The 13th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and after an amazing British Grand Prix, a brilliant win for Andrea Dovizioso, a huge blow for Marc Márquez with the engine on his Honda failing in spectacular fashion on the Hangar Straight at Silverstone, and an upturn in form from Yamaha to give them some hope going forward in the championship.
However, the news last week that seven-time premier class world champion, and nine-time world champion across all classes Valentino Rossi had broken his right leg in an endurance training accident near his family home in Tavullia, breaking both his tibia and fibula, has really rocked everyone, and Rossi will likely miss the next two races of the season at Misano and at Aragon respectively at least.
The seriousness of the injury obviously brings into question the future of Valentino Rossi in the sport as a rider. He is currently 38 years old, participating in a game that is clearly a young man’s game, and having broken the same leg which he broke in a spectacular high-side crash in Mugello in 2010, although only the tibia on that occasion, and even though that particular accident happened over seven years ago, that this injury has happened to the exact same leg almost near the place where he injured it before will cause some concern among many about his future in the sport going forward.
And while we have marvelled at Rossi’s longevity in the sport, it can only take one serious accident to change one’s thoughts towards retirement, exactly what happened to Mick Doohan at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez in 1999, breaking his right leg, the same leg that he broke, and almost had amputated in 1992, and Doohan retired shortly afterwards.
And while Rossi will attempt to comeback from this serious injury, there can be no doubt the possibility of retirement is in his mind.
Looking at the championship battle, Andrea Dovizioso (183 points) for Ducati leads the world championship by nine points over Marc Márquez (174 points) after a wonderful victory at Silverstone, and after the Honda engine on the bike of Márquez failed.
Close behind in third is Maverick Viñales (170 points) on his Yamaha, 13 points behind Dovizioso after a good ride into second behind the Italian rider at the British Grand Prix.
Fourth in the championship is the Yamaha teammate of Viñales, Valentino Rossi (157 points), who is 26 points behind Dovizioso in the championship battle. However, as I mentioned earlier in this preview, Rossi will likely be out for the next two races at least, with no replacement rider for Rossi at Misano, due to the broken right leg, ending all realistic chances of a championship challenge.
Fifth in the championship is the Honda teammate of Márquez, Dani Pedrosa (148 points), who is 35 points behind Dovizioso in the championship, and is probably the only other rider, besides Dovizioso, Márquez, and Viñales, with the injury to Rossi, that can challenge for the 2017 MotoGP World Championship.
Behind the main championship protagonists is Johann Zarco, who is sixth in the championship on 109 points in his first season in the premier class, showing everyone, albeit in patches, that he could one day in the future challenge for the top positions in the championship, and could potentially be a replacement for Rossi at some point in the future.
Seventh in the championship is the teammate of Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo (90 points), who finds himself in the unusual position of not being in championship contention, while his teammate does for really the first time in his premier class career, and this must be really hard for Lorenzo to take.
Right behind Lorenzo in eighth position in the championship is Cal Crutchlow (89 points), who really showed an upturn in form by finishing fourth at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, followed by Jonas Folger (77 points), and Danilo Petrucci (75 points), who complete the current top 10 in the championship.
Looking ahead to Misano, which is usually quite warm, often hot at this time of year, you would have to be looking towards the two Honda’s of Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa to be the two main challengers for the victory, and while Pedrosa won in hot conditions last year, Márquez won in changeable conditions in 2015, and there is some rain on the forecast at Misano this weekend.
I am tipping Márquez to bounce back from the mechanical failure at Silverstone to take a crucial victory for his championship challenge at Misano.
MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (5:55pm, and 10:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (5:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (9:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (10:10pm and 10:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (5:40pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (10:00pm AEST).