until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Catalan Grand Prix 2024 MotoGP rider rankings

by Simon Patterson
10 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

With a super intelligent victory on Sunday for reigning MotoGP world champion Pecco Bagnaia, a fairytale win in the sprint for retiring home hero Aleix Espargaro, and a determined finish to the weekend for both points leader Jorge Martin and six-time champion Marc Marquez, it felt like the Catalan Grand Prix had something for everyone.

However, there were plenty of errors too, both from seasoned veterans like Bagnaia and from sole 2024 rookie Pedro Acosta, making Barcelona a contrasting mix of highs and lows for many.

That in turn, of course, means lots of metrics to use to rank the grid.

Scoring the riders in order based on their performances not just in the main event but also Saturday’s sprint race, it’s obviously all subjective - but comes not just from their final race result but takes into account things like the machinery they’re on and the pre-race expectations from them.

1 Jorge Martin

Started: 7th Sprint: 4th Finished: 2nd

Jorge Martin

There have been dominant weekends recently where Martin hasn’t ranked number one for me. But finishing runner-up to his biggest title rival at Barcelona was still a very impressive result.

Why? Because at more than a few points during both the sprint and the main race, the Martin of old would probably have crashed. Instead he turned a difficult event into an extension of his championship lead.

It’s the sort of weekend that’s just as important for winning titles as all the victories.

2 Pecco Bagnaia

Started: 2nd Sprint: DNF Finished: 1st

Sunday’s race win by Bagnaia was just about as smart a victory as you’re ever going to see.

Knowing exactly what was going to happen, he let Acosta put Martin under pressure before striking at the right time, which was a genius play.

But while it might have been smart racing, it only partly makes up for the rather silly mistake that he made the day before when he threw away a sprint win. His championship is still alive, but it could have been a whole lot closer as he heads to his home race this weekend.

3 Aleix Espargaro

Started: 1st Sprint: 1st Finished: 4th

Aleix Espargaro

A hugely significant weekend for Espargaro as he announced his retirement at his home circuit after two decades in the premier class.

There was no better way to celebrate the occasion than with a controlled sprint win as everyone else in front of him fell by the wayside.

Sure, he might not have been able to replicate it on Sunday (despite his very best efforts to force his way onto the podium on the last lap), but a pole position as well as the sprint victory was a stylish way to start the farewell tour.

4 Pedro Acosta

Started: 5th Sprint: 3rd Finished: 13th

Pedro Acosta crash

Another weekend, another very impressive performance all round from the rookie. Once again proving that he’s got what it takes to lead races in the premier class, it also again ended up without the results to match. But that’s all a part of the rookie learning curve, and something that he’ll adjust in time.

It’ll all come together eventually for him, and when it does yet more records will fall - but that time still isn’t yet.

5 Raul Fernandez

Started: 3rd Sprint: DNF Finished: 6th

Raul Fernandez Trackhouse Aprilia Barcelona MotoGP 2024

For the longest time, Fernandez has been telling us the same thing: if he can fix his qualifying, then he can be at the front.

He hinted at it on Saturday, leading a MotoGP race in the sprint for the first time before crashing.

And while Sunday might have been a touch more reserved, he still performed as well as we’ve ever seen in the premier class.

An important reminder of his talents at a key time in the silly season.

6 Marc Marquez

Started: 14th Sprint: 2nd Finished: 3rd

Marc Marquez

It might seem a little mean to have Marquez so far down the rankings considering he ended up on the podium twice. But right now it’s hard to work out one fundamental point about the six-time champion’s form: is he struggling to start his weekends off well because he’s on an older bike, or is there still something a little missing from his qualifying performances?

Because the frustration, both for us and likely for him, is that if he was making it through to Q2 then you’ve got to think that he’d be winning races too.

7 Fabio Quartararo

Started: 17th Sprint: 10th Finished: 9th

Fabio Quartararo Yamaha Barcelona MotoGP 2024

There’s an argument that Yamahas shouldn’t really be running inside the top 10 right now given how competitive they actually are - and it’s testament to Quartararo that he’s making the bike do the impossible.

That’s one take on it, of course - but another is that his development skills are finally coming to the fore and that he is very much making the bike better.

Coming to Barcelona straight from a successful test at Mugello, the reality is a bit of both.

8 Fabio Di Giannantonio

Started: 6th Sprint: 6th Finished: 5th

Somehow, Di Gianntonio sneaked his way to a very strong weekend all round at Barcelona, turning a solid qualifying into a decent sprint and something of a surprise top five sealed right in the final seconds of Sunday’s race.

Outclassing all the other 2023-spec Ducatis apart from Marc Marquez, he achieved yet more strong results at an important time of the season, especially for someone who so far has been quietly out of any contract speculation.

9 Alex Marquez

Started: 13th Sprint: 14th Finished: 7th

Alex Marquez Gresini Honda Barcelona MotoGP 2024

Hampered a little by the actions of others rather than himself in the sprint, more was on offer on Saturday than Marquez was able to deliver thanks to Franco Morbidelli bouncing him into the grass.

But he made up with it on Sunday with a competent if not exceptional seventh place from a difficult qualifying position.

Yes, others were ahead of him on the same year-old Ducati machinery, but that shouldn’t take too much away from his decent recovery.

10 Alex Rins

Started: 8th Sprint: 12th Finished: 20th

Alex Rins Yamaha Barcelona MotoGP 2024

Rins was somewhat robbed of a chance to deliver on his potential on Sunday thanks to a mechanical problem with the Yamaha M1.

Faster this weekend than he’s been in quite some time thanks to a strong Mugello test and able to pull off a good result in qualifying, he should have been able to capitalise on a solid sprint race - until fuelling issues with the bike ended that hope.

