How does Pedro Acosta compare to Marquez, Rossi and more?

The 2021 Moto3™ World Champion took the Grand Prix paddock by storm but how does he weigh up against other lightweight class kings?

It's not very often a 16-year-old kid rocks up to the World Championship and instantly takes it by storm. Headlines around the world began comparing Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to previous greats that have graced our sport. So how does the new lightweight class Champion weigh up against the likes of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT)? Let's find out.

First of all, we should point out that quite simply nobody compares to the Spaniard. Let's not forget he was able to rewrite the 72-year Grand Prix history books by becoming the first and only rider to stand on the podium four times in his first four races. Plus, he also became the youngest rider ever to take a hat-trick of victories back in Jerez in what was a special Sunday for the new Champion.

The last Moto3™ World Champion to truly dominate was last year's MotoGP™ Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The then Leopard Racing man was able to take an incredible ten victories on his way to the lightweight class title, but in his second year of Grand Prix racing. It took Mir ten Grands Prix before he tasted success in his rookie year and a further ten before he reached three. Mir ended his 2017 title campaign with a record-breaking 341 points, something Acosta won't be able to match, however.

The last rider to take a Moto3™ title for Aki Ajo's squad is now Red Bull KTM Factory Racing man Brad Binder. That's not the only parallel between the South African and the Spaniard as Binder stunned the world back in 2016 by taking his debut victory from the back of the grid, very similar to Acosta's Doha pitlane to P1 heroics. Both of those magic moments also were the start of a run of three straight victories, as Binder followed his up with wins in France and Italy just like Acosta did in Portugal and Spain. Seven victories went the way of Binder in 2016, which Acosta can still match in Valencia next weekend.

Marc Marquez clinched the first of his eight world titles back in 2010 with the stand-out moment coming in Estoril. A crash on the sighting lap forced the 93 to start from the back of the grid, but he was able to fight his way through to what would be a tenth victory of the season. Very good, but again, it wasn't pitlane. Marquez holds the record for most wins in a lightweight class season with Mir, however, trumping Acosta on that front. 

The man with the most victories in a lightweight class season is none other than Valentino Rossi. The nine-time World Champion clinched eleven wins and further two podiums in the 15-race 1997 season making it the most dominant 125cc World Championship victory in history. Obviously, Acosta's title fight was much more closely contested but Rossi's achievements all came in his sophomore year. It took even The Doctor eleven races before he tasted victory in his rookie year, compared to just two for Acosta.

Finally, the last rookie to win the lightweight class crown was Loris Capirossi in 1990. The Italian remains the youngest-ever World Champion, incredibly by just one day, and both Acosta and Capirossi's title-winning campaigns have similarities. First, neither started from pole position during their rookie season - of course, Acosta has one last chance at pole next weekend. The pair also stood on the podium eight times, with Capirossi only taking three victories compared to Acosta's six. 

The biggest test now for Acosta will be how he manages the expectation and pressure. By matching the records of some of the best riders in the world, everyone is now waiting for the 17-year-old to make his way through to the biggest stage and battle against them. Before that, though, he must adapt and compete at the sharp end in the notoriously difficult Moto2™ class in 2022. Will he be able to repeat some of the magic moments that make him the hottest property in MotoGP™? 

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