In 2021 three rookies will take to the MotoGP grid – Italian riders Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini, and Spaniard Jorge Martin.
In this preview, we will give our thoughts and opinions on how each of the rookies may fare throughout their first year in the premier class.
Jorge Martin enters the MotoGP class with a strong team in Pramac Racing for 2021, which will give him a big advantage. If it wasn’t for Covid-19 forcing him to miss two races during the 2020 season, I believe he would’ve been fighting for the Moto2 Title instead of finishing fifth.
The Spaniard will have the company of Johann Zarco in the team, who will certainly be of aid to the rookie, with the French rider now entering his fifth year in the premier class and his second on a Ducati powered bike.
I don’t think we’ll see Martin struggling for pace in his rookie year, and I think he will slot into the MotoGP grid nicely, fighting at the front of the mid-pack and getting some strong results, being the best of the rookies come the end of 2021.
Enea Bastianini comes into the premier class as reigning Moto2 champion, which will no doubt give him a huge confidence boost coming into his debut season. The Italian will team up with his championship rival from last year, Luca Marini, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in equal machinery.
I think results will be hard to come by for the 23-year-olds rookie year, riding an older bike in the form of the Ducati GP19, meaning developments will not be as effective as the season progresses.
I believe the Moto2 champion will use 2021 to find his feet in the premier class, whilst achieving a number of good finishes, he will be a stronger force in the 2022 campaign when he has more experience on the MotoGP bike.
Luca Marini will be an exciting rider to watch in MotoGP, coming off the back of a strong Moto2 campaign in 2020, finishing nine points short of first in the standings.
The Italian will enter the premier class in a team which he can comfortably get to grips with a MotoGP bike, Esponsorama Racing. This team will give him the environment he needs to grow in the top-class, without the pressure of being in a front-running outfit.
Like Bastianini, I think we will see Marini achieve some good points finishes throughout 2021, however I feel 2022 will be the year he really begins to fight for the higher positions on the grid.
It feels like Jorge Martin has been knocking on the MotoGP door forever. After debuting in Moto3 way back in 2015, the Spaniard finally leaps up to the premier class. Martin is in a good landing spot at the Pramac Team. The Italian squad finished fifth in the team standings last year and Martin is a fast rider who can attack racetracks when at one with the bike.
A Covid-19 hit 2020 season shouldn’t detract from his performances in Moto2. It might take him time to adapt to the bigger bike but nevertheless, Martin will fare well at Pramac. I fully expect to see him compete in the upper echelon of the midfield.
The current Moto2 champion steps up into the GP class with the Esponsorama Racing team. Bastianini is another one who’s spent plenty of time in Moto3 and Moto2. That isn’t a bad thing as he owns a lot of experience under his belt in terms of the racetracks.
The Italian’s most significant step up comes with riding an older Ducati bike. That bike may start competitive; however, as teams begin to develop their bikes, it will fall down the competitive ladder. It could be a challenging year for Bastianini, and he will need to adapt quickly to maximize any points finishes.
Luca Marini is the other rookie that will be piloting a Ducati and will join Bastianini at the Esponsorama team. Marini’s build is incredibly slight; he looks like a young Dani Pedrosa. That may hinder his development early on as he learns the bike.
The Italian will ride the same bike that Bastianini will ride, meaning there is a direct comparison there, so the pressure is on. It is critical for Marini that he starts well, if not, points will be hard to come by as the season goes on.
The 23-year-old is an excellent feel rider and he owns a great understanding of what the bike is doing underneath him. Everything he has learnt in his career so far will get put to the test come Round One in Qatar.
2021 will most certainly be an exciting year, with three highly rated rookies joining the MotoGP grid, and we will be given a clearer picture when the racing gets underway in Qatar as to who will come out on top as Rookie of the Year.