Next stop Spain: who's coming out on top at the carnival?

A fiesta like no other awaits as the hillsides of Jerez prepare to come alive with MotoGP™

COTA promised a lot and it certainly delivered, but maybe not in the way most were expecting. After the rollercoaster ignited the Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) vs Marc Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) rivalry, saw Pedro Acosta (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) get on the podium AND Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) head into Round 3 with a very nice lead indeed as heartbreak hit for Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing), it seemed Texas could stage a showdown between a few candidates. But the biggest answer of all after drama on the Algarve came from Viñales, who came out the blocks with an almighty advantage in Austin. And he converted that into a triple: pole, Tissot Sprint win and Grand Prix victory, becoming the first rider in the MotoGP™ era to win with three different factories. Chapeau.

So as we head for Batmav’s home turf at Jerez, he’s most definitely the rider in the spotlight, looking to show it’s not just Portimao, and not just COTA. But those on the chase are most definitely looking to change that, because the threat from Viñales is fast becoming very real – if not for those 20 points that went begging in Portimao, he’d be second overall.




Still, he’d be second to Martin, and the number #89 could be forgiven for arriving into the Gran Premio Estrella Galicia 0,0 de España feeling a little overlooked after Sunday in Texas. Still, there are plenty of positives from his slightly under-the-radar but well-paying weekend in the Lone Star State. First, after he led the title fight for a day in 2023, he’s still got that lead and it’s still a healthy 21 points, weeks later. He also bounced back well after a slightly disastrous qualifying that saw him crash twice. But a Sprint podium and a good haul of points on Sunday won’t be enough now we’re heading into Jerez, with the home, partisan crowd packed into the stands.

Leading, but not winning, and podiums, but not winning? That’s also not enough for Acosta, it seems. The rookie put in a stunner in Texas – as if Qatar and Portimao weren’t impressive enough – and led for the first time. And not just once, he fought for it. And only one of the most memorable winning rides of all time was enough to deny him the victory. He must have margin too, because he’s not crashing, so the rest must be wondering what exactly the GASGAS rider might have in the locker on home turf… where there’s even more incentive to rip it up. Final corner of 2013, anyone?



Speaking of, Marc Marquez also arrives into his first home GP of the year wanting to make an impression. A Sprint podium at COTA was a good start, but an issue and a crash out the lead of the big race? That will have the #93 fired up to prove some points, and there’s no better place than in front of the hillsides of Jerez that have loved him since before he even spun a lap on a MotoGP™ bike. It’s where fate intervened once and changed the course of his career – and it would be perfect turf to write another, healing chapter of it.

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If Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team) has anything to do with it, none of the above will be reigning the Spanish GP. The ‘Beast’ had a start in Qatar that didn’t raise too many eyebrows, but he moved forward in Portimao to second Ducati home on Sunday, and went one better in Texas to turn the tables on Martin and deny his old rival a podium. It was top Ducati though, now the aim is the top step. Can he upset the home heroes? The spotlight will be on his teammate Bagnaia too after the reigning Champion made Jerez a real statement Sunday win in 2023, with plenty now looking to the #1 to prove if the last two races are a blip, a dip, or something that could last a little longer as he looks for his mojo. Somehow he always does though, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jerez stage a serious comeback for Bagnaia.

Two more looking for a comeback, and who impressed last season at Jerez, are Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and teammate Jack Miller. In 2023 the duo were the sliding, sideways rebellion against Bagnaia’s serene showing at the front, and it was a serious show for the grandstands as well as a showcase for KTM. It also leaves plenty of questions to be answered coming into the event this season. Can they do it again after a tougher Texas on the way in this time round? And maybe the biggest question for many watching 2024 so far… can they do it in front of Acosta? The stakes don’t even end there either. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull GASGAS Tech3) wants a big step forward, but while there’s a superstar rookie on one other RC16, there’ll be a MotoGP™ Legend on another as Dani Pedrosa returns for a wildcard. Jerez 2023 was impressive. At Misano he was top KTM, and nearly on the podium…


There are plenty of fast faces looking to make Jerez a turning point for themselves too. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) has never got on well with COTA, but a solid result as his teammate steamrollered the field still isn’t quite enough. He’ll be pushing hard to remind everyone there’s more than one black Aprilia capable of fighting at the front. The Pertamina Enduro VR46 Racing Team duo will be trying to make an impression too after a tougher season so far for both Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio, and Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) even more so. The now two-time Sprint winner has been AWOL from a top finish for some time, but he’s been a master of Jerez before in his career. So too has Franco Morbidelli (Prima Pramac Racing), who has made his way into the ballpark after missing the whole of preseason, but now needs a finish and some solid points, if nothing else because the progress from FP1 in Qatar to now really does deserve it.

In MotoGP™, Master of Jerez has also been true of Fabio Quartararo. The tougher run continues for both El Diablo and new Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammate Alex Rins, but Jerez is a track that should be a little kinder for their bike, if track records are anything to go by. It’s also somewhere Quartararo especially has absolutely made his own, one of those where his name was penciled in next to victory before even arriving at the venue a few years ago. Is the fight for the top ten, top six or more on the cards for Yamaha in 2024? That’s also the kind of postcode the Trackhouse Racing squad will be aiming for. Miguel Oliveira had a tougher Texas, but Raul Fernandez managed to take a top ten. Can the duo get their elbows out for more? There’s also Aprilia Racing test rider Lorenzo Savadori wildcarding, so the Noale factory information gathering mission will be in full swing.


The information gathering will also continue at Honda. After some rumblings emerged over the last weekend that maybe the direction wasn’t paying off quite how it was expected, the race is on for the Japanese giants to find some more progress. The time going in to the project – including private testing and a wildcard for Stefan Bradl at Jerez this weekend – speaks to serious commitment to improve, and the season is young, but the points remain out of reach for the moment. Joan Mir (Repsol Honda Team) will want to be attacking his home round for a little more reward, but continues to set the Honda pace, whereas teammate Luca Marini is still trying to find his feet. Johann Zarco (Castrol Honda LCR) is maybe further ahead on that project, but the experience of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda LCR) is still seeing him in the mix with his fellow RC213Vs. Can they take a step forward at Jerez?

The Gran Premio Estrella Galicia 0,0 de España is ready to light up the hillsides of Jerez, welcoming MotoGP™ back to a carnival on the calendar. Home heroes. Rookies. Veterans. Wildcards. All coming together in the world’s most exciting sport. Are you ready? VAMOS!