We compiled a list of riders we think can win a race this year and why.
Twice now in the last 5 seasons we have been gifted seasons with 9 different race winners, 9!!! It honestly is mind-blowing to think that 9 different riders have stood on the top step of the podium in the same season, this perfectly highlights how far MotoGP has come since the late 2010’s thanks to things like the CRT era and more money being injected into the sport allowing riders across the board to enjoy factory spec machinery. This makes for more competitive racing and stronger riders as talent becomes much more of a requirement over good equipment. Gone are the days where an average rider could take a podium on a factory bike, these days we are seeing top level riders take podiums on bikes which are two years out of date, looking at you Franco Morbidelli.
To state the obvious, the more competitive MotoGP gets the more winners we are going to see, it’s not rocket science really is it? We saw 9 different winners in 2016 and also 2020 but we feel there are more riders who can get the job done over a single season, we are sort of doing a Valentino Rossi and looking for that magical number 10.
Already in MotoGP after four rounds we have seen three different riders take the top step on the podium namely Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo and Jack Miller but still we feel that there are 12 more riders who are capable of winning this year. Obviously everyone will have an opinion on the matter and it will divide people massively, some riders are purely on here as a fluke wet race or have shown some speed before, anyway here they are:
Aleix Espargaro is having a stunning season so far on the Aprilia RS-GP, the bike is more consistent and reliable and it is showing with Aleix really showing some strong pace in the opening few laps of races putting in aggressive moves and battling within the top 5. There are some vital issues the Aprilia man may face when staring down the barrel of a MotoGP win, the first would be that he has never actually won a race, he has come close and has some second place finishes in his entire career but has never taken that elusive P1 in all classes, this means that he may not know how to win a race or how to manage the pressure which would weigh on his shoulders causing him to crumble, that is issue one of two. The other issue would be that he struggles in the second half of races, once he is rattled he either loses places or doesn’t manage to improve his position, this was highlighted by Takaaki Nakagami at Jerez who aggressively overtook Aleix even making contact with the rider, from this moment Aleix lost a lot of ground and couldn’t make it up again.
The Aprilia is up to scratch this year and if the stars align there’s no reason why he cannot win a race.
I mean does this really bare an explanation? He currently leads the MotoGP standings with three podiums in four races, Bagnaia has had a stunning start to his season already and is showing clear signs of improvement race by race, it’s not a case of ‘if’ he will win but instead ‘when’.
Johann Zarco is a tough one to call, he’s rapid when he wants to be and is also riding the GP21 machinery meaning he has all the equipment required to win a MotoGP race. Zarco has been a rider since his debut in 2017 who has held a lot of promise with many desperate to see him win and do his trademark backflip celebration yet it has never come, he’s been incredibly close on many many occasions but either crashes or fades into lower podium positions, if there was ever a time to win a race 2021 would be it.
Ok so Jorge Martin is a bit of a wildcard, he showed a helluva lot of speed and confidence in Qatar on the Ducati standing on the podium before getting seriously injured in Portimao breaking bones in his feet and wrists which has forced him out of Jerez and Le Mans. Martin has adapted to the Pramac Ducati GP21 in rapid speed and really could be a rider who could take a rookie win once he’s back at full fitness.
Takaaki Nakagami is another little wildcard along with his teammate Alex Marquez who we will get to in a minute. Nakagami has never even stood on a MotoGP podium and yet here we are pipping him to win a race, yeah I know, I am smoking that crazy stuff ya know?! Hear me out though, Nakagami has recently switched back to the 2019 chassis which he impressed on last year taking pole at Aragon before crashing out due to pressure, he has shown he has a lot of pace but really struggles to manage pressure in a healthy manner. He is very strong in the latter stages of the race and is able to make up lots of ground with less fuel and degraded tyres, if he finds himself in the podium positions in the last 5 laps of a race and can manage himself mentally in the proper manner I believe he has the pace to take it to the leader and win a race.
Alex Marquez is a bit of a wildcard as we said, he has shown to be strong in the wet conditions at Le Mans last year before following it up with a dry podium in Aragon. Alex Marquez is no mug, you don’t become a 2 x World Champion by being a mug now do you? I believe if we get a wet race or two this year we could see him scrapping it out for victory against the top riders.
It’s Marc Marquez. C’mon.
Brad Binder isn’t a rider you can write off, he’s strong minded, strong willed and does not give a single f*** about who you are on the track, history has shown if you show him an inch you can bet your life you’ll find his front tyre occupying said inch before you even realise the mistake you have made. On his day Binder is an incredibly tough rider who has caused a bit of a stir with even Valentino Rossi himself saying Brad has no respect before Brad clapped back saying the 9 x World Champion was “sensitive”, ouch.
Binder stormed to victory last year as a rookie at the Brno track and has shown he is able to pull wins out of the bag when you least expect it, a perfect example would be his first ever win from P35 on the grid at Jerez 2016 in Moto3, don’t discount him for a win.
Miguel Oliveira is KTM’s golden boy, well that’s if you take Dani Pedrosa out of the equation anyway. Oliveira took two victories last year winning Portimao by completely dominating his opposition, beating them to a pulp out on the race track. This followed an incredibly clever and calculated win in Austria early in the season whereby he positioned himself perfectly to capitalise on a last corner move from Miller onto Espargaro to win the race. I don’t see Olivera winning too many races but there is definitely one in the bag for him this year.
Joan Mir is a tough one, really tough. Yes he’s the 2020 champion blah blah blah but he took the title with just one race win to his name, you don’t need wins to be a title as Emilio Alzamora proved in 1999 but it definitely helps. Mir is a class rider and you don’t need me to tell you this but it was a tough struggle for him to win a race last year and it’ll be even harder for him in 2021, if he can slay his qualifying demons I think he will be in with a chance of a win this year.
On his day Alex Rins is one of the strongest riders out there, he even beat Marc Marquez to victory at Silverstone with a sublime around-the-outside overtake on the final corner which is unheard of at Woodcote, it really was unbelievable. He pulled another win out of the bag last year in Aragon and was fighting for victory again this year in Portimao. I feel he’s another rider whereby it’s not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’.
Franco Morbidelli was the 2020 MotoGP runner up with three wins to his name, do I really have to explain why he will win another race? The coolest, calmest rider out on track is riding the nuts off a 2019 Yamaha M1 and is outperforming his teammate on current factory spec machinery taking a podium in Jerez. Just wait until Misano rolls around, he is going to win a race.
Now to tackle the elephant in the room here of Valentino Rossi and Pol Espargaro, looking at Rossi it doesn’t take a genius to work out why he’s not here, yes it would be amazing to see him take another victory but he has not won a race since 2017 and is now 10 races in a row without a top 10 finish meaning a win is quite a way off but never say never! Regarding Pol Espargaro he is showing clear improvement on the Honda but I don’t feel he has it in him to take a win in 2021, 2022 however could be the year!
What did you think of our list? Did you agree or did you hate it, let us know on our social media platforms!