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10 issues we discovered on the 2024 MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix

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An emotional retirement announcement, a chaotic dash race and defiant comebacks had been the primary speaking factors from the 2024 MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix.

Forward of the sixth spherical of the season, veteran rider Aleix Espargaro announced to the world that he would be calling time on his MotoGP career on the finish of the 2024 season. A profession of 20 years that has been characterised by hardship, doubts and relentless laborious work left a sense of satisfaction within the three-time grand prix winner as he addressed the media on Thursday.

Then he went on to qualify on pole with a brand new lap report and rating a dramatic win within the dash race. So far as retirement bulletins go, Espargaro’s was not unhealthy in any respect.

5 riders led that 12-lap dash, three of them crashing out. Probably the most noteworthy was Francesco Bagnaia, whose half-distance race type this 12 months is costing him dearly. However his capability to bounce again on Sundays is limiting the harm and he put in an announcement trip to win the grand prix, as Jorge Martin prolonged his championship lead.

Marc Marquez charged from lowly grid positions to complete on the rostrum once more in each races, highlighting that whereas qualifying wants work, his race tempo is proving killer. 

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Elsewhere, rider market rumblings continued within the wake of Espargaro’s retirement announcement, whereas Enea Bastianini carried out a futile in-race protest towards the stewards. Listed here are 10 issues we discovered from the 2024 MotoGP Catalan GP.

1. Bagnaia wants fast dash turnaround as Sunday type very good

Bagnaia has failed to attain some extent in half the dash races in 2024 up to now

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia’s capability to bounce again from troublesome outcomes is likely one of the issues that has made him so formidable within the championship over the past two years. That was on show once more on the Catalan GP, after the Ducati rider crashed out of the lead of the dash race at Flip 5 on the ultimate lap. It was set to be a outcome that pulled him near championship chief Martin, who struggled for tempo within the dash. As a substitute, it pushed him to 44 factors away.

Within the grand prix, nonetheless, Bagnaia performed the strategic recreation, holding his tempo below management after being shuffled out of an early lead by Martin and Pedro Acosta. When the time got here halfway by the 24-lap contest to start out reeling in Martin, he made it look straightforward.

As Martin had chewed up his rear tyre making an attempt to fend off Acosta earlier, he was powerless to cease Bagnaia coming by on lap 19 at – satirically – Flip 5. He would later gesture to the nook on the cooldown lap. Bagnaia pulled 1.7s clear to tally a 3rd grand prix win of 2024, although his deficit within the championship remains to be a hefty 39 factors. Dash outcomes have contributed to this.

Going and not using a dash podium since successful in Austria final 12 months, Bagnaia has not completed the final three. He threw 12 factors away at Barcelona and misplaced not less than 5 at Jerez when he was working fifth earlier than a Flip 1 tangle instigated by Brad Binder on lap three. Mechanical dramas put him out at Le Mans and don’t neglect that he was main in Portugal earlier than a late mistake left him fourth. That’s not less than 23 factors misplaced, which might make a big distinction to his present championship scenario.

“It’s a matter of ending them and taking factors as a result of final 12 months, it’s true, I used to be struggling a bit [in the sprints], however I used to be ending each dash race I did,” Bagnaia mentioned. “It’s much less factors however for the championship, it helps lots as a result of to attain six, eight, 9, 12 factors each weekend is lots. So, it’s good that each Sunday we’re aggressive, however I’m uninterested in shedding factors in a free manner on Saturdays.”

2. Martin’s title credentials getting tougher to knock

Even of a tough weekend, Martin still increased his points lead

Even of a tricky weekend, Martin nonetheless elevated his factors lead

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Martin has actually been the rider of the second in 2024 and it’s actually not troublesome to agree with Espargaro’s assertions that the championship chief being passed over again for a factory team Ducati seat would be “super unfair”.

Coming into the Barcelona spherical 38 factors clear within the standings, Martin emerged 39 forward. A one-point achieve could not sound chunky, however when you think about he certified a lowly seventh (the primary time he’s began outdoors of the primary two rows since Silverstone 2023), had his dash podium run resulted in a tough Saturday race to fourth and couldn’t fend off Bagnaia within the GP to complete second, that’s environment friendly harm limitation.

