The upcoming 2020 MotoGP season is due to see three riders compete in their first full season in the premier class. Here is a look at who the three riders are and a rundown of their careers to date.
The first rookie is Spaniard Iker Lecuona who did make his MotoGP debut at the back end of the 2019 season when he replaced the injured Miguel Oliveira at the Tech 3 KTM team for the Valencian Grand Prix.
However 2020 will be Lecuona’s first full season in the premier class having entered the MotoGP classes in the latter stages of 2016 at the Moto2 level with a Kalex run bike. His highest finish of the season was nineteenth which he achieved on his debut at the British Grand Prix.
Having competed in six races in 2016 Lecuona competed in thirteen during 2017, once again at the Moto2 level and also still aboard a Kalex. He went on to finish ten of the thirteen races with his highest finish coming in Malaysia where he was classified inside the top fifteen. It would be his only points finish of the campaign, while he also failed to start at the Circuit of the Americas and the French Grand Prix.
For the 2018 season the Spaniard moved to the Moto2 KTM bike. He would go on to accumulate eighty points across the season on his way to twelfth in the championship with a highest finish of second at the final race of the season in Valencia, his maiden podium finish in the intermediate class.
He improved his points tally slightly last season accumulating ninety points on his way once again to finishing twelfth in Moto2 in a season where he achieved another podium finish, this time in Thailand.
It has perhaps been a surprise to see Iker Lecuona graduate up to MotoGP so soon as he has spent a short amount of time in the MotoGP classes as well as considering his results to date. But with Johann Zarco terminating his KTM contract early and the promotion of Brad Binder to the factory KTM team, the door was opened for someone such as Lecuona to potentially earn a place in the premier class sooner than expected. It is also in part thanks to Herve Poncharal, the boss of Tech 3 KTM, that Lecuona has the ride as Poncharal sees a lot of potential in the Spaniard. How much of this potential will be unlocked throughout the 2020 season will be interesting to see.
Also making his debut in the premier class will be Alex Marquez.
Marquez’s MotoGP deal was done very late as it materialised after Jorge Lorenzo’s retirement, freeing up the factory Honda bike that Marquez will ride in the 2020 season alongside his brother Marc.
Alex Marquez joined the MotoGP classes back in 2012 in the Moto3 class. He contested eleven races during the season claiming a highest finish of sixth. He would finish the season having been classified inside the points in seven of the eleven races he contested, finishing the season twentieth in the championship with a tally of twenty seven points.
He remained in Moto3 for the 2013 season where he rode a KTM bike. He had a very good season claiming fourth in the opening round in Qatar, one of the fifteen occasions he was classified inside the points throughout the seventeen race season. The 2013 season also saw Marquez claim his maiden podium finish and victory in the lightweight class with his debut podium finish being a second at Indianapolis while his maiden win came seven races later in Japan. By the end of 2013 Marquez had accumulated 213 points on his way to fourth in the championship.
For the 2014 season he remained in the Moto3 class but switched to the Honda bike. He was classified in the points in sixteen of the eighteen races contested, claiming three victories and a total of ten podium finishes on his way to clinching the Moto3 championship.
He moved up to Moto2 in 2015 where his highest finish of the season was fourth, on his way to fourteenth in the championship with a haul of seventy three points. He improved his championship position the following season, although scored fewer points than his debut Moto2 campaign. The 2016 season did however see Marquez claim his maiden Moto2 podium, at the Aragon Grand Prix.
He improved in 2017, taking his first victory in the intermediate class in Jerez, one of three victories he would claim during the season on his way to fourth in the championship. There was a dip in his points haul the following season which saw no victories added to his three of 2017, although Marquez still managed to finish the season in fourth once again.
Despite a slow start, 2019 saw Marquez challenge for the Moto2 title which he eventually clinched after the penultimate race of the season.
Alex Marquez is potentially the rookie most under pressure, with the ‘the brother of Marc Marquez’ tag on him as well as being in the same team as his brother. To add to this will be the scrutiny of comparing him to former Marc Marquez teammates Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo as well as the comparison with Cal Crutchlow who will be riding the same bike as Alex Marquez, albeit run by the LCR team.
The final MotoGP rookie is South African Brad Binder who will ride for the factory KTM team, although he was originally contracted to ride for the Tech 3 KTM team prior to Johann Zarco’s contract termination.
Binder first appeared in the MotoGP classes in 2011 when Moto3 was known as the 125cc class. He made five appearances in the 2011 season with a highest classified finish of seventeenth, achieved on his debut at Indianapolis.
He contested a full season in 2012 as the 125cc class changed to become Moto3. He finished inside the points in four races with a highest finish of fourth achieved at the season finale in Valencia as he finished the season placed twenty first in the championship with twenty four points.
He improved his points tally the following season, accumulating sixty six points. Once again he achieved a highest finish of fourth and was classified inside the points on thirteen occasions throughout the season, placing thirteenth in the championship.
2014 saw Binder stay in the Moto3 class where he achieved his first podium finish, a second place in Germany. He would also finish inside the top three in Japan as he continued to improve on his points tally as well as worked his way up the championship, finishing the season in eleventh, having only failed to be classified in the points in three of the eighteen races.
The South African competed in his fifth season at 125cc/Moto3 level in 2015. More importantly this would be the start of a continuous relationship with KTM. He improved once again, finishing the season in sixth and managing to claim four podium finishes across the season as well as only failing to be classified inside the points on four occasions across the eighteen race season.
2016 would be Binder’s last season in Moto3 where he would go on and claim the championship taking seven victories throughout the season. He once again only failed to be classified inside the points in two of the eighteen races while he finished inside the top five in sixteen races, of which fourteen of those were podium finishes.
He made the step up to Moto2 in 2017, staying with KTM. He had an impressive season, finishing eighth in the championship, despite missing three races. Binder had a particularly strong finish to the season where he was classified inside the top five in five of the last six races of the season. This included a three race podium streak at the very end of a campaign which saw him score points in twelve of the fifteen races he contested.
Binder stayed in Moto2 for the 2018 season which saw him claim three victories on his way to finishing the campaign third in the championship. He was once again consistent throughout the season, being classified inside the points in sixteen of the eighteen races contested.
It was a similar story for his final campaign in Moto2 in 2019 where he finished inside the top fifteen in seventeen of the nineteen races. He also claimed five victories throughout the season which included winning the final three races of 2019 on his way to second in the championship.
Brad Binder could be one of the most exciting riders to watch during the coming season considering his consistency as well as if he is able to adapt to the premier class as quickly as he did in Moto2. He should have a good benchmark in his teammate, Pol Espargaro, who has been impressive on the KTM over the years.
It will be interesting to see how the three riders perform during the 2020 season as there is the potential for all three to be able to grab viewers attention throughout the season.