The season 2017 in Motorbike World Championship – MotoGP – is closer and closer. So it is time for the preview ahead of the new season. Let’s look at who will be racing there and in which team.
There are 23 riders in the entry list. Imagine that 10 riders (which means it’s almost the half of the whole racing field) come from Spain. Then there are 4 Italians, 4 British riders, 2 riders are from France. Czech republic, Germany and Australia are represented by 1 rider. So together we will see there riders from 7 different countries and almost everybody comes from Europe, just 1 is from the down under.
There are 4 newcomers in the category. I already mentioned it time ago in the other post but I have to say it once again. I guess it will be pretty excited to follow the battle for the best rookie of the season.
There are 3 World MotoGP Champions who have 13 titles together. But if we count also the riders with the titles from the lower categories and also from the other Championships then we will see 12 riders who have a World title by their names.
So who are these riders for the 2017 season?
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
The Aprilia MotoGP has changed their whole riders’ line-up. This season there are Aleix Espargaró and Sam Lowes. Aleix Espargaró is already well-known MotoGP rider but unfortunately with any big success. Last season he was racing in the Suzuki team and he didn’t do bad at all. But his team mate did just outshine him. Sam Lowes is a rookie there. Last few seasons he was racing in Moto2 and he did win there a few races. But he also was quite unlucky with some crashes. Last year it was 5th place for him in the final standings but honestly he was meant to be the title contender so it was a small disappointment. Lowes is one of those riders who have a world title. In 2013 he became the Supersport World Champion. Earlier – in 2010 – he also won the British Supersport Championship title.
Andrea Dovizioso stays with the red colours for his already 5th season. During these years he did score some podiums (and one victory) but especially at the beginning of the last season he was so unlucky. He is also a world champion but this was quite a long time ago. He won the 125cc title already in 2004. There were already lots of talking about the move of the year. This was about Jorge Lorenzo coming to Ducati. Suddenly almost everyone started to guess how the Spaniard would do there and with the bike as we know that Ducati doesn’t suit to everybody. After many years with Yamaha this is going to be very interesting to watch. Actually, during his MotoGP career he was racing only for Yamaha. Jorge is very successful rider, as you may know. He has 3 MotoGP world titles, he is also double 250cc World Champion from 2006 and 2007.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS
The Marc VDS team is one the few teams who don’t change their rider’s line-up at all. Both Jack Miller and Tito Rabat stay in the team for another season. Jack Miller had a season with lots of ups and downs last year. He had lots of DNFs and also he couldn’t start to some races due to injuries. But he managed to win. It was the crazy race in the crazy weather conditions in Assen. You probably still remember that day. Tito Rabat starts his 2nd season in MotoGP. Last year it wasn’t very easy for him, there was also some injury. But he was improving. So we will see how he will do. He is also the World Champion. He won Moto2 Championship in 2014.
The LCR Honda team keeps their one rider structure. And it is Cal Crutchlow again for whom it will be already his 7th season in MotoGP and 3rd season with this team. Last year he didn’t start very well with some DNFs but later he took 2 victories, some other podium finishes and he also started from pole position to his home GP at Silverstone. Cal is the World Supersport Champion from 2009 and also the British Supersport Champion from 2006.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3
The Tech 3 team has changed their line-up completely. They call themselves as the Yamaha rookie team so they want to have rookies there and maybe “train” them for the factory Yamaha Movistar team. I am not here to judge it if the boys there have any chance to go there in the future. It reminds me the Red Bull – Toro Rosso case from Formula 1 but this is not the topic of this post. So, for this season there are two MotoGP rookies and they both are very good and talented ones. Johann Zarco is double Moto2 World Champion from 2015 and 2016. He is also Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion from 2007 (which was the first ever season of this Championship for young talents). With two recent Moto2 titles in his pocket he comes there maybe as a favourite to win the rookie trophy. Jonas Folger is his team mate. He is also coming from Moto2. Some people call him the average rider or the one who doesn’t deserve to go to MotoGP. Yes, his move was maybe a surprise but I don’t think it wouldn’t be deserved. From my point of view Jonas is very good rider and competitor and he deserves his chance. In the pre-season test he had pretty good times and I think he can be quite strong there and I myself guess he is the one who will win the best rookie of the year award.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
I think I don’t have to introduce Valentino Rossi to you. Every person who follows the motorbike racing at least a little bit has to know him. But just in case you wouldn’t know. Rossi has one title from the 125cc category but that was already in 1997, he is also 250cc Champion (1999) and 7 times 500cc / MotoGP Champion (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009). He is 2nd in the statistics just 1 title behind Giacomo Agostini. So together he has 9 titles and he still aims to win the jubilee 10th title. But it won’t be that easy. He has had strong rivals in the last few seasons and it seems like another fast and very strong rival is coming. What’s more, he will share the garage with him. Maverick Viñales seems to be in a pretty good shape and he is already betted to fight for the title. But just the question is if he is mentally prepared for it. It won’t be easy at all for him. For him it will be his 3rd season in MotoGP already, last 2 years he was in Suzuki and he was improving a lot. Last year he also did take his first victory there. He is also the Moto3 World Champion from 2013.
OCTO Pramac Racing
This is the other team which keeps both their riders there. It will be already 6th season in MotoGP for Danilo Petrucci. Who would guessed that when he came there for the first time. Last few seasons weren’t that bad for him actually. He even took a podium finish at the BritishGP in 2015. Last year he had to skip first 4 race weekends due to injury. But then he was quite a competitor for Top 10 positions. His best result was P7 in France and also in the Czech republic. Danilo is also the one who will have the latest Ducati Desmosedici GP17 this year. His team mate will use only the GP16 specification. The team has got one bike and at the end of the last season they decided that they would give that bike to the one who would be better in the final standings. Petrucci was 14th, his team mate 15th. So probably quite unfortunate thing for Scott Redding. For the Brit it will be already his 4th season in MotoGP. During these years he took two podium finishes. Before he was quite competitive racer in Moto2 category but never made it to the title.
