Skip to content


Will 2024 MotoGP be more of the same or time for serious a shake-up? Here's a summary of the upcoming season and a rundown on all of the contenders…

Looked at one way, the MotoGP hierarchy will remain unchanged in 2024 if preseason testing is anything to go by. All manufacturers have pushed forward over the off-season. But Ducati remains the undisputed number one, boasting a near unprecedented eight riders who can fight for victories, and at least three who can fight for the crown.

Going off February’s three-day test at Sepang, two of those promise to be the same as last year. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo) was coolness personified in Malaysia, where he led the way thanks to shattering his own lap record by an astonishing eight tenths of a second. Last year’s rival-in-chief Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) was an able back-up in second, with both complimenting Ducati engineers’ efforts at making a near perfect bike even better. All systems normal there.
But viewed another way, there are a few reasons to think the established order is due to be given a good shake-up in the coming months. First, Marc Marquez (Gresini Ducati) has switched from Honda machinery for the first time in 11 years in what is the most hyped manufacturer switch since Valentino Rossi joined Ducati in 2011. Once up to speed (and he was already getting there at the close of testing at Sepang), surely Marquez will start rattling the cages of the best in class.

Jorge Martin is full of confidence going into season 2024

And it’s not only that; the 22-rider grid is light on new faces. But Pedro Acosta, the field’s lone rookie, just happens to be the most hotly-anticipated newbie since Marquez himself jumped up to the premier class in 2013. Sealing a second world championship success at just 19 years and 171 days meant it was a question of when the Spaniard made a transition to the premier class, rather than if. Summer performances both on track and in front of the media have indicated he’ll be a figure to mix things up on track, and not be afraid to add a bit of much-needed spice off it.

New challengers or old, one thing is for certain if February’s outing at Sepang is a good indication. Aerodynamic innovation has become MotoGP’s new technical battleground with three of the five manufacturers debuting new and fairly radical designs. That was one of the reasons a total of four riders lapped the Malaysian venue in the 1m56s bracket in February, while the first 10 were under the lap record set just last November. In keeping with the past three years, lap and race records should continue to fall.

If that’s not enough to whet the appetite, there’s been enough in KTM and Aprilia’s respective summers to suggest they’ll be regular thorns in the side of Ducati. The Austrian factory in particular has set its sights on a championship challenge thanks to some tweaks to its RC16, with Brad Binder calling the outing at Sepang “one of the best preseason tests I’ve ever had – if we keep this type of progress we’ll be (there)”.

Add to that, Yamaha and Honda showing signs they’ve negotiated a way out of their worst spells, with a much-needed change of personnel and philosophy apparent in both Japanese factories during the summer months.

A 22-round calendar has mercifully been trimmed to 21 after the late cancellation of Argentina. But with stops in countries as far flung as India, Japan and the new Sokol International Circuit in Kazakhstan (although doubts regarding the venue remain) and the continuation of last year’s format – Sprint race on Saturday, feature race on Sunday – MotoGP 2024 promises to be as gripping as last year’s version. It’ll be a slog. But surely this mix of riders and machinery with a total of 777 points up for grabs can only result in one thing: fun!

The Contenders

#1 Pecco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo

If Bagnaia displayed a never-say-die attitude to claim the 2022 MotoGP title, it was his ability to withstand crushing pressure which resulted in him retaining the crown a year later. A flawless preseason, in which he has displayed unerring calm throughout, plus an improved Ducati underneath him, means he starts the year as favourite to take his third successive premier-class crown.

#5 Johann Zarco – LCR Honda

The double Moto2 world champ deserves credit for ditching a comfy option at Ducati for a seat at LCR Honda, after twice finishing fifth overall in the past three years. His initial impression of the RC213V was positive. Yet getting up to speed over race distance will require some patience. At least Zarco appears much better equipped to deal with developing a slower bike than his short-lived experience at KTM in 2019.

#10 Luca Marini – Repsol Honda

Like Zarco, another to gamble on HRC awakening from its slumber. Marini knew his road to a factory Ducati was blocked by Martin, Bastianini and Bezzecchi – to name but a few. So why not apply his impressive technical know-how to a project crying out for it? The Italian has looked instantly at home in his factory surroundings, and has already given HRC engineers tips on how to make their aerodynamics package more Ducati-like. Getting up to speed will take time, though. But Marini has the intelligence to take this in his stride.

