All You Need To Know From Sepang Testing

The first official MotoGP testing of the new year has been completed at Sepang. It was the first time that riders have been seen in their new colours for the upcoming year, and has offered a look at who will be going strong this season, as well as showing how well the rookies will adapt.

The Movers

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Image: autosport.com

Maverick Vinales was the most successful of all the riders who have moved teams. The Spaniard seemed to adapt very quickly to his new Yamaha, topping the overall testing times by 0.084 seconds. He finished in the top three on each day, before leading the standings on day three. The man that he replaced, Jorge Lorenzo, is still getting used to his new Ducati. The three time world champion had to settle for tenth, 0.2 seconds behind his team mate, Andrea Dovizioso, and a tenth behind Ducati test rider Casey Stoner.

Andre Iannone enjoyed a strong showing on his Suzuki, after topping the standings on day two and finishing second overall. Alvaro Bautista also had a strong test, including a third place on day 2. Following his step up from Aprilia to the Aspar team, the Spaniard finished seventh overall, above Jorge Lorenzo. Aleix Espargaro, who has replaced Bautista at Aprilia, had a solid test, finishing in thirteenth place, 0.74 seconds off of Vinales’ time. His Brother, Pol Espargaro, and Bradley Smith have moved from the Tech 3 Yamaha team to the new KTM team. They both struggled, but for a new team in MotoGP, you can expect their results to improve as the season goes on.

The Rookies

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Image: Cycle World

The double Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco had the most attention on him, but ended up with an eleventh place. The highlight of his outing on his new Tech 3 Yamaha was a fifth place on day 2. His new team mate will be Jonas Folger, and the German was unable to break the 2 minute barrier, but still recorded top ten finishes on the first two days. After finishing third in Moto2 last season, Alex Rins finished twelfth overall. The Suzuki rider also failed to finish under 2 minutes, but was only outside the top ten by 0.29 seconds. There will be another British rider in the Premier Class this season, with Sam Lowes joining Aprilia. It looks like the bike will need some improvement though, as Lowes was unable to break in the top 20, only finishing above Tito Rabat, excluding test riders.

 

The Challengers

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Image: Crash.net

As previously mentioned, Maverick Vinales is looking like a serious contender for this year’s title. His team mate, Valentino Rossi, will no doubt be trying to prevent that as he searches for a record equalling eighth Premier Class title. Rossi finished sixth overall in testing, but his real strengths lie on a race day.

The reigning world champion, Marc Marquez, is looking strong again this time around. Finishing the Sepang test 0.138 seconds behind Vinales, it is clear that the Repsol Honda rider is well in the hunt for his fourth title in five years. Honda’s chances at a Constructors’ title look good this season, as Dani Pedrosa put in a strong showing throughout testing (fifth place, 0.21 seconds from Vinales) and Cal Crutchlow came ninth, 0.36 seconds from the top.


Who do you think will win the 2017 World Championship? Will there be a surprise package? Have your say in the comments below.

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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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Marquez makes it four in a row in Austin

Marc Marquez took his fourth consecutive Texan Grand Prix with a dominant display at the Circuit of the Americas. The Spaniard led the race from start to finish, with Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Iannone completing the podium.

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Marc Marquez’s dominace was shown by his 6 second margin of victory. Image: BT Sport

Valentino Rossi crashed out on lap three after he had slipped back from his front row start and was battling with Aleix Espargaro. Andrea Dovizioso will be wondering who he has upset, as for the second race in a row he was taken out. This time, Dani Pedrosa was unable to stop his Honda at turn one, skipping his bike in to the side of the Ducati rider. Dovi had been in third at the time, and this incident left the final podium place open for his team mate, Andrea Iannone.

Maverick Vinales overcame a tough battle with his Suzuki team mate to take fourth, whilst Scott Redding saw off fellow Brits Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, who both crashed out within seconds of each other on lap eight. Michele Pirro, riding in place of the injured Danilo Petrucci, finished eighth, with Hector Barbera and Stefan Bradl rounding off the top ten.

In Moto2, Alex Rins dominated the race, whilst Sam Lowes’ second place takes him top of the championship. The Moto3 race saw Romano Fenati come out on top.

Marquez takes win in Argentina

Marc Marquez eased to his first victory of the season in an action-packed Argentinian Grand Prix. The race saw an incredible eight non-finishers, including a controversial last lap clash between the Ducati team mates.

