until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Portuguese Grand Prix 2024 MotoGP rider rankings

by Simon Patterson
11 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Another MotoGP weekend, another series of wild results that have already had a significant impact on the 2024 title race!

A stellar win for Jorge Martin at Portimao combined with a crisis for his biggest championship rivals Pecco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez means that there’s plenty to talk about without even looking at other names.

But it’s impossible to do that - considering that Maverick Vinales finally tasted victory for Aprilia only to have a bigger haul snatched away from him again, that rookie sensation Pedro Acosta made it onto the podium in only round two (embarrassing fellow KTM riders in the process), and that a number of pre-season favourites continue to find themselves absolutely lost at sea.

That, of course, means lots of metrics to use to rank the grid on performances in the second race weekend of the season.

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 takes into account things like the machinery they’re on and the pre-race expectations.

1 Pedro Acosta

Started: 7th Sprint: 7th Race: 3rd

Pedro Acosta, Tech3 Gas Gas, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Not being on a Ducati in MotoGP at the moment means it’s not exactly the easiest thing to stand on the podium. Being able to do it as a rookie, in your second race, with your fellow factory riders unable to match you, elevates Acosta to the status that we expected from him - but a lot sooner than we expected.

Even if he hadn’t ended Sunday on the podium thanks to picking off Marc Marquez and Pecco Bagnaia (plus Vinales's issue), just being ahead of Brad Binder and Jack Miller would have been accomplishment enough. But the way in which he’s already learned how to manage his tyres was nothing short of incredible - and worrying if you’re a KTM rider.

2 Jorge Martin

Started: 3rd Sprint: 3rd Race: 1st

Jorge Martin, Pramac Ducati, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Probably the most mature main race performance we’ve seen yet from Martin.

Able to manage his tyres throughout, happy to control the gap back to those behind him without getting carried away, and hinting afterwards that he was prepared to settle for second had he needed to, it’s proof that the 2023 runner-up has learned from the lessons of last year and is making strides towards being a more complete racer than he was 12 months ago.

A worrying sight for his rivals.

3 Maverick Vinales

Started: 2nd Sprint: 1st Race: DNF

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

It’s very hard not to feel sorry for Vinales given that the prospect of a great result was taken away from him by a mechanical issue on Sunday, 24 hours after his first win on an Aprilia in the sprint race.

But the pace was there, he was making starts the likes of which we’ve never really seen from him, and there’s a lot to be optimistic about. As long, that is, as he can back it up with more performances in the coming weeks and prove that Portimao wasn’t just a flash in the pan, a concept that isn’t exactly totally alien to him...

4 Enea Bastianini

Started: 1st Sprint: 6th Race: 2nd

Enea Bastianini, Ducati, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Bastianini absolutely needed some good results to start off his year as the silly season battle between him, Martin and Marquez for the second factory Ducati seat intensifies.

His Sunday podium and especially his pole position are signs that he’s starting to get his mojo back.

It’s going to take a few more races before we’ve got a better understanding of his level this season but, if he’s able to make it consistently high, then he's going to give Ducati another headache as it plots its future path.

5 Fabio Quartararo

Started: 9th Sprint: 9th Race: 7th

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Sure, a decent result somewhat landed in Quartararo’s lap on Sunday in particular thanks to a few incidents in front of him, but let’s not downplay what we were also able to see: improved form from a bike that has until now not exactly been a world-beater.

Things are getting better at Yamaha, Quartararo is still the man who’s pushing things forward, and, with plenty planned in the coming months, it’s the sort of positive step that might well just about keep him at the factory beyond 2024.

6 Aleix Espargaro

Started: 13th Sprint: 8th Race: 8th

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

An off weekend for a factory Aprilia racer now and then isn’t exactly an unusual thing for the factory team that only ever seems able to make one bike work at the time.

Made to look distinctly average by team-mate Vinales, arguably everything went wrong for Espargaro when he fell short of making Q2 - having towed Alex Marquez to a better laptime.

Hamstrung from there by his grid position, the resulting races were a case of settling for what was available to him.

