The Italian is the only rider in the MotoGP™ era to win a title while in their 30s – here’s who could join him in achieving the feat in 2023
In the MotoGP™ era, only one rider has managed to get his hands on the premier class world title after reaching the age of 30. A famous Italian called Valentino Rossi is their name.
Heading into the 2023 campaign, a number of candidates could join the nine-time World Champion. Two of them have been race winners in the last couple of years, and one of them has recently turned 30 years of age – Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). If Marquez was to win this year’s MotoGP™ World Championship, he and Rossi would stand alone in being nine-time World Champions who have won a title in their 30s. Will he have an RC213V capable of propelling him to a title bid though? Only time will tell. That’s one of the big questions heading into this year.
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Another entrant is 2022 title challenger Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). After falling agonisingly short last season, the 33-year-old will be chasing podiums, wins and a first Grand Prix title harder than ever on an RS-GP machine that right now seems to be well in the hunt for glory again. The rise of Espargaro and Aprilia has been a compelling story, and one that looks set to continue into 2023.
And there’s more. Aleix’s younger brother Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) all have a chance of becoming part of an illustrious list of riders to win a premier class title in their 30s. All three will be hoping 2023 is the year they can claim a maiden premier class victory, and it’s a trio that certainly have points to prove over the pending months.
Of course, it isn’t just Rossi that boasts such a record. The Doctor might be the only rider to have done so in the MotoGP™ era, but there are some phenomenal names to have done it before the Italian took the Grand Prix world by storm – eight of them to be precise.
In the 1950s, Libero Liberati, Geoff Duke and Leslie Graham were three pioneers to win titles in the 30s, while a little later down the line, 15-time World Champion Giacomo Agostini and seven-time World Champion Phil Read achieved the feat. Three more riders who possess 12 Championships between them have also continued to reach the peak of their powers in their 30s: Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan.
Will one of the current MotoGP™ crop add their name to the list? Round 1 in Portugal will be the first indication as to what might lie ahead in 2023.
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