2017 MotoGP Aragón GP – Preview

The 14th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from Motorland Aragón in Alcañiz in Spain, and with five races remaining in the season, the battle for the championship is set to go right to the very end of the season in Valencia in Spain with three riders realistically in the championship hunt.

Marc Márquez leads the world championship on his factory Honda on 199 points after claiming victory in Misano in what was one of the best performances of his career in really wet conditions, overtaking Danilo Petrucci on the first corner of the last lap to grab maximum points after being forced to retire the race before at Silverstone due to a blown engine.

Márquez is equal on points with Andrea Dovizioso (199 points), but ahead of the factory Ducati rider due to having two more second-places. Dovizioso finished a conservative third in wet conditions at Misano, and has been very consistent throughout 2017.

However, you feel that the Italian is very much the underdog in this world championship battle, and that Márquez has, barring the retirement at Silverstone, has all of the moment heading into the last five rounds of the season, and while Márquez and the Repsol Honda Team wouldn’t admit this, I think Dovizioso and his Ducati Team would happily admit this, even though the dream for Dovizioso would be to claim what would be a hugely unlikely first MotoGP World Championship.

The other genuine contender to win the 2017 MotoGP World Championship is factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales. Viñales is third in the championship on 183 points, 16 points behind both Márquez and Dovizioso, but he, along with his factory Yamaha team, have struggled to put together a run of strong, consistent results, and you sense that Viñales has been frustrated throughout most of the season of his team’s inability to produce a fast, consistent bike that is strong in all conditions and scenarios, and you now sense that he is frustrated that he is not in a position to challenge Márquez, a rider who he believes he can match on equal machinery.

At the moment, you sense that the best Viñales can hope for in the championship is to finish second behind Márquez, but if Yamaha can improve dramatically, Viñales still has a strong hope of winning his first MotoGP World Championship.

Fourth in the world championship is the injured Valentino Rossi (157 points) on his factory Yamaha, who will attempt to race this weekend at Aragón, having been declared fit by MotoGP Medical Staff for Free Practice One. Yamaha Superbike rider Michael van der Mark will remain on stand-by just in case Rossi can’t continue for the rest of the weekend.

Dani Pedrosa (150 points) is fifth in the championship on his factory Honda, but has seen his championship hopes evaporate for another year after finishing 14th in Misano, struggling for tyre temperatures in wet conditions. Pedrosa and Honda will need to work out ways of helping out Pedrosa so that he can be competitive in all conditions. So far, Honda have most of the time failed miserably over the last 12 years to give Pedrosa the package that he needs to win the MotoGP World Championship. If he had been on a Yamaha during this time, I am sure Pedrosa would have won a premier class title, and if he was on the factory Ducati this year, I am sure Pedrosa would be the favourite to win the world championship.

What a waste of talent!

Below the top five in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship, there is a great battle for sixth in the championship that should go to the very end of the season between Johann Zarco (110 points), Danilo Petrucci (95 points), Cal Crutchlow (92 points), Jorge Lorenzo (90 points), and Jonas Folger (84 points).

However, in terms of who I am going to tip to win the Aragón Grand Prix, Marc Márquez has won here twice in MotoGP, and three times across all classes, and has taken pole position in each of his first four years in MotoGP, and in six of the last seven years across all classes.

Márquez was dominant here last year, and given the form that he is currently in, it is almost impossible to tip against him here!

 

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).

 

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2017 MotoGP San Marino and Rimini’s Coast GP – Preview

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).

2017 MotoGP British GP – Preview

The 12th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend at the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom, and after a titanic battle between Ducati and Honda, and in particular Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez at the Red Bull Ring in Austria a couple of weeks ago, MotoGP is set to roar into action at the home of British motorsport.

Márquez heads into the British Grand Prix with the championship lead on 174 points on his factory Honda after finishing second at the Red Bull Ring last time out, 16 points ahead of Dovizioso, who is on 158 points on his factory Ducati after winning the Austrian Grand Prix a couple of weeks ago, which was his third race victory of the season. This is the most victories by a rider on a Ducati in a season since Casey Stoner back in 2010, who won three races in that season.

