Lorenzo takes win on final Yamaha outing

Jorge Lorenzo signed off at Yamaha by claiming victory at the final race of the season in Valencia. The Spaniard, who will move to Ducati for the 2017 season, enjoyed a dominant weekend, leading the race from start to finish. World Champion Marc Marquez finished second, whilst Andrea Iannone, who Lorenzo replaces at Ducati, rounded off the podium.

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Image: crash.net

Having broken the lap record in a blistering qualifying session, it was no surprise that Lorenzo started well. Within a few laps the Yamaha man had escaped the pack, leaving teammate Valentino Rossi to challenge with Maverick Vinales and Iannone for second place.

Marc Marquez suffered from a poor start, getting swallowed up going in to the first corner, but put in a strong display to battle his way back up to second. With Lorenzo struggling in the final laps with his front tyre, it looked as though Marquez would be able to take a remarkable win. But the Repsol Honda rider left himself with too much to do, with Lorenzo taking the win by just over a second.

Rossi got the better of his future teammate Vinales as they finished fourth and fifth respectively, and Pol Espargaro edged out both Andrea Dovizioso and his brother Aleix to finish sixth.

Bradley Smith finished as the top Brit in ninth, on his final ride for the Tech3 Yamaha team. Scott Redding finished fourteenth with Eugene Laverty sixteenth. Cal Crutchlow remained the top independent rider of 2016 despite crashing out.

Having already confirmed his second Moto2 title, Johann Zarco bid farewell to the class with another victory. Sam Lowes, who is also heading to MotoGP next season, came fourth whilst Danny Kent secured a ninth place finish. It was a similar story in Moto3, as the dominant Brad Binder recovered from an early mistake that saw him drop to 22nd to take the chequered flag.


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Crutchlow takes win down under

Cal Crutchlow took his second victory of the season with a dominant victory at Phillip Island. Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales completed the podium, whilst recently crowned champion Marc Marquez crashed out of first place on lap 10.

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Cal Crutchlow’s victory was his second of the season, and his first win in the dry. Image: Crash.net

The Brit had started second on the grid, but found himself being swallowed up off the line. He worked his way forward through the pack to trail Marquez before the Spaniard slid out at Honda corner. Crutchlow extended his lead over Valentino Rossi to over four seconds to take his first premier class victory in the dry.

Rossi coasted to a second place having started down in 15th, keeping well clear of the scrap behind him. Maverick Vinales tussled with his team mate and Andrea Dovizioso for third, a scrap that saw Aleix Espargaro crash out. Pol Espargaro faded after a strong start, and Jorge Lorenzo rounded off the top six.

It was a good day all round for the British riders, as Scott Redding and Bradley Smith, on his second race back from injury, finished seventh and eighth. Home rider Jack Miller finished tenth, having tussled with Nicky Hayden, who was standing in for the injured Dani Pedrosa.

Thomas Luthi took the victory in Moto2, taking him to second place in the championship, 22 points behind Johann Zarco with two rounds to go. Sam Lowes crashed out early on and Danny Kent also failed to finish. Brad Binder continued his domination of the Moto3 class with his sixth win of the season. The race had been red-flagged due to a huge multi-rider accident involving John McPhee.


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Pedrosa beats Rossi to Misano win

Dani Pedrosa became the eighth different Grand Prix winner as he stormed to the chequered flag at Misano. The Spaniard overcame a strong display from home favourite Valentino Rossi, whilst Jorge Lorenzo, who started from Pole, rounded off the podium.

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Dani Pedrosa became the eighth consecutive different winner in MotoGP this season with his win in Misano. Image: Crash.net

It was Lorenzo who made the best start, but Rossi wasted no time in hitting the front with a strong pass on the second lap. The two Yamahas broke away from the pack, along with championship leader Marc Marquez.

But Dani Pedrosa smashed the lap record three times as he caught the front group, passing Marquez and Lorenzo within three laps of each other. Pedrosa then set about closing the gap to Rossi, which stood at over a second.

