until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Everything you need to know about MotoGP's revamped first 2024 test

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP's customary pre-season shakedown test will be a particularly anticipated event in its 2024 form, thanks to the series' new concession rules.

Ahead of the two full-field pre-season tests, every MotoGP factory will hit the track at Sepang for the shakedown on February 1-3.

But while this outing is normally reserved for just test riders (as per MotoGP's stringent testing rules) and rookies, the shakedown will be opened up to factory Honda and Yamaha riders.

That’s because both of the Japanese marques were placed in 'Rank D' under MotoGP's new concession systems after they hugely underwhelmed in 2023 relative to their European competition.


Now allowed to use its race riders and not just test riders in private testing - which the shakedown is effectively an extension of - Yamaha will wheel out its 2021 champion Fabio Quartararo and highly-rated new signing Alex Rins, as well as decorated tester Cal Crutchlow.

Honda, meanwhile, has called up not just the works line-up of Joan Mir and Luca Marini but also LCR Honda riders Johann Zarco and Takaaki Nakagami (Yamaha, unlike Honda, doesn't currently have a satellite team), alongside testers Stefan Bradl and Takumi Takahashi.

As the sole rookie in the field, Pedro Acosta will be on one of the KTMs, while its test rider contingent will be represented by Dani Pedrosa and Pol Espargaro.

Espargaro was downgraded from a full-time Tech3 Gas Gas ride at the end of last year, and is consequently back in the KTM colours he'd once represented (both KTM and Gas Gas being Pierer Mobility Group brands).

Long-time Ducati tester Michele Pirro - who is currently slated to receive no wildcard outings under MotoGP's new concession rules - and his Aprilia counterpart Lorenzo Savadori complete the roster.


First and foremost, the extra shakedown test days at Sepang - which will be followed by three full-grid days at Sepang and three full-grid days in Qatar - will be crucial for the new arrivals within the Japanese brands' ranks.

Rins, Marini and Zarco all logged decent mileage aboard their new bikes in the post-season test day at Valencia last year, but it was one day, in dubious weather conditions, and with Rins in particular not fully fit after the injury that wrecked his 2023.

However, it is not viable for both manufacturers to just have their entire fleet of riders test morning-till-night for the duration of the shakedown, because both are still limited by a test tyre allocation of 130 sets for the season.

For Yamaha, a presumed priority will be the 2024-spec engine, given what had been tried during 2023 were just minor steps in terms of power.

Yamaha suggested the engine developments would be incremental from test to test in the lead-up to the season, and star rider Quartararo, despite his vocal demands for more power, has accepted this - but he will certainly expect a substantial power boost at Sepang.

Quartararo is out of contract at the end of 2024 and has made it very clear Yamaha's development prowess will be the end-all and be-all when it comes to whether he re-signs or not.

Over at Honda, a prototype RC213V for 2024 was met by rave reviews at Valencia - lighter, more responsive and seemingly faster. But Honda too has a lot of gains to be made with the engine, as well as aero.

At the same time, both Yamaha and Honda have more freedom to make gains on both fronts in 2024, unbound by an engine freeze and beholden to looser aero homologation requirements (in terms of number of designs rather than any aspects of design) than their rivals.


Acosta, who arrives close to being MotoGP royalty already after winning the Red Bull Rookies Cup, Moto3 and Moto2 all in a four-year span, had an assured MotoGP test debut at Valencia.

He was only 18th and had a small crash, but overall left a strong impression, and finished the day a respectable 1.2s off the pace.

"For sure we all saw the pictures, we saw that in only one day, at the end of the day, the riding style was already quite natural - and this was something surprising," said Tech3 team manager Nicolas Goyon about Acosta's debut.

"For a rookie to be at this level straight away, to have this MotoGP style, was after one day something quite surprising. 

"But the style is one thing. The next thing that surprised us is that checking the data, we could see for example that brake pressure, something quite new for a rookie, you have carbon brakes, the way to brake the bike is quite different - so it takes quite a while to understand. But straight away after one day, the [brake] shape itself was not too bad, and the braking points were already at a good level. 

"We said 'clearly, this is already a good point, and let's see at Sepang what will be the next stage'."

Acosta's big task for the off-season was physical strength, and he's bulked up by 3kg - with another 2kg targeted to reach the 65kg mark.

Sepang, Goyon expects, will put those gains to the test.

As for Acosta himself, he described his task for Sepang as simply "to try to have as much time as possible" on the RC16 - and also to potentially get some wet-weather practice in given the area's propensity for rain.

"I only spent one day in Valencia last year, and we are not at the moment [in a position] to lose time that we can spend on the bike. 

"It is quite positive that here in Malaysia, everyone knows, that always in the afternoon we have some rain. It's going to be quite interesting also to ride a bit on the wet conditions."

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