MotoGP: Michael Laverty shares his 2024 season predictions

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Michael Laverty has named Marc Marquez as his pick for the 2024 MotoGP crown ahead of the seson opener in Qatar this weekend.

Marquez is now armed with a 2023 Ducati Desmosedici after joining brother Alex at Gresini Racing, and Laverty believes he now has everything he needs to make a return to the top.

MCN sat down with the TNT Sports pundit during the MCN London Show weekend last month to discuss the season ahead.

All eyes are on Pedro Acosta. What are your thoughts on the reigning Moto2 champion?

“He’s very special. From what we’ve seen of him during the last few years, it’s similar to what we witnessed with Marc Marquez and Casey Stoner in terms of raw speed, but there’s also the awareness he has on track that I’ve never witnessed before.

“There’s a sixth sense with how he rides a bike. In the close racing of Moto3, Acosta would do the final lap like he had wing mirrors. It was like he could see where the rider was behind him and protect his line.

“Acosta has the ability to develop a package to suit his riding style. In Moto2, he was ready to win after five rounds of his rookie season, which is so difficult to do. His learning curve is so fast, he just gets it.”

What can he achieve?

“He may be a thorn in the side of Brad Binder and Jack Miller. I like what they’ve done, putting him straight in there. I know it’s to Pol Espargaro detriment, but I think it’s the right move for the factory. When you have a generational talent on your books, you must get him on your MotoGP bike.

“Pedro is a calculated rider; he’ll come in and be top five, then get on the podium and win a race before the end of the year. He could well be challenging every weekend, he is that fast and that special. I love watching him ride.”

Michael Laverty is excited to see what Pedro Acosta can do in MotoGP

He’s a character too…

“He’s very down to earth. Martin didn’t come up with much funding behind him and had to really fight for his rides, and Acosta was the same. One thing British riders have in their arsenal is that there aren’t too many of them, whereas in Spain there’s 10 fast young riders and they all have money.

“If you’re a fast young Spanish rider and don’t have money, you’re at the back of the line. Pedro was at the back, so he made it happen in Red Bull Rookies and caught the eye of Aki Ajo.  He’s come up the hard way and there’s a lot of that in him.”

Has MotoGP gone too far with aero?

“It’s been in F1 for many years now and I almost fell out of love with F1 when it went down that route, so I don’t want the same thing to happen to my passion for MotoGP.

“I want it to be man and machine, the rider feeling the sensations through his hand and throttle, through his bum on the seat and the rear tyre. Right now the electronics and aero take a bit of that away.

“I want the lowering device to disappear, the launch device to disappear, the electronics to be a little rawer – don’t take traction control away because with 300BHP you need something to manage it.

“The genie is out of the bottle so you’re never going to put aero back in completely, there will always be ways with the fairing to create the aero advantage, but maybe just not like the Aprilia for example, it looks like a spaceship.

“If you look back 10 years, MotoGP bikes were prettier. I like a nice streamline fairing. Maybe I’m getting old now at 42, but I like our history and I don’t want bike racing to go down the F1 route where it’s an aero race.”

Marc Marquez is Michael Laverty's pick for the 2024 MotoGP title

You’ve named Marc Marquez as your champion…

“I’ve always rated him as the fastest rider in the world since he arrived in Moto3. He was special in Moto2 on the Suter, and the Honda wasn’t the best bike when he was winning all those championships.

“He’s so focused and driven, he doesn’t care about anybody else, nor the ramifications of knocking somebody off or being knocked off. He’s a pure born racer and all he cares about is crossing the line first.

“He’ll put life and limb on the line to do it. The fight and hunger him to win means I think he has another title in him, and now he has to the tools to do so.

“I don’t think he’s been sandbagging, I think he’s trying to learn from Alex [Marquez]. It took Alex time to calm down and ride the Ducati smoothly. I think Marc is reprogramming his brain now to ride like Pecco, a bit smoother, not attack it, and let the bike do it for you. But when the lights go out, you just know he’s going to throw everything at it.”

If a Ducati rider doesn’t win the title, who will?

“Brad Binder. Like Marquez, Martin and Acosta, Binder has a tenacious fighting spirit. He’ll qualify 12th but end up on the podium. Riders like Binder just make it happen when the lights go out.

“KTM continue to find those little gains. Dani Pedrosahas worked miracles with the test team, not just him, but also the engineers, to bring that bike to that level. They haven’t been scared to pinch engineers form Ducati, so if they didn’t learn it themselves, they brought it in, but now all manufacturing happens back at base.

“KTM know how to win in Motocross, Dakar, Moto3, Moto2…There is a MotoGP title on the horizon, and it will come with Binder.

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