The Honda rider was able to pass Rossi on lap 22, and quickly managed to gap the Italian. Pedrosa was able to extend his lead to over two seconds to take his first win since Sepang in 2015. Rossi’s second place was enough to take another seven points out of Marc Marquez’s championship lead, with Marquez finishing fourth.

Maverick Vinales followed up his Silverstone victory with a fifth in Misano, with Ducati duo Andrea Dovizioso and Michele Pirro, who was replacing Andrea Iannone, finishing sixth and seventh. Cal Crutchlow hung on to eighth, after initially being given a 1.5 second penalty for exceeding track limits, but that was later removed as he was deemed not to have gained an advantage.

Ireland’s Eugene Laverty finished 14th, just ahead of Scott Redding. Alex Lowes, who will continue to fill in for Bradley Smith at Aragon, crashed out.

Lorenzo Baldesarri overcame a last lap duel with Alex Rins to take the Moto2 win, but both Sam Lowes and Danny Kent crashed out. Brad Binder extended his championship lead in Moto3 as he took the win, with John McPhee finishing 20th.


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Crutchlow Second as Maverick Storms to Victory

Cal Crutchlow followed up his maiden MotoGP victory with a hard-fought second at Silverstone. The Brit held off late challenges from Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi to secure his spot on the podium for his home Grand Prix.

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Maverick Vinales led from the start to claim his first victory in MotoGP. Image: BT Sport MotoGP

But Crutchlow was unable to stop a rampant Maverick Vinales, who secured Suzuki’s first win since Chris Vermeulen won in the wet at Le Mans in 2007. The Spaniard, who has already secured a move to Yamaha next year, eventually finished 3.5 seconds clear of his nearest challenger, but had managed to lead by just under five seconds during the race.

But the real battle was that for second place, with Crutchlow, Marquez and Rossi initially dicing it out. Andrea Iannone and Dani Pedrosa were hanging on to the back of this group, but it was the Ducati rider who managed to catch the leading trio, fighting his way through to second place. But the Italian crashed out, gifting second place back to Britain’s Crutchlow. Marc Marquez almost took out his fellow Honda rider, making contact with Crutchlow’s knee as at the end of the Hangar Straight.

Marquez managed to recover from that mistake to beat his teammate Dani Pedrosa to fourth, meaning his championship lead was only reduced by three points, down to 50.

The race had to be restarted after an incident on the first lap between Pol Espargaro and Loris Baz caused the race to be red flagged on the first lap.

Crutchlow was the only British rider to finish on the podium across the three classes. In the Premier Class, Eugene Laverty finished 12th, just ahead of Alex Lowes, who was standing in for the injured Bradley Smith. Scott Redding crashed twice, but completed the race in 17th. Sam Lowes was amongst the leading group in the Moto2, leading from Pole for most of the race, but he was taken out by Johann Zarco, gifting the victory to Thomas Luthi. The Moto3 saw John McPhee finish 18th, whilst Brad Binder extended his championship lead.


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Premier League 2016/17 Preview – West Ham

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Dimitri Payet was West Ham’s top scorer last season, with 12 goals in all competitions. Image: BBC Sport

West Ham have had an odd summer, as they have been linked to almost every striker in Europe. Come the start of the season, they have brought in Andre Ayew and Jonathan Calleri to support Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia. They are amongst ten new signings as the Hammers move in to the Olympic Stadium, which also include the impressive captures of highly rated defensive midfielder Havard Nordtveit as well as wingers Gokhan Tore and Sofiane Feghouli. These arrivals have prepared West Ham’s squad for Europa League football, where the Hammers will be looking to improve upon last season’s shambolic European campaign. Slaven Bilic’s side really impressed in the league last season, especially new signing Dimitri Payet, and keeping hold of the Frenchman will prove to be West Ham’s best piece of business this summer. November and December will define whether West Ham can push on from last season’s seventh place finish, as they face consecutive games against Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Key Man: Dimitri Payet. The French midfielder proved the signing of last season, chipping in with nine goals, including several impossible free kicks. With West Ham’s new signings coming in, Payet can only improve, having more quality players to support him.

