In 2024 the MotoGP season will grow to an ever larger 21 weekends.
The action will kick off on March 10 with the season opener at Losail Circuit in Qatar.
In 2023 track resurfacing saw the Qatar GP moved to the penultimate race (usually Malaysia) but 2024 will see it back to the season opener.
When you consider the sprint race and main race that is a possible 42 races for the season.
It’s unlikely we will see 42 full races with weather usually the reason for a few cancellations as we saw in in 2023 at the Australian GP on Phillip Island.
A New Track On The Calendar
A new track is on the calendar for 2024 with MotoGP heading to Kazakhstan for round 8 at the Sokol International Racetrack.
This brand-new circuit is located just outside Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city. This brings the number of rounds held in Asia to 7. (India, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Qatar and Kazakhstan).
Kazakhstan had been scheduled to begin in 2023 but due to homologation issues with the track it was determined they would not be ready in time and the race was cancelled.
This meant teams had a very welcome 5 weeks off for their summer break.
Team Changes And New Riders
Team changes and new rider line ups are not anything new but every so often there is a real shake up on the grid and that is what we are going to see as 2024 gets underway.
The most talked about is the sudden move by Marc Marquez following his decision to part ways with Honda Racing.
After a record 11 seasons and 8 world titles the iconic team have parted ways. Marquez has signed a one-year contract with Gresini Racing where he will join his younger brother Alex for the 2024 season.
It is unheard of for a rider of Marquez’s calibre to leave a factory team by choice, walk away from a factory seat and go to a satellite team.
Marquez stated Honda was no longer the place for him, bike development and competitiveness cited as the reason.
If we look back over the last couple of seasons, Marquez has not been able to pull off his usual domination and to be fair, he was returning after a very serious injury that cost him an entire season.
However, it soon became clear that Honda had some development issues or stagnation perhaps borne from having the same rider for so long in the primary spot.
In 2023 Marquez crashed in almost every round, sometimes at both sprint and main race for a total of 29 crashes.
His HRC teammate Joan Mir did not fare much better with a total of 24 crashes.
And so, as 2023 season came to an end, so did the partnership between the Marquez family and HRC.
The 2024 season will see both brothers line up again together in Gresini colours.
Time will tell if the satellite team can help Marc Marquez return to the top position in premier class racing once more.
Honda Racing will welcome Valentino Rossi’s maternal half brother Luca Marini to replace Marquez in the factory team.
Marini’s exit from the Mooney VR46 team left a vacant seat at the satellite team which has been contracted to Fabio Di Giannantonio from the Gresini Ducati team.
Rookie Pedro Acosta
We welcome rookie Pedro Acosta to GASGAS. Pedro Acosta joins the MotoGP grid from Moto2 where he was crowned the 2023 world champion.
A New Team
The now defunct RNF team was not given a place in the 2024 paddock after Dorna made the decision following “Repeated infractions and breaches of the Participation Agreement affecting the public image of MotoGP”.
The infractions included unpaid amounts to Dorna for sponsorship at the Aragon GP in 2023, as well as not paying suppliers promptly or at all.
Dorna has strict rules around maintaining the public image of MotoGP by teams and if this is not followed by a team Dorna will act and revoke their grid positions.
It is again likely another first for MotoGP but it does make way for Trackhouse Racing, which in part is owned by singer Pitbull.
They have been primarily a NASCAR team based in the USA until recently when talks with Dorna about possibly entering the MotoGP paddock in 2025.
So, when RNF racing were asked to leave and a place opened up Trackhouse Racing jumped at the chance to enter a year earlier.
As for the riders Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira, they are directly contracted to Aprilia so their seats are safe and they will now ride under the banner of Trackhouse Racing (satellite team for Aprilia)
Keep your eye not just on the rookie rider Acosta but also the satellite teams as they are on the rise and have been more competitive in 2023 than ever before, even taking the constructor championship for the first time.
The 2024 grid is as follows:
Significant Changes in The Concession Points System
A change to the concession point system has been rolled out from the end of season 2023.
This change is the biggest rule change to be announced so far and the biggest change to concession points.
