Motorcycle Racing

10 things we learned at the 2024 MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix

Bagnaia has failed to score a point in half the sprint races in 2024 so far

An emotional retirement announcement, a chaotic sprint race and defiant comebacks were the main talking points from the 2024 MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix.

Ahead of the sixth round of the season, veteran rider Aleix Espargaro announced to the world that he would be calling time on his MotoGP career at the end of the 2024 season. A career of 20 years that has been characterised by hardship, doubts and relentless hard work left a feeling of pride in the three-time grand prix winner as he addressed the media on Thursday.

Then he went on to qualify on pole with a new lap record and score a dramatic win in the sprint race. As far as retirement announcements go, Espargaro’s was not bad at all.

Five riders led that 12-lap sprint, three of them crashing out. The most noteworthy was Francesco Bagnaia, whose half-distance race form this year is costing him dearly. But his ability to bounce back on Sundays is limiting the damage and he put in a statement ride to win the grand prix, as Jorge Martin extended his championship lead.

Marc Marquez charged from lowly grid positions to finish on the podium again in both races, highlighting that while qualifying needs work, his race pace is proving killer. 

Elsewhere, rider market rumblings continued in the wake of Espargaro’s retirement announcement, while Enea Bastianini carried out a futile in-race protest against the stewards. Here are 10 things we learned from the 2024 MotoGP Catalan GP.

1. Bagnaia needs rapid sprint turnaround as Sunday form superb

Bagnaia has failed to score a point in half the sprint races in 2024 so far

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia’s ability to bounce back from difficult results is one of the things that has made him so formidable in the championship over the last two years. That was on display again at the Catalan GP, after the Ducati rider crashed out of the lead of the sprint race at Turn 5 on the final lap. It was set to be a result that pulled him close to championship leader Martin, who struggled for pace in the sprint. Instead, it pushed him to 44 points away.

In the grand prix, however, Bagnaia played the strategic game, keeping his pace under control after being shuffled out of an early lead by Martin and Pedro Acosta. When the time came midway through the 24-lap contest to start reeling in Martin, he made it look easy.

As Martin had chewed up his rear tyre trying to fend off Acosta earlier, he was powerless to stop Bagnaia…

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