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My bike ate my homework… | The key areas 8 pupils of MotoGP’s Class of 2024 must improve

Settle down, MotoGP Class of 2024, quiet please - that means you, Mr Miller. And Fabio, stop sticking your gum under the table… 

Yes, the winter holidays are very nearly at an end and a new term is on the horizon for motorcycle racing’s most esteemed alumni with the opening round of the 2024 season in Qatar now little more than a week away.

With pre-season testing done and dusted, all that remains is for riders to put the finishing touches to their machinery, teams to ensure the mechanics and engineers are sufficiently well-oiled and to get those fresh leathery ‘uniforms’ out on the hanger before they pick up those inevitable grass stains…


With 21 of last season’s 22 riders returning to class for 2024, now seems like a good time to glance over those end-of-term report cards and set some targets for those riders who might benefit from a little extra curricular tuition this year… 

Ducati trialling its controversial new 'bald man in cargo shorts' front-end aero device...

Pecco Bagnaia

Two seasons, two MotoGP titles… you’d be forgiven for thinking Pecco Bagnaia doesn’t need ‘notes’ as he sets his sights on a ‘three-peat’ by picking up in Qatar exactly where he left off in Valencia.

Quite obviously, Bagnaia is doing something right but it’s the man himself who has been the driving force behind his own lofty goals during the pre-season in the pursuit for perfection that has earned him status as Ducati’s top dog.

Indeed, an ability to knuckle down and bounce back became something of a signature skill during Bagnaia’s title-winning campaigns. We saw it during his dominant post-summer break spell in 2022 and again in 2023, Bagnaia finding another level just as the pressure from Jorge Martin told.

So where are the gains to be made in 2024? Cutting out the infrequent (but costly) sloppy unforced errors is one, while Bagnaia could stand to be assertive during some of the gnarlier bouts.

Some more exciting answers during the press conferences wouldn’t go amiss either. It won’t make him faster per se, but it’ll keep us happy…

Well, it wasn't Franco Morbidelli who dealt it so we'll have to blame whoever smelt it, Jorge...

Jorge Martin

They say you’re only as good as your last race, but if that was true then it’d be a very unfair indictment of Jorge Martin.


Regardless, the Spaniard has had a long, cold winter to replay his clumsy, title-vanquishing collision with Marc Marquez in the final race of the year. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing though. 

Indeed, intermittent hot-headedness (COTA, Austria, Valencia) was the downfall for Martin’s title bid in 2023, a vestige of the mistakes amid the magic that defined his 2021 and 2022 MotoGP campaigns.

That said, we were also introduced to a calmer, more tactical Martin in 2023, one that didn’t dilute the raw pace that made him untouchable on several occasions last year.

What was a work in progress in 2023 though should now be a sharp and effective weapon in his armoury for 2024. At the very least, it might stop him from crashing out of comfortable leads (Indonesia) and better manage his tyres over a race distance (Australia).


Marc Marquez's adaptation to the Ducati GP23 includes regularly checking it's not a Honda...

Marc Marquez

No rider on the MotoGP grid can claim to have experienced the same heady highs as six-time World Champion Marc Marquez. Then again, no rider on the MotoGP grid can claim to have experienced the same soul-crushing lows as MotoGP’s once dominant figure, Marc Marquez, too.

On the plus side, it means Marquez has a big, broad target to aim for in 2024 - his first season with Ducati at Gresini - with plenty of space above his reference points from 2023.

While Marquez’s list of targets as a rider for 2024 could also be titled ‘plans for world/Ducati domination, at the very (very) least he will be praying he'll be far less accident-prone on the GP23 than he was on the Honda ‘Buckaroo’ RC213V.

Not only that though, the bold decision to sever his loyalties with Honda in favour of Ducati shows how far Marquez is willing to go to rediscover his passion - and hunger - in MotoGP after four years of struggles on and off track.

And we all know what happens when Marquez gets his appetite back…

Reckon you couldn't even get a Rizla in that gap between the belly pan and the track

Brad Binder

Is this the year Brad Binder blossoms into a fully-fledged MotoGP title contender? The omens are promising, the South African having taken a step up the order in each of his four seasons at premier level.