Following approval by the Grand Prix Commission ahead of the Valencia GP, effective as of November 2023 teams will be divided into 4 ranks – A, B, C or D – This rank determines:
- the permitted test days and riders’ wildcard appearances
- number of engines
- engine specifications and freezes
- aerodynamic updates
- and the number of tyres supplied for testing.
The rankings will be determined on the percentage of the possible maximum points they have accrued in each window (stay with me I promise it makes sense in the end).
The two windows are as follows:
Window 1: From the first event to the last event of the season.
Window 2: From the first event after the summer test ban to the last event before the summer test ban begins in the following season.
What are the testing bans?
According to the regulations (Art. 126.96.36.199.A.i) the testing bans are as follows:
i) No testing is permitted by contracted riders between 1 December and 31 January (Winter Test Ban) and between 8 July 2024 and 30 July 2024 (Summer Break), in both cases dates being inclusive (note that the exact dates of the Summer Break may be updated in line with calendar changes).
All manufacturers, via the MSMA, agreed and approved the new system of concession points as it is believed it will make it easier to both gain and lose concession point allowances for teams and keep the competition as close as possible in MotoGP.
What Are the Rankings for the 2024 Season?
- Ducati: A
- KTM: C
- Aprilia: C
- Yamaha: D
- Honda: D
Not everyone agrees with the new system with Jack Miller quite vocal in his displeasure.
Miller points out the new system means Honda and Yamaha are ranked D following their recent performances.
Ranking D means they are entitled to:
- free private testing at any GP circuit
- a full six wildcards,
- more testing tyres than any other make
- more engines per season
- and an extra aerodynamic update.
Miller feels this will give an unfair advantage to the two factory teams.
However, considering these two teams have been under performing in recent years and getting further and further behind in the points it may not be such an unfair advantage and rather bring them back into contention for podiums, which is what the new system is aiming for.
There is also a change to when the benefits of the system are given or taken from the team.
If a team should change ranks during window 2 (so after the summer test ban but before the next summer test ban then the following concessions change immediately:
- Test tyre allowance will be reduced/increased as per their rank – unless the manufacturer has already used more tyres than the number they have been reduced to
- Private testing with or without contracted riders
- Testing at any GP circuit or three manufacturer-nominated circuits for the remainder of the season
- Wildcard allowance increased or reduced. This includes the cancellation of any wildcards that had already approved by the GPC for the period after the test ban.
- Aero updates will be reduced/increased as per their rank (unless manufacturer has already used more aero specifications than the ones reduced to).
- If changing down from Rank C to D: Engine allowance increased, free engine specification, and one more aero update allowed if a previous iteration is discarded
Changes for the following season if changing ranks in window 2 are as follows:
- If changing up from Rank D to C – Engine allowance reduced, engine specification frozen UNLESS the manufacturer returns to Rank D by the end of the season.
Now this seems confusing and again it’s maths in MotoGP, but it will add another dimension to the racing, more parity among the bikes and therefore closer racing is what they hope for.
This table shows how the concessions will work and is very helpful to get a clear understanding of how it will impact teams.
The Fuel Of The Future
Another big change for MotoGP sees the sport take steps towards a non-fossil fuel future.
Starting in 2024, 40% of the fuel used by the teams will be of non-fossil fuel origins.
While it is starting at 40% teams will need to have this at 100% by 2027.
It is interesting to note there are rumours in 2027 MotoGP may again try to reduce power in the premier class back to 850cc.
While no decision has been made whether this move will go ahead, seasoned fans are somewhat nervous as this was trialed in 2007 and it was not at all successful or popular among fans and riders.
The trial was quickly abandoned and 2008 saw a return to the full power we know and love.
It is doubtful a reduction in power would be successful this time either.
Essentially it would mean a WSB machine could be more powerful than MotoGP premier class bikes which seems a little strange and this fan hopes, like many others, this idea is abandoned as fast as it was in 2007.
Videometry: The New Tech In MotoGP
Videometry is the new technology helping teams to win podiums.
Starting in Qatar 2024 every team in the MotoGP paddock will now have a technician specifically in charge of videometry.
But what exactly is Videometry?
Videometry is the use of special software to record the lines held by riders on the track at specific points on the circuit.
This is normally corners.
The software will superimpose images of the riders lines helping them to better understand which racing line gives the best result.
