Exciting MotoGP 2017 Season

I’m excited about MotoGP 2017, mainly because there have been changes we haven’t see the like of in years. Chief among them has to be Jorge Lorenzo moving from Yamaha to Ducati. It’s going to be fascinating to see what he can do on the Ducati.

Marc Marquez is obviously going to be in the mix but Honda should have taken more of a chance on their second rider, but they love Dani Pedrosa.

Valentino Rossi will be desperate to secure a tenth world title but he’s got a very fast Maverick Vinales alongside him. There’s a chance these two could fall out, although Valentino Rossi doesn’t always fall out with his team-mates.

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Yamaha Makes Strong Statement At Dakar Rally 2017

The Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team proved to be a force to be reckoned with during this year's Dakar Rally. With team member Adrien Van Beveren winning the rally's final stage while locked in a fierce battle for an overall podium result, together with Yamaha France supported stage one winner Xavier de Soultrait Yamaha Racing riders remained strong contenders for top honours throughout the 39th edition of the prestigious annual event.

Living up to everyone's expectations as possibly the toughest event that has ever taken place in South America, the 2017 Dakar Rally tested competitors' physical and mental stamina all the way to the finish line in Buenos Aires. Featuring a week's racing in the high altitude of the Bolivian uplands, weather conditions ranging from torrential rain to scorching heat the 8,818km adventure proved to be an extremely tough challenge for all competitors and team crews.

Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team's Adrien Van Beveren was Yamaha's best performing rider at the end of this grueling two-week-long race through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. Demonstrating the potential of his WR450F Rally machine the Frenchman climbed to third in the overall standings on stage five of the rally, holding on to his position inside the top three for the following four stages. Involved in a fierce battle for the final podium all the way until the last stage, Van Beveren eventually claimed fourth overall just 48 seconds behind third placed Gerard Farrés.

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KTM Joining the MotoGP Season 2017 Paddock

In 2015 KTM announced officially that they would be joining the master class of MotoGP racing in 2017 season. The KTM RC16 was unveiled to the public at the Austrian Grand Prix in August 2016 and after a full year of private testing, it was time for the KTM team to measure the progress made in actual race conditions. A wild card entry at the last race of the season in Valencia would determine the level against the competition and expose weak points to be addressed over the winter stop before joining the MotoGP paddock full time.

The KTM RC16 MotoGP machine, with development rider Mika Kallio at the controls, cam a bit short of the expectations put on the project. He was some 3 seconds behind the fastest time on the first day of practice. The earlier test that KTM did at that circuit had suggested a smaller gap to the front; Kallio was almost a full second faster in similar conditions.

Solving rear grip issues that they had not encountered a few weeks earlier helped some but the gap to the front-runners was a significant 2.6 seconds in qualifying. Fast riders going faster (Jorge Lorenzo dropped 0.6 second from his previous lap record) and problems that materialize with no sensible explanation is what you get when you go racing.

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All Systems Go For Yamaha Official Rally Team At The 2017 Dakar Rally

With the first of twelve gruelling stages of the 2017 Dakar Rally kicking off today, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team quartet of Hélder Rodrigues, Adrien Van Beveren, Alessandro Botturi and Rodney Faggotter are all-set and ready to begin their battle for top honours in this two-week-long adventure in Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

For all Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team members the 2017 Dakar Rally adventure officially started as soon as they landed in Asunción a few days back. Meeting up with their teammates, mechanics and team personnel they immediately started preparing themselves for the biggest and toughest rally in the annual calendar.

Spending a significant amount of time testing their WR450F Rally bikes outside Paraguay's capital, all four Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders made the necessary final adjustments in order to gain optimum confidence on their racing machines ahead of the race.

The pre-run to the race came to a close with a very busy Sunday, where team members went through administrative and technical checks, attended the final pre-race briefing and then rode their Yamaha machines through the starting podium in front of Asunción's historical Palacio de Lopez presidential palace.

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MotoGP - Jorge Lorenzo Riding the Ducati GP17

While Yamaha was generous enough to let its three-time champion Jorge Lorenzo hop over to the Ducati garage for the Valencia test, it has restricted him from speaking to the press about his new team and motorcycle.

But while JL99 kept silent, there wasn’t much left to be said seeing him and ex-rival and now team-mate Casey Stoner discussing matters, a smile plastered on their faces all along. Understandably, it was Jorge Lorenzo’s first time on a Ducati that had everyone on the edge of their seat.

The cameras were all trained on him as the readied to take out the Ducati GP16, and he didn’t disappoint. Lorenzo was third fastest on Day 1, and eight fastest on Day 2, which was when he tried out the new Ducati GP17. While Jorge Lorenzo familiarized himself with the Ducati Desmo, team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was tasked with the duty of carrying out development work, which he did, trying out a new engine with smoother power delivery.

