The Year That Was: Moto GP in 2017

Moto GP


Welcome one and all to the BTM MotoGP season review, as part of the BTM Advent Calendar 2017. I am Ewan, and I will be reviewing this exciting season of MotoGP for you. So let’s get on and look at the year that was: MotoGP in 2017!

Preseason After years of the same riders in the same factory teams of Ducati, Honda and Yamaha, 2017 mixed everything up. First off, we got a new factory team. KTM joined MotoGP taking the former Tech 3 riders of Smith and P. Espargaro with them. Moto2 champions, Folger and Zarco, joined Tech 3 to fill in the gap made by KTM. This caused much controversy, on if it was a good idea to bring two new rookies into your team at the same time. In a shock move, Lorenzo left factory Yamaha to go to Ducati, causing a domino effect of rider changes. Vinales left Suzuki to replace Lorenzo in Yamaha, while Iannone got kicked from his spot in Ducati to make room for Lorenzo, oddly Iannone then moved to Vinales’ old spot in Suzuki. Aleix Espargaro left Suzuki to go to Aprilia, where he was joined by rookie rider Sam Lowes. Meanwhile, Suzuki replaced A. Espargaro with another rookie, by the name of Alex Rins. Bautista left Aprilia after being replaced with Lowes, he went to Aspar Ducati. This is where he was joined by Abraham who rejoined MotoGP after a year at World Superbikes. These are the riders that sadly left MotoGP, so were missed out on in 2017: Stefan Bradl, Eugene Laverty and Yonny Hernandez. Hernandez rejoined Moto2 and is hoping to get back to MotoGP one day, while Eugene and Stefan have gone to World Superbikes to continue their careers. Too much of the community’s joy, the stupid looking winglets that were used excessively by Ducati in 2016, were banned.

Qatar: Round 1 The MotoGP season got underway in Qatar at the Losail International Circuit, even if it was 45 minutes late due to rain delays. After an outstanding start from Iannone, who briefly lead at the turn 1, Zarco took the lead and started pulling away from the pack. Dovizioso and Marquez battled for 2nd while main Brit, Cal Crutchlow, crashed out of the grand prix. The outstanding debut for rookie Johan Zarco was cut short as he crashed out of the race. Iannone’s race was going extremely well on his new Suzuki in 3rd, until he also crashed out. Rossi and Vinales of Yamaha, caught up to the leading pair and passed Marquez with ease. Rossi and Marquez both held 3rd and 4th respectively, while Vinales and Dovi battled in a last lap extravaganza for Vinales to come out on top and win the Grand Prix.

Argentina: Round 2 The Argentine GP started with Lorenzo going down on turn 1, after a 10th in Qatar, it’s a massive understatement to say he was unhappy. Marquez flew away from the pack, like Zarco did in Qatar, but ended with the same fate of crashing out the race. Iannone got a ride through penalty, basically ending his race, while his teammate Rins fell off his bike. With Suzuki out, it was time for the track to kill Honda’s last hope, Pedrosa. He crashed on the same turn as his team mate did. Aprilia was next, as Lowes was forced to retire while Aleix crashed into Dovizioso, knocking out both of the Italian Teams, Aprilia and Ducati. While this all happened, Vinales cruised to an easy victory with Rossi in 2nd. Top Honda was the Brit of Crutchlow in 3rd and the top Ducati was Bautista in 4th. The Yamahas were on track to absolutely crush this season already.

America (United States): Round 3 It was Marquez’s favourite circuit, and there was one stat that everyone knew and was mightily scared of: Marquez had won every race at this track he’d ever competed in. After a brilliant start, Pedrosa lead the pack into turn 1, followed by Marquez and Rossi. Meanwhile, Lorenzo and Vinales fought for 4th, until a low-side occurred, Vinales had hit the deck. With Vinales on the floor at turn 18, it was Zarco’s turn to fight with Rossi. After an aggressive move from Zarco, Rossi was pushed wide and given a small penalty. Luckily for Rossi, he got away from the young rookie and no more incidents occurred. A large and thrilling dogfight ensued between Pedrosa and Marquez, with the result being that Marquez pulled a massive lead. This pushed Pedrosa into Rossi’s grasp, and the Yamaha rider took the 2nd place spot. Rossi then pulled a big enough gap that the penalty didn’t matter. Marquez had won the American Grand Prix followed by Rossi, then Pedrosa and then Zarco.

