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MotoGP German GP

Nine things we learned from the 2024 MotoGP German Grand Prix

MotoGP delivered a thrilling race at the Sachsenring last weekend, despite the track’s poor reputation, as Francesco Bagnaia clinched the top spot after a late error from Jorge Martin. Here’s what we learned from the German Grand Prix

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

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Francesco Bagnaia’s victory at the Sachsenring on Sunday elevated him to the top of the standings by 10 points over Pramac Ducati rival Jorge Martin, who had things under control until his surprise crash on the penultimate lap.
Marc Marquez couldn’t add another win to his Sachsenring tally, but was delighted with second place after a horrible weekend - especially after brother and Gresini team-mate Alex joined him on the podium. 
As MotoGP enters a three-week summer break, it’s the perfect opportunity to sit back and analyse the recent trends. Here are nine things we learned from the German Grand Prix.

1. Beating Bagnaia to a third straight title won’t be easy

Bagnaia is on course to score a third consecutive title

Bagnaia is on course to score a third consecutive title

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

With Jorge Martin building on his 2023 title challenge and stepping up a gear this year, it appeared that Francesco Bagnaia had a fight on his hands to remain MotoGP's top dog. A 39-point lead after the Catalan GP sprint meant Martin was considered an overwhelming early favourite for the title. 
However, if the last few rounds have shown anything, it’s that Bagnaia is still head and shoulders clear of the field after winning the last four races in a row.
From his utter domination of Assen to his strategic gameplay at the Sachsenring, Bagnaia has exuded all the qualities of a worthy double champion. It’s not that Martin has been doing a poor job, but Bagnaia has simply been outstanding since he picked himself up after a last-lap crash in the Barcelona sprint race. 
While he may be playing down the importance of taking the points lead just before the summer break, there is no denying that he has gained an upper hand in the title fight in more ways than one.
Apart from the obvious sporting advantage he enjoys, having that 10-point buffer over Martin gives him that sense of relief as he takes time away from work and begins preparation for his impending wedding.

2. Martin has to address one major weakness to become a complete rider

Martin has the pace, but also an unhealthy habit of crashing

Martin has the pace, but also an unhealthy habit of crashing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

No one could have seen Martin lose such a healthy lead in the championship in such a short space of time. All signs suggested that the Pramac rider was going to enter the summer break at the very top of the points standings.
But while Martin has some bigger things to worry about, including Bagnaia’s superior recent form and how Ducati will support a rider whose long-term future is at Aprilia, he must work on one key weakness that was first exposed during his unsuccessful 2023 title bid.
Having just taken the lead of the championship with victory in the sprint race at Mandalika, Martin blew it all away in the grand prix the following day after crashing out on lap 13 with a three-second lead in hand. As it turned out, the Spaniard would never lead the championship again, with Bagnaia capitalising on his rival’s troubles to charge to a second straight title.
While it’s not uncommon to see riders crashing out of the lead of the race, especially in the modern era where tyres play an even bigger role, it’s the timing of these two crashes that dealt the biggest blows. So if the 26-year-old wants to get the better of Bagnaia this season, he needs to figure out why he falters when things are heading his way.

3. Marquez still a potent threat despite widening gulf between factory and year-old Ducatis

Marquez remains a threat to Bagnaia

Marquez remains a threat to Bagnaia

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

With Ducati making such a big leap with its Desmosedici this year, it’s been clear for some time that riders on last year’s GP23 will have a tough time against rivals with more modern machinery. In fact, the gulf between this year’s GP24 and the 2023-spec model has only widened since the season began.
From the very beginning, only one rider has regularly breached the podium places on GP23. But even Gresini star Marc Marquez has been finding it hard to consistently challenge at the front. Only the previous week at Assen, the podium was locked out by three of the four riders racing this year’s GP24 - Bagnaia, Martin and Enea Bastianini.
But, at a Sachsenring track where the straightline and acceleration advantage of the latest-spec Desmosedici was negated, Marquez was able to show what he is capable of with an impressive charge from 13th to second. True, he has always been incredibly strong around the German venue as proved by an unbeatable record between 2011-2019 across the three classes. But the Spaniard also had the machinery under his belt, which allowed Marquez to pick through his rivals with relative ease and grab an unlikely podium. 
While a win in 2024 may seem unlikely, barring exceptional circumstances, one can continue to count on Marquez to pull something special out of the bag in the second half of the year.

4. Aprilia still struggling to capitalise on a competitive RS-GP

Aprilia is the only manufacturer to defeat Ducati this season, but this is not reflected in the standings

Aprilia is the only manufacturer to defeat Ducati this season, but this is not reflected in the standings

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Aprilia is the only manufacturer to have prevented Ducati from scoring a complete sweep of nine grand prix wins out of nine in the first part of the 2024 season. And yet, it only sits 10 points clear of KTM in the manufacturers' standings, while the factory team has now fallen well behind Gresini in fourth in the teams’ table.
Clearly, something isn’t clicking for the Noale-based brand that only recently made a statement of intent by signing Martin to lead a potential title challenge in 2025.
While the satellite Trackhouse team shone with both Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez qualifying on the front row, and the latter picking up a podium in the sprint, Aprilia's factory squad came away with just seven points from the German GP weekend.
The team was already down one rider after Aleix Espargaro’s withdrawal, but team-mate Maverick Vinales was also unable to capitalise on his record-breaking FP2 speed and crashed in qualifying, leaving him eighth on the grid. Seventh place was all he could achieve in the sprint, while an early trip through the gravel consigned him to 12th in the grand prix.
With a fully-fit Espargaro and a less error-prone Vinales, it could have been a very different weekend for a marque with the potential to end Ducati’s hegemony in MotoGP.

