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MotoGP, From Bagnaia to Marquez: doubts and certainties on the eve of the first GP in Qatar

Pecco and Martin are the favourites, with Bastianini making up an awesome trio on the GP24. Aprilia and KTM have the task of spoiling the party. All eyes on the debut of Acosta

MotoGP: From Bagnaia to Marquez: doubts and certainties on the eve of the first GP in Qatar

The wait is about to end. On Friday 2024, at 1.40pm in Italy, the MotoGP season will get underway, in Qatar as is now tradition. There will no longer be any room for doubts, with the stopwatch acting as judges and establishing whether the work done over the winter was good or not. The tests served to get an idea of the form factor, but as always happens, it is a bit like theory that must be confirmed by practice. In our case as the first Grand Prix, which certainly doesn't decide a season, starting it well means being halfway there, or at least that's what they say.

Favourites

Right now, I can't even think of one Ducati rider who won't be able to get on the podium or win during the season. Quantity and quality for an army that monopolized the championship podium in 2023. The situation this year could be better (or worse, in the case of the opponents) because every rider has acquired greater experience and awareness, in addition to the arrival of Marc Marquez who - it goes without saying - adds that pinch of pepper to an already tasty dish .

If we are talking about the favourites, however, 3 names come to mind and they are those of three riders on the GP24. Bagnaia and Martin were fighting for the title until the last race in Valencia a handful of months ago and this already puts them one step ahead of everyone, but then there is Dall'Igna's new bike. For the first time, the new Desmosedici did not have the classic defects of youth. Not that in the past those shortcomings had not been made up for, but in 2024 everyone will start even better. The prototype was already promoted on its first outing in Valencia and, from then on, the comments have only improved.

Especially those of Bagnaia, who seems to have found a bike that helps him where the previous one put him in more difficulty. Even Martin - albeit with some ups and downs - was convinced of the validity of the project and the Spaniard thrives in the races. We close the trio with Bastianini: it might be a bit of a gamble to place him among the favourites after a disappointing 2023, but above all it was bad luck that played against him. Enea has all it takes to be at the level of the other two, especially with a motorbike that he likes.

Outsiders

Given the trend, it would be appropriate to include the other Ducati riders not mentioned before here. Starting with Fabio Di Giannantonio, who after having cut loose at the end of last year confirmed his speed in the winter. However, those who want to put a spanner in the wheels of the Desmosedici are Aprilia and KTM. In Veneto and Austria they have been working hard, we will have to see if it was enough.

The RS-GP is the bike that has amazed the most with its shape and that’s nothing new, because Albesiano and his men have been bringing innovative aerodynamic solutions to the track for some time. Furthermore, the Italian 4-cylinder also seems to have a bit more horsepower, which is never enough. The recipe, however, still needs to be developed to find that balance that makes the difference during an entire championship. It is also the goal of KTM, the only MotoGP with a carbon frame. They have also been working on the RC16 to refine the project and, as always, the last tenths are the most difficult to shave off.

The two bikes, however, seem to be improving and their riders will have to as well. Vinales has been waiting for too long now to take that final step that would put him among the best in the category, while Aleix Espargarò alternates perfect weekends with others to forget. The youngsters are champing at the bit, starting with Raul Fernandez, who doesn't have an updated bike, but who shone in the winter, while Oliveira seems to have lost his way.

In KTM the leader (for the moment) is Binder. The South African is tough and fast, but he too is a bit too up-and-down. However, he always manages to patch everything up, unlike Jack Miller, who took one step forward and two back in 2023, starting well and finishing worse.

Doubts

To be resolved, of course. The first one concerns Honda and Yamaha. The two Japanese manufacturers are certainly not new to racing, but they have lost their way. The concessions are a compass that allows them to find it reasonably quickly, but the time available for that is rather uncertain. Their desire for a revolution is evident: Iwata changed its internal structure by strengthening the Italian component, Tokyo turned its bike inside out like a sock. However, the gap is a big one and a lot of patience will be needed, especially on the part of Fabio Quartararo.

Finally, there are two names surrounded by great expectations, those of Marquez and Acosta. The 'old' champion and the young rookie, what will they manage to do? The answer is on the track. Marc is certainly in a much better position than the one he was in the last racing seasons. It's still too early to say whether Ducati's care and attention will be enough to make him return to the way he was in the past, but the conditions to see him back in the positions that count are all there. Pedro, on the other hand, seems destined to cause severe headaches for many riders, his brand mates first and foremost. More than his speed, his maturity was surprising in the tests, as if he were certain that the results will arrive, but how long will it take though?

 


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