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Updated 20.04.24 to reflect all the changes for the 2024 season.

It’s hard to believe we are already 3 rounds into the 2024 season.

Literally feels like we just watched the rain be tamed by a medicine woman in Indonesia at the start of 2022.

2024 sees MotoGP celebrate its 75th Year of racing and Dorna are determined to make it one of the best seasons yet.

There have been some big changes to the grid for 2024 with the biggest being Marc Marquez leaving factory Honda and moving to Satellite team Gresini Ducati.

Keep reading to know all about the difference between factory and satellite teams below and brush up on your knowledge for the 2024 season.

But first, let’s briefly review the changes we saw in 2023

Tech 3 KTM became GASGAS Tech 3, technically a KTM Factory team as of 2023.

WITHU Racing also underwent a name change lining up in 2023 as RNF Racing, an Aprilia Satellite Team.

We saw the end of Suzuki in MotoGP for the second time with Johann Mir heading to Repsol Honda and Alex Rins moving to LCR Honda.

Miller left Factory Ducati and joined Brad Binder at Red Bull KTM, while Repsol Honda welcomed back Marc Marquez following his injury plagued previous seasons.

Gresini enjoyed their second year in the MotoGP paddock, as did the VR46 Team.

So, what is staying the same for 2024?

Only three teams remain unchanged for 2024.

Jack Miller and Brad Binder return to their seats with Factory Red Bull KTM

Bagnaia the current world champion and Enea Bastianini remain at Factory Ducati Lenovo.

Fabio Quartararo remained with Yamaha and announced over the Easter break that he has re-signed with them through to the end of 2026.

And Factory Aprilia remains unchanged with Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales.

What’s new in 2024?

The new RNF racing was not to be, and the new Trackhouse Racing has taken over the RNF Racing’s place on the grid.

Keen to spread their wings beyond NASCAR to other motorsport the opening was a welcome opportunity.

It also meant riders Miguel Oliveira and Raúl Fernández were able to keep their seats for 2024.

Trackhouse Racing 2024 MotoGP

Image courtesy of Trackhouse Racing’s X account

Marquez stunned the MotoGP world when he announced in 2023 he was leaving Repsol Honda and moving to rival manufacturer Ducati joining his brother Alex at Gresini Ducati.

Fabio Di Giannantonio almost got left with no ride following Gresini snapping up the elder Marquez brother.

At the eleventh hour he was given a ride with Pertamina Enduro VR46 who had an opening  with Luca Marini taking the open seat at Repsol Honda.

There had been a lot of talk that VR46 was going to pick up the only rookie on the grid for 2024 Pedro Acosta.

However he signed with GASGAS (KTM) and has so far been stellar to watch in his bid for his first MotoGP win.

In 2024 you will also note there is only one Espargaro brother remaining in Premier class racing with Pol Espargaro not retaining a seat for 2024.

KTM decided to sign Rookie Acosta instead.

But all is not lost after 10 seasons in the premier class of racing Pol Espargaro recently stated in an interview for Crashnet “I was happy not to have the stress of full time racing.”

2023 was tough for Pol after suffering serious injuries at Portimão including lung, spine and jaw injuries.

Instead, in 2024 he will enjoy a role as a test and reserve rider for KTM as well as a spot commentating for DAZN live from the garages of our favourite teams.

Keep reading to know all about the difference between factory and satellite teams below and brush up on your knowledge for the 2024 season.

Decades of division are finally over between the factory and satellite teams in MotoGP.

For years it was almost like watching two races.

There didn’t seem to be any change in sight until Dorna decided this no longer provided fans with the best possible racing experience.

Closing the gap between the factory and satellite teams has taken place over almost 10 years, starting in 2016, and has certainly proven successful.

If you are new to MotoGP first, we need to understand the difference between factory teams and satellites teams.

A factory team such as Repsol Honda and Lenovo Ducati are directly managed and funded by the factory who manufacture the bike.

repsol honda factory team 2024

Image courtesy of Box Repsol on Flickr

In theory this means the factory riders have the latest bike with the latest technology and access to the best engineers, mechanics and so on.

A satellite team has the bike on lease or purchased from a factory i.e. Prima Pramac Ducati and so on.

The team is neither managed nor funded by the factory and they do not build the bikes themselves.

They will also in theory have technology from at least the year before, as well as an older version of the factory teams’ bike.