Maverick Viñales is third in the world championship on 150 points, 24 points behind Márquez after finishing sixth at the Red Bull Ring on his factory Yamaha, and is nine points ahead of his teammate Valentino Rossi.

Rossi, who will start in his 300th premier class race on Sunday, is fourth in the world championship on 141 points. The factory Yamaha bike has been performing inconsistently of late, and things will need to change at Silverstone, a track that should suit them, especially if the conditions are cool.

Fifth in the championship is Dani Pedrosa. The teammate of Márquez is currently on 139 points after achieving three podiums in the last three races, and is still in championship contention, 35 points behind Márquez in the world championship battle.

Johann Zarco is a clear sixth in the world championship on 99 points after finishing fifth at the Austrian Grand Prix a fortnight ago, and has finished inside the points in all but one race, which happened to be at the opening race of the season in Qatar.

He is 20 points clear of Dovizioso’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who sits seventh in the championship on 79 points after a fourth place finish at the Red Bull Ring. It has been a tough season for the Spaniard who has only achieved a single podium finish so far in 2017, by far his worst season in the premier class in this regard since he made his debut in 2008.

Lorenzo is closely followed in the championship by Jonas Folger (77 points), Cal Crutchlow (76 points), and Danilo Petrucci (75 points), with four points separating Lorenzo in seventh and Petrucci in 10th.

Looking ahead to the British Grand Prix, only the top 10 riders in the standings have made it onto the podium, with only the top five riders winning races so far in 2017.

This looks set to continue again, however, if two riders were to break through to claim a race victory in the remaining seven races in 2017, it would likely be Johann Zarco and Jorge Lorenzo.

As far as the circuit characteristics are concerned, this should be the perfect place for Yamaha to hit back in the championship, and both Viñales and Rossi need a victory to kick-start their championship challenge.

Viñales hasn’t won since the French Grand Prix back in May, while Rossi hasn’t won since claiming his sole victory of the season so far at the Dutch TT back in June, and considering the cooler conditions that you usually expect at Silverstone at this time of year, and considering the performance of the Yamaha in cooler conditions this year, both Viñales and Rossi should be considered the favourites to win this weekend.

However, if Yamaha aren’t on song again, then we can expect Honda to be very strong, and their bike has really improved recently, and both Márquez and Pedrosa have greater confidence with the front of the bike, particularly under braking.

And while you cannot rule out Ducati this weekend, I believe that the Yamaha will be stronger around Silverstone, and both Viñales and Rossi are due to break their victory droughts. However, if the Yamaha doesn’t prove to be the stronger bike, I expect Márquez on his factory Honda to move one step closer towards his fourth premier class world championship, and his sixth world championship across all classes.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (6:55pm, and 11:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (6:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (10:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (11:10pm and 11:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 11:00am local time (8:00pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 3:30pm local time (12:30pm Monday morning AEST).

MotoGP Austria GP – Preview

The 11th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg in Austria, a week after the Czech Republic Grand Prix that amazed in so many ways.

Marc Márquez leads the world championship on 154 points after taking his second-successive victory of the season at the Brno Circuit after him and his team made some very smart calls in regards to their race strategy.

Starting in very intermediate conditions, bordering on dry conditions, Márquez and his Repsol Honda Team decided to start on the soft wet rear tyre, a tyre which in the eyes of many would degrade quicker than the medium wet rear tyre in those conditions. However, when Márquez realised that this wasn’t working, as he was falling back down the field, he pitted at the end of Lap Two to change bikes for one with dry tyres (medium front, medium rear), and it worked!

Most of the field were slow to realise that the track conditions had changed, and were made to look like fools by the fast-thinking Márquez, and his team, cruising in the end to a 12.438 second victory over his teammate Dani Pedrosa, who now sits fifth in the championship on 123 points, 31 points behind Márquez.

Second in the championship is the man who finished third in the Czech Republic, Maverick Viñales. The factory Yamaha rider was lucky not to lose more points against his main championship rival after pitting two laps later than Márquez. Viñales is now on 140 points, 14 points behind his fellow Spaniard.

