2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

The 20th and final round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend from the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and while the battle for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship has been decided, there is still plenty to play for many drivers and teams on the grid.

Lewis Hamilton (345 points) for Mercedes leads the drivers’ championship by an unassailable 43 points over Sebastian Vettel (302 points) for Ferrari. Hamilton had an unusual weekend in Brazil, being strong in practice before losing control of his car on the first flying lap in qualifying, going straight into the wall, forcing him to a pit-lane start after his team decided to change and add new components to his car. Then he stormed from the back of the field to the front, leading the race for 13 laps, starting on Lap 30, before finishing in fourth, 5.468 seconds behind race winner Vettel.

Vettel, after his win in Brazil, is on track to claim second spot in the championship ahead of Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (280 points). This will only change if Bottas wins in Abu Dhabi, and Vettel finishes ninth or lower.

The battle for fourth in the championship is interesting between Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (200 points), and Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen (193 points), who are only separated by seven points in the championship. They are followed in the championship by Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen (158 points), who cannot catch fifth-place Räikkönen in the championship standings.

Also important to note is that it will be the final race in the Formula One career of Felipe Massa, currently 10th in the championship on 42 points. From 268 starts, Massa has won 11 races, claimed 41 podiums, 16 pole positions, and 15 fastest laps in a career spanning from 2002 to 2017, driving for Sauber, Ferrari, and Williams. We wish him all the very best for his future endeavours!

Looking at the constructors’ championship, Mercedes (625 points), Ferrari (495 points), Red Bull (358 points), and Force India (177 points) have secured the top four spots respectively, while Williams (82 points), Toro Rosso (53 points), who are starting their last race with a Renault engine, Renault (49 points), and Haas (47 points) are all in mathematical contention for fifth spot, while McLaren (28 points), who are starting their last race with a Honda engine, are in mathematical contention for sixth spot in the constructors’ championship, and are ahead of Sauber (five points), who are in mathematical contention for eighth in the championship.

As for who is going to win the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, this circuit on paper suits the Ferrari, and should really ought to end the season on a high, for Vettel to secure second spot in championship, but I think Lewis Hamilton is going to bounce back after a couple of difficult races to claim his 10th victory of the season to set a marker for the 2018 season.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 1pm and 5pm local time (Friday 8pm and Saturday 12am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 2pm and 5pm local time (Saturday 9pm and Sunday 12am AEDT).

The 55 lap race is on Sunday from 5pm local time (Monday 12am AEDT).

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2017 Newcastle 500 – Preview

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The 14th and final round of the 2017 Supercars Championship will take place this weekend from the Newcastle Street Circuit in the east-end of Newcastle alongside a beautiful coastline, the perfect scene for a titanic championship decider between Jamie Whincup of Triple Eight Race Engineering, and Scott McLaughlin of DJR Team Penske, with three others in Fabian Coulthard of DJR Team Penske, Chaz Mostert of Prodrive Racing Australia, and Shane Van Gisbergen of Triple Eight Race Engineering still in mathematical championship contention.

Whincup (2850 points) leads the championship by 30 points over McLaughlin (2820 points) in a championship battle that has been topsy-turvy throughout. They are ahead of Coulthard (2674 points), who is 176 points behind Whincup, Mostert (2586 points), who is 264 points behind Whincup, and defending Supercars champion Van Gisbergen (2574 points), who is 276 points behind Whincup in the championship after a round of drama in New Zealand, realistically leaving us with a two-horse race in the championship.

In any tie-breaker to decide the championship involving McLaughlin if the points are tied at the end of the championship, McLaughlin will win the championship due to winning more races, since his seven race victories in 2017 cannot be surpassed.

However, on Saturday, Whincup is the only driver who can win the championship with one race remaining.

