MotoGP Rider Ratings – 2023 Malaysian Grand Prix

Categories:   MotoGP 

An unexpected leader and several disaster weekends in MotoGP – Here are MGP1’s 2023 Malaysian Grand Prix rider ratings.

Enea Bastianini - 9

Started: 3rd

Sprint: 4th (-1)

Race: 1st (+2)

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Enea Bastianini had a remarkable turnaround in Sepang, overcoming a challenging season to secure a well-deserved first victory in more than a year.

Qualifying in last place in the previous race raised concerns about his seat on the factory Ducati, but he silenced the critics with a superb performance, showcasing improved mastery of his GP-23.

Whatever Ducati did to his bike certainly worked a treat as his win sends a strong message amidst the rumors Jorge Martin might be taking his seat in the factory team should he beat Pecco Bagnaia for the title in 2023.

Alex Marquez - 8.5

Started: 4th

Sprint: 1st (+3)

Race: 2nd (+2)

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Alex Marquez, often a victim of bad luck in 2023, demonstrated exceptional riding skills at Sepang. Winning the sprint race and delivering one of his best MotoGP performances in the main event, Marquez showcased impressive pace, matching the speed of race winner Bastianini.

Despite challenges at the start, Marquez’s controlled aggression and strong race make this weekend a standout moment and probably his best in his 2023 season.

Francesco Bagnaia - 8

Started: 1st

Sprint: 3rd (-2)

Race: 3rd (-2)

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Reigning world champion Pecco Bagnaia had a challenging weekend but did what was necessary for his championship hopes.

Despite not delivering a decisive blow to his title rival, he maintained an advantage with only two race weekends left.

Although certainly not a bad weekend, not converting his pole position into a win on either Saturday or Sunday will have him ruing a missed chance at manifesting his title favorite status for the last two weekends in Qatar and Valencia.

Jorge Martin - 7

Started: 2nd

Sprint: 2nd (±0)

Race: 4th (-2)

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Jorge Martin had an unexpectedly challenging weekend in Sepang, limiting the points loss to Bagnaia but falling short of a big championship gain.

Lacking his usual explosive race starts and despite having similar race pace to the world champion, Martin’s strategic choices were not as effective, allowing Bagnaia to extend his lead.

With only two weekends left, time is running out for Martin to make a significant impact in the championship standings.

Fabio Quartararo - 8

Started: 8th

Sprint: 16th (-8)

Race: 5th (+3)

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Fabio Quartararo, arriving with low expectations, surprised everyone at Sepang with an impressive results on race Sunday. Despite falling back down to 16th in the sprint race following contact with another rider, he bounced back in the main event, finishing in 5th in the scorching heat of Sepang.

Quartararo’s performance should certainly serve as a big confidence boost at the end of the season as Yamaha gaps Honda in the Constructors’ standings thanks to the Frenchman hauling in some solid points in Malaysia.

Marco Bezzecchi - 7

Started: 6th

Sprint: 7thh (-1)

Race: 6th (±0)

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A rather solid weekend from Marco Bezzecchi meant the final blow to his 2023 title chances. While not a demonstration of his race-winning pace from earlier in the year, Bezzecchi’s performance was good enough, considering the circumstances at Sepang and his issues following his collarbone fracture a few weeks back.

With two race weekends to go in 2023, the Italian can already prepare for a new run at the championship in 2024 as he’s more or less settled for a third-place finish this season.

Franco Morbidelli - 8

Started: 15th

Sprint: 11th (+4)

Race: 7th (+8)

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Franco Morbidelli faced a challenging weekend at Sepang, sabotaging his own qualifying performance by engaging in some towing shenanigans with Marc Marquez in Q1.

Despite starting 15th, he showcased why Pramac Ducati signed him for 2024 by rallying strongly in the main race, finishing 7th on a bike not ideally suited for Sepang’s long straights.

Jack Miller - 6.5

Started: 10th

Sprint: 6th (+4)

Race: 8th (+2)

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Starting a solid 10th in Sepang, Jack Miller had quite the Miller weekend on his first Malaysian Grand Prix on the RC-16.

Being quick in the early stages of both, the sprint and the main race on Sunday, the Aussie’s race pace soon faded as the fans in the grandstands saw him drop back some positions.

The fact that he was the first KTM rider to cross the line on Sunday which he wouldn’t have been had his teammate not crashed, does not take away from the fact that the KTM is certainly stronger than an 8th-place finish.

Fabio Di Giannantonio - 7

Started: 11th

Sprint: 13th (-2)

Race: 9th (+2)

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Sepang certainly was not Fabio Di Giannantonio’s best weekend, but it confirmed his established top-10 level.

Beating other, more experienced Ducati riders such as Johann Zarco proves the Italian is worthy of a MotoGP seat in 2024 as a possible Repsol Honda signing is still on the table.

Luca Marini - 5

Started: 5th

Sprint: 9th (-4)

Race: 10th (-5)

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Probably one of the worst race weekends in his MotoGP career, Luca Marini was unable to convert his 5th-place qualifying into some big points.

Despite the good starting position, the Italian suffered from his height on Sepang’s long straights as he fell back several places in the races, both on Saturday and on Sunday.

Maverick Vinales - 5

Started: 5th

Sprint: 8th (-3)

Race: 11th (-6)

Despite expecting more at Sepang, Maverick Vinales faced difficulties with Aprilia’s heat issues. While the bike had seen improvements, grip and acceleration challenges persisted in high temperatures, resulting in a finish outside the top 10.

