Analysis, Jack Miller, Jorge Martin, Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati, KTM, statistics, lap records

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Fact: Jack Miller has never ridden a MotoGP bike faster than he has in 2024. Another fact: Jack Miller has never been further from the front in MotoGP.

How can both statements be true?

Simple: MotoGP has never been faster or closer than it has been so far this year, and while Miller and KTM are halting the stopwatch sooner than ever before, their rivals are too. The game, as Miller laments, has changed.

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“The level is ridiculous at the moment and we’re trying to challenge these guys,” he said after the most recent race in Italy, where he finished 16th compared to seventh at the same Mugello track 12 months previously – yet was eight seconds faster over the 23 laps than he was in 2023.

“It’s extremely high, and it’s extremely cutthroat. [Today was] a lot of effort for no points. The boys are riding extremely well and we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s a moving target.

“You’ve either got to try to catch up, or fall off. The health of the sport is obviously in an amazing spot, I got no points today and I was 28 seconds back. That used to be the gap from first to second not too long ago. It’s good and bad, all in the same way.”


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Miller’s maths on what was once the margin between winner and runner-up contains more than a helping of hyperbole, but his sentiment is spot-on.

The eye test backs up his point, but what does a deep dive into the data from the first seven races of 2024 compared to the same seven venues last year tell us? Plenty.

Miller missed out on points in Italy despite being significantly faster than last year. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images


First, explaining the sample size. All seven Grands Prix this season – Qatar, Portugal, Americas, Spain, France, Catalunya and Italy – also appeared on the 2023 schedule, but in a slightly different order.

Qatar, this year’s season-opener as it has been for most of its tenure on the calendar, was the penultimate round of 2023 after extensive renovations to the circuit and a resurfacing of the track. Catalunya, round six this year in May, was race 11 of the 2023 season in September.

Comparing race duration times from the Spanish and Catalan GPs in 2023 to 2024 aren’t valid, as both were red-flagged after first-lap accidents a year ago and restarted with one fewer lap to complete, falling short of a typical full-race distance.

Caveats and asterisks aside, what we do know is that MotoGP bikes have never been more rapid over one lap in qualifying, or Grands Prix distances in races. And the races have never been closer: the average winning gap this season after seven Grands Prix is just 1.042 seconds, the smallest in the world championship’s MotoGP era from 2002 to today.

At five of the seven venues, the all-time circuit lap record has been slaughtered in qualifying – just Spain (where it rained) and Portugal have slower pole position times than a year ago.

On average, pole laps are more than half a second (0.517secs) faster on average than they were a year ago, light years in MotoGP terms where a gap that tiny can be the difference between first and eighth on the grid.

Pole position times, 2024

Qatar: Jorge Martin, Ducati 1min 50.789secs* (0.973secs faster than Qatar 2023)

Portugal: Enea Bastianini, Ducati 1min 37.706secs (0.480secs slower than 2023)

Americas: Maverick Vinales, Aprilia 2mins 00.864secs* (1.028secs faster than 2023)

Spain: Wet qualifying, no comparative data.

France: Martin, Ducati 1min 29.919secs* (0.786secs faster than 2023)

Catalunya: Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia 1min 38.190secs* (0.449secs faster than 2023)

Italy: Martin, Ducati 1min 44.504secs* (0.351secs faster than 2023)

(* – all-time circuit record lap)

Championship leader Martin has already set three all-time circuit records this season. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

What about the Grands Prix themselves? It’s a continuation of the same theme. Race times are down by an average of 13 seconds per race this season for the five comparable events, excluding Spain and Catalunya as mentioned above, while the single-fastest race lap across all seven rounds averages out to 0.580secs speedier this year than last.

The 2024 race in Qatar, on that aforementioned billiard table-smooth new asphalt, was 14 seconds faster than 2023, while Miller’s lament in Mugello – where he was faster than the year previously yet finished nine places worse off – was reflected in race-winner Francesco Bagnaia’s pace; the reigning world champion won his home GP for Ducati in both years, but was 25 seconds faster over 23 laps this June than last year.


Ducati has been the bike to beat again in 2024 – after winning 17 of 20 races last year, the Bologna bullets have won all but one of the seven Grands Prix so far this season, Maverick Vinales and Aprilia preventing a clean sweep in Austin in round three.

While three of Ducati’s rivals – Aprilia, KTM and Yamaha – have picked up the pace in 2024, it’s not enough in a season where most manufacturers have significantly shifted the goalposts.


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While Miller hasn’t been the leading KTM finisher in any race – he’s crashed into retirement at three of the seven and remounted to trundle home last in Qatar after a second-lap spill – the Austrian marque has been the biggest improver year-on-year.

Honda’s average race time is behind last year’s purely because of one outlier result, the Americas GP where Luca Marini was the only one of the four Honda riders to finish (and in last place), and with a race duration 28secs slower than Alex Rins’ winning time for Honda 12 months previously at the same venue.

