2018 Thailand GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After a breathtaking race in Aragon, and an absolutely brilliant performance by Marc Márquez to take his fourth MotoGP victory in Aragon (his fifth across all classes), and his sixth victory of the season to place one hand on his fifth MotoGP World Championship, the grid heads to Buriram for the first time for the inaugural Thailand Grand Prix, Round 15 of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship.

Márquez (246 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 72 points over Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso (174 points) with just five rounds remaining in the season. Dovizioso was also fantastic in Aragon last time out, giving Márquez a really hard time, but all things being considered, Dovizioso is the only rider that can stop Márquez from winning another world championship, but he will need things to go his way to stop the great Spaniard.

Valentino Rossi (159 points) is somehow still third in the championship for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team despite finishing in what was a good 8th after starting in 17th position on the grid, but the speed is not there from the Yamaha, and it is very hard to see it appearing anytime soon.

Jorge Lorenzo (130 points) is fourth in the world championship, but could have been second in the standings after two crashes, including one at the opening corner of the opening lap in Aragon, cost him two probable podium finishes, and perhaps a race win in Aragon, and is equal on points with Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (130 points), who like Rossi, is struggling to find strong pace on his Yamaha, but the Ducati rider is ahead on the standings due to achieving three race wins to the Yamaha rider’s zero.

Cal Crutchlow (119 points) is sixth in the championship for LCR Honda after crashing out in Aragon, and is tied on points with Alma Pramac Racing rider Danilo Petrucci (119 points), who finished in seventh at Aragon, but Crutchlow remains ahead in the standings due to his win in Argentina back in Round Two.

Johann Zarco (112 points) is eighth in the championship despite finishing in 14th-place at Aragon for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, while the two Team Suzuki Ecstar riders in Andrea Iannone (108 points) and Álex Rins (92 points) complete the top 10 in the standings, with Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa (87 points) close behind in his final season in MotoGP.

So, who is going to win the inaugural Thailand Grand Prix?

Despite the recent dominance of Ducati since the mid-season break, I think this one of the races in the flyaway sequence that is about to start that Marc Márquez marked down as a huge opportunity to win, and extend his championship, considering his good record at adapting to new circuits, and if he does win, you sense that the 2018 MotoGP World Championship will be his.

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2018 Aragon GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After a wonderful, fine, and sunny weekend at Misano, where Andrea Dovizioso took victory to help Ducati, and the Ducati Team, complete the “Italian double”, winning at both Mugello and Misano in the same season for the very first time, the MotoGP grid left the Adriatic coast of Italy to head to the desert-like surrounds of Motorland Aragón in Alcañiz in Spain for Round 14 of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, and with six rounds remaining, you sense that something unfortunate would need to happen to deny Marc Márquez his fifth MotoGP World Championship, and his seventh world championship across all classes.

Márquez (221 points) leads the championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 67 points over Dovizioso (154 points) after finishing a safe second after sitting behind Jorge Lorenzo for the majority of the race, following his fellow Spaniard as he tried to chase down his teammate, before watching Lorenzo crash out with only a few laps to go to secure second-place, but Márquez couldn’t chase down Dovizioso, who was well out of sight by that point.

Valentino Rossi (151 points) slipped to third in the championship after struggling once again on his Yamaha, finishing in seventh as the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, and Yamaha as a manufacturer, now on their longest winless streak (22 races) in their history, with no win since the 2017 Dutch TT.

Lorenzo (130 points) is fourth in the world championship despite crashing out while trying to chase down his teammate Dovizioso, remounting to finish in 17th, while Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (124 points) is fifth in the championship after finishing fifth at Misano as the struggles of Yamaha continued.

Closing in on Viñales is LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (119 points), taking advantage of Lorenzo’s crash to take a well-deserved third, while Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco (110 points) and Alma Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci (110 points) are starting to slip back in the championship after poor results in Misano. Zarco’s struggles are particularly evident with no top six finishes in the last eight completed MotoGP races.

The two Team Suzuki Ecstar riders in Andrea Iannone (92 points) and Álex Rins (79 points) completes the Top 10 in the championship, and with some luck, should be capable of achieving a podium in one of the last six races of the season, with Dani Pedrosa (76 points), the teammate of Márquez, just outside of the Top 10 in his final season in MotoGP.

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

This circuit in the recent past has been a favourite for Marc Márquez, and is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar, with Márquez winning at least three races in each of his seasons since joining the premier class on anti-clockwise circuits, and will most certainly be the one to beat.

Outside of Márquez, the two Ducati’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso will be his closest challengers, with Dovizioso perhaps the only rider who could snatch the world championship away from the defending champion, but you sense last season was his best chance of winning a MotoGP World Championship.