#12 Maverick Viñales – Aprilia Racing

If Viñales can be counted on for one thing, it’s his preseason speed. Slightly alarming then that he has been unable to keep teammate Espargaro’s pace this preseason? Maybe. Viñales has yet to get to grips with Aprilia’s new aero package. But in his third full season for the Noale factory, the 29-year-old must start delivering. But, as he enters his 10th MotoGP season, surely fighting for the biggest prize is beyond him.

#20 Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha

The first half of Quartararo’s 2023 was miserable; the second promising. There’s no doubt the YZR-M1 – a bike which hasn’t won a race since June, 2022 – is still some way off it. But the 2021 champ’s aims are more realistic this year, knowing he can build from a solid base of early top-six results. Still one of the best in class on his day.

#21 Franco Morbidelli – Prima Pramac Racing Ducati

The 29-year-old received a golden ticket when leaving Yamaha, slotting into Pramac with a full factory Desmosedici GP24 after Bezzecchi turned it down. The bike provides a great chance for the colourful Italian to conjure up his 2020 form. But crashing a roadbike at Portimao in early February ruled him out of crucial tests in Malaysia and Qatar. Morbidelli will need races to get up to speed.

#23 Enea Bastianini – Ducati Lenovo

Bastianini was lauded in these pages as a potential champion ahead of last year. But the pressure of riding in the factory team for the first time, plus adapting to a new crew and bike, was too much. Add in a serious shoulder injury sustained in the first Sprint in Portugal, and we only saw flashes of the rider who finished third overall in 2022. Now fully fit, ‘The Beast’ will push Bagnaia hard over the course of the MotoGP 2024 season.

#25 Raul Fernandez – Trackouse Racing Aprilia

Two years into his MotoGP career and it’s fair to say Fernandez has flattered to deceive. There was little evidence of the rider who won an incredible eight races in his rookie Moto2 campaign in 2021 as he finished 22nd overall in 2022, and 20th last year. A costly crash early in the Sepang test forced him out of the following two days, meaning he’s already on the back foot. It’s crucial Fernandez starts to show his true potential to retain his MotoGP seat for next year.

#30 Takaaki Nakagami – LCR Honda

One might think Nakagami ought to have more to show for a six-season stint in MotoGP than a single pole position, a best finish of fourth and 18th overall in the past two years. But the Japanese rider was still recovering from a serious hand injury in the first part of 2023, while machine deficiencies were well known. His feedback is concise and he’s now the longest serving HRC rider in the premier class by five years. However, he needs to start strongly to hold on to his seat for 2025.

#31 Pedro Acosta – GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3

Acosta has already made a mockery of team manager Nico Goyon’s comments that “to understand all the tools on a MotoGP bike takes almost one year”. The 19-year-old demonstrated why he was the most hyped rookie in 11 years with some incredible testing performances. He has 10 races to break Marquez’s record as the youngest premier-class race winner of all time in the 2024 MotoGP season. He couldn’t, could he?

#33 Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

A huge year for the South African, who fell short of KTM’s goal of finishing inside the top three in the championship in 2023. At times the bike let him down but in others racecraft or mistakes were his undoing. Yet going off KTM’s preseason form, a first win since 2021 shouldn’t be far away. Both he and the factory know now is the time to challenge for the title.

#36 Joan Mir – Repsol Honda Team

As he struggled to 22nd in last year’s championship, failing to score points in 15 of the 20 rounds, it was hard to believe Mir was a MotoGP world champion as recently as 2020. But a year’s worth of experience on the RC213V, a switch to working with Marc Marquez’s old crew, and some drastic changes to the bike led to a strong preseason. Scoring top 10 finishes early on would be a solid platform for this season.

#37 Augusto Fernandez – GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3

The Majorcan has the unenviable job of being teammate to Acosta this year in his second season in the premier class. After a promising rookie year, when he scored five top-10 finishes, he’s struggled to get comfortable during preseason. He’ll need to find form quickly to convince KTM bosses to sign him up for 2025.