11 Miguel Oliveira

Started: 15th Sprint: DNF Finished: 10th

Definitely not the best weekend of the year for Trackhouse racer Oliveira, and he was unable to really blame anyone but himself.

Nowhere near the pace of the other Aprilias and outshone by his team-mate Fernandez on a year-old bike, it wasn’t a very encouraging ride for his future possibilities.

12 Franco Morbidelli

Started: 10th Sprint: 11th Finished: DNF

Franco Morbidelli crash Barcelona MotoGP 2024

It’s now getting a little too far into the season for Morbidelli to still be relying on the excuse of having missed pre-season testing, especially when it’s clear that his speed is back but that it’s his racecraft that is absent.

A headline maker on Saturday for bumping Alex Marquez off the track and subsequently getting penalised for it (something he was typically remorseless about), things got worse 0n Sunday with a crash out of a solid finish that’s hard to blame on anything but his own mistake.

13 Brad Binder

Started: 4th Sprint: DNF Finished: 8th

Binder should have done better at Barcelona - and to make matters worse, another KTM in the hands of rookie Acosta once again did.

His crash out of the sprint race lead was really the biggest disaster of his weekend, but a slow fade through the order on Sunday wasn’t exactly a great advertisement for him on the weekend where KTM first hinted at a demotion to its satellite team Tech3 for 2025 - even if Binder did try to blame Michelin’s tyres for his result afterwards.

14 Marco Bezzecchi

Started: 16th Sprint: 9th Finished: 11th

The positive thing about Bezzecchi’s weekend is that he seemed to have found his mojo a little bit again in the sprint, even if his result wasn’t quite reflective of that.

But he was once again outclassed by VR46 team-mate Di Giannantonio, something that few would have put money on before the start of the season.

Mugello next weekend will be an important time to prove he can turn around his season.

15 Maverick Vinales

Started: 12th Sprint: 8th Finished: 12th

Despite how fast Vinales has been in recent weeks, his home race felt like something of a regression in form, as he struggled to even score points - let alone match sprint-winning team-mate Espargaro.

Even worse, he finished Sunday’s race last of Aprilia’s four machines with no real excuse for it beyond a lack of rear grip that affected all of them equally.

16 Taka Nakagami

Started: 20th Sprint: 13th Finished: 14th

There’s not often much for Nakagami to celebrate these days. So the fact that he ended both the sprint and the main race at Barcelona as top Honda and inside the points (on Sunday at least) is something to be content about.

It’s not a track where he’s been lightning fast in the past, and it comes off the back of what’s believed to have been a fast test for him at Mugello too. It couldn’t come at a better time as rumours once again start about his future.

17 Joan Mir

Started: 21st Sprint: 15th Finished: 15th

There’s a few things to celebrate for Mir from his home race, but top of the list has to be the fact that he didn’t crash once at Barcelona.

Mir falling has been far too common a sight recently, and that didn’t happen this weekend.

The end result wasn’t quite as good as he’d have wanted, but at least it was a result.

There’s a lot of hard work going on at Honda, and hopefully a little bit of bone-saving consistency is the first sign of it paying off.

18 Johann Zarco

Started: 18th Sprint: DNF Finished: 16th

After a few good results of late despite the Honda's limitations, Barcelona was a bit of a quiet one for Zarco.

Caught out on Saturday when a small error was compounded by (blameless) contact with Alex Marquez, the end goal on Sunday wasn’t realised either after a rather flat race performance in low grip conditions that meant he wasn’t even able to compete with LCR team-mate Nakagami, something of an unusual situation this season.

19 Augusto Fernandez

Started: 19th Sprint: 17th Finished: DNF

It looked like there was some potential coming into Fernandez’s home race after slow but steady progress in recent weeks. And despite a stuck ride height device sabotaging his sprint, he went into Sunday’s race confident that there was even a top 10 on the cards.

However, with a mistake (that he was quick to accept as all his own doing) meaning it ended in the gravel, he heads home with more disappointment than confidence.

20 Stefan Bradl

Started: 23rd Sprint: 18th Finished: 19th

A standard-issue weekend for Honda test rider Bradl.

Came, rode around a long way off the pace, didn’t crash.

Mission accomplished and data gathered, even after missing Friday afternoon thanks to illness.

21 Enea Bastianini

Started: 11th Sprint: 5th Finished: 18th

We all get that MotoGP’s stewarding can be a tedious thing at times. But while it might be tough to accept some of the officials’ decisions, that’s hardly a reason to ignore the sanctions handed out like Bastianini did on Sunday.

Given a long lap penalty for a shortcut, his indignation turned what could have been a salvageable result into a disaster as the post-race sanctions piled up and dropped him out of the points right when he’s fighting for his seat.

Sometimes, it’s better to let head rule heart even if it’s not the easiest thing to accept.

22 Luca Marini

Started: 22nd Sprint: 16th Finished: 17th

It’s not knocking Marini too much to put him near the back of the pecking order given his performances at the minute, but the reality is that he isn’t just slow like the other Hondas, he’s slow full stop.

He was uncomfortably far behind everyone except test rider Bradl at Barcelona. A rider who was a podium contender in 2023 should be offering more this year, even with Honda’s problems.

23 Jack Miller

Started: 9th Sprint: 7th Finished: DNF

As soon as KTM racer Miller was shown as starting Sunday’s race on a soft rear tyre, there were warning signs that he might be in for a typical Miller outing.

But it wasn’t burning out his tyres that made it rather stereotypical but instead a crash early on in the race.

The only racer not to speak to the media afterwards, it’s further evidence that perhaps the pressure of watching Acosta smashing records on the same bike is starting to have an impact.

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