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Austin MotoGP rider rankings 2024

by Simon Patterson
10 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Utter domination from someone who has never quite delivered on their hype until now, a truly sensational rookie performance, and uncontrollable disaster for the previous King of COTA…there’s a lot to consider in our Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP rider rankings after a truly exceptional race at a racetrack that historically hasn’t been stunningly entertaining.

All the focus is rightly on the main man Maverick Vinales and rookie Pedro Acosta (the only person close to stopping his domination), but where to rank title contenders Jorge Martin and Pecco Bagnaia after their rather lacklustre weekends or pre-race favourite Marc Marquez?

Scoring the grid in order based on their performances not just in the main event but also Saturday’s sprint race, it’s obviously all subjective - but comes not just from their final race result but taking into account things like the machinery they’re on and the pre-race expectations.

1 Maverick Vinales

Started 1st Sprint 1st Race 1st

Maverick Vinales

There surely can’t be any doubt about who’s first in this weekend’s rankings, given Vinales’ utter domination of the Circuit of the Americas.

From pole position to the sprint race win to his absolutely incredible comeback from a bad start and Turn 1 chaos on Sunday, it was arguably the single greatest weekend of his entire career, never mind just this season. The sort of stuff that you don’t even believe is possible in modern MotoGP until you see it unfold in front of your own eyes.

2 Pedro Acosta

Started 2nd Sprint 4th Race 2nd

Pedro Acosta Tech3 Gas Gas

We’re starting to run out of superlatives to describe the work being done by rookie Acosta, who seems to find new lines to add to his racing CV every single weekend.

Now a MotoGP race leader as well as finding new people to race against and learn from, he looked to be almost in complete control of the race, making up for being a comically frustrated 19-year-old on Saturday when he only just missed out on a sprint race podium. We’ve seen a lot, but there’s so much more still to come.

3 Enea Bastianini

Started 5th Sprint 6th Race 3rd

Enea Bastianini

A few people might be leaving COTA feeling pretty lucky about their overall results - and Enea Bastianini probably should be one of them.

Sure, he’s a past winner at the Texan track, and he definitely had the pace for his podium on Sunday, but it also feels like there was an element of benefiting from others’ misfortune along the way.

It nonetheless moves him into a good championship position, though, and at the end of the day, that’s all that counts. 

4 Marc Marquez

Started 3rd Sprint 2nd Race DNF

Marc Marquez

Former King of COTA Marc Marquez’s race on Sunday might have ended in the gravel trap, but honestly there was more to be pleased about than disappointed in.

A faller because of a brake problem rather than an error of his own and having had a successful sprint, he might be going home with a medal rather than a trophy but he should still be content.

5 Jorge Martin

Started 6th Sprint 3rd Race 4th

Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati Austin MotoGP 2024

When you’re a title contender, standards are higher - and as a result, Martin really should have been closer to the front than he was at the finish.

Able to secure some valuable points in the sprint before being left behind a little on Sunday, he’s lucky that his rivals also had a bit of a shocker of their own. He largely got away with it - something that won’t always be the case.

6 Franco Morbidelli

Started 9th Sprint 10th Race DNF

Franco Morbidelli Pramac Ducati Austin MotoGP 2024

Sure, he might have crashed out of Sunday’s race and failed to score points in the sprint - but it’s hard not to feel good about seeing Franco Morbidelli finally back at the sharp end of MotoGP races.

He’s found his speed again after two tough years, and while he might need to continue working on his pace and consistency, it’s very promising only a few short months after it looked like the end was nigh for his entire MotoGP career.

7 Aleix Espargaro

Started 7th Sprint 5th Race 7th

Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Austin MotoGP 2024

Normally, when an Aprilia is shining in MotoGP it’s the one with a 41 on the front - but this time out, Aleix Espargaro was no match for team-mate Vinales.

But bear in mind he hates the fact that COTA simply isn’t compatible at all with his riding style.

He’ll have taken some solace in the bike’s pace, and still managed to secure two decent finishes on a weekend where it would have been easy to find himself much further back.

8 Raul Fernandez

Started 13th Sprint 9th Race 10th

Raul Fernandez Trackhouse Aprilia Austin MotoGP 2024

All in all, Raul Fernandez’s first trip to the USA as an employee of an American racing team didn’t go too badly.

Not quite able to match the performances of Aprilia’s factory racers ahead of him, he nonetheless outclassed the factory-spec machine of his Trackhouse team-mate Miguel Oliveira and put himself into the prime spot for retaining his seat next year should it come down to a battle between the pair to stay on.

9 Fabio Di Giannantonio

Started 8th Sprint DNF Race 6th

You have to feel like more would have been on offer this weekend for Fabio Di Giannantonio had he been able to get further than a lap into Saturday’s sprint before his VR46 Ducati let go on him.

Not his fault, but it nonetheless punished him by both denying him a result and all the data that comes from a race - so to bounce back to a very decent sixth on Sunday (by far the best of the year-old GP23 machines) isn’t something to turn your nose up at.

10 Pecco Bagnaia

Started 4th Sprint 8th Race 5th

Pecco Bagnaia Ducati Austin MotoGP 2024

It wasn’t a complete disaster of a weekend for the reigning world champion in Texas - but it certainly wasn’t a shining example of the way to defend a title, either.

Wholly outclassed by other Ducati riders and, especially in the sprint, by big title rival Martin, it was the sort of weekend where Bagnaia simply wasn’t fast enough and as a result saw Martin extend his points advantage.

He talked afterwards about playing defence so far in 2024, but it’s definitely time for him to go on the offensive.

11 Luca Marini

Started 22nd Sprint 17th Race 16th

Luca Marini Honda Austin MotoGP 2024

Luca Marini gets himself a much higher rating than any of his fellow Honda riders not on the basis of his results, per se, but simply on the fact that he’s the only one of the quartet to even have any during the weekend.

