The 2017 MotoGP World Championship is very close between four talented riders that being Valentino Rossi, Maverick Vinales, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. As it stands Rossi is on 62 points followed by Vinales on 60, Marquez on 58 and Pedrosa on 52. We have two manufacturers going head to head and four riders that want the bragging rights of being World Champion. This year we have seen new updates in technology and now debates raging about grid girls. MotoGP as a sport is growing and covering many corners of the world with racing events and fans travelling from one event to another.
Johann Zarco managed to extend his contract for 2018 already after a superb performance to the first part of 2017. Zarco has been learning at a rapid rate and is very excited about his career progressing forward with the French squad. Herve Poncharal is also very happy with the news and wants to improve on a race-by-race basis as well. Herve: “I would like to thank Johann’s manager Laurent Fellon for his superb commitment and if Johann is performing in this way, it’s because Laurent took good care of him and helped him to grow into the rider that he is.”
In amongst the contractual news, we have the Le Mans Grand Prix to look forward to with a close title battle. Lorenzo feels as though every circuit has its own story and can lead to surprise victories and podium finishes. The French circuit has had torrential rain and there is every possibility of sunshine appearing which would be a happy sight for the riders. As it stands, the cold temperatures are going to make for interesting tyre choices and overall performance. The track surface is going to be a big question mark for Marquez. The Spanish rider is looking to utilise the data Cal Crutchlow obtained for Honda to find where they can improve and ultimately feel most confident.
In terms of technology, Ducati are looking to overcome their winglets design limitations as the sports technology rapidly alters over time. The Italian manufacturer has struggled quite a bit since Qatar to find a design that they will utilise and gain a benefit from. The hammerhead design that was debuted is likely to stay put in a box. It does not allow the riders and team to improve. If anything, the team feels like they were sent backwards by the winglet ban in a way. The ban cost them too much straight-line speed and so they had to abandon their initial plans. At present, they are heading back to the drawing board. Andrea Dovizioso believes that replacing winglets is a very difficult task and Jorge Lorenzo feels as though the overall diagnosis of what they tested was just not good enough to compensate where they were losing out. The journey to improving is a long one and it requires constant attention and dedication. There is no instant button or fix!
The Ducati philosophy is the complete opposite to Yamaha and Honda. For example, chassis were a key area of development for Yamaha whereas Ducati opted to focus more on engines and electronics. The evolution of the Ducati is rapidly changing and Lorenzo with endless amounts of experience from Yamaha is sure to help assist the team in growing towards a bike and product that brings a World Championship title. The relationship between bike, rider and technology is what makes the dream translate in to a reality. As a result, testing of parts and new updates is essential. Every opportunity to improve allows the sport of MotoGP to become even more exciting as the gaps between factory and independent teams is reduced year on year.
With key races like Mugello, Barcelona and Assen coming up, the World Championship is heating up and the pressures to win are more and more challenging. Rossi has a serious chance at securing his 10th title and this is making the races entertaining as every lap is ridden with high energy! The fans are being treated to an entree, main and dessert every time the bikes make their way out to battle. What we have noticed with a fine tooth pick and comb is that Vinales shield is starting to crack. His frustration and temper is being displayed in more ways than one. If Vinales loses his cool more often than not, his title chances are going to slowly diminish. The blame game will not work in this premium category of two-wheel racing. The Spanish Yamaha rider must get his mindset in check if he wants to battle with very experienced riders who know what it takes when the pressure is packed on like a tower of bricks! Finally, Dani Pedrosa is riding well and for the first time in a long time appears to be confident within his own skin. He is competitive and has put Marquez to the test already. It is refreshing to see Pedrosa fighting hard like his helmet represents: the sword, the samurai, and the fighter!
Overall, the sport this week was rocked with the shock news of former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden suffering a bicycle accident in Italy. The American rider is not in good shape and is fighting hard for his life after being hit by a car. In the Moto2, Moto3 and MotoGP paddock the thoughts are strong for Hayden. Rossi: “It was very bad news from yesterday. The first hours it’s difficult for it to sink in, but I spoke with a doctor who is a friend of mine, and he said to me that the situation was very difficult from the first moment.” We wish him all the best and are thinking of him.