On Saturday, if Jamie Whincup wants to create history, and win his seventh Supercars Championship, one of these scenarios must happen:

  1. If Whincup wins the race, McLaughlin must finish 26th or suffer a Did Not Finish (DNF) result.
  2. If McLaughlin does suffer a DNF result, Whincup only needs to finish third or higher.

However, this is not the only championship on the line this weekend in Newcastle with the all-important Teams’ Championship between DJR Team Penske (McLaughlin and Coulthard), and Triple Eight Race Engineering (Whincup and Van Gisbergen), which will decide which team’s garage will be closest to the pit-exit in 2018.

DJR Team Penske (5529 points) leads the Teams’ Championship by 105 points over Triple Eight Race Engineering (5424 points) in a heavyweight battle that will go right down to the wire at the Newcastle 500.

In any tie-breaker to decide the championship, DJR Team Penske will win the championship due to having more race wins with an unassailable lead over Triple Eight Race Engineering on that count by 11 to 7.

On Saturday, if DJR Team Penske wants to win its first Teams’ Championship at the Newcastle 500:

  1. DJR Team Penske must out-score Triple Eight Race Engineering by 183 points. For example, if DJR Team Penske finish Saturday’s race in first and second, Triple Eight Race Engineering must finish in 17th and 18th to claim the Teams’ Championship. However, DJR Team Penske need both cars to finish 24th or higher in the race on Saturday if they want to be a chance of claiming the Teams’ Championship on Saturday, and at least one car must be inside the top seven, with the permutations differing depending on the situation.

During the weekend, I will keep you up-to-date in regards to what certain drivers have to do to win the 2017 Supercars Championship, particularly when it comes to the final race of the season on Sunday.

So, who will be strong at the Newcastle Street Circuit?

Looking at the predicted characteristics of the newest circuit on the Supercars calendar, the Newcastle Street Circuit is 2.652 kilometres long, which would make it the third-shortest circuit on the championship calendar.

The predicted average speed of the circuit is set to be around 133 kilometres per hour, which would make it the slowest circuit on the calendar, with speeds set to reach around 231 kilometres per hour on approach to Turn 11, with speeds set to reach over 200 kilometres per hour on a total of three occasions across the lap, including on the pit straight, and on the run to Turn Two.

It will be a circuit that will reward a car that has strong braking and traction, so the cars will run with high-downforce, not because there is a lot of high speed corners, but to make sure that the cars are stable when accelerating out of a corner, and that the cars are stable under braking. There is really only one genuine high-speed corner, which should be a relatively simple flat-out, full-throttle run through Turn 10.

It isn’t a high engine power circuit on paper, even when you consider the uphill run to Turn Two, but it will put huge stresses on the gearbox, which large number of gear changes expected during a lap of the circuit, and during the race overall.

It will also reward driver bravery and technique, especially when they go down Shortland Esplanade, a place on the circuit that will sort out the great drivers of the sport from merely just the good ones, as well as the drivers’ ability to think on the run, whether it is to attack another car or defend from another car, because passing will be difficult around the Newcastle Street Circuit.

That means strategy will be very important, not to be stuck in traffic, and avoiding the plague known as double-stacking, because we are very likely to see the safety car be called upon at some point during the weekend.

However, I think the drivers, knowing that overtaking is likely to be difficult will be looking to overtake cars at the start, and attempt to get into Turn One in first position. However, the drivers should be reminded that both races are 95 laps long, and that you can’t win the race at Turn One, but you sure can lose it, so it will be important early on for the championship contenders to stay out of trouble during both races (should they be in contention for the championship).

Looking at the strengths of the cars, I believe this circuit will probably suit Triple Eight Race Engineering slightly over DJR Team Penske, with Prodrive Racing Australia in the mix. However, I think drivers who are not in championship contention, and have proven themselves over the years to being the top drivers in the Supercars Championship will be able to show their stuff, even if their cars aren’t normally a match for the front-runners.

However, to pick who will win the championship is tough. I think Jamie Whincup will hang on to win his seventh championship, but I won’t be surprised if Scott McLaughlin does enough to claim his first championship.