Right now, you sense Marc Márquez is a win away from having one hand on a third-straight world championship.

 

2018 San Marino GP (MotoGP) – Preview

It was a difficult weekend for MotoGP. It was a disastrous weekend for Silverstone, and for the organisers of the British Grand Prix. However, it was most of all, an awful weekend for the fans and supporters of MotoGP, who waited either in their homes, or at the track, hoping for a normally great event to get underway, a moment that sadly never came.

Torrential heavy rain, combined with the poor drainage (relatively speaking) at the Silverstone Circuit meant that the races from all three classes could not get underway, and after hours of desperate and relentless toil, they had to make the heartbreaking to cancel the British Grand Prix, with no points being awarded, leaving the championship in exactly the same scenario, but with one race less to go, seven races to be precise, in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, which heads to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the San Marino Grand Prix.

Marc Márquez (201 points) leads the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 59 points over Valentino Rossi (142 points) for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP. Lorenzo (130 points) is third in the championship and has been leading the charge for the Ducati Team in the last two races before the cancelled British Grand Prix, and looks the most likely to challenge Márquez until the end of the season.

Lorenzo is just 12 points behind Rossi, while his fellow Ducati Team rider Dovizioso (129 points) is fourth in the championship just a further point behind, and like Lorenzo, will be looking to challenge Márquez in the final seven races of the season, although it is very unlikely (barring injury) that either Lorenzo or Dovizioso could steal the world championship away from Márquez.

Behind them in the championship is Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (113 points), who just can’t seem to get comfortable and confident with his machinery, and has rarely looked a threat for a race victory in 2018, while Alma Pramac Racing rider Danilo Petrucci (105 points), Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco (104 points), and LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (103 points) are separated by just two points in their battle for 6th in the championship.

Completing the top 10 in the world championship is Team Suzuki Ecstar riders Andrea Iannone (84 points) and Álex Rins (66 points), while the teammate of Márquez in Dani Pedrosa (66 points) is tied on the same amount of points as Rins.

So who win at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli?

That is difficult to say given the recent form of both Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, and the form and consistency throughout the entire year of Marc Márquez.

However, when Márquez has won both of his MotoGP races at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, it has been in either changeable conditions or in the wet, and with the forecast set to be sunny and warm for most of the weekend, you sense tyre management will be key, which should mean both Lorenzo and Dovizioso should have the advantage this weekend over Márquez.

If I had to pick one rider to win, it would be Lorenzo to claim his fourth MotoGP victory at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

2018 British GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After another wonderful race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, where Jorge Lorenzo managed to reel in Marc Márquez on his Ducati to claim a scintillating victory, his third of the season, the 2018 MotoGP World Championship heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix for Round 12 of the championship that is heading even further in the direction of the defending world champion.

Despite finishing second at the Austrian Grand Prix, Márquez (201 points) leads the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 59 points over Valentino Rossi (142 points) for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP.

Márquez has finished all bar two races on the podium, only failing to finish in the points in the crazy race that was Argentina, where if all things were normal, Márquez would have won by a country mile, and in Italy, where he suffered a crash early in the race, and looks almost certain (barring injury) that he will win his fifth MotoGP World Championship, and his seventh world championship across all classes.

While for Rossi, his championship ambitions are becoming non-existent after another lacklustre race, finishing sixth in Austria, and has only finished ahead of Márquez in one race this year (Italy), where he finished third, and is about to be swamped by the Ducati’s in Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso in the championship standings.

Lorenzo (130 points) is third in the championship after his win in Austria, and is just 12 points behind Rossi, while his fellow Ducati Team rider Dovizioso (129 points) is fourth in the championship just a further point behind after completing the podium at the Red Bull Ring.

Behind them in the championship is Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (113 points), who just can’t seem to get comfortable and confident with his machinery, and has rarely looked a threat for a race victory in 2018, while Alma Pramac Racing rider Danilo Petrucci (105 points), Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco (104 points), and LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (103 points) are separated by just two points in their battle for 6th in the championship.

Completing the top 10 in the world championship is Team Suzuki Ecstar riders Andrea Iannone (84 points) and Álex Rins (66 points), while the teammate of Márquez in Dani Pedrosa (66 points) is tied on the same amount of points as Rins heading into the British Grand Prix.

So, who will win the British Grand Prix?

I am expecting on a high speed circuit, where there are plenty of fast corners, and a heavy reliance on power, that it will be another battle royale between the two Ducati’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, as well as the Honda of Marc Márquez firmly in the thick of things, but if the weather gods play their part in proceedings, then anything can, and will most likely happen!