Andrea Dovizioso is third in the world championship for Ducati on 133 points, 21 points behind the championship leader after finishing in sixth in the Czech Republic.

Dovizioso pitted three laps later than Márquez, and one lap later than teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who got caught out by his team not being ready for him to pit, meaning that he finished 15th in the race, and leaves Lorenzo down in 10th position in the championship on 66 points in what has been his worst season to date.

Valentino Rossi is fourth in world championship on his factory Yamaha on 132 points, 22 points behind Márquez after finishing fourth at the Brno Circuit, pitting three laps later than the race winner and championship leader.

Johann Zarco is sixth in the championship on his Yamaha on 88 points, 11 points ahead of his teammate Jonas Folger (77 points), who is ahead of both Danilo Petrucci and Cal Crutchlow, who are both on 75 points each.

Looking ahead to the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, it looks to be a circuit on paper that suits the Ducati down to a tee. They were dominant last year at the Red Bull Ring, picking up a one-two finish with Andrea Iannone finishing ahead of Andrea Dovizioso at one of the most power sensitive circuits on the calendar, rewarding the straight-line speed and engine power of the Ducati.

The Red Bull Ring is also a circuit that also rewards a well-handling bike, with the Yamaha’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi finishing under four seconds behind the race winner, despite the supposed lack of power and straight-line speed from the Yamaha and their engine.

Also, despite their bad performance last year at the Red Bull Ring, you cannot rule out the two factory Honda’s having a big say in who is going to win the Austrian Grand Prix.

The maximum temperatures for the weekend in Spielberg are set to be ranging between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius, and that will certainly suit the factory Yamaha’s of Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi over the factory Honda’s of Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa if previous history is anything to go by in 2017.

However, as far as the track characteristics are concerned, all signs point to a Ducati win, and I believe Jorge Lorenzo will get his first victory for the Italian manufacturer in a one-two finish ahead of Andrea Dovizioso.

 

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).

MotoGP Czech Republic GP – Preview

The 10th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Brno Circuit in the Czech Republic, and after a mid-season break that seems to have gone on forever, it is time to get back to racing to start the second half of the season to continue an amazing championship battle.

And what a battle we have! The top five riders in the world championship are separated by 26 points heading into the final nine races of 2017, and have all won at least one race during the opening nine rounds of the season.

Marc Márquez leads the world championship on 129 points on his factory Honda, which is the lowest points score by a rider leading the world championship after the opening nine rounds since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993, five points ahead of factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales, who is on 124 points.

However, Viñales has won more races so far in 2017 than his fellow Spaniard with three victories (Qatar, Argentina, and France), compared to Márquez, who has achieved two victories (Americas, and Germany).

Behind the two pre-season favourites after the halfway mark of the season is factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso on 123 points, six points behind Márquez in the world championship after winning two races (Italy, and Catalunya), and becoming the first Ducati rider since Casey Stoner back in 2010 to win consecutive races for the manufacturer.

Valentino Rossi is fourth in the championship on his factory Yamaha on 119 points, 10 points behind Márquez after achieving one victory during the opening half of the season, at the eighth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship at Assen.

Behind Rossi is Dani Pedrosa, who is fifth in the world championship on 103 points, 26 points behind his factory Honda teammate Márquez after winning the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year at Jerez, and is still well and truly in championship contention.

However, behind the battle for the championship is a great scrap for sixth in the championship standings between Johann Zarco (84 points), Jonas Folger (71 points), Danilo Petrucci (66 points), Jorge Lorenzo (65 points), and Cal Crutchlow (64 points).

All five of these riders have been on the podium at least once this season, and in the case of Petrucci, twice. As well as this, the three riders of those five (Zarco, Folger, and Petrucci) who haven’t won a race in the premier class in their careers to date have shown that they can challenge the very best on their day, and could possibly claim their first MotoGP race victories during the second-half of the season.

The two out of those five (Lorenzo and Crutchlow) who have won races in the premier class, and in the case of Lorenzo, world championships, have struggled to put together a string of good results so far in 2017, and need to find some consistency in the second-half to have any hope of achieving a top five finish in the championship.