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Scott McLaughlin has taken the championship lead after winning Race 25 (Race One of the Newcastle 500) of the season, while Jamie Whincup finished 21st and last after suffering steering damage after a collision with Michael Caruso. This means that McLaughlin has a 78 point lead heading into the final race of the 2017 Supercars Championship with Fabian Coulthard, Shane Van Gisbergen, and Chaz Mostert all out of mathematical contention.

DJR Team Penske has claimed the Teams’ Championship.

On Sunday, for Scott McLaughlin to claim his first Supercars Championship, one of these scenarios must happen:

1. If McLaughlin finishes ahead of Whincup.

2. If Whincup wins the race, McLaughlin must finish 11th or higher.

3. If Whincup finishes second, McLaughlin must finish 15th or higher.

4. If Whincup finishes third, McLaughlin must finish 18th or higher.

5. If Whincup finishes fourth, McLaughlin must finish 21st or higher.

6. If Whincup finishes fifth, McLaughlin must finish 24th or higher.

7. If Whincup finishes sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth, McLaughlin must finish 26th or higher.

8. If Whincup finishes 10th or lower, McLaughlin is the CHAMPION!

However, if Jamie Whincup wants to win his seventh Supercars Championship, one of these scenarios must happen:

1. If Whincup wins the race, McLaughlin must finish 12th or lower.

2. If Whincup finishes second, McLaughlin must finish 16th or lower.

3. If Whincup finishes third, McLaughlin must finish 19th or lower.

4. If Whincup finishes fourth, McLaughlin must finish 22nd or lower.

5. If Whincup finishes fifth, McLaughlin must finish 25th or lower.

6. If Whincup finishes sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth, McLaughlin must suffer a DNF result.

 

2017 Brazilian Grand Prix – Preview

The 19th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend from the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo in Brazil, and after the Mexican Grand Prix, the championship battle has been decided.

Lewis Hamilton has claimed his fourth world championship after finishing ninth in Mexico after the front wing of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari made contact with the right-rear tyre of Hamilton’s Mercedes, and while Vettel managed to recover to fourth-place after being forced to pit for a new front wing, it was no where near enough to keep his championship hopes, and deny Hamilton, at least for now, his fourth world championship.

In finishing ninth, Hamilton was also lapped, marking the first time that he has been lapped since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, which was his first season with the Mercedes team, but it didn’t matter as he joined Michael Schumacher (7), Juan Manuel Fangio (5), Alain Prost (4), and Sebastian Vettel (4) as having won four world championships or more.

In addition to this, by finishing ninth, Hamilton has kept his streak of 23-consecutive points-scoring races going, which is the equal-third best streak in Formula One history, and thus keeps alive the possibility of finishing every race of the season inside the points for the first time in his Formula One career.

As far as the championship standings are concerned, Hamilton (333 points) leads by an unassailable 56 points over Vettel (277 points), with a battle looming for second in the championship between the German, and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (262 points), with both drivers guaranteed of finishing inside the top three in the 2017 championship after Daniel Ricciardo’s second retirement in as many races.

Ricciardo (192 points) is fourth in the championship, ahead of Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen (178 points), and Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (148 points), who claimed his second victory of the season in Mexico, and has finished three of the last four races on the podium after getting decent run of reliability during the last four races.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (595 points), Ferrari (455 points), Red Bull (340 points), and Force India (175 points) have secured first, second, third, and fourth in the championship respectively, with fifth through to 10th still yet to be decided.

So, who is going to win the Brazilian Grand Prix?

The Mercedes on paper should be the car most suited to this circuit, but both Ferrari, and in recent times, Red Bull, have shown that they can match it with Mercedes at most circuits. However, if Hamilton qualifies at the front, if not on pole position, you just can’t see anyone stopping him claiming his 10th race victory in 2017.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (Friday 11pm and Saturday 3am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 11am and 2pm local time (Sunday 12am and 3am AEDT).