This technology is definitely not new and was first used in MotoGP in 2011 by Ducati.
However it has taken until now to take the grid by storm.
What did riders do before this was an option?
Prior to this riders had two choices to gain an advantage over their competitors: get in their slipstream and overtake them when possible, or study videos of competitors and attempt to mimic them on track.
Videometry software and technicians will now mean riders can see the best racing line to take and adapt their riding to suit.
Tyre Pressure Issues
Tyre pressure issues are at the top of everyone’s list of discussion points for MotoGP going into the 2024 season.
Before Silverstone (British GP) in 2023 it was a bit of a gentleman’s agreement that the sanctions would not be issued when tyre pressure issues were detected by officials.
However, in recent years teams began to complain that a few riders were purposely exploiting this and lowering their pressures to gain the additional grip this provides.
Michelin became concerned their tyres may not be up to the task when low pressures are used and issued a stern warning lowering pressures may lead to a collapse of the tyre wall and a potential explosive blowout.
So, the powers that be stepped in and decided no longer would the sanctions be bypassed and starting at Silverstone 2023 penalties would now be issued for breaches of this long standing rule.
For the back end of 2023 the penalties were not so severe or riders were given a warning.
However, starting in 2024 the penalties are more serious and there is no warning.
If a rider breaches the tyre pressure rules they will be disqualified or excluded from the race.
This is causing much backlash from teams, riders and fans alike.
Many are concerned this will damage the season and make it impossible for riders and teams to give it their all during race weekends.
The rule is now as follows: riders must run a minimum on the front tyre of 1.88 bar (27.27 psi) and rear 1.7 bar (24.66 psi) for at least 50% of the main race and 30% of the sprint race.
Why is this such an issue?
Well normally rules that have a penalty of exclusion or disqualification are easy to understand and avoid.
For example, not following an order from officials to perform a long lap penalty or enter pits to change tyres.
These events are within the rider’s power to avoid the black flag by following the orders from officials.
The tyre pressure rule is not at all like that.
Tyre pressures change on their own as the rider makes his way through the race.
It can be impacted by weather, track temperatures and whether they are caught behind another rider or are leading the race.
Asking team managers and technicians to guess all the factors that can impact tyre pressure and set the start pressure accordingly is like asking a psychic for the lottery numbers – impossible and unlikely to bring you the win.
But that is exactly what Dorna is asking of teams – predict the unpredictable and if you fail to guess correctly your team will be excluded from the race or session.
More importantly, this is not going to be known until sometime after the race or session is finished as the data must be checked and double checked before a decision is made.
Ironically, this will mean winners are announced, riders have been on the podium and likely also given their press conferences before the true results are known.
We saw this a few times in 2023 and it was not something riders or fans were happy with.
While rider safety is paramount and tyre pressures have a big impact on safety,many believe it is a sign Michelin is not up to the task of keeping up with the performance of MotoGP bikes over the past couple of years.
Michelin has been aware of the changes being made to bikes in the premier class.
With aerodynamic changes speeds are at an all-time high and teams are still making changes.
However, it seems Michelin has been sitting on its hands and making very little progress with their product and now the solution is to limit how hard the riders can push their bike in the highest level of racing.
Michelin states new technology is on the horizon but will it be fast enough to keep the MotoGP paddock competitive or are Michelin’s days in MotoGP numbered?
Time will tell.
It is the 75th year of MotoGP premier class racing.
Technically at the conclusion of Valencia in 2023, 75 full seasons of MotoGP had been completed. Dorna will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of MotoGP throughout 2024, releasing special logos to mark the occasion.
Losail International Racetrack in Qatar also has a major milestone this year celebrating 20 years of motor racing at Losail.
2004 marked the first eve race to be held in the Middle East (F1 also landed in Bahrain in 2004).
In 2008 they became the first track to offer a night race in MotoGP and remain the only place to see this amazing sight on the calendar.
The same year F1 also began a night race in Singapore.
2024 is looking to be one of the best seasons yet.
Bagnaia will again defend his title and with rules around tyre pressure already bringing controversy it is looking like MotoGP’s 75th year will not disappoint.
What are you looking forward to in the 2024 MotoGP season?