So, MotoGP heads to the Czech Republic with at least ten riders who have shown that they are capable of winning a race in 2017, and with the conditions set to be fine, but hotter than normal, it leaves this race wide open.

However, especially given Honda have won five of the last six races at the Brno Circuit, if the track conditions are slippery, it will suit the Japanese manufacturer extremely well.

However, if the track has a lot of grip in its asphalt, it will bring it more in the favour of Yamaha, and in particular Ducati.

So, who am I tipping to win the Czech Republic Grand Prix?

Well, no rider has won at the Brno Circuit in consecutive years in MotoGP since Valentino Rossi won the races in 2008 and 2009, and suspect this record will still be standing at the end of the weekend.

So, I am going to tip Marc Márquez to win the tenth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship in a fantastic battle with Dani Pedrosa.

 

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).

 

 

2017 MotoGP German GP – Preview

This weekend, the ninth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship will take place at the Sachsenring in the town of Hohenstein-Ernstthal near the German city of Chemnitz, and with the mid-season break fast approaching, a number of riders will be looking to achieve good results to consolidate or improve their position in the world championship.

The MotoGP field heads into the ninth round of 2017 with a new championship leader with Andrea Dovizioso leading on 115 points, which is the lowest for a world championship leader in the premier class after eight rounds since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993.

Dovizioso leads by four points over Maverick Viñales (111 points), with Valentino Rossi (108 points), and Marc Márquez (104 points) all within 11 points of the championship leader, and is unsurprisingly the smallest margin covering the top four riders in the premier class after eight rounds since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993.

Dovizioso will be looking to secure his third victory of the season this weekend, but has never won at the Sachsenring across any of the classes. His best performance at the German Grand Prix has been two third-place finishes back in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

Viñales too has never won the Sachsenring in his career to date, with his best performance at the German Grand Prix being two third-place finishes 2011 and 2013 in the beginner’s class (125cc/Moto3). However, Viñales will be desperate to grab his fourth victory of the season after crashing out of the Dutch TT under a week ago.

Rossi, unlike Dovizioso and Viñales, has had plenty of success at the Sachsenring, winning five times across all classes, although his last race victory at the German Grand Prix came back in 2009. However, if Rossi won for the seventh time at the Sachsenring, he would become the second-oldest rider to win back-to-back races in the premier class after winning the Dutch TT last week.

Márquez has also had plenty of success at the German Grand Prix, the most successful rider in fact, taking pole position and winning the race in the last seven years across all classes at the Sachsenring. However, he hasn’t got a pole position in the last five races, which is his longest streak without a pole position since joining the premier class back in 2013.

This weekend would seem like the perfect time and place to end that record, but other than Dovizioso, Viñales and Rossi, Márquez will be facing stiff competition from his teammate Dani Pedrosa, who too has a fantastic record at the German Grand Prix, winning it six times across all classes.

However, Pedrosa, who is currently fifth in the championship on 87 points, 28 points behind championship leader Dovizioso will be desperate to achieve his seventh victory at the Sachsenring as he looks to keep in touch with his championship rivals at a track where the Repsol Honda Team have won for the past seven years.

Other riders to look out for this weekend to challenge for the podium and possibly a race win include Johann Zarco (77 points), Danilo Petrucci (62 points), Jorge Lorenzo (60 points), and Cal Crutchlow (58 points).

Zarco won the Moto2 race last year at the Sachsenring, but Petrucci, who has never won a race, Crutchlow, and more surprisingly Lorenzo have never won at the Sachsenring across any class.

The German Grand Prix is a particularly big weekend for Lorenzo if he wants to get back into the world championship battle, trailing his teammate Andrea Dovizioso by 55 points heading into the last 10 races of the season.

He has had a real struggle to adapt to his factory Ducati, and has been rather inconsistent, finishing in the top six on only three occasions in 2017, with his only podium of the season so far coming at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez.

If Lorenzo can improve his form on the factory Ducati, he can still be a major player in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship, but you feel it has to start this weekend by claiming his first victory at the Sachsenring, a track where he has claimed six podiums across all classes.