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Gabit Takes Crown, Malaysian Sweeps Asia Supermoto Podium

The fourth and final round heard the roar of Malaysians as Muhd Habibullah (#27 Gabit) takes the FIM Asia Supermoto Championship 2016 for both Open International and Asian Class. He is the first and only person to win at both classes against 21 top international riders from 18 countries. The Asian Class podium was followed by Khairi Zakaria (Hairi) and Mohd Al-Amirul Ashshahid (Gaban) who took the first and second runner-up respectively. A grand gala dinner was arranged after the race in celebration of the successful campaign.

Upon completion of four heated rounds in four countries across two regions namely Australia in September, Indonesia in October, the Philippines in November and Malaysia in December, Gabit said that the race played a significant role in elevating the industry’s standard. “Before the race was founded, it was tough to look for an avenue to compete internationally and expand our skills. While the local races and other small scaled regional races played a role in pushing the boundaries, competing on a global scale will open our eyes to skills, rivals and competition we have not encountered.

Riders from Asia has proven to be as competitive as other international riders. We believe that this championship will be the footstep for us to improve our skills and spearhead the Supermoto scene,” he added. Gabit concluded his winning speech with a chant of Malaysia Boleh.

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Looking Back on the 2016 MotoGP Season

It was mathematically possible but no one expected that the MotoGP championship would be done and over at the Japanese round at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, not even Marc Marquez himself. With three races to go he sealed the issue with a win as his two rivals. Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, both slid off their Yamaha YZR-M1 chasing a disappearing Honda RC23V – mounted Marc Marquez.

The celebrations after he crossed the line where not choreographed on that day, his mind set on keeping up the fight. Okay, the t-shirts were ready (there is someone who is paid to take care of that and I bet there was some digging for boxes after Lorenzo’s demise during the race) but it was his younger brother Alex Marquez and a friend that were trackside on the cool-down lap to congratulate him and give him the gold helmet that Shoei had ready to mark his title, the third one for him in MotoGP.

The way he managed his season was a complete turn-around for Marc Marquez. In 2015 he failed to finish in six races, his do-or-die attitude getting the better of him too often. With the pre-season testing not going too well for the Honda riders, the change of the electronic package mandated by the new rules hurting them more than most, it was a different Marc Marquez that showed up at the first race of 2016.

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Gabit is Asia Supermoto Champion

Muhd. Habibullah Saleh, more popularly known as “Gabit” rode two masterful races to win his first FIM Supermoto Championship.

The weekend had started on a somewhat iffy for Gabit. He had been strong throughout the practice sessions in the precious rounds, having regularly notching the best top-three times, but seemed to lack the pace this weekend, instead, posting the fifth and sixth fastest times and unable to improve beyond 54.100s.

But as Gabit proved, the stopwatch is no match for pure determination.

Lewis Cornish had grabbed the holeshot in Moto 2, followed by Richard Dibben on the inside and Chris Hodgson on the outside. Gabit found a way through into third before the left-handed Turn Three. Chris Hodgson had started lining Gabit for a pass into the corner, coming up Gabit’s left. However, to his and everyone’s horror, he went straight without slowing down, hit the barriers and crashed heavily. A trailing bike hit his helmet. Everyone was relieved when he got up and walked away with a sore wrist.

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Supermoto - Hodgson Tops Qualifying

When it was announced that the 11-time UK Supermoto Champion, Chris Hodgson, will again race in Malaysia, fans looked forward to a master class display of supermoto riding skills. Then when Hodgson’s compatriot, Lewis Cornish confirmed his participation as well, fans knew sparks were going to fly.

The track hewn from the grounds next to the imposing Stadium Shah Alam covers a large area and consists of two long straights, so much so the course marshals set up multiple chicanes in order to keep top speeds down. That had also in effect made the track more balanced to keep some of the more powerful bikes from walking away from the rest of the field, and in essence, turning proceedings over to rider skill and bike setup.

The weather had stayed blazing hot up to mid-afternoon when the heavens opened up for a brief shower. Fortunately, the hot tarmac dried quickly and the dirt section stayed open.

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FIM Asia Supermoto Championship 2016 - Interview Scoreboard Leader Gabit

With the grand finale of FIM Asia Supermoto Championship 2016 creeping up around the corner, we spoke to the Open International Class and Asian Class scoreboard leader, Muhd Habibullah, or better known as #27 Gabit, on his thoughts about the upcoming race.

1. How’s your preparation coming along?

I feel good and ready. I’ve gotten enough practice, my bike is ready, the settings are all dialled in, and it’s in its best condition since Philippine’s race. Now it’s just up to the weather conditions on the actual race day. The weather forecast for this weekend is sees some rain so I have my rain tyres ready, and I’ve also been training for a wet race.

2. Are you doing anything different to prepare for this round compared to the previous rounds?

I’ve gotten a lot more practice this time around on my actual race bike compared to the previous rounds because the motorcycle is usually stored away in the container and I get most of my practice in on a motocross bike. For this round, I’ve gotten my hands on my race bike much earlier and even managed to squeeze in some practice sessions in the rain. We’ve already dialled in the bike’s suspension settings and everything else, so the bike is ready to go. It’s just the sprocket settings that’s left now.

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