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Has Morbidelli discovered his MotoGP mojo once more after years of struggles at Yamaha?

Pramac rider Franco Morbidelli confirmed glimpses of his former self as he battled team-mate Jorge Martin and reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia for a podium in final weekend’s German GP.

Whereas his technique to play aggressively early on in the end dropped him to fifth on the end, there have been solely positives to take for a rider who’s rebuilding his profession after going from combating for the championship in 2020 to changing into an occasional top-10 scorer in MotoGP.

Actually, Morbidelli’s outcomes over the previous few years with Yamaha have been so underwhelming that many questioned how he managed to land a high seat with Pramac on a factory-spec Ducati GP24.

The criticism wasn’t fully invalid while you have a look at how simply he was overshadowed by team-mate and 2021 champion Fabio Quartararo throughout their time collectively on the manufacturing unit crew.

Even after showcasing a serious enchancment in his velocity final 12 months on an underpowered Yamaha M1, he nonetheless completed three locations and 70 factors behind Quartaro within the standings – and with out a single podium to his identify. It was maybe no shock that the Japanese marque decided to not renew his contract and poached Alex Rins from LCR Honda as an alternative.

Whereas it was unlucky that Morbidelli might by no means flip round his performances at Yamaha, regardless of the Japanese producer publicly supporting him for the longest of occasions, the Italian has now been given a brand new lease of life at Pramac and he should take full benefit of it. If the Sachsenring race was any indicator, one can see him delivering on his promise once more after years within the doldrums.

“A model of me that we’ve not seen shortly. I am glad it got here again out,” Morbidelli mentioned of his exhibiting on Sunday. “I have been there for a couple of races now, seeing the rostrum and getting nearer – however this one just a little bit extra. At one level I believed I needed to win! So, good. It was a constructive weekend that everybody wanted.”

Franco Morbidelli, Pramac Racing

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Pictures

It was clear that Morbidelli was going to face a difficult first half of the 12 months when a coaching accident at Portimao prevented him from driving the GP24 throughout the official pre-season testing. Adapting from the M1 he has raced since his debut in 2018 to the Desmosedici was at all times going to be a tricky process, however he then needed to full the transition throughout race weekends.

However after surviving the insanity that was the Spanish GP dash to take his first factors of the 12 months, there have been clear indicators of progress. Since then, Morbidelli has been capable of qualify and end inside the highest 10 regularly – and a efficiency like his within the German GP was a very long time coming.

“It is three races that I [feel I] might attain the rostrum – since Barcelona,” he mentioned. “It isn’t getting there however but I will preserve working. I can do it. I used to be out of the battle for high 5 in Assen. That was a tough observe for us however since Barcelona [I feel] I can do it. “If I can’t do it [in the second half then] I am lacking one thing however I will work, I will chase.”

Morbidelli’s fifth place on the Sachsenring was his finest outcome since he took fourth on the Argentine GP with Yamaha greater than 12 months in the past – an outlier of a outcome given it was a moist race and he did not crack the highest six in some other race in 2023. However, if his current kind is to go by, he’s more likely to construct on that outcome within the second half of the season and return to the rostrum for the primary time for the reason that 2021 Spanish GP, when he was nonetheless driving for the now-defunct Petronas SRT crew.

“It feels nice, it feels wonderful, being there in such an assault place,” he mentioned. “I have been there final years, simply as soon as. However when I’ve been there previously two years it was at all times in defensive mode whereas in the present day was in assault mode. It is a lot nicer, way more my fashion.”

Morbidelli’s 2020 marketing campaign on what was then a year-old Yamaha was no fluke and there may be real motive to imagine that he can ship the outcomes, now that he has a aggressive bike and a wholesome surroundings round him.

The Italian has already leapfrogged VR46 rider Marco Bezzecchi within the championship for eleventh and is now on the cusp of the highest 10. With rumours linking him with a transfer to the squad run by his mentor Valentino Rossi to interchange Aprilia-bound Bezzecchi, now’s the time for the 29-year-old to up his recreation and problem the opposite three riders outfitted with the GP24.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright specializes in Formula 1 and cycling. Oliver’s race analyses and feature stories provide readers with detailed insights into these fast-paced sports.


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