. The sprint simulation he did at the tests here two weeks ago – when conditions were the same as now – was jaw-dropping. But he thinks he can do even better.
“They say the sprint races are a like a jungle – everyone goes crazy!”
“I pushed too hard at the start of the simulation, so the [soft] rear was a bit finished before 12 laps,” he said after FP2 yesterday. “Anyway, this afternoon we will have to push like a time attack.”
Marini is so ready that he says he has nothing to do in this morning’s FP3 session. If he hits it right in qualifying, he’ll be there too.
“In World Superbike they say the sprint races are a like a jungle – everyone goes crazy!” said Marini “It won’t be easy; we will just give it everything from the first lap.”
New KTM recruit Jack Miller was the big shock of the first day of MotoGP 2023, especially considering KTM’s mostly grim five days of pre-season testing. Twelfth in FP1 he shot up to first at the end of FP2, so surely he will have a shout in the sprint race?