2018 Austrian GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After a sensational race in the Czech Republic, with the top three of Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, and Marc Márquez covered by just 0.368 seconds in the race, and the top six covered by just 3.768 seconds, the MotoGP grid back up quickly, and they head to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg in Austria for the Austrian Grand Prix, Round 11 in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, with Márquez having a healthy and strong cushion in the championship.

Márquez (181 points) leads the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 49 points over Valentino Rossi (132 points) for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. Márquez got his 71st MotoGP podium in his 100th MotoGP race in Brno in the Czech Republic, showing a level of maturity that hasn’t been needed to be displayed, mostly because he has been faster than anyone else, not willing to risk his large championship lead just to win in the Czech Republic as he didn’t quite (all relative) have the bike underneath him to win the race. If Márquez continues in the vain of form he is currently in, it is inevitable he will win his fifth MotoGP World Championship.

While for Rossi, he is slowly slipping out of championship contention after finishing fourth in Brno, and it appears like his main aim will be to finish the championship in second-place, but the good news for Rossi is that he has a 19-point gap over third-place in the championship Andrea Dovizioso (113 points) for the Ducati Team.

Dovizioso moved up from fourth to third in the championship after his victory in the Czech Republic, his second of the season, and on the Ducati, should be even stronger at the Red Bull Ring, a circuit suited to the engine power and straight-line performance of the Ducati. Dovizioso leads a six-way battle for third championship with Rossi’s teammate Maverick Viñales (109 points), Dovizioso’s teammate Lorenzo (105 points), Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco (97 points), Alma Pramac Racing rider Danilo Petrucci (94 points), and LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (90 points).

Completing the top 10 in the championship is Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Andrea Iannone (81 points), and Petrucci’s teammate Jack Miller (61 points), both of whom have struggled in the last four to five races, with Iannone’s teammate Álex Rins (58 points) and Márquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa (57 points) just outside the top 10.

So, who will win in Austria?

You sense that both of the factory Ducati riders in Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo will be strong at the Red Bull Ring, but you cannot rule out Marc Márquez, especially after almost winning last year in Austria, so you get the feeling he will be the biggest challengers to Dovizioso and Lorenzo, but this weekend will be huge for Valentino Rossi, Maverick Viñales, and Yamaha as far as their championship bid is concerned.

You feel that Rossi or Viñales must win this weekend to keep their slim championship hopes alive, but you just can’t see them winning any race at the moment, but are certainly a strong podium hope.

 

2018 Czech Republic GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After a three-week break, the entire MotoGP grid is ready to return to action to commence the second half of the 2018 FIM MotoGP World Championship, which begins this weekend at the Czech Republic Grand Prix at the Automotodrom Brno in Brno, and Marc Márquez, after winning five of the opening nine races, including the last two, has a firm stranglehold of the championship race heading into the final 10 races of the season as he looks to win his fifth MotoGP World Championship, and his seventh across all categories.

Márquez (165 points) leads the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team by 46 points ahead of Valentino Rossi (119 points) from Movistar Yamaha MotoGP. Rossi hasn’t achieved a single win in 2018, but he has got five podiums, including a second-place finish last time out in Germany, but really needs to start winning if he wants to keep hopes of winning an eighth MotoGP World Championship in 2018 alive.

Same can be said of Maverick Viñales (109 points), Rossi’s teammate, who sits 56 points behind Márquez in the championship with only three podiums, including two third-place finishes in the last two races, but like Rossi, Viñales needs to start winning some races in order to keep his chances alive of winning a first MotoGP World Championship.

Behind the top three in the world championship, we have a tight battle for fourth between Andrea Dovizioso (88 points), Johann Zarco (88 points), Jorge Lorenzo (85 points), Danilo Petrucci (84 points), Cal Crutchlow (79 points), and Andrea Iannone (75 points).

Dovizioso has had an odd season with flashes of the speed and promise that we saw last year when he finished a close second in the world championship for the Ducati Team, getting himself two podiums, including a win, but it has been punctuated with mistakes, leading to retirements in three of the first four European races of 2018.

Zarco has been consistent for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 with two podiums, and top 10 finishes in eight of the first nine races, but the retirement at his home race in Le Mans, just his second retirement in his premier class career, was a huge blow in his quest for a top three finish in the championship.

Lorenzo is starting to come on strong you sense with back-to-back wins at Mugello and Barcelona, but the last two races, in particular the last race in Germany that you have got to make the right tyre decisions for you (the rider), and not necessarily the bike. I believe Lorenzo should be using harder, more durable tyres in races in order to maximise his potential on that Ducati, something which he started to do, resulting in two wins, but has slipped away from that again, and you sense the dynamic within the Ducati Team is not right.