However, it is not always black and white.

It really depends on the contract each independent (satellite) team has with the factory they are purchasing or leasing the bike from.

And more than ever we see Satellite teams with the same bike as their factory rivals.

For example, for 2024 the Prima Pramac Ducati team will ride identical bikes as the official Ducati Factory team.

However, Gresini and VR46 will ride a year-old version of the Ducati.

Over at GASGAS, again we see the riders using an identical version of the RC16s as the official KTM factory team.

It depends on the contractual arrangements each team makes with the factory they represent.

There can be funding provided by the factory to cover wages, they may agree to provide technology and technicians.

There are so many variations of how a factory team may contract with an independent team, it is impossible to say exactly how each team works.

The general rule is a factory team manufactures the bike and manages the team, a satellite team or independent team do not manufacture their own bike and have a contract with a factory to utilise their bikes and technology.

Except for GASGAS who technically do not manufacture themselves but are a sister company of KTM and therefore qualify as a factory team of KTM.

What is the unified software and how has it closed the gap between teams?

Before 2016 satellite teams were at a disadvantage due to software available.

Not only did factory teams have advanced technology they had the technicians to utilise it better.

There were also questions around how far certain software could be manipulated to gain an even bigger advantage in terms of bike performance on race day.

So, in 2016 Dorna began a unification process of software across the field that has proven a huge success in achieving a more exciting race each round.

Fabio Quartararo pursuing Marc Marquez at the 2019 Valencian MotoGP

Then Satellite team rider Fabio Quartararo pursuing Factory Team rider Marc Marquez at the 2019 Valencian MotoGP Image courtesy of Box Repsol on Flickr

Here is a quick look at exactly what this process entailed.

Closing the software loophole

MotoGP bikes are fitted with what is called an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU).

What do these units do?

The IMU system tells the bike what it is doing.

It collects data and measurements sending the results to the ECU which uses this data to operate functions like braking control from the riders’ input, acceleration, traction and launch control.

In 2016 we saw the software for the ECU be unified across the field. Further to this, as of 2019 unified software for the IMU and the Controller Area Network (CAN) connections leading to the ECU were also provided by Dorna.

motogp electronic control unit (ecu)

MotoGP Electronic Control Unit (ECU)

Providing unified software for these systems eliminates the ability to manipulate this data to create the effect of increased traction control or braking advantages.

Dorna decided it was easier to unify and supply the software that manages these systems than to try to police the manipulation of them, which is a direct breach of the rules, but almost impossible to monitor.

So, who are the 2024 Satellite Teams:

2024 motogp satellite teams and riders

And the 2024 Factory Teams:

motogp 2024 factory teams and riders

Big names and big talent

Some may think because a team is a satellite team, it will have less talented riders.

This is not the case.

In fact, many of the big names taking podiums, pole position and giving the front of the pack a good run for their money, are from satellite teams.

The likes of Jack Miller for example, and Fabio Quartararo who won the Independent Rider Championship and claimed a massive 197 of the Petronas Teams 307 points while riding in satellite teams before landing seats with Factory teams.

Miller held the much sought after number one rider of the Factory Ducati team before moving to Red Bull KTM and Fabio Quartararo moved up to Factory Yamaha and was 2021 world champion.

2022 was no exception with the likes of Dovizioso joining WithU Yamaha Racing (Now Trackhouse Racing)

For 2024 as already mentioned we have seen Marc Marquez, one of the most iconic riders in Premier class racing, switch to a satellite team.

The future of satellite teams seems set to keep soaring. And if the early championship leader is a sign of things to come the 75th year of racing could be the first time a satellite rider wins the championship overall.

Dorna promised unification would bring better racing and they have delivered.

They have since backed this up with a change to the concession point system to bring more parity to teams and therefore the racing.

The concession points system change is covered in more depth in our 2024 season preview.

Of course, this raises the always present argument that too much interference and unification through rules or gadgets will result in parade races where no one is really racing they just get in position and ride the whole race.

So far that has not been the case.

There are always some races where very little happens and a parade race occurs, but it is highly unlikely this will become the norm.

In fact, fans have been treated to more race lead changes and podium contention from the satellite teams than we saw before software unification was introduced in 2016 and we are loving it!

Now that independent teams have the machines to match their talented riders it is providing fans with more excitement across the race weekends.

 

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