news, season, races, schedule, Ducati vs Yamaha, Jack Miller, how to watch Australia

MotoGP opens a marathon season on Sunday in Qatar with champion Fabio Quartararo trying to hold off Francesco Bagnaia on the faster Ducati, while the two look anxiously at Marc Marquez.

Marquez has made it clear that he is pursuing a man who has left the circuit. Valentino Rossi retired at the end of last season after racing in the elite class since 2000, two years before MotoGP was founded.

The Italian has won seven top-level world titles. Just days away from his 29th birthday, Marquez is six.

“My goal is to fight for the title,” Marquez said during the Honda team presentation, but added that the competition would be tough.

“Fabio was champion, and he deserves it because he was the most consistent, but Pecco Bagnaia ended the year being the fastest with the Ducati.

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Bagnaia’s teammate with the factory Ducati team is Australian Jack Miller, who is set for a grueling season ahead.

He said: “As always, when you start the season – especially in a factory team – the objective is to try to win the World Championship. But I have a lot of tough opponents. toughest year in the history of MotoGP. I hope it will be a good year for us and that we can fight until the end.”

Australia’s Jack Miller celebrates at Le Mans last season.Source: Getty Images

Marquez returned last season after crashing a few laps into the 2020 campaign. For much of last season he struggled and he missed the last two races with double vision.

With a good arm, he still won three races, all on tracks with an emphasis on left-hand turns, which the Spaniard preferred even before he broke his right arm.

“Today everything is fine, the vision is perfect, the arm is better too,” he said in February.

Worryingly for its rivals, the revamped Honda appears to be faster. The second factory rider, Pol Espargaro, set the fastest time in pre-season testing in Indonesia and said afterwards: “I’ve never been faster.

This may not be a good thing for Marquez. In previous seasons, Honda motorcycles have been configured to suit its risky and aggressive riding style.

Quartararo, a 22-year-old Frenchman, is also used to winning on bikes that others struggle on. Last season he had 278 points while the other three men who raced factory Yamahas during the season only had 31.

After winning five of the opening 12 races last season, Quartararo struggled to keep up with the accelerating Ducatis as Italy’s Bagnaia won four of the last six.

French MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo poses during a photo shoot in Paris on February 17, 2022. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)Source: AFP

During testing, the Frenchman complained to the motorcycle media that Yamaha was unable to deliver top speed.

“Last year we averaged 9km/h (slower), today we’re 9km/h. So we haven’t taken any steps forward,” he said.

“If you don’t have power, you adapt, like I did in the past. So if we have to adapt, we will adapt.

Yet while Quartararo has a lower top speed than the Bologna Bullets, testing suggests it still compensates with the better average speed over a lap.

While Yamaha, KTM and Honda will all have a satellite team this season, Ducati has three.

“When you know there will be eight Ducatis, eight of the fastest bikes ever, it will be tough,” Quartararo said.

Marc Marquez celebrates his victory in the MotoGP of Germany at the Sachsenring circuit.Source: Getty Images

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The season is going to be long.

After 14 races in 2020, all in Europe, and 18 last year in a second season cut short by Covid, there are 21 on the programme. That’s up from 19 in each of the two pre-pandemic seasons.

Finland make their late comeback after 40 years apart. Indonesia, which hosted two races in the 1990s, is also added. Australia, Argentina, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia, all canceled in each of the last two seasons, are set to go ahead in a season that will run until November 6.

SCHEDULE OF RACES

March 6: Qatar (Losail)

March 20: Indonesia (Mandalika)

April 3: Argentina (Termas de Rio Hondo)

April 10: Grand Prix of the Americas (Circuit Of The Americas)

April 24: Portugal (Algarve)

May 1: Spain (Jerez)

May 15: France (Le Mans)

May 29: Italy (Mugello)

June 5: Catalonia (Barcelona)

June 19: Germany (Sachsenring)

June 26: Netherlands (Assen)

July 10: Finland (KymiRing)

August 7: Great Britain (Silverstone)

August 21: Austria (Spielberg)

September 4: San Marino (Misano)

September 18: Aragon (Alcaniz)

September 25: Japan (Motegi)

October 2: Thailand (Chang International Circuit)

October 16: Australia (Phillip Island)

October 23: Malaysia (Sepang)

November 6: Valencia (Ricardo Tormo)

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