Average race times by bike, 2024 (leading finisher for each manufacturer)

KTM: 19.2secs faster on average

Ducati: 13.2secs faster

Aprilia: 8secs faster

Yamaha: 6secs faster

Honda: 7secs slower

(stats based on five comparable Grands Prix: Qatar, Portugal, Americas, France, Italy)

KTM and Ducati have completed every race distance faster than they did in 2023, while Aprilia’s numbers are skewed from Portugal, where Vinales was nine-tenths of a second behind race-leader Martin in second place entering the final lap before crashing, the next-best Aprilia (Espargaro) finishing eighth and a distant 21.549secs off the win.

Yamaha has been slower in more than half its finishes than last year, while at Honda, its struggles paint a stark picture; yes, its leading rider in Italy (Johann Zarco) was 16 seconds faster at Mugello than the quickest Honda finisher in 2023, but the Frenchman finished 19th and eight seconds shy of scoring even a single world championship point.

Zarco and Honda have been faster than 2023, but are still well adrift of the other four manufacturers in MotoGP. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images


Miller’s comment about the pace of MotoGP being good and bad? It applies equally to his own season, where the stats suggest his pace – when he completes races – is faster than ever, but is falling short of the rate of progress elsewhere.

The Australian is 0.110secs faster on average in qualifying this year than he was in 2023, yet his average starting position (11.6) is well behind last year’s (7.8), where he qualified inside the first two rows of the grid nine times in 20 races.

This year, he’s qualified inside the top six just once (fifth in Portugal), and with just four of the past 27 races dating back to the start of last year being won from lower than the first two rows, he’s regularly been on a road to nowhere even before the lights go out on a Sunday.

Miller’s front-running pace in Portugal was an outlier in the context of his season. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The compact nature of this year’s grid is perhaps best demonstrated by the margin from first to worst in Q2, the final phase of qualifying that determines the top 12 places on the grid.

In 2024, the average gap from pole to 12th place is a mere 0.975secs; one missed apex or one clipped kerb can be the first step in untying a weekend that can quickly unravel.

In races, Miller was faster in Italy – to no avail, as he mused at Mugello – while in Qatar, he was 16secs slower than 2023 after he’d lost 10 seconds picking his bike out of the gravel trap at the second corner on his second lap and continuing with a damaged machine to the finish.

Spain (where he was taken out by Ducati’s Franco Morbidelli) along with France and Catalunya (where he crashed out on his own) offer no meaningful comparison year-on year.

Miller’s green shoots of improvement – particularly when juxtaposed with the relentlessly stunning speed shown from the get-go by Spanish rookie Pedro Acosta on the sister KTM-run GasGas bike in 2024 – offer a statistical justification for the Austrian brand’s decision to demote the former for the latter in 2025, with the Australian’s MotoGP longevity on life support.

Jack Miller stats, 2023 vs 2024


Qualifying: 1min 51.340secs (11th), 0.549secs faster than 2023

Race: 40min 17.630secs (21st), 16secs slower

Fastest lap: 1min 53.927secs (21st), 0.209secs slower


Qualifying: 1min 38.032secs (5th), 0.483secs slower than 2023

Race: 41min 34.575secs (5th), 0.793secs slower

Fastest lap: 1min 39.288secs (10th), 0.232secs slower


Qualifying: 2min 02.297secs (11th), 0.787secs faster than 2023

Race: 41min 33.514secs (13th), comparison inconclusive (DNF/crash in 2023)

Fastest lap: 2min 03.468secs (14th), 1.237secs slower


Qualifying: 1min 48.672secs (15th), comparison inconclusive (wet track in 2024)

Race: 28min 07.033secs (DNF, crash on lap 18 of 25)

Fastest lap: 1min 38.350secs (14th), 0.313secs slower than 2023


Qualifying: 1min 31.007secs (11th), 0.023secs slower than 2023

Race: 24min 42.132secs (DNF, crash on lap 17 of 27)

Fastest lap: 1min 31.978secs (15th), 0.372secs faster


Qualifying: 1min 38.763secs (9th), 0.469secs faster than 2023

Race: 3min 26.356secs (DNF, crash on lap 3 of 24)

Fastest lap: 1min 40.857secs (17th), 0.022secs faster


Qualifying: 1min 45.824secs (19th), 0.638secs slower than 2023

Race: 41min 19.802secs (16th), 8.060secs faster

Fastest lap: 1min 46.994secs (18th), 0.393secs faster

Miller’s KTM teammate Brad Binder, also overshadowed by Acosta this season after finishing 2023 as the best non-Ducati rider in the championship in fourth place, chimed in at the Australian’s media debrief at Mugello with a succinct summation of how the stakes have been raised in 2024.

“I didn’t have the pace today, no matter what I tried I was a little bit slower than I needed to be,” the South African said after finishing in 10th place.

“I had the carrot in front of me the whole race with the guys ahead, but honestly I could just see them creeping away and as much as I tried to catch up, it wasn’t really happening.”

Told Bagnaia had shorn 25 seconds off his race-winning time at the same circuit in 12 months, Binder could only shrug.

“Apparently I was [only] 18 seconds quicker than I was last year … and that’s my issue.”

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