The season of the year in 2017 in the World Championship is almost here. It is time for my preview. Today I write something about Moto2 category.
There are 32 riders from 13 different countries in the entry list ahead of the new season. The most riders come from Italy – there are 9 of them. Then there are 7 riders from Spain, 3 are from Switzerland, 2 from Germany, Japan and Malaysia. Other countries are represented by 1 rider. These countries are Belgium, France, Portugal, Great Britain, South Africa, Colombia and Australia.
The AGR Team will have one rider in Moto3 (María Herrera) and one rider in Moto2. This rider is Yonny Hernández who was racing in MotoGP in the past few seasons. But for the upcoming season he wasn’t able to find any place in the highest category. So thanks god for that chance from Moto2. It’s really hard to say what to expect but hopefully he will be in Top 10 regularly.
Same as in the last few years Thomas Lüthi will be the rider of this team. Last year he started very well when he won the season opener in Qatar. Then it looked like he started to lose some chances but in the last stage of the season he did really great job. So it will be interesting to watch him this year.
Dynavolt Intact GP
First of all, team Dynavolt changes the Kalex chassis for Suter. They also change their line-up a little bit. Sandro Cortese stays with the team for another season, Marcel Schrötter is his new team mate. It is strong team pair I think. Sandro had pretty hard last year so hopefully everything will be better this year.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS
This team keeps their both riders from last year. Both Franco Morbidelli and Alex Márquez are serious candidates to be one of those fighting for the world title. I think they will be very strong. I have high expectations especially for Morbidelli. Last year he took some podium finishes, he didn’t win but I think his first ever victory (and then maybe some others) are coming in 2017 and for me personally he is the dark horse of the season.
Federal Oil Gresini Moto2
Team Gresini has a new rider in this category from this season. It is Jorge Navarro who comes from Moto3. Last year he was the title contender but then he was so unlucky with lots of crashes and injuries so he lost his chances. I guess it is going to be a year of learning in the new class for him but you never know. He can get good results of course. We will see.
Forward Racing Team
In the past there were some rumours that this team would not keep its place in the World Championship. Luckily they are still there. And they have same line-up as they had last year. Lorenzo Baldassarri and Luca Marini seem to be good pair to me. Balda is one of my favourites to be honest. And I think he can get some podium finishes and also some victories this year. Luca Marini has also already some experience so he just can surprise us. Don’t forget that he is Valentino Rossi’s younger brother so he has the racing in his genes!
Garage Plus Interwetten
This is the structure together with the CarXpert team. They have 3 riders together but divided into 2 teams. In this Garage team they have Jesko Raffin and Iker Lecuona. Jesko is new in this team, but not in the category. Iker already did some races with the team last year. So they both have some experience but hard to say what to expect. Hopefully they will be able to fight for points.
IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia
Takaaki Nakagami stays with the team for another season and I guess he will aim for places on the podium and maybe he will play some role in the title battle, why not. The Japanese rider has a new team mate for this season. It is Khairul Idham Pawi who comes from Moto3 and who you may remember as the one who does well in the extreme weather conditions. Pawi won two races last year, both on wet track. He was also leading Czech GP in the rain but then crashed. But from the other races which were held on dry track there isn’t anything memorable about him. Just average results and even he hardly took some points there. So he definitely needs some stability in his results. Which will be hard as he is now in the new category for him.
Italtrans Racing Team
Mattia Pasini will represent this team also in 2017. But Italtrans is expanding as they will have two riders in the upcoming season. Pasini’s team mate will be his countryman Andrea Locatelli who is coming from Moto3. His move is a small surprise to me to be honest. I didn’t expect him to move to the bigger category that soon. But who knows, maybe Moto2 bike will suit him. During his Moto3 career he was improving step by step so hopefully he will carry some of his experience also to this class.
First big change, the team Leopard is coming back to their original name. So from now on they are Kiefer Racing again. Another big change, they change their chassis from Kalex to Suter. And last but not least, they change their rider’s line-up a little bit. Danny Kent stays in the team for his second season there. Hopefully he will be more lucky that he was in 2016. The new rider here in the team there is Dominique Aegerter who didn’t have very easy end of the previous season. You probably still remember his issues with his previous team. I personally have to say that I wish all the best to these two guys!
Petronas Raceline Malaysia
The Malaysian team keeps their structure with one rider and they keep their Malaysian rider Hafizh Syahrin. He did really great job last year as he finished 9th in the overall standings in the Championship and many times he was fighting on the front and a few times he was really close to a podium finish. And I have to admit that I really would wish him this place. So maybe this year at least once he will realize how it is to be on the podium.
The team is now without Páginas Amarillas and they also change from the Páginas Amarillas yellow design to their original blue and white one. Edgar Pons stays in his father’s team and he has a new team mate. It’s the newcomer from Moto3 Fabio Quartararo. Another surprise for me personally. Because before his Moto3 career there were so many people saying that Fabio was new Márquez and that he was very talented and was for sure going to grab the title. But I didn’t see any of it. Maybe he just was in the wrong place in the wrong time. You can’t know. But really, I heard a lot about him and somehow all the expectations were high and then nothing. So we will see how Fabio does in Moto2.