7 Taka Nakagami

Started: 21st Sprint: 17th Race: 14th

Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

He might very rarely be the Honda rider who makes headlines, but you’ve got to give Nakagami credit now and then for the steady consistency that he brings to trying to make Honda’s beleaguered MotoGP project better.

He’s always there in the final classification, often just creeping into the points, and finishing ahead of new team-mate Johann Zarco on Sunday is something that should have been celebrated on Nakagami's side of the LCR garage.

8 Miguel Oliveira

Started: 15th Sprint: 12th Race: 9th

Miguel Oliveira, Trackhouse Aprilia, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

A lacklustre weekend for the hometown hero in front of 72,000 fans, who very much gave the impression they were in Portimao for him and him alone!

Oliveira did manage to salvage a half-decent result on Sunday mainly through the misfortune of others, but it isn’t enough, considering that he’s riding a brand new 2024 bike in a very well-funded new team.

Something’s missing, and he needs to find it sooner rather than later.

9 Augusto Fernandez

Started: 18th Sprint: 15th Race: 11th

Augusto Fernandez, Tech3 Gas Gas, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

There might not be a harder-working guy on the grid than Augusto Fernandez, and that hard work has been called upon throughout the opening tests and races of the season as he tries to dig himself out of a rather dark place on the Gas Gas-badged RC16 machine.

Confident after Saturday’s sprint race that there was finally light at the end of the tunnel, he validated that on Sunday - and has hopefully put himself back on a course towards some improvements in the next few weeks.

10 Marco Bezzecchi

Started: 6th Sprint: 11th Race: 6th

Marco Bezzecchi, VR46 Ducati, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Sunday’s race was something of a get-out-of-jail-free card for Bezzecchi after another rather tough weekend where he looked a long, long way away from the title contender and race winner of this time last year.

He still hasn’t gelled with the GP23, he still can’t make a MotoGP bike start the way it needs to, and until he figures out how to fix at least one of those woes he’s going to have to rely on the misfortune of others to help bump him along in the standings.

11 Jack Miller

Started: 5th Sprint: 5th Race: 5th

Jack Miller, KTM, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

This definitely wasn’t the worst weekend imaginable for Miller - and, in fact, compared to his opening races in Qatar, it was a substantial improvement from the Red Bull KTM racer.

He didn’t burn out his tyres on Sunday, he managed to finish within touching distance of team-mate Brad Binder, and he ended up in a good spot.

There’s just one problem for him: he was beaten to the podium by rookie Acosta, adding yet another dent to his hopes of job retention for 2025.

12 Alex Rins

Started: 11th Sprint: DNF Race: 13th

Alex Rins, Yamaha, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

If you were to pick a single word to describe Rins’s weekend, it’s probably "steady".

Still learning the ins and outs of the Yamaha M1, Rins himself is keen to dial back expectations, and tried hard not to get too excited about scoring points on Sunday. Bbut it’s starting to look at long last like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel now for both him and team-mate Quartararo.

Helpful, when they’ve both got a private test booked in at Portimao and when the next race is the Circuit of the Americas where Rins always goes well.

13 Fabio Di Giannantonio

Started: 14th Sprint: DNF Race: 10th

Fabio Di Giannantonio, VR46 Ducati, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

It was a very quiet weekend for VR46 Ducati racer Fabio Di Giannantonio, who is very much one of a number of riders on the 2023 bike learning why it hasn't always worked for every rider.

It's clearly a big step that’s taken some work to get used to, and a subdued Portimao weekend showed Di Giannantonio's not really there yet.

14 Brad Binder

Started: 10th Sprint: DNF Race: 4th

Brad Binder, KTM, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

At the first round of the year, it was only Binder’s KTM team-mate Miller who was made to look a bit average by rookie Acosta.

But while fourth might not have been a bad result for South African Binder on Sunday at Portimao (especially after a crash the day before), there were no excuses for him to be conclusively outclassed by Acosta on a satellite bike.

That’s what happened, though, and it might well be forcing the factory to reevaluate who its superstar is and where exactly the RC16’s level is.

