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MotoGP 2024 preview: five talking points ahead of the new season

Bored to tears by F1’s foregone conclusion this year? The bikes are here to help…

MotoGP 2024
  • Will Binder win it, bin it, or both?

    Binder win it or bin it

    Brad ‘Mr Sunday’ Binder is the molecular embodiment of the win it or bin it philosophy. Arguably the hardest-charging rider in an exceptionally aggressive grid, you can count on the KTM rider for only one thing: spectacle.

    He’s certainly quick enough to mount a title challenge, as he demonstrated last year with five podiums and a brace of sprint race wins. He’s also more than capable of hoovering up long lap penalties and snatching a P5 from the jaws of victory. This is a rider who suffered a time penalty on the last lap at Assen in the sprint race, denying him a podium, and then endured the exact same fate in the grand prix.

    Frustrating to follow due to his knack for kicking the back-end out under braking and making his bike wider than it has any business being, and arguably too aggressive when he’s divebombing you in the braking zone, Brad’s never boring. He might challenge for the championship, or he might simply challenge the stewards’ decisions. Either way, you’ll notice him, and his exploits will undoubtedly be a major plot point in the story of the 2024 MotoGP season.

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  • How good will Acosta’s rookie season be?

    Rookie Acosta

    Watching Pedro Acosta’s Moto 3 campaign in 2021 was like watching someone playing a videogame with the AI difficulty set too low. Every weekend he seemed to find a sillier route to victory - a last-to-first win from the pitlane at the Doha grand prix, a last lap double-overtake at Jerez… we’re just relieved the season ended before he could attempt a chequered flag stoppie.

    After taking 2022 to find his feet in the Moto 2 class, the Spaniard proved his generational talent creds once again by taking the championship with two races aged just 19.

    Now in the premier class with a GasGas ride, he’s looked immediately at home during testing. “When you see the lines he is taking, they are not rookie lines,” said Aleix Espargaro after following him for a few laps at Sepang.

    Whisper it, but we might see wins from him before the season’s done with.
     

     

  • Can the Japanese manufacturers catch up this year?

    Japanese manufacturers

    “Aero? Pfff. It’s a fad. I give it a year”, said somebody at Honda circa 2020, presumably, when they saw Ducati’s fin-covered Desmosedici. Four years later, Honda join compatriots and fellow aero-cynics Yamaha at the back of the MotoGP grid for raw pace.

    There's been an unthinkable shakeup of the pecking order over the last few years in MotoGP, akin to what we saw in F1 circa 2009. The Repsol Honda was the dream ticket for decades; now it’s virtually unrideable. In that time, Aprilia have gone from never having finished within the top five to regularly featuring on the podium, and veteran Aleix Espargaro putting together a strong 2022 championship challenge.

    2021 champion Fabio Quartararo hasn’t fared much better on the Yamaha, with the only inline four left on the grid now similarly behind in aero and electronics development. As for his team-mate Frankie Morbidelli, runner-up in 2020, we’ve all but forgotten what the poor lad looks like. So rarely has he featured at the business end of a race since joining the works outfit.

    Dorna has afforded both manufacturers some concessions to help them catch up - more testing time and parts development than the European manufacturers are allowed - and 2024’s our first chance to see that hard work start to pay off.

    And it had better. We’ve already gone too long watching champions waste their talents on uncompetitive bikes.

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  • Is Pecco Bagnaia really capable of a three-peat?

    Bagnaia three-peat

    Pecco might be the most politely dominant competitor in motorsport. He’s won two championships on the bounce now, and still his utter humility and disinterest in bicep-kissing, grandstanding behaviour gives him the air of a plucky young kid who’s mustering up the courage to go up and ask for Johann Zarco’s autograph.

    But while fellow champions Fabio Quartararo, Marc Marquez and Joan Mir all struggled to no avail on decreasingly competitive Japanese hardware, Pecco’s been sitting on the best bike - at the factory team, no less - since 2021.

    And that’s probably dented the way people perceive his accomplishments. So even now, as a two-time champion who had his legs run over after a horror high-side at Barcelona and came back with a podium two races later, people wonder whether he’s capable of doing it all again.

    He’ll probably crash from the front at some point. He always does. But he’s the favourite for the 2024 title by any reasonable estimation.

  • Valentino Rossi

    We may no longer be treated to Valentino Rossi’s fluorescent presence in MotoGP these days since the transcendent 45-year old nine-time world champion called it quits at the end of 2021, but in the vacuum he left, a real storm has been brewing.

    Before you stop to ponder whether a storm can actually brew in a vacuum, consider this: the once-dominant Marc Marquez and Honda combo part ways in 2024 after 11 years. A generational talent who made the junior classes look like tiddlywinks is about to embark on his rookie season. And after an incredibly tense 2023 championship finale, the grid’s packed with simply too many fast riders to name any less than five realistic contenders for the number 1.

    So, you could sit back and prepare to listen to the Dutch national anthem 23 more times this year over in F1 land, or you could watch a MotoGP season absolutely laden with plot and spectacle play out instead. Up to you. Here are just a few of the many talking points before the ride height devices activate and the lights go out in Qatar.

  • Will Marc Marquez and Ducati be unbeatable?

    Marquez at Ducati

    We’ll start with the biggie, shall we? Six-time MotoGP champion Marquez is back on the fastest bike after years in the wilderness.

    A horrific crash at Jerez in 2020 sidelined the Spaniard for a season and a half, during which time Honda had rather thoughtlessly made the bike nigh-impossible to ride. After playing buckaroo with his for 20 rounds in 2023, crashing a record 29 times, Marc decided enough was enough and signed with Gresini for 2024.

    Granted, Gresini’s a privateer Ducati team and he won’t have the same advantages afforded to Pecco Bagnaia and Enea Bastianini over in the factory team.

    Then again: he’s Marc Marquez.


     

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