Pull&Bear Aspar Team
Karel Abraham is back. Some people hate him and make stupid jokes about him. And I just don’t understand why we can’t respect each other and still try to humiliate the others. But okay, this is not what I want to talk about now. Karel was racing in the 125cc category, then 250cc / Moto2. In 2010 he won a race in Valencia there. Then he came to MotoGP where he spent 5 seasons. He was always unlucky with some DNFs and injuries which caused him also DNSs. For last year he made a change and came to the World Superbikes where he took just 33 points and finished 18th in the overall standings. For the 2017 he has announced his comeback to MotoGP. Very experienced Álvaro Bautista will be his team mate in the season. Bautista is the 125cc World Champion but this happened already in 2006. Since 2010 he has been racing in MotoGP and his best season there was in 2012 when he was 5th in the final standings and he took 2 podium finishes in that year. Later – in 2014 – he added another podium. But last two seasons was quite hard for him. He was developing the Aprilia bike and he helped the team to establish themselves in MotoGP. For this year he is coming back to his old team Aspar. With them he took the best results back then when he was in 125cc and 250cc.
Reale Avintia Racing
Avintia team starts the new year with a slightly changed name. But they haven’t changed their riders’ line-up which is pretty good I have to admit. Héctor Barberá was quite a strong competitor in his 125cc / 250cc years. He’s been racing in MotoGP since 2010. And his best season there came last year when he was 10th overall. His best position in MotoGP in the finish was P4 so he is still waiting for the podium to come. Loris Baz started in Superbikes. He was racing in the Superstock 100 category, then he also tried the BSB Championship. From 2012 to 2014 he was in Superbike World Championship. He took two victories there but was also unlucky with injuries. In 2014 he didn’t take any victory but he was on the podium many times and finished 5th in the Championship. In 2015 he made a move to MotoGP. It wasn’t very easy with the Forward Yamaha team but he took amazing P4 in San Marino. Last year he was already in Avintia team and he did P4 and also P5 but again, he had some injuries unfortunately.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
KTM is coming! Another manufacturer is in the biggest racing category. And they connected their forces with the Red Bull brand (same as in the lower categories actually). So far it seems that it is going to be pretty hard season with lots of learning and trying. They need to get to used to everything and for sure it will take some time. So we will see how they will do. Their advantage could be that they have two experienced riders and also the riders who know each other very well. Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith was team mates in Tech 3 team for 3 seasons! These two boys are probably destined to be team mates anywhere they go. Pol Espargaró (younger brother of Aleix) is Moto2 World Champion from 2013. As I already said he spent last 3 season with Yamaha Tech 3 in MotoGP. He hasn’t taken any podium finish so far but he was close to it a few times. Pol also won the Suzuka 8 Hours race twice. Both in Yamaha Factory Team. In 2015 it was with his MotoGP mate Bradley Smith and Katsuyuki Nakasuga. In 2016 his colleagues were Nakasuga and Alex Lowes (Sam Lowes’ twin brother). Smith was meant to be there but he had a crash during the training which caused him an injury. The injury was also the reason why Smith had to skip some MotoGP race weekends last year. He started in 125cc where he took some victories and other podium finishes, then came to Moto2. Since 2013 he’s been in MotoGP. During these years he managed to take one podium finish – P3 in Australia 2014.
Repsol Honda Team
Repsol Honda Team hasn’t changed their rider’s line-up for years. We will see Dani Pedrosa and Marc Márquez there again. It will be already their 5th season as team mates. Dani Pedrosa is 125cc World Champion from 2003 and double 250cc Champion from 2004 and 2005. Since 2006 he’s been racing in MotoGP and all these years he’s been with the Repsol Honda Team. To stay with one team for 11 seasons and now start the 12th one is really huge. But Pedrosa is the most unlucky rider there in my opinion. Always so close to the title but far away at the same time. He’s been always there to fight at the top but it’s never enough for the big trophy. Last year he was 6th in the standings which was his worst overall result there but it was due to the injury as he had to skip some races. Marc Márquez is the reigning World Champion from the last year. He also won MotoGP titles in 2013 (which was his rookie season there) and 2014. Márquez is also 125cc Champion from 2010 and Moto2 champion from 2012.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR
Suzuki has changed both their riders. Andrea Iannone took 3rd position in the overall standings 3 times in a row. It was in years 2010, 2011 and 2012 and it all was in the Moto2 category. Since 2013 he’s been racing in MotoGP. It was always with Ducati so now a manufacturer change for him. He was improving season by season. Season 2015 was the best one for him as he was 5th in the Championship with 3 podiums. But last year he took even more podium finishes. He was P3 three times and he also scored his first ever victory there. It was in Austria. Unfortunately he was stopped for some time because of the injury so that’s why it was only 9th place overall for him. Alex Rins is his team mate for this season. A talented rookie from Moto2 is coming. He was improving year by year. He always did great job also in the lower categories. He was the runner-up in Moto3 in 2013 and also the runner-up in Moto2 in 2015. Last year he was fighting for the title as well and in the end it was P3 for him.
It seems that one very exciting season is coming. It is going to be very interesting mixture of experienced riders with the youngsters.
The season 2017 kicks off already next week with the night event of Qatar GP. First free practise session is scheduled already for next Thursday.