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Updated 15.02.23 to reflect all the changes for the 2023 season.

It’s hard to believe we about to embark on the 2023 MotoGP season.

Literally feels like we just watched the rain be tamed by a medicine woman in Indonesia at the start of 2022 and we are about to see the start of a new season

Teams have been announced, colours and bikes have been unveiled and testing has begun.

There are a few changes to the grid for 2023 with the exit of Factory team Suzuki and some new names in the paddock.

First lets have a look at what remains the same for 2023.

Unchanged for 2023 are the following:

  • Yamaha Monster Energy with both Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli staying on.
  • The Mooney VR46 Racing Team with Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi.
  • Aprilia Racing will have Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales
  • And, finally Prima Pramac Racing also remains unchanged with Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin

What’s new in 2023?

  • Ducati will have new teammates with Enea Bastiannini joining current World Champion Francesco Bagnaia. (Note: if you are new to MotoGP Bagnaia can ride as his usual number or choose to be 1 during his reign)
  • Jack Miller farewells Factory Ducati for a spot alongside Brad Binder at Factory KTM.
  • Alex Rins joins Takaaki Nakagami at LCR Honda Castrol
  • Repsol Honda welcomes back Marc Marquez following a season ruined by injury, Joan Mir will be joining him.
  • Gresini Racing will welcome Alex Marquez to join Fabio Di Giannantonio
  • RNF MotoGP™ Team (formerly WITHU) has become an Aprilia satellite team and have new teammates Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez coming over from Red Bull KTM and Tech 3 Racing.

New Teams for 2023

  • A new team for the Grid with Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing Team (formerly Tech 3 KTM and is now a sister company to KTM) lining up for the first time in MotoGP Premier class with Pol Espargaro and rookie Augusto Fernandez making the move from moto2. Fernandez was the 2022 Moto2 world champion.
  • Suzuki is no longer racing in the MotoGP premier class after 2022 with Alex Rins moving to LCR Honda and Johann Mir joining Repsol Honda alongside Marquez.

Keep reading to know all about the difference between factory and satellite teams below and brush up on your knowledge ahead of 2023

Decades of division may finally be over between the factory and satellite teams in MotoGP.

For years it was almost like watching two races.

There didn’t seem to be any change in sight until Dorna decided this no longer provided fans with the best possible racing experience.

Closing the gap between the factory and satellite teams has taken place over the past few years and has certainly proven successful.

So, if you haven’t really followed the satellite teams it is definitely worth staying up to speed as the divide between the two disappears.

First, we need to understand the difference between factory teams and satellites teams.

A factory team such as Repsol Honda and Monster Energy Yamaha are directly managed and funded by the factory who manufacture the bike.

2022 Repsol Honda Team

2022 Repsol Honda Team Courtesy of Flickr

In theory this means the factory riders have the latest bike with the latest technology and access to the best engineers, mechanics and so on.

A satellite team has the bike on lease or purchased from a factory i.e. LCR Honda or Tech3 Yamaha and so on.

The team is neither managed nor funded by the factory and they do not build the bikes themselves.

They will also in theory have technology from at least the year before, as well as an older version of the factory teams’ bike.

However, it is not always black and white, it really depends on the contract each independent (satellite) team has with the factory they are purchasing or leasing the bike from.

For example, in 2020 Cal Crutchlow’s bike rode the same 2020 RCV213v as the Marquez brothers’ on factory Hondas. However, his teammate Takaaki Nakagami was riding the 2019 version.

We saw a similar situation with the Petronas team in 2021 with Rossi riding the factory-spec bike the same as factory Yamaha. While Rossi’s protégé and teammate, Franco Morbidelli, saw out the 2021 season with an older-spec Yamaha M1.

There can be funding provided by the factory to cover wages, they may agree to provide technology and technicians.

There are so many variations of how a factory team may contract with an independent team it is impossible to say exactly how each team works.

