Dre’s Race Review: MotoGP’s 2024 French Grand Prix

Jorge Martin reminds the sport who the Championship leader is in another classic at the sport’s #1 track. Dre on MotoGP at Le Mans!

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Dre Harrison Reviews



Read time: 6 mins

“That’s For Jerez.”

Welcome to another double-dip edition of Dre’s Race Review, and MotoGP is opening the show on this one. For the third race weekend in a row, the sport dished out another classic with 120,000 (Correctly counted) fans at Le Mans in the house, as the three best bike riders in the world went head-to-head for the win in an incredible weekend of racing. Let’s get into it. 

Do you know what Le Mans was? It was the final piece of the puzzle we didn’t get at Jerez. The Holy Trinty, the Triple Threat, the three best bike riders in the world going at it for a MotoGP win. The weekend’s story so far had been navigating treachery. Jorge Martin set the fastest-ever lap of Le Mans’s Bugatti Circuit, the first ever under 90 seconds on two wheels before a flurry of crashes ended the session early. He then comfortably won his 12th Sprint Race since the series changed formats, with Marc Marquez pulling off an insane first lap to go from 13th to fourth, and eventually second, all with Francesco Bagnaia’s holeshot device failing and him having to retire.

The first half of the Grand Prix was your classic skirmish. Bagnaia led early on after getting a brilliant start, with both he and Martin pulling away from the second group of Fabio Di Giannantonio, Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales. But he couldn’t shake Martin off as the race reached half distance, and Martin came back, eventually passing for the lead himself after a couple of failed braking attempts into the Dunlop Bridge. 

Marc Marquez had to earn his way to the front. His GP start was only excellent and not superhuman, so he still had to pass Maverick Vinales, Aleix Espargaro and Diggia before he was in open air. He had two seconds to make up on Bagnaia and Martin but after their squabbles and some blistering laps in the Mid 31’s, he got there with 5 to go. 

It wasn’t a Moto3 kinda barn fight, but it was seeing those three at their limits looking for every marginal advantage. Bagnaia as usual strongest in the heavier braking zones like the Dunlop Bridge, and Garage Vert, with Martin better at Turns 9 and 10 and the run back into the start/finish line, with Marquez looking for an opening. 

The final lap was wonderful. Bagnaia had to chase rather than defend, and was unable to find an opening, and then out of nowhere, Marquez nailed Bagnaia with a send into Turn 9 from four bike lengths back, inch-perfect on the second apex to take second place. You’re not supposed to beat Pecco Bagnaia, one of the best defensive riders of the modern era, like that. Especially after two weeks ago when Marquez threw the house at Bagnaia in defeat. This time, the reigning champion was human, and beaten fair and square. And his dejection in the garage said it all. 

Jorge Martin weathered the storm, faced Bagnaia and won again. We’ve all known he’s capable of it. And even with one crash from the lead already this season, he leaves France 40 points clear in the Championship ahead of Bagnaia, who is only two points ahead now of both Marquez and Enea Bastianini. Bagnaia is still a demigod over a full race distance, and you’d still back him to win 50% of the time, but I wouldn’t want to be giving Marc Marquez an equal footing after five race weekends, or giving the man who nearly beat you last year a full weekend in hand…

Breaking the fourth wall here for a moment – I know you want me to talk about the speculation into Ducati and their riders’ futures, but that’ll be on Ask Dre early next week, look out for it. Can’t be giving you all my hits in one post!

So, the 2027 regulation shift for MotoGP was announced this weekend and overall… I like the changes. It addresses most of the big problems I and many people have with the modern prototype bikes we have. Ride-height devices and holeshot devices being banned are huge. The rear being treated as an aerodynamic part makes sense. The increased cornering speeds, the extra danger on race starts, and the potential extra safety risk in mechanical failure were more than enough grounds to get them tossed out of the sport and I’m glad they’re gone. I’m all for reducing the width of the fairing to reduce aerodynamics too. 

I’m not so sure about reducing the displacement to 850cc. We’ve been here before when we went down from 1,000 to 800cc in the 2000’s. The top speeds went down for a bit, but then clever engineering brought them back up again and by the prototype era we were hitting 220mph (352km/h). I agree these bikes are a little too quick (We don’t need these bikes to be doing 225, it makes no difference on TV), but as a knock-on effect, if predictions are true that these regulation changes are going to make these bikes 2-3 seconds a lap slower, it’s going to give Dorna a headache in regards to that other series they run… World Superbikes.

As of now, a modern-day World Superbike is only 1-2 seconds slower than a MotoGP bike depending on the track. Toprak’s pole position at Catalunya earlier this year was only eight-tenths of a second slower than Francesco Bagnaia’s pole position in 2023. It’s not a good look if MotoGP bikes are now slower than World Superbikes, with 90% of its DNA purchasable from a dealership right now for between 30 and 40,000 dollars. So there’s a good chance that World Superbikes’ regulations also get blown open, scaling back all of their aero developments, power output, and possibly their displacement too. 

Look at it like this. The four biggest bike racing series on earth – MotoGP, Moto2, World Superbikes and World Supersport, all have four different engine displacements, four different sizes of pistons and only two pairs of similar power output. All under one racing series umbrella. That’s messy and might be problematic for manufacturers across the board. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this yet. 

Moto2 was a fantastic race too, with Sergio Garcia dominating from the front, but a fantastic late fight for second with Ai Ogura, Joe Roberts, Alonso Lopez, Somkiat Chantra, Aron Canet and Fermin Aldeguer all in the mix for a podium at the end. Ogura and Lopez came through to make a Speed Up chassis lockout podium, a 1-2 for MT Helmets-MSI in just their fifth-ever Moto2 race, and the first time a Kalex chassis had no podium sitter since Valencia 2013 with Nico Terol, Jordi Torres and Johann Zarco all up there on Suters. Safe to say at this point, that Kalex has been dethroned, marking just one win in their last NINE races, stretching back to 2023.  

Moto3 was another banger too, with an excellent fight at the front between David Alonso, Dani Holgado and Dutchman Colin Veijer. These three are quickly becoming the Moto3 class of 2024, with shoulder barging, late lunges and hard, but fair racing. Alonso made a double pass for the lead with 3 laps to go that ultimately set up another flawless ride for the win, with Holgado and Veijer sharing the podium. Alonso is a supreme talent and needs to be on a Moto2 bike very soon, but I like that Holgado and Veijer aren’t going to just hand it to the Colombian on a plate. 

Fabio Quartararo’s French GP leathers and livery were absolutely beautiful. A real shame he crashed from a very promising seventh place. In any case, 120,000 on race day and 297K for the weekend was a new MotoGP attendance record and a testament to how brilliant France’s race promotion team is. The best in the sport by miles and they’re making the more established biking countries like Spain, Italy and the UK look silly. Again I ask, if you’re in the UK, where’s the next generation of fan coming from?!

Pedro Acosta had to be humbled at some point, with a nasty early crash at Garage Vert. Admitted he tucked the front himself to avoid taking out two other riders. Even when he goes down he’s wise beyond his years. Good kid. 

About the Author:

Dre Harrison

Somehow can now call himself a Production Coordinator at the Motorsport Network, coming off the back of being part of the awkward Johto Era at WTF1. All off a University Project that went massively out of hand. Weird huh?

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