Double defending champion Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) is the big favorite for the MotoGP season which opens this weekend in Qatar. But he will face several strong competitors, starting with six-time world champion Marc Marquez.

The Spaniard, who arrives at Ducati in the Gresini satellite team, could reshuffle the cards, while his compatriot Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac) will want to reach the Holy Grail after finishing second last season.

The six-time world champion in the premier category, who arrives at Ducati after eleven seasons in MotoGP riding a Honda, could get involved in the fight for the title, even if he denies it.

Indeed, the 31-year-old Spaniard will first have to tame his new mount and regain confidence after four years marked by injuries and falls.

If he says he wants above all to find pleasure again, it is difficult to imagine that the Catalan does not dream of regaining the victory which has eluded him since 2021.

The 26-year-old Madrilenian, last candidate for the 2023 title against Bagnaia last year, finally lost to the consistency of his opponent during the last Grand Prix of the year.

For his fourth and perhaps final season riding a Ducati-Pramac, one of the best bikes in the field with the official Ducati ridden by Bagnaia, the Spaniard could still be a serious candidate for the title this year.

If he maintains his aggressiveness while channeling his passion which sometimes pushed him to make mistakes, Martin should once again be able to beat him at the front.

Riding a Ducati from the satellite team VR46, the 25-year-old Italian played among the best for a long time last year, before falling behind in the final straight of the season, notably due to a fracture occurred in October.

Winner of his first three GPs in the premier category in 2023, the protégé of the legend Valentino Rossi has all the cards in hand to join the fight for the title at the dawn of his 3rd season in the elite.

Even if he will not have the same bike as Bagnaia, like last year, he proved that he could achieve good performances with the Desmosedici from the previous season.

The South African appears to be the strongest candidate outside the Ducati fold to be able to fight for the world title this year.

With his five GP podiums – and two victories in the sprints on Saturday, the 28-year-old rider made good use of the speed of his KTM last year to finish fourth in the championship – and will try to continue his momentum.

The 2020 Moto2 world champion remains in a very frustrating season and will absolutely have to bounce back to keep his handlebars in the official Ducati team next season.

The 26-year-old Italian, who missed a good part of the 2023 season due to injuries, nevertheless achieved success at the end of the year in Malaysia, returning to his level of 2022, when he won four races and finished third of the championship.

Bastianini will once again ride the best bike on the grid this year and his good times during the winter tests suggest that he will join the fight for the title with Bagnaia, his teammate.