The 71 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (Monday 3am AEDT).

 

2017 MotoGP Valencia GP

The 18th and final round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia in Spain, and we have championship decider between Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso in what has been one of the greatest seasons in MotoGP history.

Márquez (282 points) leads the world championship on his factory Honda by 21 points over factory Ducati rider Dovizioso (261 points) after 17 races filled with excitement and unpredictability!

Márquez has taken six wins, 11 podiums, three fastest laps, and seven pole positions in 2017. Márquez has also finished inside the top six in 14 of the 17 races in 2017, including finishing 16 times inside the top four, but has suffered three retirements. A crash in Argentina, a crash in France, and a rare, but dramatic engine failure for his Honda during the British Grand Prix.

Márquez has also had to come back from a 37-point deficit (although both times against Maverick Viñales, who is out of championship contention) to take a lead of the championship in eight of the last nine rounds of the season heading into the title decider in Valencia, where he is looking to win his fourth MotoGP World Championship.

Conversely, Dovizioso has only led the championship after two seperate rounds in 2017 in where he has finished 16 of the 17 races, only crashing out in Argentina, and finishing inside the top eight on 15 occasions on route to six wins, eight podiums, and two fastest laps.

Dovizioso is attempting to come back from a deficit of 30 points or greater for the third time this season, and needs to score 21 points than Márquez if he is to win his first MotoGP World Championship. If he were to win the championship, and not claim pole position in Valencia, he will become the first rider since Wayne Rainey in 1992 to win a premier class world championship after not securing a single pole position during a season.

Viñales is third in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship on 226 points on his factory Yamaha, but is out of championship contention, but has secured third spot in the championship since he can’t move ahead of Dovizioso in the championship, and Valentino Rossi, who is fourth in the championship on 197 points can’t move ahead of Viñales in the championship standings.

So, for Márquez to secure his fourth premier class world championship at the Valencia Grand Prix, one of these scenarios must happen:

  1. If Dovizioso doesn’t win.
  2. If Dovizioso wins the race, Márquez must finish 11th or higher.

For Dovizioso to secure his first premier class world championship at the Valencia Grand Prix, this scenarios must happen:

  1. Dovizioso must win the race, and Márquez has to finish 12th or lower.

So, who is going to win the Valencia Grand Prix, and most importantly, who is going to win the 2017 MotoGP World Championship.

For starters, it must be pointed out that Andrea Dovizioso has never won in Valencia at any point during his grand prix motorcycle racing career, and has only finished on the podium in Valencia twice. Those were a second-place finish in 2004 on route to claiming the 125cc World Championship, and a third-place finish in 2011 in his last race for the Respsol Honda Team.

In addition to this, Dovizioso’s poor record, and Márquez’s great record on anti-clockwise circuits in 2017 should be noted, with Márquez outscoring Dovizioso by 100 points to 30 in the four races on anti-clockwise circuits in 2017.

There are also a number of other riders wanting to win the final race of 2017. Maverick Viñales wanting to win his first race since the French Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi wanting to claim his first victory since the Dutch TT, Dani Pedrosa wanting to claim his second win of the season to help his teammate Márquez secure the title, and Jorge Lorenzo wanting to claim his first victory for Ducati, and his first win since Valencia last year!

I think Lorenzo can break his duck and claim his first victory on-board the factory Ducati, given the recent speed and form that he has shown, with Márquez in second, Viñales in third, Dovizioso in fourth, Rossi in fifth, and Pedrosa in sixth in what will be for the most part a tight, and tense race.

