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Shenanigans in Spain! Five key talking points from a sensational Spanish Grand Prix!

Written by Finn Glover, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Two Spaniards did battle in Spain in the sprint on Saturday!; Credit; Cycle News

MotoGP kicked off its European leg in sensational style at Jerez de la Frontera. A stupendously chaotic sprint was followed by a battle for the ages in the main race. What are some key takeaways from an unforgettable weekend getaway in Southern Spain?

Weekend in Brief

A light drizzle on Saturday caused weekend long havoc, as damp patches remained all the way until the Sunday race.

Marc Marquez claimed his first pole in Ducati blue with a sensational qualifying lap. Sadly, he couldn’t convert it into a sprint victory, crashing at Crivelle corner — on a damp patch. Yet he wasn’t the only one to fall foul to the wretched damp areas. 

A total of nine riders crashed out in the sprint- most of which were at Sito Pons - Turn five, including three in one lap! That's right, Bastianni, Binder and Alex Marquez all crashed out in unison on the exact same corner.

Bagnaia was also one of those to crash- colliding with Brad Binder in what was a bit of a jumble at Turn one. 

But it was Martin leading the pack home. After being passed by Marc Marquez, he reclaimed the lead after his compatriot crashed, winning comfortably ahead of rookie Pedro Acosta. 

MotoGP wildcard Dani Pedrosa claimed a phenomenal 3rd in front of his adoring crowd — inheriting the podium as Fabio Quartararo, who had moved up a staggering 19 places, was slapped with a post-race penalty. 

Marquez stated his battle with Bagnaia was ‘like the old times’; Credit - Autosport

The drama continued on Sunday, right where it left off on Saturday, with Bagnaia re-establishing his form as he claimed his first podium in any form since the opening round in Qatar. He won, marginally, ahead of Gresini’s Marc Marquez. 

A hugely partisan crowd urged Marquez on, the pair going head to head on multiple occasions — truly one of MotoGP’s memorable battles. Tempers flared between the front two — as paintwork was exchanged and wheels banged.

It was another race ruled by damp catch chaos too. A total of eight riders retired, and some scary crashes at the likes of Sito Pons corner occurred throughout the race. 

One of them was championship leader Jorge Martin, who was leading the race, and crashed under the pressure of Bagnaia at Turn six. 

Yet it would end with Ducati riders locking out the top five spots, an ominous sign for the rest of the field, as Ducati began to settle into the season after what had been an uncomfortable start. 

The Top 10 were as follows:

1- Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo)

2- Marc Marquez (Gresini)

3- Marco Bezzecchi (VR46)4- Alex Marquez (Gresini)

5- Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo)

6- Brad Binder (KTM)

7- Fabio Di Giannantonio (VR46)

8- Miguel Oliviera (Trackhouse)

9- Maverick Vinales (Aprilia)10- Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS)

What can we take away from the weekend?

1- Pedro Acosta is still a rookie!

It was a first ever home MotoGP race for Acosta; Credit - Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

After a phenomenal first trio of races, Pedro Acosta appeared to hit a speed bump on home turf in Jerez. It seems harsh saying a ‘tough weekend’, with a second in the sprint, and a top 10 race finish. Yet, with a much more level playing field, it seems Acosta struggled more onboard his GASGAS bike. 

A sprint podium achieved entirely by fortune, Acosta still displayed incredible control to stay on the bike in what were difficult conditions. However, he couldn’t stay on the bike multiple times, crashing a few times in practice and qualifying. 

He would salvage his Sunday in a decent comeback ride in the race, after dropping to 19th on lap one. Yet it is nothing in comparison to what has been a rocket start to the season.

Despite this ‘tough’ weekend, he still remains four in the championship. And only four weekends in, Acosta should appear to be nowhere near being comfortable on a MotoGP bike. Still with 17 weekends to go, he has plenty of time to readjust the ‘blip’ he experienced this weekend. 

