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Rating the rookies of 2021 MotoGP… bright futures or one-hit wonders?

Have rookies Jorge Martin, Luca Marini and Enea Bastianini done enough in the first-half of the 2021 MotoGP season to justify their premier places?

Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati MotoGP


The opening half of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season picked up where last year’s left off with tight margins up and down the field ensuring one of the most competitive grids seen in the series’ history (arguably!).

However, the season has been a particular milestone for the three rookies stepping up to MotoGP in 2021 - Jorge Martin, Luca Marini and Enea Bastianini - who have attempted to cut a dash in both pressured and quality surroundings.

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So with the opening half of the season having crossed into the summer break, it’s high time for the trio to evaluate their opening salvos, where they have found their niche and where there is room for improvement during the second-half of the year.

Does a bright future await?

Jorge Martin

His Moto2 campaign didn’t quite go to plan in 2020, Jorge Martin nonetheless came into the 2021 MotoGP season with the most lucrative seat of the newcomers at Pramac Racing.

More than that, Martin has a current-specification Ducati GP21 at his disposal which while a benefit when it comes to the oily bits, places him directly in competition with some impressive benchmarks in his trio of GP21 team-mates Jack Miller, Pecco Bagnaia and Johan Zarco.

It has been difficult to gauge his season thus far, the Spaniard having missed a handful of races with a nasty injury sustained in Portugal. However, that came on the back of a stunning showing in the second of the two Qatar MotoGP races with a remarkable pole position in only his second ever MotoGP race.

Perhaps more impressive was his cool and calm approach to the more difficult bit come Sunday, getting a great start and comfortably managing the pace out front. While many may have predicted he’d eventually slip back down the field as his experience told, Martin instead very nearly pulled off a lights-to-flag success, only being usurped late on by Fabio Quartararo.

His third place finish all-but-guaranteed his renewed ride for 2022 and while the results haven’t come as easily since he returned from injury, he has security now to concentrate on development in the latter half of the year.

Rating: 7/10

Luca Marini

He doesn’t share the hallowed name but as Valentino Rossi’s brother, Luca Marini’s graduation to the premier class - after a lengthy six seasons gestating in Moto2 - was still a major development for the growing number of Italians that sit on the MotoGP grid (seven in all).

Echoing the path of another famous brother, Alex Marquez, Marini hasn’t enjoyed the most seamless of routes into MotoGP, not helped by pedalling the ageing Avintia Ducati GP19, which has now seen its best days in the current context of 21-spec machinery.

For Marini, he finds the best reference point in team-mate Bastianini on the same bike, another newcomer finding their way, but results haven’t peaked beyond a 12th place so far, even if it puts him in surprisingly close range with Rossi for what is their first competitive season racing against one another on the same grid.

To his credit, he has at least finished each race so far this season and has the ‘Doctor’ in his corner too… but he will hope for a significant upturn in form for the second half of the season to ease him into what will probably be a high profile VR46 Racing Ducati seat for 2022.

Rating: 5.5/10

Enea Bastianini

The Moto2 World Champion is unusual in that he’s riding a two-year old Ducati but does have a Ducati-endorsed deal in the Avintia Racing set up. Less experienced than Marini and arguably the one tipped to scale greater heights considering his age and burgeoning skills.

While he didn’t cover himself with glory in an error-strewn Italian MotoGP at Mugello when he misjudged the hard-braking Johann Zarco on the run to the grid - leading to a dramatic unintentionally ‘Stoppie’ that flung the bike behind and over him - Bastianini has shown some impressive flashes on the GP19.

A trio of top ten results has seen him maintain a solid position in the standings after nine races while he has the better qualifying record compared with Marini too, even if he hasn’t quite cracked Q2 as yet.

The highest-ranked of the three rookies coming into the summer break, more favourable circuits for the dated but still top speed efficient GP19 are in the offing, though this remains the case for his two rivals here

Modest ingredients but Bastianini is whipping up a satisfying first season in MotoGP

Rating: 8/10