Spain (Jerez): Round 4 After America, Yamaha was still on top and the ones to beat, but Marquez was able to question their dominance at this point. Rins had been replaced by test rider Tsuda on the Suzuki after he had sustained an injury during practise in America. Things were heating up as we went to Spain. Pedrosa lead into turn 1 just like in America. Marquez then followed his team mate while Iannone stuck to Marquez’s tail. Zarco, with a sudden burst of speed, passed 5 riders to get from 8th to 3rd. As Zarco and Marquez battled for 2nd, Miller and Bautista both crashed out of the Grand Prix. Iannone suddenly also crashed out of yet another race, Suzuki are devastated by the year they’re having already. After Zarco was dropped by Marquez, Lorenzo managed to also get through him into 3rd. Pedrosa won the Spanish GP by miles, with his team mate in 2nd and Lorenzo with an outstanding 3rd. After two outstanding grand prix by Honda, Yamaha’s lead was in serious question, with Championship Leader Rossi only four points ahead of Marquez.

France: Round 5 The motorsport world was in shock, as before this grand prix the news came out that 2006 MotoGP World Champion, Nicky Hayden, had been killed. He had been hit by a car in Italy while cycling. He will be remembered as a hero to many and one of the greatest riders in the sport’s history. However, there was still a race to get on with, and all the riders had to somehow manage to focus on racing. Meanwhile, motorcycle veteran, Sylvain Guintoli had been called up to replace Rins for the next three Grand Prix. Zarco lead into turn 2 as Vinales trailed in his dust. However, Vinales was still able to take the lead a few laps later. Meanwhile, Marquez hit the deck in a storm of sparks and dust, as Rossi held 3rd right behind Zarco’s exhaust. Rossi was able to take 2nd and hold behind his team mate, as it looked like Yamaha may have retaken dominance. A battle between Vinales and Rossi started, but Rossi led into the final lap. Rossi went wide into turn 7 letting Vinales take the lead. Rossi tried to hold on but low-sided into the gravel trap and was out of the Grand Prix. Vinales won followed by Zarco and Pedrosa.

Italy: Round 6 After the shock crash in France, Rossi fans were as pumped as ever to see who they thought to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) win in his home Grand Prix. Rossi didn’t disappoint as he lead into turn 1, followed by his team mate and Lorenzo. Only a lap into the race, Lorenzo passed both Yamahas to take the lead. Lorenzo then dropped back and was not in a major position again. Replacing him at the front was his team mate Dovizioso, as the top 3 of Dovi, Rossi and Vinales pulled away from the rest. Dovi and Vinales made a gap from Rossi while Satellite Ducati rider, Petrucci, started catching up. After being passed by Petrucci, Rossi had to hold onto his 4th place, crashing again would completely end his title hopes. Petrucci caught up to Vinales, as superior Ducati straight line speed let Dovi take a safe lead. Dovizioso won the Italian Grand Prix, and after a small dogfight, he was followed by Vinales, then Petrucci, then Rossi. This was the turn that Ducati desperately needed after a horrifying start to the season with Lorenzo. Ducati was now ready for a fight back.

Spain/Catalonia (Catalunya): Round 7 After an intriguing Italian GP, all eyes were on Pedrosa, who was on pole at his home race. Pedrosa lead into turn 1 with Lorenzo following close behind. It was also Lorenzo’s home race, and he wanted to make it up to Ducati for the terrible start to the year. So on turn 5, Lorenzo took the lead of the race. Marquez caught up and passed both riders to take the lead himself. From then on, Lorenzo fell down the order like he had in so many other races. Dovizioso was now in 3rd after passing his team mate, and followed Pedrosa as they both passed Marquez. Marquez and Dovi subsequently passed Pedrosa, and a gap is formed between the three riders. Dovizioso won the Catalan GP followed by Marquez and Pedrosa. Dovizioso made it two wins on the bounce, and was now a real championship contender.

The Netherlands: Round 8 Rins had come back after his injury and was riding his bike at the Dutch GP. Almost halfway through the season and the championship was still lead by Vinales with 7 points to Dovi. 16 points behind him was Marquez and close behind was Rossi, Zarco and Pedrosa. The championship was still anyone’s game but a crash could be crucial. After rain delays and uncertainty on if the race would start, they were given the green light. Zarco lead into turn 1 with Marquez right behind. Although, Rossi was quickly right behind them, and was past Marquez in a flash. After a dogfight between Rossi and Zarco, contact was made and Zarco was forced to go to 4th. Vinales hit the deck on the final corner, and it seemed like the championship may have a new leader after this race. Suddenly, Petrucci made a move on Marquez and was eying up Rossi. Meanwhile, spots of rain started coming onto the track, and Zarco made the very risky move of pitting. Out of nowhere, Dovi had gotten to 3rd and was battling Petrucci, while the other factory Ducati pitted. Rossi and Petrucci broke away from the rest and started switching places. Behind, Crutchlow, Dovizioso and Marquez fought for 3rd. The rain never got heavy enough for most people to pit, as Rossi won the Grand Prix followed by Petrucci. Marquez won the battle for 3rd by a wheel and Crutchlow was 4th. The Dutch GP closed the championship down to tiny levels, with the top 4 riders consisting of Dovi, Vinales, Rossi and Marquez who were separated by 11 points. It really could have been any of these men who would lead after the next race.