2018 Spanish GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After a more straight-forward round, where Marc Márquez won for the sixth time at the Circuit of the Americas, we head to southern Spain, and to Jerez for Round Four of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship for the first European round of the year.

Andrea Dovizioso (46 points) leads the world championship on his factory Ducati (Ducati Team) by single point over Márquez (45 points). Dovizioso looked very strong in Qatar where he took the victory, but after that, he has struggled to find that form with a shocking sixth-place finish in Argentina, and a mediocre fifth-place finish at the Circuit of the Americas. It appears as if the pattern of last year is continuing for Ducati, with Dovizioso really strong on circuits with long straights, and plenty of hard braking zones, and I am not sure if Dovizioso will find much joy in southern Spain this weekend.

Meanwhile, Márquez is normally fast everywhere, and his factory Honda (Repsol Honda Team) appears to be better than it was last year, particularly in the earlier stages of last year when he was fighting to find top form. He was quick in Qatar, a bogey circuit of his, and finished a very close second behind Dovizioso. He was out of this world quick in Argentina, and came reasonably close to winning the race twice over before a third penalty, yes, a third penalty relegated him from fifth to 18th, and carried on this speed, this time without error, with the exception of the three-place grid penalty for blocking Maverick Viñales in qualifying, to claim his sixth win in Austin in his 93rd MotoGP race! I expect him and his Honda to be strong in Jerez!

Talking about Viñales (41 points), he is just five points behind Dovizioso in the championship on his factory Yamaha (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) after finishing a comfortable second in Austin after sixth and fifth-place finishes in Qatar and Argentina respectively. In my opinion, the Yamaha is lacking by about three of four tenths of a second compared to the Honda, particularly when it is in the hands of Márquez, and maybe on par with the speed of Dani Pedrosa on a normal weekend, but they will need to find that time, otherwise it will be another long year for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP!

Cal Crutchlow (38 points) is fourth in the championship, eight points behind Dovizioso after crashing and not scoring points at the Circuit of the Americas after coming into Austin leading the championship after winning in Argentina, and a strong fourth in Qatar. In my view, Crutchlow could be a dark horse for the championship long term should anything happen to Márquez, and possibly his teammate Pedrosa, but he must consistently finish races in the points! He had five retirements in 2017, seven races where he retired, or didn’t finish in the points in 2016, and five retirements in 2015 since he joined LCR Honda. If Crutchlow approaches his racing with a touch more care, he could be title contender!

Johann Zarco (38 points) is fifth in the championship, and tied on points with Crutchlow for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 after a sixth-place finish in Austin, backing up a brilliant second in Argentina, and a slightly disappointing race in Qatar finishing in eighth. Zarco is currently on a run of 20-consecutive race finishes in MotoGP, and has been very consistent without having the bike underneath him! At the moment, his future is up in the air, with many big name teams and manufacturers chasing his signature with the latest reports suggesting that Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have won that race over the Repsol Honda Team, although nothing has been officially confirmed.

Below them in the championship standings, Andrea Iannone (31 points) is sixth for Team Suzuki Ecstar, Valentino Rossi (29 points) is seventh for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, Jack Miller (26 points) is eighth for Alma Pramac Racing, Tito Rabat (22 points) is ninth for Reale Avintia Racing, and Danilo Petrucci (21 points) completes the top 10 in the championship for Alma Pramac Racing, ahead of the only other two riders to have double-figured points in 2018 in Dani Pedrosa (18 points) for the Repsol Honda Team, and Álex Rins (16 points) for Team Suzuki Ecstar.

So, who will win the Spanish Grand Prix?

Given his speed, and the speed of his bike at the moment, I cannot go past Marc Márquez to claim his second victory of the season, and his second MotoGP victory (and across all classes) at Jerez, but I think Dani Pedrosa, assuming that he is fully-fit, should be on the podium with his teammate Márquez, ahead of a resurgent Jorge Lorenzo on his factory Ducati (Ducati Team), who will be ahead of a great scrap for fourth involving Dovizioso, Viñales, Rossi, Iannone, Rins, Crutchlow, and Zarco!

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2018 Grand Prix of the Americas (MotoGP) – Preview

After one of the most dramatic and strangest races in MotoGP history a couple of weeks ago in Argentina, Round Three of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for the 2018 Grand Prix of the Americas, and the battle in terms of the championship is most certainly the widest that we have seen in some time!

