Sunday’s Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón de MotoGP is unlikely to have a momentous impact on the 2017 championship standings. Honda’s Marc Marquez and Ducati pilot Andrea Dovizioso, playing cat and mouse at 200 mph and tied at present, will head for the Pacific flyaway rounds separated by, at most, 25 points. The man in jeopardy of losing touch is factory Yamaha prodigy Maverick Viñales. A crash this week could put him some 40 points behind the leader – whoever it is – with four rounds to go, not a good place to be, even on a YZR-M1.
It is always exciting to see what our favorite MotoGP athletes come up with for their helmet design. Whether normal race season, winter test, or home race, There is always something new and exciting. Can you identify whose MotoGP helmet belongs to who with only the clips below?
MotoGP turns its sights on stunning San Marino once again, returning this weekend for Round 13 minus Valentino Rossi, who, as everyone knows by now, badly broke his leg in a training accident last week. Ducati pilot Andrea Dovizioso, perhaps the Italian erede apparente, leads the now diminished 2017 chase pursued by three Spaniards. He and the two youngsters, Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales, can only feel relieved that the yellow 800-pound gorilla has left the room. Dani Pedrosa, the fourth challenger, his prospects now marginally improved, hangs in contention by a thread.
On an idyllic Sunday afternoon in the British countryside, Ducati veteran Andrea Dovizioso, in the midst of a dream season, won the British Grand Prix, pimping the factory Yamaha team at the flag. Disaster struck the Repsol Honda team on Lap 14 when Marc Marquez, fast and fighting for the lead, saw his engine, and series lead, go up in smoke. The championship heads to Misano in two weeks tighter than tree bark.
MotoGP Madness descends upon the British Midlands this weekend as Round 12, the two-thirds mark of the 2017 season, arrives. Repsol Honda prodigy Marc Marquez maintains his lead in the series at 16 points, but only 35 points separate the top five riders. A single mishap for #93 and it’s anybody’s season. But Marquez was down by 37 points after Mugello, and has gained 53 points on the field in the last five rounds. His pursuers need to evacuate or get off the pot if they want to Let Valencia Decide.
Honda Racing took a turn slapping the competition around at Brno. This week, in a country synonymous with mountains, beer halls, and alarming political geneses, Ducati Corse gets its chance. The Track with Only Nine Turns hosts Round 11 of the 2017 MotoGP championship on Sunday. Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci and Jorge Lorenzo need to make hay while the sun shines, because Honda man-child Marc Marquez is pulling away from the field.
The 2017 Czech Motorcycle Grand Prix, after much pre-race sturm und drang, turned out to be a fascinating six-lap race with a 16-lap warm down. Series leader Marc Marquez, with the best meteorologists of any crew, pitted at the end of Lap 2 and changed from soft rain tires to slicks before the thought occurred to many of his competitors. He summarily seized the lead on Lap 6 and never looked back.
So the MotoGP season leader at the turn, with over a month off to prepare for the demanding back nine of the calendar, will be decided at The (cramped, irritating) Sachsenring. Home of short straights and slow turns, not much fun compared to Assen’s short straights and fast turns. If the eastern German circuit is no one’s favorite today, it could become someone’s by Sunday night. Someone like, oh, I don’t know… maybe Marc Marquez???
With more passing than you’d see at an April 20 party, the 2017 Motul Assen TT was one of the more riveting races in recent memory. Tech 3 Yamaha rookie sensation Johann Zarco led the first 11 laps from pole. Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi and Ducati brute Danilo Petrucci were in the heart of the lead group along with Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda. But Rossi – fast, patient and strategic – managed to beat Petrucci to the flag by .06 seconds. They don’t call him The Doctor for nothing.
Even with the race going off on Sunday again for the second time, sixty-some years of racing on Saturday at the Cathedral have produced a number of curious finishes. Nicky Hayden had his first and only non-U.S. win here in 2006. Ben Spies won here in 2011 in what many of us mistakenly thought was the beginning of a great career. And Jack Miller’s win last year defines “unlikely.”
After recording no wins between Donington Park 2009 and Sepang 2016, Du cati #1 rider Andrea Dovizioso has now taken two wins in eight days, recording superlative rides at both Mugello and now Montmelo. A few days before Mugello he pronounced the GP17 unwinnable in its current configuration. Gratifying to see his analytic skills are no better than mine.
Sunday at magnificent Mugello was that rarest of days, when one gets to hear the Italian national anthem played three separate times. Italians placed 1-2 in a mind-bending Moto3 tilt. Italian heartthrob Franco Morbidelli didn’t win in Moto2 today, but beloved countryman Mattia Pasini did. In the main event, homeboys on Ducatis took the top and third steps on the podium.
Last time out in France, the racing gods smiled upon Maverick Viñales and Dani Pedrosa while flipping off Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi. The enjoyable jam-packed top four took a beating, with Viñales now enjoying a 17-point lead over series #2 Pedrosa. Rossi is hurt. The Hondas are a pain to ride. There’s lots on the line heading to Mugello and Round 6 of the 2017 MotoGP season.
Today at the 30th running of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, youth triumphed over experience. Yamaha Top Gun Maverick Viñales withstood a classic last lap challenge brought by teammate and legend Valentino Rossi to capture Yamaha’s 500th grand prix win. The youngster ended his day on the top step of the podium, the grizzled veteran his prostrate in the gravel. Ten years ago, Rossi would have won this race. In 2017, the tide may be beginning to turn.
Fresh off his convincing win in Jerez, Repsol Honda mighty mite Dani Pedrosa has been reinstated in The Alien Club, looking relaxed, comfortable and fast on his RC213V. For the first time in five years, his name is coming up in conversations about who might take the 2017 title. Given his age, his panoply of surgical scars and generally lousy karma, I make him a longshot for the championship. But other than a few Americans with pathologically long memories, there are a number of fans who wouldn’t mind seeing Dani Pedrosa win a premier class title.