How do you reward the reigning World Superbike champion and current series leader? For Ducati, it means Alvaro Bautista gets a MotoGP wild card ride in Malaysia, following two recent tests at Misano on the current Ducati Desmosedici GP bike.
The 38-year-old Spaniard spent eight years in the MotoGP championship, taking three podiums from 158 starts with four different manufacturers (factory Suzuki, Gresini Honda and Aprilia, and then Aspar Ducati). He then switched to World Superbikes for 2019.
There’s a welcome and long-awaited comeback to racing, as Pol Espargaro returns for the British MotoGP this weekend. The 32-year-old should have debuted for the GasGas Factory Racing team at the opening round of the 2023 season at Portimao but suffered multiple fractures in a crash during the FP2 session.
The injuries to his back and jaw required not only surgery, but also having his mouth wired shut for a time, forcing him onto a liquid diet. So he’s had to not only recover, but also build up his fitness once again to pass the medical checks and ride at Silverstone. It means he’ll tackle his first MotoGP Sprint race on the Saturday, before the normal Grand Prix race on Sunday, alongside team-mate Augusto Fernandez.
Fernandez is currently 14th in the standings, with a best result of fourth at the French Grand Prix. For the past six rounds, he’s competed alongside stand-in rider Jonas Folger on the GasGas RC16.
Pol Espargaro: “Finally! I’m really happy the day has arrived when I can get back in the paddock, see my team and get back on the bike. I’ve missed this part of my life a lot. I know it will not be easy this weekend, in fact, it will be like starting the pre-season again. I will have to listen to my body, understand the new bike and also get familiar with the format this year. I really want to thank everyone at the Pierer Mobility Group and all those who have been behind me and supporting me.”
Also returning this weekend is factory Honda rider Joan Mir, who replaced Espargaro, and has struggled with a hand injury from the second round of the season in Argentina.
The British MotoGP round was originally scheduled to be broadcast live on ITV, but this has now been changed. So if you want to watch it as it happens, you’ll either need to be subscribed to the MotoGP website, or to the TNT Sports service which has replaced BT Sports. MotoGP is €29.99 per month, or less for a season subscription, while TNT Sports is £29.99 per month.
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It’s a welcome return for the Dutch rider as Michael van der Mark returns for the Most WSB round after missing a lot of the 2023 World Superbike season due to injury.
A big crash in race two at Assen saw Van der Mark leave his home round with a fractured left femur, which has required surgery and time to heal. During his recovery period, the Rokit BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team brought in Ivo Miguel Lopes, Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam as substitutes riders, but it’ll be good to see the Dutch rider back on the BMW M 1000 RR, especially as he also missed races in 2022 after breaking his right tibia in a mountain bike crash, and his right femur after high-siding at the Estoril round.
It’s victory for the Austrian team as Yamalube YART Yamah win the 24 Hours of Spa for 2023, taking the win from the FCC TSR Honda France outfit, with the BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team in third.
Having secured pole position, the running start and a slight wheelie meant Martin Fritz entered the first turn in 10th before moving back up to a three-way battle for the lead. Saftey cars meant team-mates Karel Hanika and Niccolo Canepa weren’t able to extend an advantage until around 15 hours into the race. And despite a puncture for Fritz with five hours to go, the rear tyre was replaced without YART Yamaha losing the lead.
The performance means the YART team now lead the overall FIM EWC standings after two rounds, and is the first 24 hour win for the squad in 14 years, along with their first EWC victory since 2020 at the 12 Hours of Estoril.
After already competing in one Grand Prix this year, it’s now been confirmed that Dani Pedrosa will wildcard at the San Marino MotoGP round in September for the Red Bull KTM Factory team.
The Spanish rider retired from full-time racing at the end of 2018, but will compete in his second race of the season at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli just a couple of weeks before his 38th birthday. It follows an extremely creditable seventh place finish at the Spanish MotoGP round in April, where the full-time KTM duo of Brad Binder and Jack Miller both reached the podium with second and third respectively.
Pedrosa also raced as a wildcard at the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, finishing 10th. And it’s an efficient use of his time to compete in September, as the Grand Premio Red Bull di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini is immediately followed by the second and final official mid-season IRTA test at the circuit on the Monday following the GP. So he might as well do some racing and get extra time on the bike in a competitive setting.