One to Watch: Sam Byram. The young right back joined from Leeds last January, and made four appearances in the second half of the season. Byram has been continually nominated for the Championship Young Player of the Season during his time at Leeds, and will flourish in a West Ham side that is geared towards attacking. His versatility is also an asset, with him being able to be play all the way down the right wing. If he establishes himself at West Ham this season, you can expect to see Byram challenging Nathaniel Clyne for an England spot.

Last Season: 7th   

Prediction: 9th

 

Premier League 2016/17 Preview – West Brom

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Matt Phillips has joined West Brom and will be relied upon to replace the creativity of Stephan Sessegnon. Image: Mirror Football

West Brom’s summer stinks of a lack of ambition. They have only made one signing, Matt Phillips from QPR for £5.5m. The rest of the Baggies’ business has been getting rid of the deadwood from their squad, with Sessegnon, Anichebe and Lindegaard all being released. Despite the signing of Phillips, Tony Pulis’ side will not be exciting to watch going forward. They only scored 34 times last season, with no player managing to hit double figures in league goals. Rather riskily, the club also only have seven senior defenders, if you include the newly converted left back Chris Brunt, so they could be in trouble if injuries stack up or with the fixture congestion around Christmas. West Brom don’t face any of last season’s top six until mid-October, so if they are going to avoid a relegation scrap they will have to get points on the board early on. This does mean that they face five of last season’s top eight, plus Chelsea, in their last ten games, so Pulis’ side could get dragged back in to the relegation mix.

Key Man: Matt Phillips. The winger is now 25, and has joined for a fee of £5.5m. He has so far failed to live up to the promise that he showed at Blackpool, but this new move could be what it takes to reignite his career. He has big boots to fill in the form of Sessegnon, who although inconsistent was a player who could create things out of nothing for the Baggies. Phillips will be relied upon to create for Rondon and Berahino, but there will be limited opportunities going forward given Pulis’ reserved style.

One to Watch: Jonathan Leko. The Congolese striker made five appearances for West Brom in the league last season, and you can expect him to feature more this season. With Anichebe being released, game time will be more easily available for the England Under-17 international, who also happened to win the Baggies’ Young Player of the Season award last season.

Last Season: 14th   

Prediction: 17th

Premier League 2016/17 Preview – Watford

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Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo scored 28 out of Watford’s 40 goals last season. Image: Metro

It was a season of two halves for Watford last year, after they started off very well before being found out in the second half of the season. Manager Quique Sanchez Flores was sacked and replaced by Italian Walter Mazzarri. The Hornets have brought in a number of new players, with centre backs Dja Djedje and Kabasele strengthening the defence, alongside new full back Juan Camilo Zuniga reuniting with his Mazzarri on loan from Napoli. Isaac Success and Jerome Sinclair have come in up front, suggesting that Mazzarri will continue with the two up front system, given the success of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney last season. The worry for Watford will be if Ighalo and Deeney suffer a dip in form again this season, given that no other player scored more than two goals last season. Watford only won four league games in 2016, which led to them slipping down to 13th place. But at the start of the season, 13th would have been seen as a success, and you can expect Watford to be aiming for that sort of position again this time out.

Key Man: Odion Ighalo. The Nigerian striker hit the ground running at the start of last season, ending the year, scoring 15 goals in the league. He has been rewarded with a new five year deal, and will once again be relied up to score the goals to fire Watford to another mid-table finish.

One to Watch: Jerome Sinclair. The 19 year old striker has joined from Liverpool for a £4m fee. Having only made five appearances for the Reds, Sinclair is definitely one for the future. He will probably act as a fourth choice striker this season, but will likely see some game time in the league over the course of the year.

Last Season: 13th   

Prediction: 13th