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).