After a star-studded Shakedown that saw rookie sensation Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) top the timesheets, it’s time for the whole grid to join the number 31 out on track. So far we’ve already seen the race riders from Honda and Yamaha head out thanks to the new concession system, but now we get even more headliners – including reigning Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and now-Gresini Racing MotoGP™ rider Marc Marquez. So where can you stay up to date and what can we expect on track?
Ducati Lenovo, Prima Pramac, Pertamina Enduro VR46 & Gresini
A lot of eyes will be on Bagnaia, and 2023 Malaysian GP winner Enea Bastianini alongside him in the Ducati Lenovo Team box, as a new campaign begins. We saw updated aero from Ducati at the Shakedown, put through its paces by test rider Michele Pirro, and now it’s all hands on deck to define and refine the machine the Bologna factory will field in 2024.
At Prima Pramac the task will be similar for Jorge Martin, who will want to hit the ground running as he aims to fight for the title again. However, we wait to see if his new teammate Franco Morbidelli will be out on track after the Italian suffered a crash during a private track day in Portugal and continues his recovery.
At Pertamina Enduro VR46, those fluo yellow and white vibes will accompany Marco Bezzecchi, who’ll be trying to tune in and get to grips with the slightly different 2023 machine, and the incoming Fabio Di Giannantonio the same. Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) likewise gets his hands on the bike that fought for the title last year, and so does his new teammate…
Marc Marquez was already fourth fastest in Valencia after switching from Honda to Ducati machinery, and now there are three more days of track action ahead for the number 93 to settle in, find and learn the limits, and see if he can redefine them. On the 2023 machine for this season, the eight-time Champion faces down the biggest sporting challenge of his career for a decade – and we can’t wait to see what happens.
Red Bull KTM & Red Bull GASGAS Tech3
The RC16 topped all three days of the Shakedown, first with MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa, then with new test rider Pol Espargaro, and finally in the hands of superstar rookie Pedro Acosta. We saw new aero from the Austrian factory and we also saw Acosta running the carbon chassis, which could be a clue that’s their intended direction overall.
Now it’s time for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), teammate Jack Miller and sophomore Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) to join the fray as the marque push to breach that gap to Ducati. Acosta, meanwhile, now gains a host more benchmarks on the timesheets, and has three more whole days in Sepang to learn his way round the premier class.
Aprilia & Trackhouse Racing
At Aprilia, we’ve also seen new aero during the Shakedown, with test rider Lorenzo Savadori at the helm. Now it’s time for factory riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales to head out and start defining what they’ll race in 2024, alongside Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez at the new Trackhouse team. Aprilia were close to the top in terms of speed for much of 2023, but they’ll want more. And they’ll want to iron out the hurdles that seemed to keep pausing their upward trajectory at times last season.
At Trackhouse too, although we’ll likely see plenty of black fairings in testing, we hope we’ll also see that new, very American livery recently launched in LA.
Monster Energy Yamaha
We saw a few updates from Yamaha at the Shakedown. A new aero body, an updated tail unit and that longer exhaust were all on show, with test rider Cal Crutchlow on track on Day 1 before being joined by 2021 Champion Fabio Quartararo and new Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammate Alex Rins for the rest of the test. After a difficult 2023, the race is on for the factory to leverage those concessions and try and bridge the gap, and Rins will be an interesting addition to the fold with race-winning form on an inline four and a V4 in only the past couple of seasons…
Repsol Honda & CASTROL/IDEMITSU Honda LCR
Like Yamaha, Honda were able to field their race riders at the Shakedown, and like Yamaha, they sat out Day 1 before the full flotilla joined the fray. Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) confirmed they’d had no 2023 bike in the box, with a true new direction chosen and work all focused on that. The mood was markedly lighter as the behemoths aim to get back on top.
They’ll continue to count on Mir, a MotoGP™ World Champion and with some experience with the marque, and long-time HRC rider Takaaki Nakagami at IDEMITSU Honda LCR. They gain Johann Zarco (CASTROL Honda LCR), with his wealth of experience on different machines, and finally, Luca Marini joins Repsol Honda. The Italian now has some good MotoGP™ experience, is known for his love of data, and has built a reputation around relentlessly putting the pieces together to improve. Where will the Japanese giants be by the end of the first official test?