With the majority of MotoGP seats filled before this season’s halfway point, thanks to Valentino Rossi opting again for Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo huffily signing for Ducati as long ago as April, we missed out on the traditional silly season of speculation. Some paddock wags even suggested re-starting the season in July with 2017 teams and riders.
Marc Marquez’s decision to stay at Honda and keep countryman Dani Pedrosa alongside him suits everyone. For most of the season the Honda, with a backwards-spinning crank limiting top speed, new Michelin tires unsuited to Marc Marquez’s riding style and with the team apparently slow to optimize new, limited, engine management software, was supposed to be a nail no-one could win on. Three quarters of the way through the season, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow had all won races on it.
With Valentino Rossi choosing to serve what’s left of his riding career with Yamaha, his new team-mate is super-fast Spaniard Maverick Vinales, fresh from a win on his Suzuki GSX-RR. Unable to match the riches Yamaha laid on the table, Suzuki lost the man who could have taken more wins for them in 2017, and instead gained notorious crasher and reckless Ducati reject Andrea Iannone. He’ll race the blue and white bikes alongside Moto2 graduate Alex Rins.
Meanwhile Aleix Espargaro, out-paced by Maverick Vinales at Suzuki, has been dumped and moves alongside British Sam Lowes, up from Moto2, on a factory Aprilia. The order Espargaro (Pol), moves with team-mate Bradley Smith to the new factory KTM team – an unknown quantity but taking the MotoGP challenge very seriously indeed.
Aside from Sam Lowes and Alex Rins, two other Moto2 riders move up, but German Jonas Folger must be wondering what he did right in a previous life because nothing about his form so far suggests he’s capable of doing anything special on the satellite Yamaha team. After a dismal 2016 with Josh Brookes on WSB’s Milwaukee BMW S1000RR, Czech princeling Karel Abraham joins Aspar Ducati, forcing out Colombian Yonny Hernandez by the sheer size of his wallet.
It all adds up to another vintage year in MotoGP. Lets hope MotoGP 2017 will a be spectacular season...