However, having mastered the art of consistency to get him to a new career-best fourth overall in 2023, Binder’s focus this year will be that small but tricky step towards duking it out for victories week-in, week-out.

Indeed, when you consider Bagnaia and Martin collected seven and four full-length MotoGP wins in 2023 alone, Binder’s meagre two wins in four years goes a long way to explaining the gap between himself and Bagnaia on the final leaderboard.

In order to do that, Binder has been focusing his efforts on being kinder to the tyres - an issue for him at times in 2023 - while his Q2 form on the KTM, though a vast improvement compared with previous seasons, remains a weak link in his skillset.

Joan Mir being assured the 2024 Honda RC213V won't spend three-quarters of the lap trying to kill him

Joan Mir

He may be a MotoGP World Champion but Joan Mir can probably afford to forget everything he thought he knew about two-wheel racing and go ahead and just start from scratch on the Repsol Honda in 2024.

Having only just made it through the school of (very) hard knocks during a bruising first campaign with the HRC squad, things can genuinely only get better for Mir this year.

First and foremost, the target will be for Mir to find his groove on the significantly updated RC213V, which translated means comfortable enough to ensure he stays on it more. His bones and limbs will thank him.

Not only that though, Mir has a job to do off-track filling the influential void vacated by Marquez, one that should help him steer development more towards his liking.

Winning a MotoGP race gets you valet service perks, much to the delight of Fabio di-va Giannantonio

Fabio di Giannantonio

For all of the wings, aero devices and Stegosaurus-inspired solutions appearing on bikes these days aimed at shaving a few hundredths or tenths off a lap time, Fabio di Giannantonio is living proof that sometimes far more can be gained by simply having more confidence.

Indeed, the Italian snowballed his way through the final few rounds of the 2023 MotoGP season - helped in part by the incentive of Gresini Racing swinging the axe - propelling himself to both the top of the podium and front and centre of the shop window at just the right time.

His reward is a Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing seat for 2024, which comes with the added bonus of being inducted into Valentino Rossi’s ‘VR46 Academy’ brotherhood.

With the pressure that comes with ‘racing for your career’ now gone, a more relaxed di Giannantonio turned heads during winter testing, enough to earn himself a ‘dark horse’ title coming into the Qatar opener. 

With a good benchmark in Marco Bezzecchi alongside him and patient yet effective approach to race craft, di Giannantonio should now be turning his attention to improving his qualifying and maximising the Ducati package week-in, week-out.

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing, Aprilia RS-GP, 2022 MotoGP, portrait, celebration [Gold & Goose]
Isn't this the motorcycle version of upskirting...? (Don't look directly into the exhaust...)

Maverick Vinales

If Alan Turing was alive today, successfully decoding the enigma that is Maverick Vinales might have become his (second) greatest achievement.

Alas, that job will have to come down to Aprilia (and Vinales himself) in 2024 as team and rider once again attempt to get more of the ‘world class’ version of Vinales’ and less of his unpredictable or anonymous alter egos.

Indeed, what was once a familiar tale in Yamaha colours remains evident at Aprilia with Vinales’ performances blowing perplexingly hot and cold, sometimes from one day to the next. 

Savvier race tactics and tyre choices would be a start, while hopefully Vinales has dedicated a significant portion of his winter break to getting his race starts on the RS-GP sorted at long last.

'Shit, Jack lost a game of jinx and no-one knows what his middle name is...'

Jack Miller

At 29-years old, Jack Miller is far from old. But in KTM terms, he’s a veritable veteran… and if you’re a veteran on a KTM, then you’re a vulnerable veteran on a KTM.

Indeed, with KTM’s fervent junior development programme working overtime to bring on the next generation of tomorrow, next week and next month, those sitting on a KTM Factory Racing seat will always be feeling some heat from below.

Flashes of fast form aside, Miller himself will admit his first year with KTM failed to sparkle and there will be no excuses in 2024 if he doesn’t dazzle second time around. 

Like Binder, Miller must focus on tyre conservation - at least to capitalise on those notorious rocket-like starts of his - and not letting his concentration wander into the gravel trap from strong positions as it did on occasion in 2023 (ahem, COTA…).

Because if he doesn’t, there a quick lad named Pedro Acosta sniffing around, not sure if you’ve heard of him

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