This is the classic post that we really shouldn’t make. But you know how it goes: you’re in the middle of a conversation with a prospect or potential sponsor and they ask: ‘Who are the 10 best riders in MotoGP? When it comes to MotoGP advertising and marketing I should sponsor one of the best, right?”.
At this point, as a professional consultant in a sports marketing agency, you should always stick to the right answer, namely ‘in a good sponsorship it does not matter whether you win or lose’. Trust the project, not the podium. Now, actually, this answer never works. The prospect nods, says it is understandable and that the whole thing makes a lot of sense. Then he stares at you and says, “Who are the best riders in MotoGP anyway?”
OK, then. We shouldn’t be talking about this subject, but here we are. Here are the 10 best riders in MotoGP for us.
1 – Pecco Bagnaia
On paper, one of the men to beat. On track, the man to beat. The 2022 World Champion has all the credentials to be the benchmark in the years to come. He is young, fast, and rides the best bike in the group.
Ducati has given him a near-perfect bike: the Borgo Panigale prototype is now a masterpiece of balance and power, hurtling down the straights and finally dancing in the corners.
While Pecco has undoubtedly learned the tricks of the trade, two things will be very different in the future. On the one hand, the boy now knows he is part of the motorcycling elite: he has won the world championship once and knows he can do it again. On the other hand, the days of the underdog are over and everyone is in the hunt. The season is open.
2 – Jorge Martin
Martinator has always been a fast and spectacular rider, but it is only in this 2023 that the Spaniard of the Prima Pramac team has shown the coolness and continuity to absolutely rightfully aspire to the world title. Exactly as for Bagnaia, the official Desmosedici is a faithful and precious ally, but the feeling shown by Martin in all conditions is undoubtedly impressive.
Decisive and glaring is the psychological solidity of the young Iberian, who has shown that he has not suffered too much from the lack of promotion to the factory Ducati (he was preferred to Bastianini last year). On the contrary, spirit of revenge and desire to prove themselves are proving indispensable companions in this year of great growth.
Pound for pound, as they say in boxing, perhaps the rider with the most pure speed of the whole group.
3 – Marc Marquez
If you thought your 2020 was bad, Marc Marquez‘s 2020 was on another level and 2021 was no better. The Spaniard not only fractured his humerus during the opening race of 2020 at Jerez and had to undergo surgery. He also had a pretty serious infection, another surgery and then another to try and fix what was left of a *sigh* pretty incredible mess.
The clinical report aside, Marc Marquez is probably the greatest talent motorcycling has ever seen, and we’re not afraid to say so. If the boy is healthy, he will win again and again, even on Gresini’s blue Ducati.
Love him or loathe him, we should all hope for a speedy recovery for Marc Marquez for one very simple reason: every rider on the grid knows that winning is not the same thing if Marc is not racing.
4 – Fabio Quartararo
If we are being honest, we have to admit that Fabio Quartararo‘s last few years have been a bit of a two-sided coin. After a splendidly won World Championship with Yamaha, with the Frenchman putting on a masterclass for the rest of the world, Quartararo has not lived up to expectations, mainly due to a non-competitive bike.
The kid is a talent, there is no doubt about that. That is why Yamaha is keeping him as an official rider until 2024. Fabio in a top team, with a good bike and the right people supporting him to channel his talent in the right direction are an explosive combination.
With newfound consistency – and faster riding – he will fight for podiums week after week and could become one of the greatest MotoGP riders of all time.
5 – Marco Bezzecchi
Another product of Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy, and arguably World Championship material, Marco Bezzecchi has had a superb season so far in 2023, alongside friend-enemy (on the same bike) Luca Marini.
Incredibly fast and endowed with a superlative racing technique, Bezzecchi has shown the paddock that he is one to watch in the years to come and has all the makings of a successful rider.
After all, as the sticker on the tail of his bike reads, ‘Sburoni si nasce‘, which in dialect means ‘talent is innate’. Well, more or less, at least.
6 – Maverick Vinales
Maverick has always been an enigma. If we had to make a list of the cleanest and most technical riders on the grid, he would probably be number one hands down. In terms of elegance, Vinales is perhaps the most immpressive rider in MotoGP.
Sure, Vinales hasn’t always had the bike to win, but the new Aprilia looks like a nice toy to have fun with. This season is a bit of a turning point for his racing career, because you get very few chances when racing an official bike and the guy has already squandered a few, but the old form is coming back and so is consistency.
Aprilia has dealt him a handful of interesting cards, so if Vinales gets off on the right foot, it will be an opportunity not to be missed.
7 – Brad Binder
Nobody likes having Brad Binder in their sights. The only rider from South Africa, Binder is perhaps the toughest rider on the grid and is certainly not afraid to fight.
Binder’s aggressive riding style goes well with KTM’s eclectic character and the pair are certainly doing well, with Brad in the top positions in the World Championship.
Binder will probably not go down in history as one of the greatest riders of all time, but he is certainly one of the most spectacular riders on the grid and an extraordinary talent in hand-to-hand combat.
8 – Alex Rins
When Joan Mir played the joker in 2020 and became Suzuki’s main man, everyone forgot a little about the talent of Alex Rins. But make no mistake: “the frog” has not lost his touch and is one of the most effective men on the tarmac when it comes to taming a MotoGP bike.
Last year he had a strong second half of the season, taking the last victory for the Suzuki, who was close to retirement, at Valencia. During this period it seemed that his confidence with the Hamamatsu bike was second to none.
Alex, who has now found a new home with Lucio Cecchinello‘s LCR Honda, for whom he scored a historic win at the Circuit of the Americas, is ready to pack his bags in the direction of Official Yamaha. With the hope that the three tuning forks will once again resonate as they once did.
9 – Jack Miller
Not only one of the best riders, but also one of the funniest, craziest and brightest guys in the paddock, you can’t help but love Miller. Sure, a bit of a maverick, a free spirit and someone who certainly doesn’t fit into the mold, but this is motorcycling, what do you expect?
After a couple of years with Ducati, Jack was given an official KTM. And although it’s not the first time Jack has ridden a new bike, we all know that the Austrian team is a different story.
The bike is the linchpin of this project. If KTM is willing to follow Jack’s ideas for a better bike, Miller is ready to fight. He is a strong and fierce rider, used to fighting everything, even fate.
What can we say? Viva Miller.
10 – Aleix Espargaro
Good old Aleix has committed himself to Aprilia in a very old-fashioned, romantic, almost heroic way, and finally the good folks at Noale have managed to give him a competitive bike.
After a 2021 in which the RS-GP project was still unripe, 2022 and 2023 are bringing great satisfaction to the rider and the team, who finally manage to win their first race, the Argentine Grand Prix in 2022, a full seven years after their entry into MotoGP.
The more mature Espargaro knows how to pull a rabbit or two out of a hat. Give him a good bike and he will always surprise you.
The best of the rest and a look back
One more question remains, however. Are the 10 best riders in MotoGP also the 10 best riders in the world? Tough question. When it comes to racing on an asphalt track, yes, definitely. However, when mud, desert and various obstacles come into play, we cannot forget the great motocross, rally cross and trials riders.
The best MotoGP riders are unlikely to win a motocross championship against Jeffrey Herlings or Tim Gasjer, or win a Dakar against Sam Sunderland or Toby Price (although Danilo Petrucci came close this year). That said, any article on the 10 best MotoGP riders would not be complete without mentioning some of the iconic names from the past.
Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Mick Doohan were certainly among the best MotoGP riders of all time and I would also add Jorge Lorenzo, Kenny Roberts, Giacomo Agostini and Eddie Lawson to the list.