Before I go, as you may have heard, the Valencia Grand Prix will be the final race in the commentary box for Nick Harris. I would like to wish Nick Harris all the best in his final race as a MotoGP commentator, and all the best in his retirement. You have been the voice of grand prix motorcycle racing, and one of the greatest sports broadcasters we have ever seen! We wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (7:55pm, and 12:05am Saturday morning AEDT). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (7:55pm AEDT), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (11:30pm AEDT), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (12:10am and 12:35am Sunday morning AEDT). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (7:40pm AEDT), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (12:00am Monday morning AEDT).

 

2017 Auckland SuperSprint (Supercars) – Preview

The 13th and penultimate round of the 2017 Supercars Championship takes place this weekend at Pukekohe Park Raceway in Pukekohe in New Zealand, which is about 60 kilometres south of Auckland, and we have a five-way battle for the championship heading into the final two rounds (four races) of the season, with Jamie Whincup having a chance to claim an unprecedented seventh Supercars/Australian Touring Car Championship this weekend.

Whincup (2580 points) leads the championship for Triple Eight Race Engineering by 17 points over DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard (2563 points), with Coulthard’s teammate Scott McLaughlin (2553 points) 27 points behind Whincup heading into the final two rounds of the season, with Prodrive Racing Australia driver Chaz Mostert (2454 points), and Whincup’s teammate Shane Van Gisbergen (2391 points) all within striking distance of the championship, 126 and 189 points behind Whincup respectively.

Whincup has the least amount of race wins out of the five drivers remaining in championship contention with two victories, but has achieved 13 podiums (12 podiums if you discount Race Three of the championship), and has finished outside of the Top 10 on only three occasions so far in 2017. However, despite being consistent in qualifying, achieving an average qualifying position of 4.68, Whincup has only achieved one pole position in 2017 with the car generally lacking the outright speed of the DJR Team Penske cars, particularly McLaughlin who has taken 14 pole positions so far in 2017

Coulthard has the second-most amount of race victories in 2017 with four, but has only achieved a total of 10 podiums, but like Whincup, has consistently finished inside the Top 10, only missing out on a Top 10 on four occasions (three if you discount Race Three of the championship), but hasn’t had the one lap speed of his teammate McLaughlin, only achieving a single pole position up to this point in 2017, having an average qualifying position of 6.68.

McLaughlin has had the most race victories in 2017 with seven, and a total of 13 podiums, capitalising on his strong qualifying form, having an average qualifying position of 2.54. However, McLaughlin has finished outside of the Top 10 on six occasions, the most of any of the title contenders, including suffering a mechanical-induced retirement at the Bathurst 1000, costing McLaughlin vital championship points.

With this, McLaughlin will aim to become the first driver since Garth Tander in 2007, and only the second driver since the Bathurst 1000 became a championship event in 1999 to win the title after retiring from the Bathurst 1000.

Mostert is the underdog in this championship battle, considering that he is the only Prodrive driver in contention. However, Mostert has achieved three race wins, and a further five podiums so far in 2017, finishing outside the Top 10 on three occasions. Mostert has also been consistent in qualifying despite only achieving one pole position, achieving an average qualifying position of 4.86.

Mostert has finished inside the Top 10 in the last 10 races, and is in great form heading into the final two rounds of the season.

Van Gisbergen is the fifth driver in the championship battle, and has achieved four race wins (three if you discount Race Three of the championship), as well as a further six podiums, finishing outside of the Top 10 on only four occasions in 2017. Van Gisbergen also has the second-most pole positions in 2017 with three, and has an average qualifying position of 4.68.

Looking at all of the five contenders, it is going to be very hard to split them in terms of the overall championship, but I think Scott McLaughlin is the favourite, perhaps just ahead of Jamie Whincup due to his superior one lap speed, and I believe that he will convert this to race-winning success under intense pressure in both New Zealand, and at the final event of the year in Newcastle.

However, you wouldn’t back against Whincup to win his seventh championship given his consistency in 2017 compared to the other four championship contenders.

Looking at who will be strong at Pukekohe, the DJR Team Penske has worked better on high speed circuits, and on circuits that have a number of high speed corners, which Pukekohe has.

