Moto GP

Marc Marquez backed to topple back-to-back MotoGP champion Pecco Bagnaia in 2024

Plenty are tipping Marc Marquez to usurp back-to-back MotoGP world champion Pecco Bagnaia next season.

Bagnaia went back-to-back as Jorge Martin's crash at the final race of the season in Valencia secured the Italian's crown for another year. He ended up finishing 39 points ahead of Martin, who had won Saturday's sprint to take the title race down to the wire.

Marquez finished the year in 14th having also crashed out in the same incident that saw Martin's hopes dashed. Six-time MotoGP champion Marquez will be joining Ducati in 2024, and TNT Sports pundit Neil Hodgson expects that to make the difference.

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"Marquez is the better rider," former British Superbike champion Hodgson said. "Ask anyone in the paddock, anyone who's an ex-racer, current racer, mechanic… the people who clean the toilets will know Marquez is a better rider.

"Marquez is another level. He's the greatest motorcycle racer I've ever seen, and I've seen some good bikers. I've been involved in this sport for 30 years.

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"Marquez is just an animal. He's your Ayrton Senna of talent, your Messi level of football. It's like looking at Messi and David Beckham, Beckham is good but we're talking different levels. Marquez is that good.

"He's never had the best bike, he's won six MotoGP titles and never had the best bike, you'll see how good it is. It could [make it a bit boring], but I want the best rider to win. If that means we see a dominant year, I want to see it. I want to see someone ride a motorcycle and do things that I can't do and I can't comprehend."

Hodgson's TNT Sports colleague Michael Laverty, who spent three years racing in MotoGP, also expects Marquez to put up a challenge.

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"The addition of Marc Marquez on a Ducati is going to be awesome because he just lights up every race," Laverty said. "He's going to be interesting. Whether he's above the current Ducati crop, I'm not sure.

"I think he'll be at least on their level with Martin and Bagnaia next season. The Aprilpas are getting better, KTM are improving all the time. I really pray that Honda find something and get back on the level. And similar for Yamaha.

"There are a lot of potential champions next time, it's getting closer all the time. It's why we love MotoGP."

And TNT Sports commentator Gavin Emmett is already looking forward to next season given the twists and turns we saw in the final weeks of 2023.

"I think other people will be involved, I really do," Emmett said. "I think Marc Marquez with his switch to Ducati, I think he'll get in the mix. Whether he'll win the championship, who knows what will happen.

"The Championship can turn on a sixpence. The beauty of MotoGP is its unpredictability. We have had ten different winners across sprints and Grand Prix, eight different winners on a Sunday. That's pretty much half the field that have won a race this year.

"It's so hard to predict. Bagnaia will undoubtedly be in the mix, Martin will undoubtedly be in the mix. Bastianini and Marc Marquez are ones I'll be looking at next year."

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