So that’s that. We’ve discarded the wilting Christmas tree, nursed our hangovers with bacon and blanket messaged apologies to those we embarrassed ourselves in front of at 12.01am… yep, 2023 is done and it’s already sooooo last year.
Yes, it’s time to make friends with 2024, make it promise to be nice to us and dust off Mystic Meg’s crystal ball (RIP, Meg…) to gaze into a future of more adrenaline-thumped motorcycle racing action.
First up, MotoGP, a series we like a lot - don’t get us wrong - but one that BSN reckons benefit from looking into some key areas. So MotoGP, please take away this article and we’ll be discuss this further at our next review… any questions?
1. No friends please, we’re MotoGP fans
Is it just us, or is MotoGP getting a bit, you know, too friendly? It has been nagging at us for a while that MotoGP has been missing something the last couple of years and - as tempting as it might be to suggest it - the absence of Valentino Rossi is not it.
Perhaps it is MotoGP’s evolution of factory and satellite teams cosying up together to share their toys instead of handing them down, or because 40% of the grid ride Ducati machinery, or because many of them high five, hang loose and lad, lad, lad about at Rossi’s ranch every other weekend.
Whatever the reason, the latest crop of MotoGP riders appear to have had media training drilled into them and regardless of whether the frequently uttered response ‘...but on the track, they are a rival’ is true on the bike, it makes for a naff soundbite off it.
Watching Pecco Bagnaia swinging for Maverick Vinales at Le Mans suggests he has fire in him, we’d just love to see it in the media pen too, while the likes of Franco Morbidelli, Marco Bezzecchi and Alex Marquez could do with being shifted out of second gear too…
On the plus side, Jorge Martin has slowly developed a powder keg courtesy of his snub by Ducati bosses and the tension of the title fight, so there is hope he’ll spark out of being grumpy and go full on fireworks at some stage.
Also, Jack Miller… never change. Johann Zarco? Stroppy sells on BSN. Hopes are also high that MotoGP’s new hyperactive, facially expressive talent Pedro Acosta will be good value for television viewers…
2. Do you believe in life after love?
December 31st 2023 has gone and 1st January 2024 has arrived… which means Marc Marquez is officially no longer a Honda rider and is officially now a Ducati one.
It also means the divorce Honda never saw coming is finally hitting home as it prepares for life without Marquez winning, dominating, riding like some sort of wizard and rubbing rivals up the wrong way without the merest hint of given f*cks.
Few want to be the one getting dumped and it’s likely Honda will pine for the compact Marquez-shaped hole it has left in the garage after more than a decade.
But life without Marquez also means no more high-speed catapulting, running up bills on the company insurance policy and keeping HR busy trying to find substitutes for him (Stefan Bradl is gagging for a break…).
It also means it is no longer obligated to consider Marquez in making the big decisions and changes it seemingly needs to find a way to the front of the grid again. And besides, Marquez’s increasingly long face and non-upside down frown wearing sponsors' colours was bad for publicity anyway.
3. Marc Marquez becoming Ducati’s enemy from within
It would be interesting to find out what Ducati’s seven other riders really think about Marc Marquez joining its stable in the Gresini Racing camp. For many years he was the pesky hare that kept slipping Ducati’s clutches on track and now he’s crossed enemy lines to join its cause.
On record they are curious to see how he will get on and wise enough not to dismiss him, but it will be curious to see how Marquez adapts from being the ‘almighty’ priority within Honda to joining an ensemble cast in a non-leading role.
Will he be a big team player for the greater good of Ducati’s brand when it matters? I think we all know the answer to that one…
4. KTM, Aprilia quality to beat Ducati’s quantity
We will reserve judgement on Honda and Yamaha to see where the Japanese duo squeezes into the hierarchy in MotoGP this season, but going off last year, KTM and Aprilia are best placed to be Ducati’s awkwardly placed thorn.
Brad Binder ensured KTM was the highest-placed non-Ducati rider and appears most likely to break its stronghold. Indeed, the Austrian manufacturer has been knocking increasingly loudly on that door, but while a step up to title-fighting status wouldn’t be surprising per se, it would be a huge deal.
5. Jack Miller to see off these pesky KTM n00bs
Having jumped off the good ship Ducati before he was pushed, Jack Miller might find himself in a similar dilemma in 2024 at KTM… with no guarantee of a soft landing.
After bursting out of the blocks at the start of 2023, Miller’s momentum stalled as the year wore on and even when he did factor at the front - usually in qualifying and/or after a rocketing start - he was often found playing the rear-guard action thereafter. Given it had echoes of his time at Ducati when things started going south, it’s a concerning trend.
It doesn’t help that Pedro Acosta and, possibly, Augusto Fernandez will head into 2024 with the firm target of swapping their GasGas bikes for a KTM-branded one, plus the myriad of other KTM-backed youngsters next in line across Moto2 and Moto3. Miller needs to nip the n00bs in the bud swiftly.
6. MotoGP to be reborn in the USA
Every sport wants (needs) to make it big in America but while some sports find more success than others in doing so, for MotoGP, it’s a relationship it’s had once upon a time but has since let slide.
Indeed, while some of MotoGP’s greatest riders became great representing stars and stripes, it’s been almost a decade since the series has had an American rider competing full-time.
However, it will take positive steps in 2024 with the arrival of Trackhouse Racing as Aprilia’s new satellite partner in place of RNF Racing. The first American flagged team to compete in MotoGP since Team Roberts in 2007, Trackhouse Racing arrives with marketing and promotional expertise built-in via its official capacity as an entertainment company.
While it could end up being all big talk, big ambitions and even bigger US-style razzmatazz, Trackhouse Racing appears to have a firm grasp on how to reach those hard to reach audiences… in short, it could become Dorna’s best friend.
7. Yamaha to suddenly find an extra 30km/h
It won’t, but it’d be funny if Yamaha turned up to pre-season testing smashing records through the speed trap… Fabio Quartararo won’t be able to keep his leathers on! Not that he needs an excuse.
8. Jake Dixon to dominate his way to 2024 Moto2 title
Up the Brits! With just the one Union Jack flying participant competing in Moto2 this season, Jake Dixon carries a lot of national hope on his shoulders. Fortunately, five seasons in the intermediate class all seems to be leading to this point so Dixon will start the 2024 Moto2 season as one of the hot favourites…
Around 22 race wins and Moto2 title in the bag with five to go should just about do it… we believe in you, Jake!