However, Triple Eight Race Engineering and Prodrive Racing Australia have been strong at Pukekohe in recent years, but I think DJR Team Penske will to a certain extent dominate this weekend to take a stranglehold on the championship, and I believe it will be McLaughlin moving one step closer towards his first championship success in Supercars.

 

2017 Mexican Grand Prix – Preview

The 18th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, which is about eight kilometres south-east of the city centre of Mexico City, and after Mercedes took out the Constructors’ World Championship for the fourth year in a row, Lewis Hamilton will have his second opportunity to claim his fourth world championship of his career in Mexico.

Hamilton (331 points) leads the championship in his Mercedes by 66 points over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (265 points) with just three rounds remaining after taking a superb victory at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, taking the lead of the race from Vettel on Lap Six after the German won the battle of the start, before Hamilton went onto dominate the rest of the race to take a marvellous victory.

Hamilton is currently showing to the world that he is in career-best form, and while Ferrari have shown improved form in 2017 to challenge Mercedes throughout large parts of the year, Hamilton and Mercedes have really lifted their games, while Ferrari have crumbled under their own pressure, with reliability issues at Malaysia and Japan, as well as the costly chaos at the start of the Singapore Grand Prix really hurting Vettel’s chances of winning a fifth world championship.

Valtteri Bottas (244 points) is third in the championship, but out of mathematical championship contention, finishing the United States Grand Prix in fifth position after struggling for speed once again in comparison to his teammate Hamilton.

However, Bottas is still comfortably ahead of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo (192 points), who sadly had to retire from the United States Grand Prix due to an engine issue. Ricciardo is still comfortably ahead of Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen (163 points), and his fellow Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (123 points) as we head into the final three races of the season.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (575 points) have clinched their fourth-successive title, and have an unassailable 147 point lead over Ferrari (428 points). Red Bull (315 points) are third in the championship, with Force India (159 points) unable to catch them in fourth, while Williams (68 points) have pulled away from Toro Rosso (53 points) in the battle for fifth in the championship, with Toro Rosso know battling Renault (48 points) and Haas (43 points) for sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, while McLaren (23 points) and Sauber (five points) bring up the rear of the field.

So, for Hamilton to clinch his fourth world championship at the Mexican Grand Prix, one of these scenarios must happen:

  1. If Vettel wins the race, Hamilton must finish fifth or higher.
  2. If Vettel finishes in second, Hamilton must finish ninth or higher.
  3. If Vettel finishes third or lower, Hamilton is the world champion!

So, who will win the Mexican Grand Prix?

The cars will run with maximum downforce to deal with the lack of air density, which will mean that the cars will still be very fast on the straights, faster than even at Monza, despite the huge amount of downforce on the cars, so it will be important to find a good, strong balance with the cars to be competitive.

If this race was held earlier in the season, I would have tipped Ferrari, and Sebastian Vettel to win the Mexican Grand Prix due to the characteristics of the circuit, and because Ferrari had the stronger car at that point of the season.

However, while Ferrari are still strong, Mercedes have seemingly sorted out their strange issues that they have experienced with their cars at times during 2017, and Lewis Hamilton is in seemingly unbeatable form right as we speak, but we shouldn’t count out Red Bull challenging for the win in Mexico as they are getting better and better as the season has gone on.

My tip for the Mexican Grand Prix is for a Hamilton victory to seal a fourth world championship crown.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (Saturday 2am and 6am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 10am and 1pm local time (Sunday 2am and 5am AEDT).

The 56 lap race is on Sunday from 1pm local time (Monday 5am AEDT).

 

 

2017 MotoGP Malaysian GP – Preview

The 17th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Sepang International Circuit, which is about 60 kilometres south of Kuala Lumpur, and this is where Marc Márquez could clinch his fourth MotoGP World Championship, and his sixth championship across all classes.