Cal Crutchlow (38 points) is leading the championship for LCR Honda, becoming the first British rider since Barry Sheene in 1979 to lead the premier class world championship at any given time after his shock victory in Argentina, raising questions among many people as to whether he can win the world championship this year?

In my view, I don’t think Crutchlow against this field on his current machinery has what it takes over the course of a season to win the world championship in 2018, but if there are more crazy races like the last one, he could well be a chance!

Andrea Dovizioso (35 points) is second in the championship on his Ducati after finishing sixth in Argentina, a weekend where Ducati simply had no pace, with Johann Zarco (28 points) after his brilliant second-place finish on his Tech3 Yamaha in Argentina sitting third in the championship, ahead of factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales (21 points), who finished fifth at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo.

Then we get to Marc Márquez (20 points) who sits in fifth in the championship on his factory Honda after his trials and tribulations in Argentina, in which he was penalised in the race three times!

He was given a ride-through penalty for failing to adhere to the instructions of marshals/stewards after stalling his bike after the warm-up lap after the start of the race was delayed. However, after looking at the 2018 FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations, I raise the pertinent question of whether the start of the race should have actually have been delayed in the first place?

My answer to that question is No!

In my opinion, if the conditions are improving, the conditions are getting safer! So, why would you (race direction) delay the start of the race? Would it be to get more suitable tyres onto the bike?

After the bikes/riders get to the grid, according to Article 1.18.6 of the 2018 FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations: “The Race Director will, at this stage, declare the race as “wet” or “dry” and will indicate this to the riders on the grid and those who may still be in the pit lane by the display of a board. If no board is displayed the race will automatically be “dry”.”

And, according to Article 1.18.7 of the 2018 FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations: “Riders on the grid may at this stage make adjustments to the machine or change tyres to suit the track conditions.

“Tyre warmers may be used on the grid.

“Riders may use a generator to power tyre warmers on the grid. Only one generator per machine may be used. The generator must be of the “hand carried” type and have a maximum output capacity of two kilowatts.

“Starter engines may also be used on the grid.

“Generator and starter engines should be located at the rear of the motorcycles.

“All adjustments must be completed by the display of the 3-Minute board. After this board is displayed, riders who still wish to make adjustments must push their machine to the pit lane. Such riders and their machines must be clear of the grid and in the pit lane before the display of the 1-Minute board, where they may continue to make adjustments, or change machine in MotoGP only. Such riders will start the warm up lap from the pit lane and will start the race from the back of the grid.”

So, the teams and the riders had ample opportunity to make a decision as to what tyres they should start the race on, and the race was declared WET, so why did race direction decide eight minutes and 20 seconds later that it was best to delay the start of the race?

The conditions were not dangerous! If your choose WET/RAIN weather tyres, but believe that they are going to overheat, but you aren’t confident the conditions are suitable for slicks, then you do the warm-up, start the race, and come into the pit-lane to change bikes when the suitable time arrives!

Adding to this, only one rider, that being Jack Miller (19 points), who is sixth in the championship after finishing fourth on his Pramac Ducati after starting from pole position, could follow the rules and regulations as stated, and yet doesn’t get to reap the rewards of his decision because of race direction making seemingly, according to the rules and regulations, the wrong decision!

The conditions were not dangerous, the conditions were consistent and improving! It wasn’t like there was a sudden torrential downpour, or one particular corner having significantly different conditions compared to everywhere else. So, why was the start of the race delayed?

I could go on all day about the race that Marc Márquez had, including the subsequent penalties for the incidents with Aleix Espargaró and Valentino Rossi after the first penalty, but really, in my opinion, the race wasn’t run properly, and the FIM, Dorna Sports, and MotoGP need to have a very good, hard, and long look at themselves!

Completing the top 10 in the championship are Danilo Petrucci (17 points), Rossi (16 points), Álex Rins (16 points), and Andrea Iannone (15 points).

So, looking ahead to Round Three at the Circuit of the Americas, I cannot go past Márquez to bounce back and win in Austin after the disappointment of Argentina. He is undefeated at the Circuit of the Americas, and I can see him making it six wins from six appearances in Austin.