Sepang marks another disappointing weekend for Maverick Vinales as he wasn’t able to keep his cool in the first laps of both the sprint and the race, losing valuable time and position early on.

Johann Zarco - 4.5

Started: 12th

Sprint: 8th (+4)

Race: 12th (±0)

Johann Zarco had a strange weekend, hampered by an engine failure in qualifying and struggling to improve his position in the difficult race.

While he managed to score points in both races, the results were not what was expected from the Australian GP race winner.


Marc Marquez - 3

Started: 20th

Sprint: 21st (-1)

Race: 13th (+7)

Not much to say about Marc Marquez’s Sepang weekend as the Spaniard ruined his chances at a decent position by annoying Franco Morbidelli in Q1 which saw the Spaniard not accept Moebidelli’s clear sign of not wanting him to pull him around the track for a good lap.

Gaining seven positions on race Sunday mostly thanks to crashes from other riders ahead of him does not take away from the fact that Marquez despite facing the same problems for months on end seemingly hasn’t learned that the Honda is the limiting factor that he can’t overcome no matter how much effort he puts in.

His aggressive moves at the start of the sprint were nice to watch but had no sufficiency behind them as fans saw the Spaniard crash once again a few laps later. 

Augusto Fernandez - 5

Started: 14th

Sprint: 14th (±0)

Race: 14th (±0)

There isn’t much to elaborate on regarding Augusto Fernandez’s weekend. The rookie has experienced a noticeable void in his performance over the past few races.

This is attributed to the adjustments made to the balance of his bike, successfully enhancing his qualifying performances but adversely impacting his race pace, which was much more impressive earlier in the season.

Currently, the challenge for the Spaniard lies in finding a satisfactory middle ground, and this endeavor is evidently influencing his overall results compared to a few races ago.

Pol Espargaro - 4

Started: 17th

Sprint: 15th (+2)

Race: 15th (+2)

Pol Espargaro continues to grapple with the adverse effects of high temperatures and physically demanding races on his injury-plagued body. The Tech3 rider, fully aware of the challenges, did not anticipate a straightforward experience at Sepang.

The weekend unfolded largely as anticipated for him, and the Spaniard is eager to move past it, shifting his focus to the upcoming races at cooler tracks as he approaches the conclusion of his tenure in the premier class, at least for the time being.

Takaaki Nakagami - 4

Started: 21st

Sprint: 19th (+2)

Race: 18th (+3)

Pol Espargaro continues to grapple with the adverse effects of high temperatures and physically demanding races on his injury-plagued body. The Tech3 rider, fully aware of the challenges, did not anticipate a straightforward experience at Sepang.

The weekend unfolded largely as anticipated for him, and the Spaniard is eager to move past it, shifting his focus to the upcoming races at cooler tracks as he approaches the conclusion of his tenure in the premier class, at least for the time being.

Raul Fernandez - 5

Started: 18th

Sprint: 16th (+2)

Race: DNF

It appeared that RNF Aprilia rider Raul Fernandez was poised for a more promising performance than his teammate Miguel Oliveira, a trend he had been consistently demonstrating in recent weeks.

Unfortunately, the potential of his performance in Sunday’s main race was thwarted by a technical issue, resulting in an unfortunate forced stop.

This incident marked his fourth mechanical Did Not Finish (DNF) of the 2023 season, depriving us of the opportunity to witness what he could have achieved on the track.

Brad Binder - 5

Started: 7th

Sprint: 5th (+2)

Race: DNF

While Brad Binder might warrant a higher ranking, given his commendable performance in the sprint race on Saturday, the main event, crucially taking place on Sunday, ended in disappointment for the South African.

An uncommon mistake led to his failure to finish the race, denying him the opportunity for a strong top-six placement. This outcome is regrettable as it could have sustained his contention for a top-three position in the championship.

However, with Marco Bezzecchi requiring only five points from the remaining 74, achieving such a standing now appears nearly unattainable for Binder.

Miguel Oliveira - 4

Started: 19th

Sprint: 18th (+1)

Race: DNF

In the initial stages of the season when Miguel Oliveira was contending for podiums, it would have been unforeseen to reach this juncture in the year and witness him consistently being surpassed by teammate Fernandez.

However, the current scenario reveals that the less seasoned side of the garage is once again having more favorable weekends, despite technical issues prematurely concluding their Sunday race.

Oliveira is grappling with challenges, and it becomes imperative for him to discern the underlying issues and devise a solution.

Joan Mir - 3

Started: 16th

Sprint: 23rd (-7)

Race: DNF

Whenever a yellow-flag graphic emerges on the screen in a MotoGP race these days, there appears to be a 50% likelihood that it pertains to Joan Mir.

Confirming the Repsol Honda team’s 50th crash of the season on Sunday, Mir’s dedication to pushing the limits remains evident.

However, this commitment comes with an exceedingly harsh toll for both him and the team, showcasing the high cost associated with Mir’s relentless pursuit of performance.

Aleix Espargaro - 1

Started: 13th

Sprint: 12th (+1)

Race: DNF

Despite being a title contender in 2022, Aleix Espargaro shouldn’t be leaving a MotoGP weekend without earning a single point. Unfortunately, for the second time during this flyaway tour, that’s precisely what occurred in Malaysia.

The tone for his challenging weekend was established when he crashed three times in Friday’s second practice session, and the situation failed to improve from that point onward. In essence, Espargaro’s performance was deemed inadequate for someone of his caliber, who is expected to be at the forefront of the series.

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