Márquez (269 points) leads the world championship by 33 points over Andrea Dovizioso (236 points) after winning the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island a couple of days ago.

Meanwhile, Dovizioso had an absolute shocker at Phillip Island, finishing 13th after being out-dragged to the line by Scott Redding and Dani Pedrosa, severely compromising his chances of winning his first premier class title.

Dovizioso is also paying for his awful record on anti-clockwise circuits, scoring 30 points in four races on anti-clockwise circuits, compared to Márquez, who has scored a perfect 100 points from the same four races. If the championship was raced just on clockwise circuits, Dovizioso would be leading Márquez by 37 points.

In fact, Maverick Viñales (219 points), who finished third in Australia to consolidate third in the championship, trailing Márquez by 50 points, and out of championship contention due to the fact he cannot achieve the same amount of wins as Márquez, would be behind Dovizioso by 29 points if the championship was contested on clockwise circuits, and with only one more race on a clockwise circuit left on the 2017 calendar, Dovizioso would be the champion!

Instead, the stranglehold that Márquez has had on the opposition on anti-clockwise circuits, and the improved form of the Honda has really changed the course of this championship.

Valentino Rossi (188 points) has moved past Dani Pedrosa (174 points) into fourth in the championship after finishing in second spot at Phillip Island, while Pedrosa finished 12th in a disappointing race for the Spaniard.

Johann Zarco (138 points), Jorge Lorenzo (117 points), Danilo Petrucci (111 points), and Cal Crutchlow (103 points) complete the top nine in the championship after having mixed races in Australia, with Zarco and Crutchlow finishing fourth and fifth respectively, while Lorenzo and Petrucci struggled on their Ducati bikes, with Lorenzo finishing 15th, while Petrucci finished 21st and was second-last, 48.768 seconds behind the race winner.

Jonas Folger (84 points), who didn’t race in Australia, and won’t race in Malaysia due to a virus, is 10th in the championship, but may struggle to hang onto that position unless he can come back for the final race of the season in Valencia.

So, for Márquez to secure his fourth premier class world championship at the Malaysian Grand Prix, one of these scenarios must happen:

  1. If Márquez wins the race.
  2. If Dovizioso wins the race, Márquez must finish second.
  3. If Dovizioso finishes second, Márquez must finish fourth or higher.
  4. If Dovizioso finishes third, Márquez must finish eighth or higher.
  5. If Dovizioso finishes fourth, Márquez must finish 11th or higher.
  6. If Dovizioso finishes fifth, Márquez must finish 13th or higher.
  7. If Dovizioso finishes sixth, Márquez must finish 14th or higher.
  8. If Dovizioso finishes seventh, Márquez must finish 15th or higher.
  9. If Dovizioso finishes eighth or lower, Márquez is the world champion!

So, what will happen in Malaysia?

The usual unstable weather features in the forecast, and while Marc Márquez has proven himself to being much stronger in wet conditions that what he may have been in the past, he hasn’t quite mastered the wet conditions in the tropical climates, suffering a crash during the race last year, he has had two more race crashes in the wet at the Sepang International Circuit, both in the lower classes, while in 2011, suffered a huge accident in Friday practice in strange conditions in Moto2, denying him the chance of winning the championship, and almost ending his career, due to the eye injury he suffered, which was fixed via surgery.

That happened on the same weekend that Marco Simoncelli was killed in an horrific accident during the MotoGP race, which was eventually cancelled as the news filtered through of his tragic passing, with yesterday marking six years since his passing.

However, if it is a dry race, you would have to tip Márquez to win the race, given his current form, and secure a well-deserved championship. It is all up to Andrea Dovizioso to bounce back and win the race to keep the title battle going to the final race in Valencia.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (12:55pm, and 5:05pm AEDT). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (12:55pm AEDT), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (4:30pm AEDT), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (5:10pm and 5:35pm AEDT). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (12:40pm AEDT), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 3:00pm local time (6:00pm AEDT).