5. Still a long road ahead for Yamaha and Honda

Honda and Yamaha are failing to show signs of progress

Honda and Yamaha are failing to show signs of progress

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

When Yamaha and Honda started the year even further behind the opposition than at the end of 2023, there was still a sense of optimism that they would eventually find their way up. That was because MotoGP’s new system of concessions offered them virtually unlimited testing and engine development, giving them a chance to make rapid gains during the season. But instead of moving closer, both Honda and Yamaha have conceded that they have only lost ground since the Qatar season opener in March.
It’s not that Yamaha and Honda haven’t been trying their best to close the gap, but so far there is nothing to show for their progress. It’s incredible to think that Honda’s new recruit Luca Marini only just scored his first points finish of the year at the Sachsenring last weekend - and that too after Tech3 GasGas rider Augusto Fernandez was penalised for infringing the tyre pressure rule.
Yamaha and Honda will resume developing their bikes at a rapid rate once the summer shutdown is over, but it’s now becoming increasingly likely that their work won’t yield the desired results until 2025 at the earliest.

6. The rider market continues to take shape

Pramac's decision to switch to Yamaha for 2025 has shaken up the rider market

Pramac's decision to switch to Yamaha for 2025 has shaken up the rider market

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The 2025 grid is filling up quickly and there aren’t many seats left. Pramac’s announcement during the Dutch GP weekend that it will become a works-supported Yamaha team next year came with an immediate list of links.
Fabio di Giannantonio initially emerged as a serious contender for one of the two Pramac seats, and his namesake Fabio Quartararo openly vouched for him during the pre-event press conference on Thursday.
Since then, di Giannantonio is understood to have rejected Pramac’s offer in favour of an extended stay at VR46. Interestingly, the Italian’s new two-year contract will be signed directly with Ducati, meaning he will become a factory rider next year and have access to the latest-spec GP25. Considering Ducati is cutting back the supply of factory bikes to just three in 2025, that is a huge honour for di Giannantonio and the perfect reward for the upward trend he has shown this year.
Di Giannantonio’s decision to stay put will also have consequences elsewhere, with current Trackhouse rider Miguel Oliveira now being seen as Pramac's prime target. A front-row start and a second-place finish sprint on the satellite Aprilia couldn’t have come at a better time for the Portuguese, who also has five victories to his name from his time with KTM. 

7. Kazakhstan mess deepens to embarrassment

Kazakhstan's MotoGP embarrassment has continued to deepen

Kazakhstan's MotoGP embarrassment has continued to deepen

Photo by: MotoGP

Ahead of the German GP, Motorsport.com reported that the contingency plans to replace the already postponed Kazakhstan GP in September with Qatar have hit a snag.
When India was cancelled, its 20-22 September slot was given to Kazakhstan. But once again the event is in doubt and a back-up plan to stage a second Qatar round instead in its place was drawn up.
But amid concerns over the temperatures in the region at that time of the year and the fact no deal has been reached yet, an alternate event to Losail is now being looked at.
A return to Brno has been touted, but this seems unlikely for several reasons. Resurfacing is needed and it’s not clear whether the circuit has the funds for that. To boot, the timeframe to get that sorted in time for its September slot is tight. Then there is the logistical problems of going from the Czech Republic to Lombok in Indonesia in just a few days.
Arriving at the summer break without a final 2024 calendar firmed up is an embarrassing situation for MotoGP and one incoming owner Liberty Media won’t look favourably upon.

8. KTM loses key hire amid its retooling

KTM is growing in strength but is losing a key hire

KTM is growing in strength but is losing a key hire

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

KTM’s altered approach for 2025 will see it field essentially four factory-branded bikes for Brad Binder, Pedro Acosta, Maverick Vinales and Enea Bastianini in a stable that is easily the strongest the Austrian marque has ever had.
But its 2025 aspirations have already been dealt a blow as motorsport boss Pit Beirer confirmed that Head of Technology Fabiano Sterlacchini will not be continuing with the brand.
Sterlacchini was poached two years ago by KTM from Ducati in a move that was seen as a real statement of intent for the Pierer Mobility Group’s push to become MotoGP champions.
The split was amicable, according to Beirer, and came as negotiations to renew Sterlacchini’s contract came to nought.
Rival marques will be silly not to get on the phone to Sterlacchini, who will be a big loss to a project that isn’t moving forward at the rate it should be.

9. F1 star Hamilton not ruling out future MotoGP involvement

Hamilton has been linked with a takeover of the Gresini team

Hamilton has been linked with a takeover of the Gresini team

Photo by: Erik Junius

Lewis Hamilton is a big MotoGP fan and looked quite handy in 2019 in Valencia when he had a go on Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha.
Visiting the paddock on occasion, Hamilton was even in one bizarre story in an unfavourable UK tabloid in 2015 linked to a change of career which would have seen him ditch Mercedes in Formula 1 for… MV Agusta in MotoGP. Not unsurprisingly, that never happened.
But the Briton has been linked to a team recently in an ownership role. While reports of a Gresini buyout are, according to Hamilton’s management, wide of the mark Motorsport.com understands he has shown interest in a number of teams.
And asked about it at the British GP, Hamilton didn’t shoot down the possibility of him one day getting involved in MotoGP.
“I'm interested in the potential growth of the sport, but I haven't looked that far into it just yet,” he said. “But anything is possible. I'm definitely interested, as I said before, about equity and the [NFL team Denver] Broncos was already a first step into team ownership. And so, I think over the next five to ten years there will be a little bit more. We'll see.”
Can anyone catch Bagnaia once MotoGP resumes after its summer break?

Can anyone catch Bagnaia once MotoGP resumes after its summer break?

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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