 

2018 Argentina GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After one of the closest races in recent memory to open up the season in Qatar, with the top seven covered by just five seconds, Round Two of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo in Argentina, with the battle between Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha set to be fierce once again.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) leads the world championship by virtue of his victory in Qatar after a cracking battle with defending world champion Marc Márquez (Honda), with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) also getting involved in the fight for the victory, with Cal Crutchlow (Honda), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati), Maverick Viñales (Yamaha), and Dani Pedrosa (Honda) completing the top seven, with Johann Zarco (Yamaha), who started the race from pole position, leading 16 out of the first 17 laps before dropping away late in the race to finish in eighth.

And while Andrea Iannone finished ninth aboard his Suzuki, he was probably overshadowed by the performance of his teammate Alex Rins for most of the weekend, before Rins sadly crashed out on lap 13 whilst in a very strong position, but the performance from Suzuki as a whole in Qatar showed that they could be a serious threat to Ducati, Honda, and Yamaha going forward.

Someone who won’t be happy with his performance in Qatar is Dovizioso’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, crashing out on lap 13 after struggling to keep in touch with the front-runners, and after a season in 2017 where he failed to claim a single race victory, he was hoping to get on equal terms with Dovizioso pace wise, but at the moment, Lorenzo needs to find the sweet spot with his machinery, which for Lorenzo doesn’t seem to be in a consistent place, especially in comparison with his teammate.

Overall, Márquez has always been fast in Argentina, claiming pole position in each year since the Grand Prix of Argentina re-joined the championship back in 2014, but it has been a win or bin it mentality from the Spaniard at the Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo, and while others have been solid, no one consistently has had an answer, pace wise at least, to stop Márquez in Argentina.

And, with the Honda seemingly in a much better position compared to this time last year, the defending world champion will be a very hard man to beat!

2018 Qatar GP (MotoGP) – Preview

The wait is almost over, and it is time for the new season to finally commence! It is Round One of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship coming to you from the Losail International Circuit, which is about 30 kilometres north of Doha, the capital of Qatar, and it will begin what promises to be a great season, and it will be the longest season in the history of the sport, with 19 races for all to enjoy!

Four-time MotoGP World Champion and defending champion Marc Márquez, who has recently re-signed with Honda, will start the 2018 season as the favourite to win his fifth premier class title, and join Mick Doohan in equal-third for most premier class world championships, but will have to get past a number of contenders wanting to snatch the crown off him.

They include Andrea Dovizioso, who pushed Márquez all the way in 2017, winning six races, which was the same amount won by Márquez.

Maverick Viñales will also be a strong contender for the championship, despite a difficult second-half to his first season with the factory Yamaha team. Viñales won three of the first five races, but was unable to win any of the last 13 as he fell away to finish third in the 2017 championship.

Márquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa should also be in the thick of things after winning twice in 2017, although he hasn’t been able to beat Márquez on a consistent basis, as should Valentino Rossi, who has re-signed with Yamaha, and is looking to defy age and perhaps the critics to equal Giacomo Agostini’s record of eight premier class world championships.

Three-time MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo will be looking to return to top form in 2018 after a tough first year with the factory Ducati team, being thrashed by his teammate, and rarely coming close to challenging for a race victory, only picking up three podiums, while Johann Zarco will be looking to back up his sensational rookie year last year, where he finished sixth in the championship with three podiums, with a strong season in 2018.

There will also be other contenders looking for race victories or podium finishes in 2018, including Danilo Petrucci, Cal Crutchlow, Alex Rins,  Andrea Iannone, and even Australian Jack Miller.

The only disappointing news heading into the season is that German rider Jonas Folger will not take part in the 2018 season after missing the last four races of 2017, a season where he got a podium at his home race, after being diagonosed with a rare strain of Gilbert Syndrome, which is a common genetic disorder where the liver is unable to process toxins effectively, and it affects around two to five percent of the world’s population.

Overall, looking at the season as a whole, you would have to tip Marc Márquez to win his seventh world championship across all classes, as you sense that when he has the bike he wants underneath him, and is at his favourite circuits, he will win all of those races, but has the ability to finish on the podium when the bike isn’t quite there more often than his opposition.

However, in terms of the opening race of 2018, I am thinking that either Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo will be very hard to beat on their factory Ducati bikes on that long front straight at the Losail International Circuit.

So, I am tipping a Ducati one-two, with Márquez to start his quest for a fifth MotoGP World Championship with a strong third-place finish at one of his least-favourite tracks.

