Who are the top MotoGP rookies you should be watching out for in 2022?

A new racing season means a new crop of rookies ready to make their mark, but who should you be keeping an eye out for?

Raul Fernandez Moto2 2021 Misano test.jpg

THE 2022 MotoGP season gets underway this weekend in Qatar, so here is a look at some of the rookies we think you should be looking out for this year.

MotoGP - Raul Fernandez

Starting with the premier MotoGP class, we think Raul Fernandez will be the rookie to watch out for as he makes his top class debut with Tech 3 KTM Factory Racing. Fernandez is the obvious pick, having taken experienced Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate, Remy Gardner, to the final round in their Moto2 title fight in 2021, in what was Fernandez’ first year in the intermediate class. Not since Marc Marquez made his first Moto2 appearance in 2011 had the middleweight Grand Prix division seen a rookie season like it, with Fernandez taking eight wins and four further podiums. 

When he made his first official MotoGP appearances earlier this year at the IRTA tests, Fernandez impressed further still, when he finished the Sepang test - the only particularly representative test as a result of the track surface issues in Mandalika - in 19th, only one second off the pace. A concussion cut his preseason short, and perhaps KTM’s RC16 is not as competitive as the Ducatis of fellow rookies Fabio Di Giannantonio and Marco Bezzecchi, for example, but Fernandez’ relaxed riding style should suit Michelin’s MotoGP tyres well, which as we have seen in the past few seasons is one of the most critical parts of racing in MotoGP.

Moto2: Pedro Acosta

For Moto2, the pick is perhaps even more obvious than that of Fernandez in MotoGP. Pedro Acosta set the racing world alight last season, winning his second ever Grand Prix from pit lane, and eventually winning the Moto3 title in what turned out to be a tight battle with Dennis Foggia. The move to Moto2 was an obvious choice, considering his points lead midway through the season and the hectic, unpredictable reality of Moto3 racing. But, even with Acosta’s proven ability in the lightweight class, it was still impressive to see him top the final Moto2 preseason test, 0.154s ahead of his teammate, the experienced Moto2 race winner Augusto Fernandez. 

Acosta’s star is rising quickly, and MotoGP factories are already chasing his signature for the earliest point possible. Whether that pressure gets to Acosta in his debut Moto2 campaign remains to be seen, but before lights out in Qatar there is not another intermediate class rookie who warrants the attention #51 has received in recent weeks and months.

Moto2: Dani Holgado

Moto3 is significantly more complicated than the other two classes, primarily because we have not seen much-if-any of the 2022 rookies at Grand Prix level. It might seem an insignificance - after all, they were racing effectively Moto3 Grand Prix machinery in the Moto3 Junior World Championship last season, but the change to Grand Prix has caused problems for many a rookie: Ducati’s new factory World Supersport rider, 2015 Junior World Champion Nicolo Bulega being perhaps the best example. 

But, one rookie’s 2021 stands out above the rest: that of Dani Holgado. The Spaniard finished the Red Bull Rookies Cup season with two wins, and the Junior World Championship season as the champion, with five wins. Moto3's new #96 also stood in at three Grands Prix last year, with a highlight of 13th in Portimao. Holgado will also be the replacement this year for Pedro Acosta at the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team. Big shoes to fill, no doubt, but you also have to remember that Acosta was something of an anomaly. It is also worth noting that Holgado comes into the season only just over a month on from breaking a leg in January. So, expect him to grow as the season progresses.

All three Grand Prix classes get underway for their respective 2022 seasons this weekend at the traditional opening venue of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.