2- Marc Marquez is back

It was a pole for Marc on Saturday!; Credit - Eurosport

Oh how we missed this! The pre-season excitement of Marc Marquez battling for the win finally surfaced in what was a super Spanish weekend for the local rider. Taking pole position, he sadly couldn’t convert it into a sprint win, crashing at Turn 11. However, he did overtake Martin, and would’ve most likely gone on to win if it wasn’t for the accident. 

Yet, the Sunday race truly showed he was back in business. After a rough start, he eased up to the back of Bagnaia, passing young hotshot Bezzecchi en route. He made two moves, both at Angel Nieto corner, sending Spain into uproar. He couldn’t quite hold them, and after barging and bashing with the double world champion, he settled for what was a glorious second. 

This comes after a win drought of over 900 days — Emilia Romagna 2021 being his last victory. After four years of pure tragedy onboard the Honda, he is back, and relishing Ducati blue. 

And with his most favorable racetracks of the likes of the Sachsenring still to come, you can now certainly say Marquez is back, and ready to ruffle some feathers in the Championship battle. 

3- Damp patch chaos!

It was crash chaos in Spain!; Credit - Autosport

Who’d have thought that a few drizzles on Saturday would have such a lasting impact? About midday on Saturday, a light sprinkling of rain hit the track. Yet, nine riders crashed during the weekend, the majority at Sito Pons corner, in what were some extraordinary and scary scenes at Circuito de Jerez.

Moto3 fared fine, but in Moto2, turn 13 proved unlucky for many, with nine riders crashing out at the corner alone. Dutch rider Bo Bendsneyder suffered a broken collarbone, and Forward rider Alex Escrig suffered a scary accident that saw him high-sided, and his bike continued without him down the straight. MotoGP fared slightly better, but six riders crashed in the main race.

But the chaos caused by the track left fans questioning the safety of the circuit — with some extremely dangerous scenarios and lucky misses happening. Yet, it certainly provided the chaos — making the weekend one to remember. 

4- What post Rossi decline?

Fans flocked to the pilgrimage site of Jerez all weekend long!; Credit - Reddit

Since Valentino Rossi left the series at the end of the 2021 season, MotoGP has been in a bit of a decline in terms of viewing and attendance figures. 

The 2022 British Grand Prix was one of the lowest ever attended Silverstone races, only 100,000 fans over the 3 days turning up. Although it has to be argued there is still a lasting COVID impact, it was a bit of a dire time for the series.

But with the resurgence of Marc Marquez. and Liberty Media’s confirmed takeover of the series, the future looks amazing for what is one of the world’s most exciting series. Surplus of 296,000 turned up at Jerez de la Frontera — a MotoGP record. That also follows a 41% increase in attendance at Portimao, back in March. 

You could audibly hear the roar when Marquez took the lead through your screen. With him back at the front, Pedro Acosta’s rise, and an open wide championship battle, MotoGP will keep going up in all facets, should the amazing racing of 2024 continue!

5- The championship is wide open

Martin leads the championship heading into Le Mans; Credit - Eurosport

After Martin’s crash, the gaping championship gap closed substantially. Bagnaia sits only 17 points behind, followed closely by the likes of Vinales, Acosta and more. The momentum is swinging in every direction — with as many as nine riders taking a podium in the sprint/race this year. 

The top seven are separated by a mere three points — which may sound a lot after only four rounds — but is only because Martin leads by over half of that margin. 

Heading now into the European leg of the season, we should truly get an idea of who can put up a proper challenge for the title, before the notoriously difficult Asian leg of the Championship begins in September. But right now, it's anyone’s game! One mistake, and you could be plummeting down the championship leaderboard in an instant!

Who do you think will win the championship? Let us know!

MotoGP heads to the iconic Le Mans in 2 weeks time; Credit - Roadracing World

But that marks the end of a weekend to remember in MotoGP. Four races down, the 2024 season is proving to be one to remember, with a season’s worth of action already prevailing in only four rounds. With a field as close, and as feisty as ever, we have absolutely no clue how the next weekend will play out!

So why not see what happens? If you’ve never watched MotoGP before, now's the perfect time to start. The next race is at the illustrious Le Mans, between 10th and 12 May. You don't want to miss it — it’s bound to be a belter. 


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