Is Prado back to his best?
For two thirds of the opening trio of MXGP races in Argentina, Jorge Prado looked back to his prime MX2 form.
Fast starting, smooth riding, with consistently calm but rapid and technically brilliant laps, Prado looked every inch one of the title favourites for MXGP in 2023 and showed the reason why there was so much hype when he was dominating in MX2.
Injuries and illness have hurt the Spanish star in the 450 class and maybe too has his slight frame, not ideal when you need everything in perfect working order to fight with a rider as strong physically as Jeffrey Herlings.
Prado enters Riola this weekend as the championship leader, but his sixth in the third moto of the weekend, still allows those physical doubts to creep in. Prado got into a battle with Renaux while moving forward only to seemingly lose his rhythm and drop back to sixth after their duel in that final moto in Argentina, costing him the GP win.
Is covid still affecting his lungs or was it just one of those races anyone can have? Until then Prado, was flawless, and maybe the most comfortable he has looked on a 450.
The Gas Gas team look to have got the new Austrian machine sorted for their star man this season and, with Joel Smets as his trainer, you would expect a physically stronger Prado as the season goes on.
This weekend in Riola could show his title credentials. If Prado can show the speed and fitness there, especially if he holeshots against Herlings and the duo battle in the deep sand on a track that we know isn’t always easy to pass on, Prado will have to be one of the favourites for the title.
Jorge has come in slightly under the radar this season but shot to the forefront of everyone’s mind again in Argentina. The Spaniard looks ready to show us his true level on a 450 in 2023.
Words: Jonathan McCready
Image Danny Relow