His points-per-round tempo stays at 26 (25.8 with out rounding up) after six rounds. Maybe he may have managed his earlier push from Pedro Acosta a bit higher and saved his medium rear tyre extra, however electing towards a fruitless late retaliation towards Bagnaia when he got here by on lap 19 of 24 confirmed actual maturity. If Barcelona is what constitutes a nasty weekend for Martin, his nearest title rivals want to start out digging deeper.

3. Marquez’s comeback prowess one thing to worry

Marquez knows he needs to up his qualifying game on the Ducati to take the fight to Martin and Bagnaia

Marquez is aware of he must up his qualifying recreation on the Ducati to take the struggle to Martin and Bagnaia

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Marquez hates the Barcelona circuit. So, one other comeback akin to the one he staged at Le Mans appeared unlikely after qualifying on Saturday morning on the Catalan GP, when he struggled to 14th.

The Gresini rider is discovering that recent comfortable rubber pushes the entrance of the GP23 on time assault laps, and it’s stopping him from exploiting the element of his riding style that made him lethal on the Honda. His crew chief Frankie Carchedi has additionally repeatedly identified that the dearth of Marquez information on the Ducati from monitor to trace makes getting within the ballpark on Fridays a bit trickier.

His surge from 14th to second within the dash was expertly achieved, however his gamble to go for the comfortable rear – considered one of solely 4 to do the identical – and make it final 24 laps to complete third within the Grand Prix was a measure of Marquez’s true genius. Nonetheless, he mentioned he is “not proud” of his recent comebacks as a result of it means there’s been an issue someplace.

Whereas he does actually need to get on high of his qualifying woes, he’s being harsh on himself. As soon as the supreme race tempo is married to stronger qualifying type, stopping him from successful goes to be a tall order for his rivals.

4. MotoGP veteran begins profession wind down with “fairytale” dwelling race

There wasn't a dry eye in the house when Espargaro announced his retirement

There wasn’t a dry eye in the home when Espargaro introduced his retirement

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

On the Americas GP, Espargaro instructed the media he wasn’t certain what his plans for 2025 had been but and hadn’t dominated out racing on with Aprilia. The truth is, previous to leaping on the airplane Stateside, he’d already determined 2024 was going to be his final as a MotoGP rider.

He introduced this to the world on Thursday forward of his dwelling GP in an emotional press convention that noticed various shed a tear.

OPINION: How Espargaro “silenced many mouths” during his underdog MotoGP career

Doing the double at Barcelona in 2023, Espargaro snatched pole with a brand new all-time lap report after which sensationally gained a chaotic dash after Bagnaia’s ultimate lap crash out of the lead. Espargaro described the earlier 48 hours as “a fairytale”.

He may solely muster fourth on Sunday, shedding the rostrum late on to Marc Marquez as he felt uncomfortable on the medium rear tyre. Even so, it’s evident that Espargaro isn’t a fading star whose time on the head of the pack has lengthy gone.

He’s nonetheless on the high of his recreation and is getting out whereas the going’s good. As he instructed the media on Thursday, it’s a “privilege” to have the ability to do this.

5. Well timed type bounce for under-pressure teen

Fernandez reminded everyone of his talents in Barcelona

Fernandez reminded everybody of his abilities in Barcelona

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Raul Fernandez was a surprising in his sole Moto2 marketing campaign in 2021, through which he beat Marc Marquez’s class rookie win report with eight victories on his strategy to second within the championship. However MotoGP hasn’t been type to him. The much less mentioned about Fernandez’s single 12 months on the Tech3 KTM the higher, whereas his type on the RNF Aprilia final 12 months was nonetheless effectively under the place it wanted to be.

But to crack the highest 10 in a grand prix in 2024 (albeit on a 2023-spec Aprilia), the Trackhouse Racing rider made a breakthrough at Barcelona. He certified a career-best third – the primary time he’s seen what the primary two rows appear like – then he led the dash and was pulling away earlier than crashing on lap 5 of 12. “Crying like a baby” afterwards at what he known as a “very silly mistake”, his type remained within the GP and led him to a primary high six in 2024.

The 23-year-old says Aprilia has helped him make his trip the RS-GP extra naturally by twiddling with the electronics and sees this as proving what he all the time thought he may do.

It comes as his place at Trackhouse Racing is below menace, with US racer Joe Roberts having been linked to a step from Moto2 to MotoGP with the American workforce. That Fernandez’s type bounce got here on a weekend through which Roberts struggled to ninth within the Moto2 race doesn’t hurt the Spaniard’s trigger both.

