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Catalan Chaos: Five key talking points from a crazy Grand Prix of Catalunya!

Written by Finn Glover, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

The MotoGP circus continued its European road trip as it hit the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, in what turned out to be a spectacular, and equally chaotic weekend. As we edge closer to the middle of the season, what are some key takeaways we can take with us, in what is shaping up to be one of the best seasons in MotoGP history?

Mixed emotions in Catalunya for Aleix Espagaro in a weekend to remember! Credit: Roadracing World

A shock event kicked off even before Friday practice, with longest-serving rider Aleix Espargaro announcing his retirement from the sport after 242 starts. The 34-year old Catalan has been a mainstay for the Aprilia team, who will now have to look for a new rider to replace Espargaro for 2025.

But, what better way to go out on a high then grab a pole and smash the lap record? That’s right, as Espargaro claimed a phenomenal pole, setting a 1:38.190 around the circuit. 

And, how could you make that even better? By grabbing the most unlikely of sprint wins, of course. Espargaro grabbed a poignant Saturday victory after three different leaders crashed out. 

Raul Fernandez, Brad Binder, and Pecco Bagnaia all experienced falls, the latter on the final lap. Another local racer Marc Marquez put in a mind-boggling performance, going from 14th to second in the matter of 12 laps.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t Aleix who could claim a fairytale win in the main race. After coming under heaps of pressure, it was Pecco Bagnaia on top. With Pedro Acosta crashing and passing Jorge Martin, it was the ultimate redemption story for Bagnaia, who closed his championship gap on Martin. 

Once again, Marquez put in an unbelievable performance, going from 14th to 3rd, narrowly holding off a chasing Espargaro to place himself on the podium.

Bagnaia was victorious in Catalunya, the track where he fractured his leg and hand in 2023; Credit - France 24

The top 10 were as follows:

1- Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo)

2- Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac)

3- Marc Marquez (Gresini Ducati)4- Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia)

5- Fabio Di Giannantonio (VR46)

6- Raul Fernandez (Trackhouse)

7- Alex Marquez (Gresini Ducati)

8- Brad Binder (KTM)

9- Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha)

10- Miguel Oliviera (Trackhouse)

So, what can we take away from the weekend?

1- Is Jack Miller really fit for KTM’s role?

It was another weekend cut short for KTM’s Jack Miller, who crashed, again, in the main race at Turn 10. That makes it four crashes in six races for the Australian, who now languishes in 15th place in the championship, having accumulated less than half the points of teammate Brad Binder. 

There is no doubt about the Aussie’s skill. After some exceptional performances onboard the Ducatis, his move to KTM was seemingly a perfect fit, and has shown glimpses of potential. 

Yet, it has been littered with crashes, particularly during the main races. In comparison to Binder, Miller has lost more points and cost KTM plenty of money on repairs due to race issues.

So it leaves KTM with a big decision to make for 2025. Do they keep Miller? Or, do they allow the ravishing rookie of Pedro Acosta to shine on board a factory machine? If this season continues the way it started, there may be an exit door shown to fan-favorite Miller.

2- Marc Marquez shows he still is supernatural

The season is taking shape for Marc Marquez, with the pre-season hype being met; Credit: Autosport

If there were any doubts about the skill and class of Marc Marquez, they have been severely diminished in the past three races. Starting 14th in both Le Mans and Catalunya, he has accumulated three second-places and one third position finish in the sprints and races respectively. 

Finally getting to grips with the Ducati, Marquez has shown the skill that made him so dominant onboard the Honda prior to his accident. He made some cool and composed moves, and defended excellently at the conclusion of the race, giving the home crowd lots to cheer about, and fans lots to dream about. 

With less crashes and more passes, Marquez is really improving and seems a staple of MotoGP podiums in 2024. If he can master qualifying, the sky's the limit for Marquez. As we head to the rollercoaster of Mugello next, will he be able to challenge and claim his first win in over 900 days?

3- The rise of Raul Fernandez

Well well! Who expected this then? After seemingly being stuck in the middle of the pack in 2024, Trackhouse’s Raul Fernandez had a remarkable weekend at his home grand prix in Barcelona. 

After achieving his career best qualifying result of third, he took the lead of the sprint with a boisterous move up the inside of ‘Seat’ corner. Sadly, it all came crashing down just a lap later at Turn 10. Further to this, he finished a great sixth in the main race, four positions ahead of experienced teammate Miguel Oliviera. 

This weekend proved the undoubted skill Fernandez has. After claiming second in Moto2 in 2021, he has had two seasons of learning in the premier class, and now finally seems to be confident and fast enough to challenge at the high end. 

After a strong showing in the main race, what’s next for Fernandez? He still has two home races remaining at Aragon and Valencia, the track where he claimed a career best fifth last year. But it certainly has to be said, nobody expected this coming into this weekend! 

4- Ducati barrage

After a more uneasy start to MotoGP 2024, with the rise of KTM and Aprilia, Ducati seemed to place their foot down on the top of the pyramid, claiming a 1-2-3 in the main race.

It marks three consecutive races of Ducati locking out the podium, with all four teams consistently within the top 10. It’s ominous signs for the rest of the field, who still remain fairly close, but need to ensure they don’t fall foul to the Ducati dominance, a dangerous sign for other manufacturers. 

Next up is Ducati’s home race in Mugello. From the pilgrims of fans here in Spain to applaud the likes of Acosta and Marquez, we move to the Ducati dreamworld of Tuscany, where they will be more motivated than ever to continue this fine run of form. 

5- Yamaha improving; Honda declining 

A much improved weekend for Yamaha! Credit: Cycle News

It’s upsetting to call a top 10 finish and qualifying an improvement for Yamaha, a team who claimed the MotoGP crown only three years ago. But, it is. After moulding a completely different bike, and experimenting with hundreds of mechanisms and techniques, Yamaha appears to be improving.

Alex Rins claimed a season best eighth in qualifying, before unfortunately ruining his race by running wide at the first corner. Fabio Quartararo climbed a gargantuan (For a Yamaha) eight places in the main race, from 17th to ninth, finishing ahead of some Ducatis, Aprilias, and KTMs alike.

Whereas, the same cannot be said for Honda, who still claim their concessions in what looks to be a season to forget. With a best season of 12th all season and a best finish of 14th this weekend, they are still nowhere near challenging the front, or even the top 10 as of yet. 

Repsol rider Luca Marini, who scored 201 points onboard the Ducati VR46 bike last season, is the only rider yet to claim a point this season. 

For Yamaha, it’s about keeping improving and finally achieving their goal of fighting at the top again, which seems ever more possible. For Honda, the hope is that as we reach the more abnormal, unusual tracks like India and Kazakhstan, allowing them to battle on a more equal field. But, the message is obvious. They need to improve.

Next up- Magnificent Mugello! Credit: Roadracing World

Another weekend is ticked off the books for MotoGP 2024. It’s another weekend filled with chaos, storylines and moments to remember. 

There are so many unknowns, so many unanswered questions and so many possibilities, in what proves to be an absolutely exceptional, wide-open season for MotoGP. Fan attendance higher than ever, a growing interest in the series, it seems MotoGP has struck gold in 2024!

The next venue for the series is the glorious, picturesque venue of Mugello in Tuscany, Italy, Ducati’s home race. Will they be able to continue their barrage? Well, tune in next week to find out!


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