Petrucci has been very consistent, and performing superbly for Alma Pramac Racing, while Crutchlow has underachieved for LCR Honda despite grabbing a win in Argentina earlier in the season. While for Iannone, the general speed of Team Suzuki Ecstar has slipped away of late, and it will need to be found again to challenge for a top five, or perhaps a top three finish in the championship.

Behind the top nine, we have a four-way battle for 10th between Jack Miller (57 points), who has struggled in the last four races due to one thing or another for Alma Pramac Racing, Álex Rins (53 points), who has made too many mistakes in 2018, but despite the general competitiveness of Team Suzuki Ecstar declining, he is still capable of a shock win, Dani Pedrosa (49 points), who seems content to be heading to the sunset right now for the Repsol Honda Team, and Álvaro Bautista (44 points), who has finished five of the last six races inside the top 10 for the Ángel Nieto Team.

So, who will win in the Czech Republic?

While it has been generally a tight grid where most have a chance of winning on any given day, there is one rider who is heads and shoulders above the rest, and that is Marc Márquez.

He is riding probably at his best level since 2014, where he won the opening 10 races on-route to winning his second MotoGP World Championship, and while the 2018 Honda isn’t as good as the 2014 bike, you sense that Márquez could ride away with this championship in the way that he dominated the opening 10 races of 2014.

 

 

2018 German GP (MotoGP) – Preview

After an extraordinary, and entertaining race at the TT Circuit Assen with Marc Márquez claiming his fourth victory of the season to extend his lead in the world championship, and his second Dutch TT success in MotoGP, Round Nine of the 2018 FIM MotoGP World Championship takes place at a venue where Márquez has won at for the last eight years across all classes (all from pole position), including the last five MotoGP races there, it is of course the Sachsenring, and it is the German Grand Prix.

Márquez (140 points) leads the championship by 41 points for the Repsol Honda Team ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi (99 points) after his fifth-place finish in Assen, and is ahead of his teammate Maverick Viñales (93 points), who claimed just his second podium finish of the season at the Dutch TT, finishing third. Both Rossi and Viñales are the only two riders within two wins of Márquez in the championship, and slowly look like slipping out of title contention.

Johann Zarco (81 points) is fourth in the world championship for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, and leads a group of six riders separated by just 10 points, including Ducati Team rider Andrea Dovizioso (79 points), LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (79 points), Dovizioso’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo (75 points), Alma Pramac Racing rider Danilo Petrucci (71 points), and Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Andrea Iannone (71 points) after all of them with the exception of Petrucci, who crashed out on Lap 17, finished inside the points in an exciting race.

Behind this group, Jack Miller (55 points) completes the top 10 in the championship for Alma Pramac Racing after finishing 10th in Assen, a race which he won famously in extremely wet and tricky conditions back in 2016, while Alex Rins (53 points), who finished a superb second behind Márquez for Team Suzuki Ecstar, the best result of his premier class career to date, is 11th in the standings, but the biggest talking point in MotoGP is the future of Dani Pedrosa.

Pedrosa (41 points) sits 12th in the world championship for the Repsol Honda Team after finishing 15th in Assen, continuing his annus horribilis in 2018, and is set to announce to the motorsport world his future in MotoGP going forward, with some signs pointing towards retirement, and other signs pointing towards him signing for the new satellite Yamaha team for 2019 called the SIC(Sepang International Circuit)-Ángel Nieto Team.

In my view, I feel Pedrosa may not have his mind into top-level motorcycle racing, or in other words MotoGP racing anymore due to  the accumulation of injuries suffered over the years taking its toll on his ability to ride a motorcycle to the absolute limit, and I think he may well announce his retirement from MotoGP at the end of this year.

However, I believe Pedrosa would have been better suited to have left the Repsol Honda Team years ago, and going to either Yamaha, or if it had happened more recently, Ducati because I felt he would have been able to get that one thing that was missing on his career CV, and that is the MotoGP World Championship.

I believe if he was onboard the factory Ducati last year, and had been fit for the entire season, he would have beaten Marc Márquez to the 2017 world championship, instead of falling short like Andrea Dovizioso did last year.

In my opinion, he has wasted a number of his prime years on a bike not entirely suited to his riding style, continuing to sign contracts with the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) and the Repsol Honda Team blindly without really working out what was best for him. Now, with Pedrosa leaving the Repsol Honda Team at the end of the year, he can finally (for himself) work out what is best for him.

Sadly, the chances of him winning the MotoGP World Championship may have sailed by for good!

As for my predictions for the Sachsenring, I think Marc Márquez will win for the ninth year in a row, and for the sixth time there in MotoGP in an entirely dominant weekend.