until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


French Grand Prix 2024 MotoGP rider rankings

by Simon Patterson
10 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

It’s probably fair to say that of all the things we expected from the French Grand Prix this year, one of them wasn’t Jorge Martin emphatically defeating all rivals in both races.

Yet that’s exactly what the MotoGP points leader managed on a weekend in which the series’ established characters were all at the sharp end but a few we expected to feature alongside them were nowhere to be seen.

While it was a great weekend for Ducati’s title-hunting trio, there were some proper disasters on the other side of the coin, as reflected in our regular rider rankings.

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 Jorge Martin

Started: 1st Sprint: 1st Finished: 1st

The perfect weekend for the championship leader, and one that should terrify Martin's opponents not just because of his speed but because it was yet another example of his quickly developing racecraft.

Martin wasn’t just fast, he also played it smart on Sunday by using Bagnaia as a tool to resist a steamroller attack coming from a rapidly advancing Marc Marquez.

It paid off in grand form with a maximum 37-point haul and another reminder to Ducati of why he should be its bet for the future.

2 Marc Marquez

Started: 13th Sprint: 2nd Finished: 2nd

When most riders have a terrible Friday and struggle to qualify well, they're pretty much forced to accept their lot in life and take what they can from the weekend.

Nobody told Marc Marquez that, though, and the way that he made up places from 13th on the grid was a work of art in both races.

He's now not just arguably Ducati’s fastest rider (given the year-old bike he’s on) but also a title contender, one we’re witnessing the best version of for five years. That should concern his rivals.

3 Fabio Di Giannantonio

Started: 4th Sprint: 7th Finished: 6th

While what briefly looked like a podium challenge from Fabio di Giannantonio at Le Mans eventually didn’t come to pass, it was nevertheless a welcome weekend for the Italian given it came with an important return to form and a conclusive outclassing of his VR46 team-mate Marco Bezzecchi.

It's something to build off rather than an end result, as far as he’s concerned. It’ll be interesting to see if this kind of form is something Di Giannantonio can back up now - especially with his and the team's home race at Mugello only a few weeks away.

4 Enea Bastianini

Started: 10th Sprint: 4th Finished: 4th

A decent weekend but not a great one - and one that won’t be good enough for Enea Bastianini to retain his factory seat next year, considering he finished behind both of the other candidates for it.

There was a podium on the cards on Sunday, and maybe even a win given his race pace, but a bit of a lunge of an overtake on Aleix Espargaro meant a long lap penalty he really could have done without.

5 Pecco Bagnaia

Started: 2nd Sprint: DNF Finished: 3rd

On one hand, a Sunday podium is always a good thing. But when you’re the reigning world champion and trying to close down a points gap to your main title contender, finishing two places behind him is a bit of a disaster.

When you combine Pecco Bagnaia’s defeat by both Martin and Marquez with his unexplained Saturday technical DNF in the sprint race, Le Mans as a whole is the sort of weekend that he simply can’t afford to be having right now.

6 Maverick Vinales

Started: 3rd Sprint: 3rd Finished: 5th

Le Mans delivered a decent weekend for Vinales, the sort that 12 months ago the Aprilia racer would have been very content with.

The problem is that expectations have moved on since then and, given that the French circuit was one of his unofficial targets for top level performances, the fact that he ended it with a single sprint race podium and pace that wasn't quite enough to challenge for the top three on Sunday will be undoubtedly disappointing for him.

7 Pedro Acosta

Started: 7th Sprint: 6th Finished: DNF

Even rookie sensations make mistakes, and Pedro Acosta’s first race crash in MotoGP was always only a matter of time.

It came thanks to running out of experience while pushing his Tech3-run bike hard at the team's home race - and while he might have been disappointed afterwards given the potential he felt was there, he's not left France with anyone thinking any less of him, especially after a decent sprint performance 24 hours before.

8 Aleix Espargaro

Started: 6th Sprint: 5th Finished: 9th

Unfortunately for Aleix Espargaro, there was definitely more on offer this weekend than his results show.

He demonstrating decent if not fantastic speed throughout the weekend, but got unlucky more than once to end up fifth in the sprint and was a disappointing ninth in the main event after more than one rider stuck a hard pass on him.

However, with hard passing being the name of the game these days, there’s a little element of him not quite coming back the way he should have.

9 Fabio Quartararo

Started: 8th Sprint: 10th Finished: DNF

It’s hard to put into words just how much pressure Fabio Quartararo was under at Le Mans, with the 2021 world champion lining up in front of a record-breaking home crowd desperate to see him succeed on a bike that wasn't capable of such heights.

He pushed way beyond the Yamaha’s limit on Sunday, but it’s hard to argue with his post-race logic that it was better to crash out of the top six than finish outside the top 10 given that it was all about the show for him in France.

Quartararo might not have scored any points, but at least he gave the fans something to feel good about.

10 Johann Zarco

Started: 15th Sprint: 13th Finished: 12th

Johann Zarco came into his home race carrying the expectations of a sellout crowd on his shoulders despite the struggles of the Honda, so it would have been very easy for the Le Mans weekend to have ended in disaster.

While he didn’t deliver some sort of fairytale ending, to give him his dues he put on a solid show for the massive crowd by once again demonstrating that he’s conclusively Honda’s best performing racer right now.