The general rule is a factory team manufactures the bike and manages the team, a satellite team or independent team do not manufacture their own bike and have a contract with a factory to utilise their bikes and technology.

If you follow this general rule you can never go wrong.

What is the unified software and how has it closed the gap between teams?

Before 2016 satellite teams were at a disadvantage due to software available.

Not only did factory teams have advanced technology they had the technicians to utilise it better.

There were also questions around how far certain software could be manipulated to gain an even bigger advantage in terms of bike performance on race day.

So, in 2016 Dorna began a unification process of software across the field that has proven a huge success in achieving a more exciting race each round.

Fabio Quartararo pursuing Marc Marquez at the 2019 Valencian MotoGP

Then Satellite team rider Fabio Quartararo pursuing Factory Team rider Marc Marquez at the 2019 Valencian MotoGP
Image courtesy of Box Repsol on Flickr

 

Here is a quick look at exactly what this process entailed.

Closing the software loophole

MotoGP bikes are fitted with what is called an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU).

What do these units do?

The IMU system tells the bike what it is doing.

It collects data and measurements sending the results to the ECU which uses this data to operate functions like braking control from the riders’ input, acceleration, traction and launch control.

In 2016 we saw the software for the ECU be unified across the field. Further to this, as of 2019 unified software for the IMU and the Controller Area Network (CAN) connections leading to the ECU were also provided by Dorna.

motogp electronic control unit (ecu)

MotoGP Electronic Control Unit (ECU)

Providing unified software for these systems eliminates the ability to manipulate this data to create the effect of increased traction control or braking advantages.

Dorna decided it was easier to unify and supply the software that manages these systems than to try to police the manipulation of them, which is a direct breach of the rules, but almost impossible to monitor.

So, who are the 2023 Satellite Teams:

2023 MotoGP satellite teams

And the 2023 Factory Teams:

2023 MotoGP factory teams

Big names and big talent

Some may think because a team is a satellite team, it will have less talented riders.

This is not the case.

In fact, many of the big names taking podiums, pole position and giving the front of the pack a good run for their money, are from satellite teams.

The likes of Jack Miller for example, and Fabio Quartararo who won the Independent Rider Championship and claimed a massive 197 of the Petronas Teams 307 points while riding in satellite teams before landing seats with Factory teams.

Miller held the much sought after number one rider of the Factory Ducati team (Miller starts the 2023 with Red Bull KTM) and Fabio Quartararo moved up to Factory Yamaha and was 2021 world champion.

2022 was no exception with the likes of Dovizioso joining WithU Yamaha Racing (Now RNF MotoGP Team) and the addition of no less than 5 stellar rookies, satellite teams are certainly not short on talent.

For 2023 we have only one rookie, Fernandez, joining the grid being given a factory seat with GASGAS.

Raul Fenandex at the 2022 San Marino MotoGP

Simon Patterson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The future of satellite teams

Andrea Dovizioso retired from MotoGP and WIthU becomes RNF racing, an Aprilia satellite team.

Gresini enters its second year on the grid on the Ducati with Fabio Di Gianniantonio being joined by Alex Marquez.

We also get to see Rossi’s team continue into its second year. Riding for the Rossi team this year are Luca Marini and rookie Marco Bezzecchi

KTM TECH 3 teammates Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez who made the move together to the premier class for Tech 3 KTM Factory in 2022 do not have a seat in the 2023 season and TECH 3 has been rebranded GAS GAS and welcomes Pol Espargaro and Rookie Augusto Fernandez (no relation to Raul on the RNF team).

Remy Gardner, son of 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner worked hard to reach the premier class in 2022 but also does not have a ride in the 2023 season, along with Darryn Binder (younger Brother of Brad).

 

Dorna promised unification would bring better racing and they have delivered.

Fans have been treated to more race lead changes and podium contention from the satellite teams than we saw before software unification was introduced in 2016 and we are loving it!

Now that independent teams have the machines to match their talented riders it is providing fans with more excitement on race day.

 

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