6. Gentle on the finish of the tunnel for Yamaha

Quartararo feels Yamaha is making strides in its MotoGP recovery plan

Quartararo feels Yamaha is making strides in its MotoGP restoration plan

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Whereas Yamaha hasn’t taken the march in the direction of the entrance of the sector it was most likely hoping for over the winter, the Catalan GP seems to have marked a genuinely positive moment for the recovering manufacturer.

Yamaha homologated a brand new aerodynamic bundle for the Catalan GP it had first examined at Jerez, having reconfirmed the information at a non-public check at Mugello. Whereas it provided somewhat bit extra turning – a key weak spot of the 2024 M1 – and carried out as anticipated, it didn’t provide a significant increase in efficiency (although Alex Rins thinks it’s price 0.2s per lap at Mugello).

Fabio Quartararo was ninth within the grand prix however was solely 5 seconds from the highest 5. He was additionally the one rider of a Japanese bike inside half a minute of the race winner, although team-mate Rins did must battle gas injection points after a lap one run-off at Flip 1 on his strategy to twentieth.

“I believe, sure,” mentioned Quartararo, when requested if it felt like Yamaha was making actual progress now. “After all, if you end up doing the small steps you need to have an even bigger one as quickly as attainable.

“However that is one and a half 12 months that we’ve got been with out making any progress, and to really feel that we’re seeing the sunshine popping out of the tunnel, it is nice, so hopefully we are able to make some good steps fairly quickly.”

7. Honda taking steps again to go ahead once more

Life remains tough in the Honda camp

Life stays robust within the Honda camp

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

It’s laborious to be something however damaging proper now about Honda, which has up to now didn’t ship on the promise its 2023 Valencia check provided with its 2024 RC213V.

Prime Honda honours within the grand prix at Barcelona went to Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR-run bike in 14th, with Joan Mir on the manufacturing facility workforce RC213V behind him in fifteenth, forward of Johann Zarco (LCR) and Luca Marini. However to rub salt within the wounds, all Hondas had been overtaken by Pedro Acosta on a broken Tech3 GasGas following his crash from second earlier within the race. No Honda was inside 30s of the winner both.

The low-grip Barcelona monitor delivered “the worst state of affairs” for the Honda, in line with Mir, because the bike’s issues with traction had been solely accentuated. They had been made even worse by a brand new engine configuration being raced on the Spanish venue.

Whereas not one of the riders received the upgrades they’d been hoping for after a non-public Mugello check on the run-up to the Barcelona spherical, Mir famous that the up to date engine configuration might be the correct path for the long run.

“Actually a nightmare,” Mir mentioned of his grand prix. “I had very unhealthy emotions all weekend. I anticipated a battle on this monitor. We’re utilizing a unique engine configuration and I don’t really feel good with it. The spin stage might be worse than the opposite one, after which the highest velocity is way much less.

“Within the different races I used to be capable of be lots nearer to the primary rider, to the group, and doubtless having the ability to struggle with the group of the highest 10. Right here I didn’t have any choice to do it. So, we most likely took a step again to make two ahead sooner or later. However in the intervening time it’s robust and the scenario is like this – it’s even worse.”

Marini ended the weekend positively, noting that he felt like he “can get pleasure from” using the bike now – although couldn’t actually clarify why.

8. Bastianini’s penalty defiance a double-edged sword

Bastianini ignored all his penalties during the grand prix which earned him the ire of the stewards

Bastianini ignored all his penalties throughout the grand prix which earned him the ire of the stewards

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Enea Bastianini upset within the Catalan GP, because the excessive tyre put on situations ought to have performed into the Ducati rider’s fingers.

He was handed a protracted lap penalty for taking the shortcut at Turns 1 and a pair of when he was compelled huge by an aggressive (however clear) overtake from Alex Marquez. When a rider runs by that advanced, they have to drop a second to keep away from a penalty. Bastianini didn’t do that.

However he didn’t agree with the penalty as he felt he had no alternative however to run huge. And so, he elected to disregard it. A second lengthy lap was served to him for this, which he additionally ignored. A ride-through for ignoring the second lengthy lap didn’t change his thoughts both, with the culminating 32-second time penalty dropping him from ninth to 18th.

He pleaded his case with the stewards afterwards and claimed they accepted that they had been unsuitable to penalise him for the Marquez incident. However there was additionally nothing they may do to withdraw the penalties.

