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Why MotoGP's star rookie Acosta has already got KTM orbiting around him

OPINION: Pedro Acosta's explosive breakthrough in MotoGP has taken the paddock by storm. The 19-year-old's high projected ceiling and the current rider market situation give the Spaniard a power that no other KTM rider has ever had, which makes him the cornerstone of the Austrian manufacturer's present and future

Pedro Acosta, Red Bull GASGAS Tech3

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Pedro Acosta's third place in last weekend's MotoGP Portuguese Grand Prix makes him the third youngest rider in the premium category ever to score a podium. Only Randy Mamola (19 years and 261 days) and Eduardo Salatino (19 days and 274 days) have managed the feat at a younger age than Acosta, who ascended the Portimao rostrum on Sunday at the age of 19 years and 304 days.

Without detracting from Mamola and Salatino's achievements, and assuming that comparisons between athletes from different eras are always distorted, it is clear that the current level of competition in the world championship makes the rookie's feat a memorable one.

Since the arrival of Marc Marquez in 2013, no newcomer has performed at the level of the Tech3 youngster, who has already proven capable of stealing the limelight from such established stars as Francesco Bagnaia and even Marquez himself.

Despite having only been in MotoGP for two grands prix, the stats that accompany the youngster from Murcia and the calculations made by Pierer Mobility of what is to come place Acosta in a privileged position to become the spearhead of Stefan Pierer's group. In fact, if we pay attention to those who spoke about him at the Algarve circuit, he probably already is.

In Qatar, his first race in the premier class, Acosta finished ninth in the main race, but was hampered in the final laps by an overload in his arm as a result of the forced movement he had to make to activate the rear height device, which had changed position from the one he had occupied in the pre-season test.

That problem, coupled with a very aggressive riding style that doesn't take great care of the tyres, dropped him back from having the podium in his sights with eight laps to go. But he still had time to record the fastest lap, making him the youngest ever to do so.

With the lever repositioned for the second round on the calendar, Acosta let loose in Portugal. In an era when most of the grid agrees that overtaking is virtually impossible with the prominent aerodynamics of today's bikes, the 'Shark' went on a binge.

Acosta made remarkable progress through the pack in Sunday's race, sending out a statement by passing reigning champion Bagnaia

Acosta made remarkable progress through the pack in Sunday's race, sending out a statement by passing reigning champion Bagnaia

Photo by: Dorna

After starting seventh, he completed the first lap in the same spot but lost one on lap four. From there, he waited for things to calm down a bit before unleashing an attack that saw him overhaul Jack Miller (seventh) and Brad Binder (sixth), his theoretical leaders at KTM.

Acosta then attacked Marquez to move up to fifth, behind Bagnaia, whom he studied for a long time. He overtook the reigning champion with four laps to go, before Maverick Vinales' Aprilia broke down with less than four kilometres to go before the chequered flag, serving Acosta a podium slot on a silver platter.

As soon as he had finished, his rivals could only surrender to the confidence of their predator with the face of a child who had astonished them with the way he made the bike bend to his whim.

Acosta's agreement has several variables and an expiration date set for 2025 - provided that KTM agrees to place him in its works team - or that he decides to opt out. The Austrian manufacturer has no power over him for 2026

"I said it before and I say it again; Pedro is going to achieve great things this year," said Marquez. "He will score podiums and victories, and who knows if he won't fight for the title?

"I have always been lucky to have team-mates who have pushed me to be better, and he is no exception," added Binder. "I hope that, together, we can take this project to success."

"He's not really on top of the bike, he's out of the bike a lot," observed Miller. "He has everything touching the ground. Looks like his head is about to touch the ground at some point. The style is impressive, especially when you look behind. I can only wish to ride like that. I'm a little less stylish, maybe.

"We have improved this KTM an incredible amount in the last 12 months, he's taking full advantage of it. Now we need to use him as a target and try to understand what he is doing differently and learn from him."

"If it's impressive to see what he does in the races, you should see the videos he sends us when he's training," an authoritative Tech3 team member tells Autosport. "I didn't think anyone could lean that much on a 1000cc street bike!

Miller has utmost respect for Acosta's riding style

Miller has utmost respect for Acosta's riding style

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

"The good thing about Pedro is that he's going straight ahead. We all know that he has set himself a goal and he's going for it. Politics and games don't interest him, and that's a good thing in a company like this."

There are indicators that reflect the relevance that Acosta has in the current ecosystem of the Pierer Mobility group. For starters, the treatment he has achieved on a sporting level, from which his team-mate also benefits.

"Pedro is getting to be treated as an official rider for all intents and purposes," acknowledges Augusto Fernandez. "They're not going to take away any of the parts that Brad and Jack have, because he's earned it."

In fact, KTM had to make an effort to provide Acosta with the carbon chassis that he has been using since pre-season, and which, due to company policy, has also been made available to Fernandez.

On a contractual level, the Moto3 (2021) and Moto2 (2023) world champion is not as locked in as Pierer would like, although Acosta himself is grateful for the efforts and treatment he receives every time a microphone is put in front of him. His agreement has several variables and an expiration date set for 2025 - provided that KTM agrees to place him in its works team - or that he decides to opt out. The Austrian manufacturer has no power over him for 2026.

At this stage, there is no indication of a possible departure, but neither is there an absolute guarantee that he will stay.

"The team is making it much easier for me," concedes Acosta. "I'm not the easiest person on a race weekend, but the guys are helping me a lot. Every day I wake up with 20 messages from my engineers on my phone, with a lot of information that is very useful for me."

It is understood that currently the sporting project prevails as the priority aspect, even ahead of the economic side. What is clear is that Acosta will use this situation to get the most out of it, just as he does with the bike he rides.

Acosta has quickly emerged as one of KTM's most precious assets

Acosta has quickly emerged as one of KTM's most precious assets

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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