15 Marc Marquez

Started: 8th Sprint: 2nd Race: 16th

Marc Marquez, Gresini Ducati, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Marquez should be far higher up this list, obviously, but the reason he isn’t is really his own hubris - because while both he and Bagnaia share blame for Sunday’s crash that took the pair of them out, it was Marquez in particular who could have avoided it with a little concession and a smarter race.

He had the pace in the closing laps to beat the world champion, and showing more restraint would've given him a double-digit points haul to conclude a strong Portimao weekend.

However, with COTA up next, it’s hard to think he’ll be too upset about the events as he heads to one of his favourite places on Earth.

16 Joan Mir

Started: 20th Sprint: 14th Race: 12th

Joan Mir, Honda, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Not the best, not the worst, but hopefully another step towards a better Honda for its number one rider Mir.

Able to take a decent haul of points on Sunday (despite a big early hit from Franco Morbidelli that left his bike with visible damage on the rear) mainly through misfortune for others, that nonetheless is a significant improvement for him considering he’s been the most consistent crasher of late.

Things are getting better now - it’s just a case of how long it takes before that improvement starts turning into proper race results worth celebrating.

17 Franco Morbidelli

Started: 17th Sprint: 16th Race: 18th

Franco Morbidelli, Pramac Ducati, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Perhaps on paper another poor weekend for Morbidelli, in reality it was better than it seemed because even despite a crash in Sunday’s race, he got more of what he desperately needs: valuable track time.

Able to remount after falling off and add 25 laps of Portimao to his sprint tally, and with a few glimmers of improvement here and there despite obvious race rustiness, things are slowly moving in the right direction now.

18 Raul Fernandez

Started: 16th Sprint: 10th Race: DNF

Raul Fernandez, Trackhouse Aprilia, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

More disappointment from Trackhouse's 2023-spec Aprilia at Portimao, with Raul Fernandez’s pre-season form simply not converting to race results yet.

He sabotaged himself in qualifying, of course, with too much work to do before the lights even went out, and while he made a decent recovery on Saturday before crashing out on Sunday, it’s apparent that things just aren’t going his way right now.

19 Johann Zarco

Started: 19th Sprint: DNF Race: 15th

Johann Zarco, LCR Honda, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Considering he’s been one of the star Honda performers this year - if not its top rider - Portimao was something of a disappointment for Zarco as he found himself not just behind the factory bike of Mir but also beaten by team-mate Nakagami.

Sure, things are tough for the Japanese factory at the minute, but there was certainly more on offer for Zarco than a solitary point this weekend.

20 Alex Marquez

Started: 12th Sprint: 13th Race: DNF

Alex Marquez crash, Gresini Ducati, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

Another GP23 racer who should have been able to do better at this point in the season but who is being forced to adapt to a quite different machine now.

More was certainly expected from Alex Marquez in Portugal, especially by himself, with a top-six target nowhere near achieved.

Human error on the team's side in qualifying set back his weekend significantly, but it doesn’t excuse his going backwards in the races.

21 Pecco Bagnaia

Started: 4th Sprint: 4th Race: DNF

Marc Marquez and Pecco Bagnaia crash, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

It’s not all that rare to see a less than perfect weekend from world champion Bagnaia - but it’s very rare indeed to see him throwing away two good results in one weekend.

Firstly, his sprint race, where a forgetful moment in managing the bike’s decreasing fuel load sent him wide and dropped him from a sure win into an average fourth.

Then he had a disappointing Sunday race where he seemed to be struggling even before contact with Marc Marquez.

The collision was avoidable for both of them and both carry some blame, but it’s a situation that no one expected to see Bagnaia in and there’ll be a very terse post-mortem this week at Ducati.

22 Luca Marini

Started: 22nd Sprint: 18th Race: 17th

Luca Marini, Honda, MotoGP, Portuguese GP

At times, things have looked a little brighter here and there for three of Honda’s MotoGP racers, with the odd good result or fast laptime.

Not for Marini, though, who has firmly remained at the very back of the grid for as long as he’s been on the bike and hasn’t yet shown the slightest sign of improvement.

It was always going to be a tough job for him, and right now all he can surely be doing is taking reassurance from any improvements his team-mates are showing.

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