Red Bull KTM Ajo
Aki Ajo’s team is now also sponsored by Red Bull so they have the Moto3 and Moto2 structure. They also have the KTM chassis which for sure will be interesting to watch. With Johann Zarco coming to MotoGP they have completely new line-up. And they expand to a two riders structure. Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira were already team mates in Moto3. And in Ajo team. So boys are reunited. For me personally very good news as these were my favourite team mates back then in 2015. I also should remark that team Ajo is the team which I love and support so much. So I wish to Brad and Miguel all the best. Brad comes from Moto3 after an amazing season where he won the title. But during the winter break Brad broke his arm. Now it seems to be fine, so fingers crossed. Miguel was already in Moto2 last year with Leopard Team but unfortunately he wasn’t very successful there. He also had some injuries and couldn’t take part in a few race weekends. So let’s hope everything will go well.
RW Racing GP
The RW Racing team quitted the Moto3 category but entered the Moto2 category. They have Kalex bike and one rider which will be Axel Pons. It was actually quite a last time call as it started to seem that we would miss Axel in 2017. But RW Racing did give him a chance. Which is good I guess. Last year it was like a rollercoaster for him in the AGR team. He had lots of races where he didn’t see the chequered flag but he also did some good races and finished in Top 10. He needs more balanced results but hard to say what to expect from new team here.
After last year’s tragedy with Luis Salom team SAG is back. And again with two rider’s structure, just each rider has different sponsors so the team is divided into two different parts. In the SAG Team itself there will be Isaac Viñales who was in Tech 3 last year and he took just 19 points. His best result was P9 in Germany.
Teluru SAG Team
Isaac’s team mate will be racing in team with Teluru sponsor. And it is the Ajo Motorsport Academy rider Tetsuta Nagashima. Together with the Ajo team he was racing in CEV last year in the Moto2 class. He also did some races in the World Championship and he took his first ever points there in his home race in Japan.
SKY Racing Team VR46
The Italian team expands also to Moto2 class. They will use Kalex bikes and two riders will be racing there, both Italians and very talented ones. Francesco Bagnaia comes from Moto3 after very good season with the Aspar team where he took a victory which was also the first every victory for the Mahindra bike. Together Pecco had two victories, one 2nd place and three 3rd places. In the Championship he was 4th which is very good progress as in 2015 he was 14th. So it’s 10 places up! Stefano Manzi was racing in the Red Bull Rookies Cup a few years ago, then he was racing in Moto3 in 2015. But he took only a few points. Last year he appeared in a few race weekends as a wild card in Moto3 and he showed great ride at Silverstone where he finished 4th. He also did some arguable manoeuvres there but I guess that it was because he was too excited and passionate about being and racing there. But for sure talent is coming to this category. We can’t underestimate any of these two.
Speed Up Racing
Speed Up has two bikes in their team for this year. Probably it’s because the other team with Speed Up chassis – QMMF – is no longer there. So Simone Corsi prepares for another season there. His team mate is his countryman Axel Bassani. A surprise that he is coming there. At least for me. But very nice surprise. Axel was racing the World Superbikes last year, he was there in the Supersport category, he finished 12th in the full standings but he did take part only the European races within the FIM Europe Supersport Cup where he took the title. He was the best there. He even was able to fight with the big names from the World category. Big talent is coming!
Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2
Team Tasca Racing stays in the category but they change their rider. They will have just one rider there again and it will be Xavier Simeon. The one I thought that he could fight for the world title a few years ago but then somehow his talent stopped expanding. Really don’t know what happened to him in last few seasons. I’ve always thought he’s such a great talent but last year wasn’t his best actually. Only 17th in the world standings.
Tech 3 Racing
Xavi Vierge stays with the team for another season which I am glad about, that’s what I have to admit. Xavi deserves his chance and I think that now with some experience he will do better than last year. First half of 2016 was a bit hard for him but later how the season was going he was doing better and better and then he even was the regular fighter for Top 10. I believe in regular Top 10 results in the whole season this year. Xavi has new team mate. It is Remy Gardner for whom it will be first full season in Moto2. Last year he came to the Championsip during Catalan GP and since then he did all the races. But he took points only occasionally. He just needs more experience. But I believe that he will be improving during the season. He simply has it in his genes. Don’t forget who is his father!
I guess it will be another exciting season and the fight for the title can be pretty interesting. Four great riders from last year (Zarco, Rins, Lowes, Folger) are now in MotoGP so the chances are pretty open for everyone. I am personally very curious about how it all will be.
Season 2017 starts already next week at the Losail circuit in Qatar. First two free practise sessions are scheduled already for next Thursday.
Photo: EG 0,0 Marc VDS