#41 Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia Racing

Now 34-years-old, and entering his 14th premier-class season, common sense indicates the elder Espargaro brother should be winding down. But the Catalan is doing anything but. Once again he showed in 2023 why he is hailed as Aprilia’s ‘Captain’, when he claimed two impressive wins and finished sixth overall. Preseason testing has indicated Espargaro should be in line to add to his win tally again in 2024.

#42 Alex Rins – Monster Energy Yamaha

Last season was a mixed bag for the Spaniard. On an ungainly Honda, he surprised the watching world by winning in Austin only for a serious leg injury to derail his campaign in June. Now part of Yamaha’s factory team, the Spaniard has already impressed engineers with his high corner speed and late-braking ability. There’s no reason why he can’t push teammate Quartararo most weekends as they aim to bring Yamaha back to the top.

#43 Jack Miller – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Jack Miller needs to thrill KTM bosses big-time this year

Another big year for the Aussie. He started 2023 – his first aboard KTM’s RC16 – brilliantly, only to fall into a lull midseason. Miller knows he must come out swinging in 2024 with Acosta waiting in the wings. Having enlisted the help of Red Bull Athlete Performance Centre to work on his fitness over the summer months, Miller is in better physical condition than ever. So all is in place to be a consistent podium finisher.

#49 Fabio Di Giannantonio – VR46 Ducati

Last year’s surprise package. Di Giannantonio hadn’t done a great deal in 2022, his rookie MotoGP season, to suggest he’d be a frontrunner in the future. But his late 2023 turnaround carried him to a maiden premier-class victory and the hearts of many a neutral onlooker. Only Bagnaia and Martin scored more points in the final seven rounds. And Di Giannantonio, now riding in VR46 colours, was the fastest over a Sprint simulation at Sepang. This year’s dark horse.

#72 Marco Bezzecchi – VR46 Ducati

Last year’s breakout star, Bezzecchi was in the running for championship glory up until a collarbone break in October hindered his results – an impressive achievement on year-old machinery. Having opted to stay loyal to the VR46 team, rather than switch to a full factory bike in Pramac, means he remains on a year-old Ducati this season. But he’s been largely subdued in preseason. It could be tricky to live up to the performances he displayed last year.

#73 Alex Marquez – Gresini Ducati

There was plenty to admire in Alex’s first year with Gresini Ducati in 2023: the former Moto2 and Moto3 world champ won two Sprints, claimed two further podiums and finished ninth overall – his best championship placing to date. But inconsistency plagued his campaign. Now, racing alongside his brother for the second time, he’ll be expected to challenge for top-six finishes – and occasionally more – each weekend.

#88 Miguel Oliveira – Trackhouse Racing Aprilia

It’s hard to recall a campaign lacking luck quite like Oliveira’s 2023, his first season aboard Aprilia machinery. He was taken out – and injured – in crashes at Portimao and Jerez before a spill in Qatar ended his season prematurely. But the five-time MotoGP victor is fully fit once more to tackle this season with the new Trackhouse Racing set-up. Unlike last year, he’s on a fully up-to-date 2024 Aprilia RS-GP – a fantastic opportunity for the Portuguese star to push for podiums once more.

#89 Jorge Martin – Prima Pramac Racing Ducati

Martin lit up the second half of MotoGP 2023 with his otherworldly riding and attempts to intimidate eventual champ Bagnaia, making it a title race to remember. Perhaps his challenge could be derailed by talk of his plans for 2025, when he is sure to leave Pramac. But preseason showed Martin has lost none of his speed. Iron out a few mistakes and he will be a leading contender once again.

#93 Marc Marquez – Gresini Ducati

Aleix Espargaro had a nice line: “What do you think will happen if you put the best rider in history on the best bike?” A few are predicting a Marquez whitewash after he sensationally switched to Gresini Ducati. But he must contend with a new bike, riding style and, crucially, team. These won’t be easy challenges to overcome. Yet a rider who has amassed eight world titles and 85 victories is surely good enough to manage it. A title contender.