Pedro Acosta is the name at the top of many stories or comments about the MotoGP silly season for 2024 and with good reason. Tap into some of the 19-year-old’s mindset that has carried him so far, so quickly.

By Adam Wheeler

“As a kid, I didn’t like being behind people…so I always looked for ways to pass other riders as quickly as I could.” ~ Pedro Acosta, 2023 PC: Polarity Photo

Aki Ajo has helped and developed a plethora of young motorcycle racing talent in his two-decade tenure in Grand Prix racing but very few have fizzled as intensely as Pedro Acosta. It already says something that the Spaniard is being labelled a ‘once in a generation’ athlete despite being in extremely good company for his nationality and with names like Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Mir and Marquez having set the standards.

Why is Red Bull KTM Ajo racer so hyped? First of all, his results are the most immediate marker. At the time of writing he has started just 44 Grands Prix (only two and a half seasons in the world championship) but has taken a podium trophy in 19 of those (and in both Moto3™ and Moto2™) including 13 wins and one world championship: he earned the Moto3 crown as a rookie in 2021. He is a ridiculously fast learner and since he burned his way through a second attempt at the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup in 2020. He finished as runner-up on his GP race debut in 2021 and then won the next three races in a row.

Young rookie Acosta winning the Moto3™ World Championship in 2021 with Aki Ajo PC: Polarity Photo

After vaulting into Moto2 in 2022 he needed only seven starts to master the quicker, heavier and more advanced motorcycle before again standing victorious. He broke his left femur in a training accident but limped back into action and claimed more races before the end of the campaign. In 2023 he has classified away from a Moto2 rostrum only twice to-date.

Behind the results, and the zany youthful behaviour hides a hard worker and a shrewd operator. Acosta knows he is highly rated and in-demand but has remained placid and unshowy in his profile. Meanwhile his on-track performances are bursting with energy and invention. He oozes natural ability for balance, co-ordination, strategy and for feeling the limits and possibilities of a motorcycle. Just watch as he attacks different lines or tries alternative approaches and how he overtakes with unflinching commitment.

Sitting down to talk with Pedro is a task. His thickly accented English is even more dense in Murcian Spanish. It’s a mission to decipher the youngster (we speak in his native tongue), but he is responsive and thoughtful, fixing you with a focused look, a muscular but lithe appearance and with eyes that appear a lot lighter than they seem on TV. Acosta’s rise has been so good and so fast that many people know more about what he has done rather than the man himself. Here, then, are some of his thoughts and philosophies as he zeros on the Moto2 crown and MotoGP participation before his 20th birthday.

A ‘once in a generation athlete’ making his mark in the Moto2™ class PC: Polarity Photo

All the important sportsmen, I think they all believe they are the best in the world at what they do… So, you have to have this belief too. It’s important to think that if someone else can achieve something then you can do it also. I don’t think this belief has to radically change your personality. The word ‘confidence’ doesn’t need to change the humility you have. Many people can call you ‘arrogant’ but, in the end, that is a state of mind. A state of mind is something – a feeling – that you want to transmit, and it doesn’t have to be connected with actually who you are.

Building a mentality is based a lot on results and how you feel… There are no easy days; even for the elite guys. A rider who has won a lot of races, a lot of titles, gets injured and comes back to win then this shows a mentality. It shines through.

The biggest issue [in this world] is knowing what you are capable of and the pressure you put on yourself to make it happen… If you can make a result and it doesn’t come – and the results don’t arrive generally – then this is something else. I think it’s important to know what you can do and to think long-term while knowing that this whole thing [sport] is like a rollercoaster and will go up and down. You can’t only think about tomorrow. So, it’s important to have confidence in yourself but also be relaxed.

Claiming victory after only a few attempts at the new and more advanced motorcycle, Acosta is ready for the second half of the 2023 season PC: Polarity Photo

As a kid, I didn’t like being behind people… so I always looked for ways to pass other riders as quickly as I could.

In Moto3 I was training a lot with a motocross bike and every lap the track seemed to change quite a lot and that meant I arrived at a point where I could think very quickly about what I needed to do… It also meant that I could adapt very quickly to many situations. This helped me form a lot of confidence to say to myself ‘look, you’ve done it once, you can do it twice without problem’. I think people that don’t train much on the bike miss this. It is very easy to automate things rather than do what is necessary to improve. If you are a professional racer, then you need to train with a bike. Any bike. Motocross is an extreme form of this, but I know there are some road racers that hardly ever get on a bike. I think that would be really difficult for me; riding is not really ‘work’! You have to enjoy every training session and every moment on the bike and remember that when you were a kid then this is what you wanted to do all the time!

I think the important thing [in the spotlight] is to be natural… It seems like the whole world is focused on being very politically correct and sometimes we are missing a spark. I think what fans are looking for – and what also makes your life easier anyway – is the fact that you shouldn’t try to be someone you are not. Be who you are. This is something I took very well from my first year in the world championship. I think I have improved a lot in my way to deal with sponsors and my image. I’ve become more professional and the likes of Aki and some people in the media have helped to understand that this side is also part of racing.

Pedro Acosta feeling the limits and shining his ability for balance and coordination PC: Polarity Photo

You have to understand that not every day will be a red letter day… A year ago I would have said “it’s not going to be my day? Well, I’m going to try and make it my day then…” but the reality is that, often, there is not much you can do. If you look further down the line, then a championship is worth much more than a race. So, if one weekend you have to bite your tongue and take a 2nd place then you need to do it. Everything is focused on the end goal: the title. It’s a step that comes when a rider matures.

Am I too young for MotoGP? I don’t know. I always see myself as very young! I think KTM is a young brand in MotoGP but have come a long way in a very short space of time and there are big experts and expert opinions here. I think their help will allow me to make the right decision.