until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


MotoGP's 'magic' rookie is already threatening KTM's elite

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

One race into his MotoGP career, and it’s fair to say that satellite KTM rookie Pedro Acosta has lived up to the hype by delivering a very impressive top eight performance in the first sprint of the season at the Qatar Grand Prix.

And the reigning Moto2 world champion is already looking for more - and will surely be targeting the factory bikes in front of him sooner rather than later.

It comes as no real surprise given not just his testing pace but also his form on the opening day of practice at the Lusail circuit - but was nonetheless given an added level of impressiveness considering a rearranged schedule meant that he was forced to try and secure a place directly in Q2 only minutes before qualifying itself.

“Not so bad!," Acosta joked with The Race after the sprint. "To be honest, I’m super happy, super happy because at the end this was really a question mark.

"I arrived to the first corner after the start, and I was looking everywhere to see what the other guys were doing!

“It was the first time for many things, and we need to be happy. The day was super stressful for many things, to have the practice today, three time attacks then wait 15 minutes and go back to the qualifying. We had a lot of stress and we need to be happy.

“We need to be super happy at the end because we’re making nice steps and today going directly to Q2 behind Brad [Binder] and then to be eighth with a reference to the factory team is super nice.

“I really enjoyed the race! I was watching the battle in front, watching one orange bike there and thinking ‘we need to be more close, we need to be there!’

"At the end, we need to be happy, because we finished only 4.5 [seconds from the win], only a few seconds from Brad. Not too much to be like this.”

Acosta's starring debut was contrasted by the fortunes of Binder's factory team-mate Jack Miller, who despite a good start, found himself shuffled down the order from sixth to 10th, two places behind Acosta.

And with podium-finishing Binder not too far in front, it might be that Acosta's already starting to put the pressure on Binder - the mark of a strong start that’s come as no surprise to many of Acosta’s MotoGP rivals.

“For me, Acosta will be on the top,” admitted LCR Honda rider Johann Zarco, someone who is no stranger to going fast at Lusail as a rookie after leading much of his own debut race at the Qatari track back in 2017 before eventually crashing out.

“Now, with the new schedule in the weekend to have the sprint race on the Saturday, we have to go so fast already on Friday afternoon that maybe he can get surprised sometimes to do a time attack on Friday and miss a bit for qualifying and the beginning of a sprint race. This was my opinion.

“But this will maybe just be for a few GPs, for one or two. But today it was not. He was straight away fast. Maybe he cannot fight at the top straight away just because of this schedule that is different from what he is used to, but naturally he is doing everything well.

“Since Moto3 I could follow him and it is just magic to see him at 20 years old and doing everything as if it’s normal. I’m impressed by this, and for sure he will disturb a bit Brad.”

With Miller's contract expiring at the end of this year, he was always the likely target for Acosta. But it appears even Binder, tied down to the end of 2026, will have plenty of work to do to keep Acosta behind.

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