Sunday, May 26, 2024


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MotoGP 2024: Jerez Preview…

Image source: MotoGP

It would be fair to say that Pedro Acosta is setting the cat among the pigeons in the MotoGP firmament. Mind you, a resurgent Marc Marquez is doing exactly the same thing; both are upsetting the pecking order and, in the case of the rookie, it is a question of when and not if he wins a race.

According to many sources, not least of which is Jorge Lorenzo, Jerez will be the first track of the season where Acosta will have a good chance of winning, being very familiar with his home track, having scored a podium there in 2023 when he was still in Moto2. In addition, both factory KTMs finished on the podium in the MotoGP main race at the circuit in 2023. Could we see a KTM podium lock-out in 2024?

Image source: KTM

Acosta’s other advantage is that there is absolutely no pressure on him although, that will inevitably come if he continues to challenge the top of the championship table; “I have no pressure, what I have is the desire to go out on the track in front of what are probably the best fans in the world.

“Our objectives for this weekend remain the same as always, to enjoy ourselves to the fullest and try to continue with this work dynamic. It is true that Jerez is one of my favourite circuits, and in addition, our test team has trained here a lot so I am sure that the bike will do well. We also know for a fact that the RC16 does well in Jerez looking at 2023 results, and it motivates me even more to go out and give it my all since Friday in the first session.”

Image source: MotoGP

What is even more remarkable is that there is another rider who is already looking at Acosta’s data to try and improve his own performance. Acosta’s team-mate Augusto Fernandez has revealed he plans to study Acosta’s set-up and riding style to try and improve his own performances around a track he also knows well. That doesn’t happen every day with a rookie!

The other big talking point – and it will remain so until all available seats for 2025 are filled – is where will Marc Marquez be riding in 2025. His main focus at the moment is to post good and consistent results that will put him firmly on the radar of every team on the grid – “If you are fast on the race track, more doors are open. So this is my target,” he said – as if a rider of his talented achievements needs any help; he is still a rider whose value is at 100% but the question remains, where could he go?

Image source: MotoGP

Surely KTM’s focus will be to retain Acosta, either keeping him in the GasGas satellite team or promoting him to the factory squad alongside Brad Binder? It’s not inconceivable that Binder could be moved aside to the GasGas team, his contract to the end of 2026 notwithstanding but more likely is that Jack Miller would be the one to make the move. Of course, there is always the possibility that KTM might be granted a further two spots on the grid, opening the way to pairing Acosta and Marquez in a team running works bikes. Now, that would produce fireworks!

Marquez is already looking comfortable on the GP23 Ducati so a move up to the factory squad on a GP25 would be an opportunity he would grab with both hands but there will be strong competition from Bastianini and Jorge Martin; the former doing a good job convincing his bosses that he deserves to retain his seat and the latter who is widely believed to be willing to leave Ducati if he is not promoted to the factory team, potentially taking a prime spot away from Marquez.

Image source: MotoGP

When Marquez left Honda, it was put forward that he might return to the team in 2025 or 2026 if it showed that it was making big strides back to competitiveness. It is quite clear, however, that this is not the case, as 2024’s dreadful season continues, with no sign that anything will change as the season progresses. Marquez is hungry for an eighth MotoGP title and he will do anything to put himself into a position.

What could be a key event is Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro deciding to call time on his MotoGP career which, Aprilia’s current form notwithstanding, could be on the cards, leaving an opening for Marquez. Whether Aprilia is consistently good enough for Marquez to mount a serious challenge is open to debate but it would be a move to a factory team for Marquez, so perhaps that is a factor that could influence his decision.

Image source: MotoGP

One of the big talking points in recent weeks has been Liberty Media’s takeover of MotoGP. Having seen the benefits Liberty’s ownership has brought to Formula One, in terms of increased interest around the world and, especially, America, largely through the medium of television and the Drive to Survive series, would Liberty go down the same route for MotoGP?

It’s not inconceivable, but a questioning voice has been heard, not from inside the paddock but from the world of custom motorcycles. Roland Sands, the legendary high-performance custom bike designer has given his two cents of opinion and it is an interesting and insightful opinion; “Americans aren’t going to care about Europeans going around in circles on motorcycles until there’s a reason for it,” Sands told CNN.

Image source: MotoGP

“You’ve really got to build up characters, and you want this feeling of knowing who’s behind the helmet, and Liberty has done a fantastic job of not just doing that (with F1), but also telling the backstory of the teams. Now you feel like you’re in the know. If you’re going to do it for America the show’s gotta be in English, number one,” he said. Because nobody here wants to watch subtitles.

“You need character development, and you gotta make it a party, you gotta get it to a point where people are watching it in a bar. I mean now people will watch soccer here. They get up early in the morning and they go to bars, and they drink beer.”

Image source: MotoGP

Sands has identified the need for MotoGP to find a hero character, in the guise of a new Valentino Rossi, to drive its growth in the US. He asked: “What did Rossi bring to the sport? And why was he so fantastic and why did he help MotoGP grow the way it grew? It’s like, people cared about him, he was personable, he was funny, he celebrated, he gave people visual reasons to like him.”

Sands added: “We have to get the riders out there and get people introduced to them and explain why they should care about them, and then why the sport is so gnarly. It’s beautiful to watch, and it’s incredibly intellectually deep, the reasons why the bikes work the way they work, and why they don’t. It’s way more technical than any motorsport, right? And it’s also way more visible than F1 cars because you’ve got rider style, it’s got all the makings for something incredibly interesting.”

Image source: MotoGP

Whether the ‘Americanisation’ of MotoGP is something that all fans will appreciate is open to question, but the commercialisation of sport has been going on for so long that it’s too late to stop now. Maybe MotoGP could go the way of the old Grand National series, in which riders competed on dirt ovals, the ‘TT’ courses on dirt, complete with jumps, and circuit races! That could be interesting…!

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
From an early age, Harry was obsessed with anything that moved under its own steam, particularly cars and motorcycles. For reasons of a financial nature, his stable of fine automobiles failed to materialise, at which point he realised that motorcycles were far more affordable and so he started his two wheel career, owning, riding, building and fixing many classic bikes. Then came the day when he converted his love of bikes into a living, writing, filming and talking about them endlessly. The passion for four wheels never left him, however, and he has now converted his writing skills into singing the praises of cars in all their infinite variety. Bikes are still his favourite means of getting around but the car in its modern form is reaching a level of perfection that is hard to resist. And they're warmer in winter....