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Source: Autosport.com

Teams were forced to make a pit-stop during the race for safety reasons, after Scott Redding’s tyre failed during FP3, and things were made even more unpredictable with a drying track littered with damp patches.

Marquez took the lead early on, and he enjoyed a earl tussle with Valentino Rossi before pitting. But the Spaniard switched bikes quicker and managed to get out of pit lane with Tito Rabat between him and Rossi. Marquez took advantage of this breathing room, arguably getting even more out of his second bike to extend the lead to 7 seconds as he took the chequered flag.

Valentino Rossi fell back, battling first with Maverick Vinales and then with both of the Ducatis. Vinales passed Rossi but crashed out on turn 1 with two laps to go. Andrea Iannone looked to have got the better of his team mate, tussling with Rossi for second position. However, Dovizioso mugged the pair of them to move in to second. But on the penultimate corner, Iannone dived for a gap that wasn’t there, lost the front end and took out his team mate, gifting Rossi second place.

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Andrea Iannone will incur a 3 place grid penalty in Texas for taking out his team mate. Source: Crash.net

Dani Pedrosa claimed third, 28 seconds behind Marquez, with Eugene Laverty coming fourth. Hector Barbera edged out Pol Espargaro for fifth, whilst Stefan Bradl and Bradley Smith rounded off the top 8.

Jorge Lorenzo was unable to follow up his victory in Qatar as he slipped off early on. He was not having a good race anyway, only seventh after Jack Miller crashed out on lap four. Scott Redding continued his unlucky weekend as his bike broke down whilst in sixth, ahead of Dani Pedrosa. Cal Crutchlow crashed out on the final lap.

Johann Zarco took the victory in Moto2, with Britain’s Sam Lowes profiting from a crash to finish second. Danny Kent missed out on the points finishing 16th. Rookie Khairul Idham Pawi won the Moto3 race, becoming the first ever Malaysian Grand Prix winner.

Marquez in thrilling finish down under

Marc Marquez finished the Australian Grand Prix for the first time in some style, producing a masterful final lap to take the victory. The Spaniard went in to the last lap in fourth, but produced a lap record to pip title hopeful Jorge Lorenzo to the win. Andrea Iannone completed the podium after winning out over title leader Valentino Rossi.

Source: crash.net

Source: crash.net

Although Marquez started on pole, it was Lorenzo that set the early pace.It soon began to develop in to a four way race, with the leaders interchanging throughout. Marquez passed Lorenzo through Honda corner, and the number 99 almost slipped another place, but Iannone ran wide after blasting past on the home straight. The reigning champion was unable to escape his fellow leaders though, with Lorenzo passing him, then Rossi and Iannone both lunging down his inside on the same corner. On the final lap, Marquez passed Rossi at the beginning of the lap, before passing Iannone at Doohan. The Italian fought straight back but in doing so left the door open for Marquez to slip straight past him. As Marquez chased down Lorenzo, Rossi slipped up the inside of Iannone, just doing enough to prevent the Ducati man from biting straight back. Marquez made his move with just two corners left, holding a tight line through the hairpin. Luckily for Lorenzo, Iannone also passed Rossi at the same corner, meaning that the Spaniard’s championship hopes are still alive.

Dani Pedrosa finished fifth, with Maverick Vinales sixth and Cal Crutchlow finishing as the top Brit in seventh. Bradley Smith continued his run of scoring points in every race this season with a tenth, just ahead of Scott Redding. Jack Miller was the top Open class rider in fifteenth.

Marquez's win was his 50th Grand Prix victory. Source: twitter (marcmarquez93)

Marquez’s win was his 50th Grand Prix victory. Source: twitter (marcmarquez93)

With those 20 points, Jorge Lorenzo has now cut Valentino Rossi’s championship lead to just 11 points with two races remaining. The win for Marquez all but secures his third place, whilst Bradley Smith is still within touching distance of fifth placed Dani Pedrosa despite his tenth place at Phillip Island.

In Moto3, Danny Kent will have to wait to seal his title after he was taken out in spectacular fashion by his main title rival Enea Bastianini. Miguel Oliveira won the race to leapfrog Bastianini in the championship, 40 points behind Kent. It seemed almost inevitable that things would not go for the Brit this weekend, having been relegated to seventh from pole for slow riding in the warm-up, and being clipped already by Francesco Bagnaia before Bastianini ended his race. Alex Rins was the clear winner in Moto2, with Brit Sam Lowes keeping his hopes of reaching third in the championship alive with a second place.