In a manner, Bastianini was proper to do what he did – and says Ducati agreed with him – as you can’t enchantment a penalty that has been served. That doesn’t recommend there is a sturdy appeals course of obtainable to riders – one thing the FIM’s stewards may make clear, in the event that they ever truly held their actions accountable in a public method.

Whereas Bastianini was combating what he believed to be the great struggle, the irony is that serving that single lengthy lap seemingly would have value him roughly three seconds and solely dropped him just a few spots all the way down to twelfth.

9. KTM can’t fulfil early weekend promise

KTM's runners remain frustratingly inconsistent when it comes to Sunday's main event

KTM’s runners stay frustratingly inconsistent in relation to Sunday’s essential occasion

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

KTM got here out of the blocks swinging at Barcelona, with three of its riders easing into Q2 on Friday – together with Brad Binder, regardless of two crashes within the second apply session.

However the conclusion of the weekend will go away a bitter style. Miller crashed out of the grand prix and was lacklustre within the dash in seventh, whereas Binder fell out of the dash lead and suffered a difficulty together with his entrance tyre early within the GP that left him eighth.

Tech3 rookie Pedro Acosta scored a podium within the dash and felt like he had a motorbike for the rostrum within the grand prix however for a crash whereas working second on lap 11. He says this was all the way down to an issue on the entrance finish that hasn’t been identified but. He recovered to thirteenth with a smashed bike after remounting, however back-to-back podium probabilities on Sundays have gone lacking.

Binder famous that the RC16 struggles when grip disappears, however isn’t certain if that’s a consequence of racing on high of Pirelli Moto2 rubber on Sundays. Regardless, the RC16, whereas strong – and powerful significantly in Acosta’s fingers – remains to be missing consistency at this stage of the season.

10. Aprilia hints at most well-liked Espargaro alternative

Rivola already has an Espargaro replacement in mind

Rivola already has an Espargaro alternative in thoughts

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Espargaro’s retirement dominated the information cycle at Barcelona, and a big a part of that is all the way down to the query it now poses: who replaces him? Espargaro’s efforts to make that Aprilia a high bike on the present grid means the Italian marque is out there for some strong choices relative to its modest-by-MotoGP-standards funds.

Evidently, Aprilia is biding its time for Ducati to make its ultimate choice on who companions Bagnaia in 2025 earlier than making its transfer. However Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola did offer a hint as to where his mind is at in terms of a preferred pick.

“Now we are able to begin talking with many managers of riders and I believe the market might be fairly fascinating and provide good alternatives,” he instructed motogp.com’s dwell feed throughout ultimate apply. “Let’s see if we’ll lastly get an Italian on an Italian bike, or not. However I believe there might be good alternatives. Clearly taking Aleix’s place is not going to be straightforward for anyone, so whoever is coming should come very hungry.”

Bastianini has been closely linked with a trip at Aprilia for 2025, and mentioned of the prospect: “I’ve mentioned this many instances. It may be a very good possibility for me, the Aprilia workforce, but additionally, we’ve got different presents and we’ve got to guage the opposite presents. Additionally, in my thoughts, there may be solely to go to Mugello and attempt to win. However we’ll see.”

A five-time grand prix winner, Bastianini may carry lots to the desk for Aprilia. Additionally out of the manufacturing facility Ducati image is Marco Bezzecchi, who may match the invoice for Aprilia too.

Intriguingly, Maverick Vinales has countered claims Rivola remodeled the weekend that he’s dedicated to a 2025 contract and says he has presents he want to discover.

“No, no, I am not confirmed. I haven’t got a contract for subsequent 12 months,” the rider clarified to questions from Autosport. “Clearly there may be loads of curiosity in persevering with [with Aprilia] as a result of we’re doing an excellent job, however I take a look at at the moment, Le Mans or Jerez and you need to wait. You need to wait.

“There are open doorways and you need to wait somewhat bit and resolve what’s finest for me by way of efficiency. I need to win, truthfully, and I believe I’ve the power to have the ability to struggle to win, and I’ve to take a very good take a look at what’s the most suitable choice. What’s the most full, what’s the bundle that may give me the most suitable choice, the utmost to take advantage of my finest stage.”

Vinales hasn't committed his future to Aprilia just yet

Vinales hasn’t dedicated his future to Aprilia simply but

Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images



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