It might not have been podium contention, but it was enough to sate the fans and prove that he’s undoubtedly still got the talent.

11 Miguel Oliveira

Started: 12th Sprint: 11th Finished: DNF

Unfortunately for Miguel Oliveira, what looked to be a decent Sunday result that he badly needed was snatched away from him by something out of his control - as he became the latest victim of mechanical problems within Aprilia’s satellite squad Trackhouse.

Such issues are painfully commonplace these days, and in this instance denied him the sort of solid top-six result that’s been desperately missing lately through no fault of his own.

12 Franco Morbidelli

Started: 9th Sprint: 12th Finished: 7th

Another decent weekend of building himself back into being a MotoGP racer for Franco Morbidelli after both a disastrous few years at Yamaha and then a 2024 testing programme wiped out by injury.

He's clearly not fully up to speed yet, which seems in part to be causing him to force more than he should - the first result of which, in the case of Le Mans, was yet another high-profile - if unseen - incident involving Espargaro.

There’s more to come, but until it arrives Morbidelli remains a little ragged.

13 Raul Fernandez

Started: 14th Sprint: 9th Finished: 11th

Le Mans was, to be honest, something of a disaster for Raul Fernandez - and what makes it worse is that he really wasn’t sure afterwards why things had gone so badly wrong.

Having expected more after Aprilia’s strong 2023 performances at the Bugatti circuit, he couldn’t step up to the mark.

That's less than ideal timing as the silly season starts to focus its attentions on what will happen at the series’ satellite squads now the factory spots are starting to fill up.

14 Augusto Fernandez

Started: 20th Sprint: 17th Finished: 13th

For a while now, Augusto Fernandez has been quick to point out that he’s essentially had a delayed start to his 2024 season amid an absolutely disastrous testing programme and a wasted few opening rounds that he's only now starting to recover from.

To his credit, Le Mans supported that theory as he once again moved in the right direction, showing that while he’s not going to be matching his sensational Tech3 team-mate Acosta any time soon, better things are possible than what we’ve seen so far.

15 Taka Nakagami

Started: 19th Sprint: 16th Finished: 14th

MotoGP’s master of survival once again walks away with a solid result.

There’s perhaps no one better at coming out of attritional races with a few points than Taka Nakagami and, despite the struggles of Honda right now, the strength of his experience seems to be knowing just how hard to push to both deliver results and stay on the bike.

16 Brad Binder

Started: 22nd Sprint: 15th Finished: 8th

For a long time now, riders have been insisting that Fridays determine your whole weekend considering how missing out on a Q2 spot can sabotage everything. Brad Binder gave us a textbook example of that at Le Mans.

Messing up first practice and then qualifying, he started dead last - and while his Sunday recovery of 14 places was very impressive, it wasn’t good enough for a factory racer who should have never found himself in that place to begin with.

17 Marco Bezzecchi

Started: 5th Sprint: DNF Finished: DNF

Quite simply an unmitigated disaster for the VR46 Ducati rider, with Marco Bezzecchi looking at Le Mans like someone pushing himself out of his comfort zone to try to deliver some much-needed results.

That didn’t go the way he wanted it to, though, and while he might have been fast all weekend long, it’ll be the double crash from two races that’s remembered, not his speed.

18 Joan Mir

Started: 18th Sprint: DNF Finished: DNF

Another complete disaster for Joan Mir without a single finish, a trend that’s unfortunately becoming more common for the 2020 world champion.

However, he's still arguably the fastest of the Hondas. These crashes seem like they're coming because he’s still pushing as hard as he can every time the lights go out. Full marks for commitment, but it’s a shame he’s getting nothing in return for it.

19 Jack Miller

Started: 11th Sprint: 8th Finished: DNF

A rather typical Jack Miller weekend, where he was fast enough in qualifying to outperform KTM team-mate Binder, able to hold on in the sprint for a few points, and left with no one but himself to blame when he crashed out of the main event.

Unfortunately, it’s also yet another weekend where he was made to look quite average by rookie stablemate Acosta, something that once again doesn't bode well at all for his future.

20 Alex Marquez

Started: 17th Sprint: 14th Finished: 10th

A frankly disappointing weekend for Alex Marquez. Really the only positive about it is that Bezzecchi’s crashes meant he wasn’t the worst of the Ducati GP23s in the results - but he was certainly the slowest.

He never really found his feet after a poor Friday, and didn’t seem to have much of an idea why that was the case, which is always a worrying position for a rider to find themselves in.

21 Alex Rins

Started: 16th Sprint: DNF Finished: 15th

Another rough weekend for Yamaha’s new signing. There isn’t much to say about Alex Rins’s performances other than he’s lucky to have taken home a point on Sunday more through the misfortune of others than anything else.

Somehow managing to penalise himself with a long lap penalty for cutting a corner while running last, it was a decent comeback to at least haul in the Repsol Honda of Luca Marini - even if it was damage control from a situation he placed himself in.

22 Luca Marini

Started: 21st Sprint: 18th Finished: 16th

Perhaps the less said about Marini’s weekend the better. Not just slow on the Honda but almost embarrassingly far behind everyone else on the grid now, the most telling part of his weekend is that Rins received a long lap penalty while running last behind Marini and still managed to beat him.

There’s a complete lack of performance coming from Marini, and we can only hope that the data and feedback he’s providing is helping Honda to plot a path out of this mess.

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