However, I am tipping a resurgent run by Marc Márquez at arguably his favourite circuit on the calendar, and I believe he will dominate at the Sachsenring once again to win for the eighth time.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:50am, and 2:00pm local time (5:50pm, and 10:00pm 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).

2017 MotoGP Dutch TT – Preview

This weekend, the 2017 Dutch TT, the eighth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship will take place this weekend from the TT Circuit Assen in Assen in the Netherlands, and the championship battle is starting to heat up!

Maverick Viñales leads the world championship on his factory Movistar Yamaha on 111 points, which is incidentally the lowest points-score after the first seven rounds for a rider leading a premier class world championship since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993, despite achieving three race victories in the opening seven rounds.

Viñales is ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, who claimed his first dry race victory in MotoGP at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, and then backed it up a week later by claiming his second dry-weather win at the Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona in Spain to take his career race wins total in the premier class to four.

Dovizioso’s previous race victories in MotoGP came in wet conditions at Donington Park in the United Kingdom in 2009, and at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia last year.

This leaves the Italian just seven points behind the Spaniard on 104 points on his factory Ducati, raising the question as to whether Dovizioso can win his first MotoGP World Championship in 2017?

Marc Márquez is third in the world championship on his factory Repsol Honda on 88 points, 23 points behind the championship leader, after taking just a single victory so far in 2017, winning the Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, as well as two pole positions.

However, Márquez hasn’t got a pole position in the last four races, which is his longest streak without a pole position since joining the premier class back in 2013.

However, the next two races of the championship at Assen, where he has finished inside the top two in his last seven races there, and at the Sachsenring, where he has won his last seven races there, should be a chance for Márquez to close the championship deficit to Viñales.

Márquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, sits fourth in the world championship on 84 points, 27 points behind Viñales after taking one race victory in the first seven rounds of the season at Jerez at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fourth race of the season, and finishing inside the top five in all of the races that he has finished, although crashing out in two of the seven races so far in 2017.

However, it was at this point of the season last year where Pedrosa started to struggle, only finishing inside the top five once in the last 11 races of 2016, including missing three of those races after breaking his collarbone (clavicle) in a massive practice crash at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, so Pedrosa will be looking to maintain his current speed and form heading towards the second half of the season to maintain a strong championship challenge.

Valentino Rossi is fifth in the world championship on 83 points, 28 points behind his teammate Maverick Viñales in the championship battle after taking just three podiums in the opening seven rounds.

Other than his two years at Ducati in 2011 and 2012, and 2010, where he broke his leg at Mugello in Italy during practice for the Italian Grand Prix, this is the least amount of points that he has had at this point of a season in the MotoGP era, and the premier class since his rookie season in 2000, where he had scored 57 points in the opening seven rounds, and will be looking to grab his first victory of 2017 in Assen this weekend.

Johann Zarco is sixth in the world championship after the first seven rounds of his rookie season in the premier class on 75 points, 36 points behind the championship leader, claiming a podium finish at his home race at Le Mans in France, and showing the world that he could be a future replacement for Rossi at the factory Yamaha team.

Jorge Lorenzo is seventh in his first season with the factory Ducati Team after the first seven rounds of 2017 on 59 points, 52 points behind his replacement at Movistar Yamaha Viñales after claiming a third-place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

With Lorenzo’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso only seven points behind championship leader in the world championship, the question is whether Lorenzo can overturn a 52 point deficit in the last 11 rounds of the season?

If Lorenzo is to comeback and claim his fourth MotoGP World Championship, it must start with a win this weekend at Assen.

And what about Jack Miller?

The winner of the Dutch TT last year sits 13th in the world championship on 30 points, well and truly out of championship contention, but will be looking to match his performance from last year to claim his second race win in the premier class this weekend.

The weather for Assen this weekend looks good for Friday and Sunday, but wet for Saturday, so it could be crucial to be inside the top 10 after practice on Friday. Maximum ambient temperatures are set to be around 20 to 23 degrees Celsius.

Overall, I think there could be eight to 10 riders who can win this weekend, and I am not willing to pick a winner, but I think it is going to be a memorable race.

 

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 9:10am local time (5:10pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 1:00pm local time (9:00pm AEST).