The sole Honda racer to finish a race, let alone both of them, he might not be fighting for wins but at least he’s gathering the sort of data Honda’s going to need to fix the beleaguered RC213V - work that no one else is achieving from the gravel trap.

12 Marco Bezzecchi

Started 10th Sprint 13th Race 8th

Marco Bezzecchi

A rather average-looking weekend for a racer whose career unfortunately continues to be plagued by inconsistency.

Marco Bezzecchi never really featured at all in COTA, and while he might have been able to stay on the bike on Sunday when others didn’t and somewhat lucked his way into a good result at the end, that’s really not something to be too proud of.

His 2023 title ambitions seem a long way away.

13 Fabio Quartararo

Started 16th Sprint 15th Race 12th

Fabio Quartararo Yamaha Austin MotoGP 2024

There wasn’t too much on offer this weekend for Fabio Quartararo, given the hole that Yamaha continues to find itself in.

Substantially worse than last year’s crash-aided podium at a circuit that’s never been too forgiving for the M1, it very much felt like he was just trying to cling on this time around - except that this time, instead of for a podium, it was for the dregs of the points in Sunday’s main event. 

14 Miguel Oliveira

Started 14th Sprint 11th Race 11th

Miguel Oliveira Trackhouse Aprilia Austin MotoGP 2024

There are two problems with Olivera’s results in Texas. One is that the same bike that he was on, in the hands of Vinales, was doing all the winning while he was outside the top 10. The other is that his Trackhouse team-mate Raul Fernandez was ahead of him in both races despite being on year-old and theoretically inferior machinery. Not really a good look on either count.

15 Alex Marquez

Started 12th Sprint 14th Race 15th

Alex Marquez Gresini Ducati Austin 2024

It might be early in the 2025 MotoGP silly season, but given the nature of the championship, you can’t ever really show weakness - and Alex Marquez was unquestionably and by far the slowest of Ducati’s year-old quartet of bikes at COTA.

Disappointing in the sprint, his Sunday race involved a long ride back to a single point after crashing. That’s a point that he shouldn’t be writing home about given where the other GP23s ended difficult weekends of their own.

16 Augusto Fernandez

Started 18th Sprint DNF Race 14th

Augusto Fernandez Tech3 Gas Gas Austin 2024

Measure Augusto Fernandez’s weekend against that of his Tech3 team-mate Acosta, and he certainly wouldn’t be even this high.

But when you take into account that he was a whole lot closer to the factory KTM duo than they were to rookie sensation Acosta, it suddenly doesn’t look all that bad.

Fernandez is clearly still struggling, but he’s making slow but steady progress towards a return to his 2023 end-of-season pace.

17 Alex Rins

Started 15th Sprint 16th Race DNF

Alex Rins Yamaha Austin MotoGP 2024

It was sad to see last year’s unexpected race winner Alex Rins so far off the pace - but there should be some solace in knowing that had he been on a Honda still, things would likely have been even worse!

Not the ideal weekend, especially with a crash bringing an early bath on Sunday, but he wasn’t a million miles away from Yamaha team-mate Quartararo for most of the weekend, which is something that should reassure them as they work to improve the M1.

18 Taka Nakagami

Started 21st Sprint DNF Race DNF

Taka Nakagami LCR Honda crash Austin MotoGP 2024

You know that it’s been a really tough weekend for Honda when even stalwart Taka Nakagami fails to see a chequered flag not once but twice.

Evidence indeed of how much the Japanese factory was struggling this year in the USA, it was one of those weekends to forget and to move on from - something that might be a little easier knowing that the next track on the calendar is Nakagami’s favourite Jerez.

19 Brad Binder

Started 17th Sprint 12th Race 9th

Brad Binder KTM Austin MotoGP 2024

Everything that could have gone wrong for Brad Binder did at COTA this year - but while he might have had plenty of excuses for all his issues, when you trace them all back, the root cause remains that he simply wasn’t fast enough.

From not having pace for an automatic Q2 place on Friday, issues snowballed out of control to the point where he was made to look very average indeed by rookie stablemate Acosta, even after making it back to inside the top 10 on Sunday.

20 Johann Zarco

Started 19th Sprint DNF Race DNF

Johann Zarco

Johann Zarco’s job this year at Honda isn’t to score good results, even at COTA where he lined up on the bike that surprised everyone by winning last year’s race in the hands of Rins. 

Instead, it’s to help make the RC213V better - and you don’t achieve that by falling off in both races.

It’s a testament to his commitment to the project that he was still upbeat afterwards about the work that Honda is doing - but his engineers would likely rather have had two races of data than a happy racer who didn’t finish.

21 Jack Miller

Started 11th Sprint 7th Race 13th

Jack Miller KTM Austin MotoGP 2024

Even from the very early stages of Jack Miller’s race on Sunday, the result was almost inevitable.

Making an amazing start and finding himself right in the thick of the action, it was almost a certainty that he would burn out his tyres in the process, especially as he elected to use the soft rear rather than the medium.

And, right on cue, that’s what happened - and he spent the final third of the race like he spends all too many: plummeting down the timing screens.

22 Joan Mir

Started 20th Sprint DNF Race DNF

Joan Mir Honda crash Austin MotoGP 2024

The worst thing about Joan Mir’s horrendous weekend, in which he failed to even see a chequered flag, is that it was totally unnecessary - as proven by factory Honda team-mate Marini, who might not have been any further forward on the timing screen than Mir was when he fell, but who at least gathered two full races’ worth of data.

The sum total of his weekend’s achievements was absolutely zero, and that won’t help make the Honda RC213V any better.

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