What's Next in 2024: All Things Motorsport

1 month, 4 weeks ago - 25 December 2023, autoevolution
What's Next in 2024: All Things Motorsport
Seven years have gone by since my life has taken a different turn. For over six years, I used to travel the world for pro drifting, working closely with series and drivers alike. At the end of each season, exhaustion made me eager for the winter break.

But by January, I had already started feeling the need to return to it all. Watching motorsports on your TV at home is comfortable and fun. Still, it does not come close to witnessing it live: the smell of the burnt rubber and fuel, the ear-pounding noise, and the interaction with other fans make the experience infinitely more memorable.

Most major motorsport series on Earth are going through the off-season. The drivers and teams need to unwind and recharge their batteries, and the weather isn't suitable for racing either way. Of course, that's not valid for countries like New Zealand, where the D1NZ Drift Championship just began on December 15. For today's story, I will be discussing five of the most popular and exciting series, along with updates and news for 2024.

MotoGP

You can follow dozens and maybe hundreds of motorcycle racing events for 2024, including the King of the Baggers, the Superbike World Championship, the Motocross World Championship, and so on. But neither can draw in a crowd of 300,000 people for one event, as we saw with the French Grand Prix in 2023. Honda's dominance of the sport has ended, with the Japanese manufacturer last winning a title in 2019.

Ducati is now in control after one title for Suzuki and another for Yamaha, with Francesco Bagnaia scoring two World Titles in 2022 and 2023. If he can win another one next year, he'll be on the same level on an All-Time Greatest list with three victories alongside names like Jorge Lorenzo, Wayne Rainey, and Kenny Roberts. Given Ducati's formidable success in 2023, there's one question on everyone's mind: can Marc Marquez win his seventh career title and catch Valentino Rossi?

His move to Gresini Racing does not bring a contract with Ducati directly, and he will be riding the somewhat outdated Desmosedici GP23 bike. Still, the former World Champion put on one hell of a show during testing in Valencia, and if anything, Marquez is sure to spice up the competition for 2024. In other news, Pedro Acosta will replace Pol Espargaro at Tech3 GasGas Racing, and the 19-year-old Spanish rider could be one of the future title contenders once he settles in.

And if you would like to hear some controversial information, MotGP expelled RNF Aprilia from the series. The Italian manufacturer will still be around for 2024 but will be working with Trackhouse Racing from the United States instead. The new season should start in Qatar on March 10 and end in Spain on November 17.

Formula One

2024 marks the 75th running of the Formula One World Championship, and it's bound to be a big one. After Mercedes AMG F1 dominated the series for seven years between 2014 and 2020, Red Bull Racing has jumped back into the lead starting in 2021. Max Verstappen has seemingly entered God Mode, winning three titles in a row, each time in a more spectacular fashion with more victories and more points scored each year.

Hamilton, Leclerc, and Perez are some of the few drivers who have posed a real threat to the Flying Dutchman, but I doubt they can take the crown from him in 2024. The only potential danger comes from Oscar Piastri, who finished ninth in his Rookie season. But he might not be able to do it in a McLaren, but that may change if the Woking team comes up with a good package for next year. The driver's line-up has remained the same, except for Daniel Ricciardo, who replaced Nyck de Vries earlier this year.

We might see updates in this area during the half-season break. Speaking of which, the drivers will need as much rest as they can. The 2024 calendar has a record-breaking series of 24 events, bound to stretch budgets and energy thin for everyone. From the looks of it, Verstappen might be unstoppable until 2026, at least, when Audi will enter the sport.

WRC

I have continued following the World Rally Championship through the eyes of my friend, Bogdan Barabas, whom I interviewed last year. I've also come closer to the sport by playing the new WRC title from EA Games. But what piqued my interest was the young champion from Finland, Kalle Rovanpera. Winning the championship when he was 22, back in 2022, was a historic moment for the series.

And he wasn't planning on stopping there. He scored another title in 2023, winning against drivers like Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville. But his chances of scoring a third such victory in 2024 are slim to none. That's because he has announced that he will only partially compete in the upcoming season and wants to focus on other activities. And that's what got me all worked up, as the young driver will be more involved with professional drifting next year. That shows how big this sport has become over the past few years, but more on that further down the line.

The calendar for 2024 is more permissive than what's up in F1, as 13 events will happen between January 25 and November 24. We will have to wait at least one more year for a WRC stage in the United States, but the promoter is working towards making it happen. But I think I speak for most fans when I say that it would be great to see more manufacturers involved with the sport other than Ford, Hyundai, and Toyota. But that may never happen, given today's changes in the automotive industry.

Formula Drift

I was thrilled to see Chelsea Denofa finally winning this year's Formula Drift title. I have been following his FD journey for about a decade, and he deserves it. Sadly, he announced he won't be returning to the series in 2024, so it will be interesting to see his plans for the future. Ryan Lanteigne follows suit after many years of being an official judge for the sport.

The year will kick off in Long Beach in April, as expected. The calendar comprises eight rounds for the Pro class, with the final one scheduled at Irwindale in October. The organizers have published a list of approved drivers for 2024, and there are a few exciting appearances there. Former Prospec Champion Dmitriy Brutskiy is finally moving towards the Pro class next year, and so is Andy Hateley. But seeing the Irish wonder-kid Conor Shanahan on the list stirred up a lot of rumors from fans.

The 20-year-old has confirmed that it's not 100% that he will drive in FD next year, but he is looking for a solution. Some people have speculated that he might replace Chelsea Denofa at RTR, but it's more likely that Ben Hobson will be the one to fill that seat judging by previous events. Either way, we'll witness a titanic battle between Aasbo and Deane throughout the season, as they'll both aim for their fourth series title.

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb might not get as much media attention as F1, MotoGP, or the WRC, but it's still the oldest running event on this list. 2024 marks the 102nd anniversary of the Race to the Clouds, and I'm still dreaming of seeing it with my own eyes. Robin Shute has been on top of the game for the past three years with his open-wheel Wolf race car.

He also has an additional King of the Hill title from 2019 to be happy about. In 2023, he went up the hill in 8:40.080, slightly over seven seconds faster than Romain Dumas in the 2023 Ford Performance SuperVan 4. They are tied with four victories each, which means either one could catch up to Rod Millen next year and to Nobujiro Tajima in 2025. The 2024 race takes place on June 23, and we all want to see someone taking down Volkswagen's Unlimited record.

But the I.D. R needed less than eight minutes to climb 12.42 miles (19.99 km), and there's no telling how long that record will last. Now that Mad Mike has completed his Mazda 787D, he may bring that car to the race in 2024 to replace the 4-Rotor Mazda 3. On top of that, Lia Block might show up to the start line driving the Hoonitron instead of the Hoonipigasus. Are you as excited about 2024 as I am? 

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