Yamaha will also be strong, but not as strong as this time last year, while Suzuki could be a surprise packet with Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone.

So, I cannot wait for the season to begin! It should be a classic!

 

 

 

 

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 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).

 

2017 MotoGP Australian GP – Preview

The 16th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia, which is located about 140 kilometres south-south-east of Melbourne, and it is the second of three-straight flyaway weekends (Japan, Australia, and Malaysia), and from what we saw in Japan, we are set for some great racing at this breathtaking circuit.

Marc Márquez (244 points) leads the world championship on his factory Honda, but his championship lead over factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (233 points) has been cut to just 11 points after the Italian’s sensational victory at the Twin Ring Motegi in very wet conditions, overtaking Márquez on the final lap to grab his fifth victory of the season, which is the most wins Dovizioso has had in a season since he claim the 125cc championship in 2004. It was also Dovizioso’s seventh podium of the season, which is the equal most he has achieved in a season during his premier class career (2010, 2011, and 2017).

And while the lead for Márquez was cut to 11 points, the Spaniard could celebrate his 100th podium in Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing in just his 165th race, and with that podium, it is the seventh time in the last eight years that Márquez has achieved 10 podiums or more in a season across all classes.

Third in the championship is factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales (203 points), 41 points behind Márquez after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix, struggling in very wet conditions on his Yamaha, a bike that has struggled all season long in wet conditions, and after scoring three wins in the opening five races of the season, Viñales has only been able to manage three podiums in the last 10, a run of form that will surely cost him any hope of winning his first MotoGP World Championship in 2017.

Dani Pedrosa (170 points), the teammate of Márquez, is the last rider in mathematical contention for the world championship, but is 74 points (out of a possible 75) behind Márquez in the championship after retiring from the Japanese Grand Prix, and will need a miracle if he was to win his first MotoGP World Championship in 2017.

Valentino Rossi (168 points) is fifth in the championship on his factory Yamaha, but officially out of championship contention after crashing out in Motegi, struggling like his teammate Viñales in the wet conditions.

Johann Zarco (125 points) is ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (116 points), and Danilo Petrucci (111 points) in the battle for sixth in the championship, which will be battle outside of the championship battle that will be sure to captivate great interest among the fans as this season draws closer to the end.

Cal Crutchlow (92 points) is ninth in the championship, and is ahead of Jonas Folger (84 points) who missed the Japanese Grand Prix due to a mystery virus, and looks set to miss the Australian Grand Prix, as well as the Malaysian Grand Prix the week after.

As far as who is going to win at Phillip Island, Honda, Ducati, and Yamaha should all have strong bikes to handle the fast, sweeping corners around this iconic circuit.

It is important to note that Phillip Island is one of just five circuits on the current MotoGP calendar that run in an anti-clockwise direction, and at the three anti-clockwise circuits (Circuit of the Americas, Sachsenring, and Motorland Aragón) MotoGP has been to in 2017, Marc Márquez has won all three, while Andrea Dovizioso has struggled, finishing sixth, eighth, and seventh respectively at those three circuits.

However, Márquez has only won the Australian Grand Prix once since joining the premier class in 2013, but could have potentially won all of those races. Márquez was disqualified in 2013 after failing to pit within the prescribed pit-stop window in the first-ever dry flag-to-flag race, before crashing at Turn 10 in 2014 while leading the race comfortably, before winning a thriller in 2015 when he was out of championship contention, overtaking Jorge Lorenzo on the last lap, and then crashed at Turn Four (Honda Corner) while leading the race again in 2016.

Conditions this weekend are set to be fine, but cool, which should suit the Yamaha better, but I think the Honda and Ducati have been developed much further and better than the Yamaha, and given his record on anti-clockwise circuits, both in 2017 and in general, it is very hard to tip against Márquez moving a step closer to a fourth MotoGP World Championship, and his sixth championship across all classes.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 10:55am, and 3:05pm local time (10:55am, and 3:05pm AEDT). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 10:55am local time (10:55am AEDT), FP4 on Saturday at 2:30pm local time (2:30pm AEDT), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 3:10pm and 3:35pm local time (3:10pm and 3:35pm AEDT). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 11:40am local time (11:40am AEDT), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 4:00pm local time (4:00pm AEDT).