This is going to be my personal view on the 2017 Moto3 season, on how it looks like so far. This is going to be a biased post probably. I reveal who I like and also who I don’t like very much. I write who has made me happy or who has disappointed me so far this year.
First of all, I would like to start with the team I love the most. It’s the Red Bull KTM Ajo team. I really love them, the word “love” is really the best suitable word how to describe my feelings to them. I have been their fan for already many years. When I look at it I can say I have been supporting then since 2008 when Mike di Meglio (my teenage crush :-D ) was racing there in the team. But I heard about them also before that year. Well, the first reason to support them was that they always had my favourite riders in the team. And then later I realized that they were Finnish team. And I’ve been in love with everything somehow connected with Finland. Plus Aki Ajo is amazing person, amazing coach, amazing manager. I really admire him a lot. Me and my friends even took a photo with him in Brno GP in 2015! I was really happy to meet him (well, better to say to see him for a little moment as he was so busy all the time). But okay, I think I will have to write a special post about this team because there is so much of what I would like to say!
So come back to 2017. Bo Bendsneyder and Niccoló Antonelli are in the team for this year. Already before the season I had the feelings that the beginning probably wouldn’t be very easy. Yes, it’s the second season in the team for Bo but still he is very young and I guess he has still a lot to learn. But I really like him a lot and believe he is great racer. Already when he was racing in the Red Bull Rookies Cup I said about him that he’s very talented and one day he would be big champion. So we will see. But I still believe in this. But this year it was quite an unlucky start to the season. In the season opener in Qatar someone hit him and he crashed. In Argentina he was struggling with the bike settings all the weekend, he wasn’t able to find some good rhythm and he finished only 23rd in the race.
Niccoló had also difficult and unlucky start to the season. Yeah I know it’s racing and it can happen but I am sorry for him because many years ago I believed in him and supported him but then he was still crashing or didn’t finish the races. So I started to be desperate from the situation and slowly stopped to follow him. But about two years ago I told myself that it would be shame not to follow him and I started to follow him again, that happened especially after he took his first ever victory in Brno 2015 where I was and saw it on my own eyes. And it was the moment when I realized I was proud of him. So now I am really happy that Aki Ajo has given him a chance to shine. Because I somehow still believe Niccoló is a hidden talent. Team Ajo always has great bike and everything so this is really great chance for him. So I am really sorry that it’s not going that well so far. But yeah, just two race weekends are behind us so it’s too early to judge anything. In Qatar he was on solid P7 but in Argentina unfortunately Romano Fenati did knock him down. It was really very unfortunate situation. Niccoló does deserve good results and achievements and I hope it will come soon.
Before the season I did some personal prediction that Joan Mir could be the serious title contender. Well, he has already won two races! I know, it doesn’t mean (almost) anything so far but it can also be the proof that I could be right. And to be honest it would be amazing if Joan kept it until the end of the season and grab the title! Already when he was in the Red Bull Rookies Cup I saw he’s great and said he would be great racer one day. It would be great if I was right :-D I also have to say that he is one of my favourite riders so I wish him all the best. But I also have to admit that for me nobody is better than boys from the Ajo team. So I really don’t know what I would do if for example Joan and boys from Ajo fought for the title.
Actually this already happened when Danny Kent (my another big favourite) was fighting for the title against Ajo boy (Miguel Oliveira). It was terrible for me :-D In the end, I supported Miguel more (because Ajo boy) but in the same time I was also happy for Danny :-D Yeah, to be the motorbike racing fan is very tricky sometimes! :-D
Joan’s team mate is Livio Loi. He is also the one I thought he could be up there because I believed that to come to the Leopard team is amazing opportunity for him to show his racing skills. In Qatar it wasn’t as great as I expected. Yeah he scored points but somehow I expected top 10. But in Argentina it was a different story and he was 6th which was really good.
I have to say that John McPhee is the biggest surprise for me this year so far. Yeah of course I know he is good but I was a little bit surprised to see him fighting for the top places. It’s been quite well-known thing that he’s been good at races on the wet track. But suddenly he started to do very well also on the dry track. And even with the brand new team! And even after he suffered those serious injuries at the end of last season. He did come back in a very great and strong shape.
I’m quite happy for Jorge Martín. He finished as P3 twice and it’s nice. Two podiums in first two races, I have to say that this is something I didn’t expect (although I thought he could be there on the top positions).
I’m happy for Marcos Ramírez. I started to follow him last season and I am really glad that he is doing well this year. He finished on points in both races and that’s really good. I am also glad for Darryn Binder. Finally he did some good races and got some good results. The beginning of last season was a disaster as he had lots of DNFs. That was heart-breaking to see it. So I am happy that this season is a new chapter for him. He did finish both races in Qatar and Argentina and in both of them he was on points. So that’s good. It is good that the team switched from Mahindra to KTM before this season. I think this switch was really needed and helped to the riders a lot. Because in my opinion the Mahindra of this team was the worst ever bike in the whole racing field.
Not very good start of the season for the Aspar team. And I feel sorry for them. Time ago I was their big fan (when Héctor Faubel, my another teenage crush, was there). This year I would like to follow them closely again because in my opinion they have very good and talented and promising duo – Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Albert Arenas. Before the season I was really looking forward to see them there. But so far they haven’t come up to my expectations unfortunately. Lorenzo finished outside points in Qatar and in Argentina he retired from the race. Albert crashed in Qatar. He had heavy crash during the qualification in Argentina and he started from the back of the grid to the race. So he wasn’t able to improve his position. Luckily he’s not injured. But it means that after two races both of them have zero points. And that’s not good. It’s sad. I really believe it will start to improve step by step soon.
Enea Bastianini has been probably the biggest disappointment so far. Before the season I said he would be the title contender (together with Joan Mir) but so far his results are very poor. Enea was 16th in Qatar and 27th in Argentina (after suffering a crash). So he doesn’t have any points now. Well, it’s really shame. But yeah, it’s still not over yet. Again I use the comparison to Miguel Oliveira who also had zero points after first couple of races and then he almost beat Danny Kent. So you never know. The season is long.
But Enea’s team mate Aron Canet has been doing well so far. He is 6th in the Championship standing which is not bad at all.
I shouldn’t forget to mention boys from the SKY Racing Team VR46. Andrea Migno is a small surprise for me. He is 4th in the standing in the Championship and that’s what I really didn’t expect. But Nicolo Bulega has only 2 points to his name which is really not what I expected. So we will see how it will continue.
Philipp Oettl made me happy in the previous round as he was fighting there on top, he did great job and I really kept my fingers crossed for him to take the podium finish. Well, he was 4th. It was great result and achievement of course but in the same time I have to say that I was a little bit sad because he would deserve to be on the podium. So hopefully it will come in the future. There are lots of races ahead of us.
Juanfran Guevara made me happy. In Qatar he had a crash unfortunately (and unfortunately it was a collision with Oettl). But in Argentina he did very good race and was in top 10. This is where he belongs. His team mate was unlucky again. Gabriel Rodrigo had a crash in Qatar and he broke his collarbone. So he had to skip the race. But he was back for the Argentina GP (his home round) but he crashed in the race. It was really shame. I was so sorry for him. I really hope the bad luck is behind him, now it’s time for some good luck by his side and good races and results because I believe he can do it, he can be the one fighting for top 10, maybe even top 5.
Romano Fenati came back to the Championship after last year’s problems with behaving (let’s say it like this). Well, the Ongetta team (well, their name isn’t Ongetta anymore but I still call them like that :-D ) isn’t the best one probably. Seems like he loses some time on the straights. But I really don’t know what to say about him. I admit that I’m not his biggest fan. I know he’s fast rider, I know he’s talented and I guess he will be very good during the season and maybe he will fight for the title. But somehow I just don’t feel like I could follow him or support him.
Jules Danilo, Fenati’s team mate, has disappointed me so far. I really thought he could improve this season but so far he’s more or less where he was last year. P17 in Qatar and P22 in Argentina, that’s not what I hoped for. Especially when you look where is Fenati, it’s really sad. I really hope Jules will improve during the season. I would love to see him scoring points regularly in every race weekend.
I have to mention Jakub Kornfeil, my countryman. Well, actually, it is what I expected before the start of the season. I really didn’t believe he could be in top 10, even though he did some good times in the pre-season tests and maybe for some people (czech media included) it looked promising. But I simply thought it wouldn’t be that easy. I expected problems and that he would struggle a little bit. And actually it is what is happening. I have to say that I don’t believe in this Peugeot bike. I don’t know. It’s Mahindra with a different name, we know that. And we know that it’s not the best bike. But in the same time I have to say that I would like to see Jakub on higher positions. He would deserve to score at least a few points. I expect some struggling also in the USA but maybe when they will come to Europe it will improve. I don’t know why but that’s what I think.
Before the season I said that the Peugeot team was the one I would follow a lot because there is a Czech rider and a Finnish rider (and as I already mentioned I like Finns). But unfortunately there is nothing much to follow actually.
I was surprised to hear Patrik Pulkkinen got the seat there. And I was also very happy. Finnish rider in Moto3 again! Yeah, I didn’t expect anything. I knew why. Patrik didn’t finish the race in Qatar and he was 26th in Argentina (with a big gap to the riders ahead of him). But he did finish it so it’s a small improve. Hopefully he will keep improving.
Interesting fact: Patrik is the youngest rider there in Moto3 while his team mate Jakub Kornfeil is the oldest one. To be the oldest one and be only 24 years old is a bit weird actually. Hm, it also means that all Moto3 riders are younger than me! This happens for the first time since I’ve started to watch motorbikes. Does it mean I’m getting old?
I would like to say something about the young talented Japanese riders. Already before the season started I said that we should follow Ayumu Sasaki (the Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion from last year) and Kaito Toba and that maybe Japan has finally very competitive riders there. And they both has really impressed me this season. Sasaki was 11th in his first ever race there in Moto3 in Qatar, Toba was 10th in Argentina. I am really curious what will happen when the Championship moves to Europe to the tracks which they both know very well.
Also Tatsuki Suzuki has improved a lot since last year. He was 15th in Qatar and even 8th in Argentina. For this year he has come to the SIC58 Squadra Corse. This is the Paolo Simoncelli’s team (the father of Marco). And it is really great to see them there. They are doing really well. Also the other rider of the team – Tony Arbolino – seems to be great and talented rider. In Qatar it wasn’t very good for him but in Argentina he scored 2 points.
There is also a girl in the racing field. I think María Herrera is one the greatest racing girls. And I also have to say that I support her and like her. She is good. In Argentina she took 1 point for P15. Great!
Well, I know that it’s pretty long post but when I start to write then it can be diffitult to stop sometimes :-D And I just had to write it :-D But I think it’s all what I wanted to say.
I’m already looking forward to the Austin GP, can’t wait to follow the FPs and qualifying and race and just everything. And I’m really curious if Joan Mir will let anyone else to win or not.
Photo: Ajo Motorsport