Is it Déjà vu?

It only seems like yesterday that the gossip columns of many motorbike journalists was crammed with juicy tidbits concerning the Repsol Honda team. The flagship of HRC was struggling with an inherent lack of pace and it was only during the recent documentary from Marquez that we learned of how many issues they really were facing. Having to try the ’15 engine in their updated chassis during testing, but that only made things worse and the 2016 season was characterised by the Honda’s lack of acceleration.

Acceleration – is a vehicle’s capacity to gain speed and from ‘Cervera to Tokyo’ it seemed to be the buzzword in the Honda garages throughout the pitlane. Something that was painfully portrayed during the final sprint to the line at Mugello where Lorenzo just about took the victory.

The issue with having a talented and at times otherworldly rider such as Marquez, is that it is very difficult for other riders using the same/similar machinery. There could be questions such as, “Well he’s using the same stuff so why can’t you do the same?” Despite this lack of acceleration and the physical effort that it took to manhandle the machine at times; Marc won the championship. After a season such as ’15, the early season tussles with Valentino and the eventual fallout of Sepang: It was a fitting reward.


Pedrosa passes LCR Honda’s Crutchlow – will it be the other way around on Sunday?

There is evidence to suggest that this isn’t a season of déjà vu for the Honda mounted riders, if the times from testing are anything to go by. Out of the three tests in 2017, it was only in Qatar where only 2 of the riders (Pedrosa and Crutchlow) featured in the top 10. It is perhaps unfortunate that this happens to also be the venue for the first round but given that Marquez also views the track as a ‘bogey’ round for him also; perhaps it isn’t too much to get excited about.

As I write this, the FP1 session ended just over 2 hours ago and despite the track being somewhat dusty/green; the pace shown by both Pedrosa and Marquez would be very reassuring. Given that Vinales is already knocking on the door of the circuit’s best lap, it’s probably fair to say that they are easily the best of the rest despite the half a second gap. (FP1 Classification)

The session as a whole was very interesting, I generally like to follow every session and record them if I can’t watch them live. It was hard to fully appreciate what was significant about the action however as Qatar is a special circumstances circuit and one that has in recent years heavily favoured the Ducati; which isn’t really shown on the timesheet despite the incredibly strong showing by Baz and the somewhat surprising initial pace of Lorenzo.

I think what is staggering is the comparisons in top speeds and just how irrelevant it is over an entire lap. Jorge Lorenzo was clocked at 342.9 km/h which was nearly a full 8 km/h faster than that of the Yamaha of Vinales, although I have just highlighted that it isn’t effective to merely focus on this fact; it illustrates perhaps why the beast from Bologna is so handy around the circuit. It also ties in neatly to how I initially started this article!


If I was to offer my opinion of what we’re going to see this weekend, and I’m somewhat reluctant to as we’ll get a better impression of how things are really shaking out after FP3 tomorrow:

  • Rossi does seem to be struggling, to be so far off of a team mate on the same tyre combination would be quite worrying. If anyone can figure out where he is losing time and counter that though, it’s Valentino. He is also more of a Sunday man and a one lap blitz has only become part of his arsenal in the past 3 years or so.
  • Lorenzo looks very comfortable on the Ducati, but whether the gap to Vinales will cause his Mallorcan eyebrow to raise is perhaps my biggest question. Will he be able to get anywhere near to the limit whilst still being new to the machine?
  • The Honda’s look strong! Whether that is because the likes of Dovizioso, Rossi and Iannone were all relatively further down than they would of liked? This time last year in FP1: Pedrosa was 7th, Marquez 8th and Crutchlow 12th. The HRC riders kept and improved their pace in the later sessions but Crutchlow eventually finished 15th in FP3 and was unfortunately a member of the Q1 fight for a portion of the season. With Cal so much further up, is this a sign?
  • The Suzuki isn’t doing what Iannone wants it to. Again, I don’t want to make any assumptions but based on the time alone and the amount that he seemed to be working the bike. I hope I’m wrong! 18th for Rins isn’t terrible, he didn’t fall off (unlike Lowes) and he completed 16 laps; so here’s hoping for an improvement.
  • The Circuit Best Lap is going to be absolutely destroyed this weekend, if Vinales can lap within under half a second during the weekend’s first session… how low can it go?

Bautista ended the first day in 14th – Credits to MotoGP for the visuals!

Just to show the nature of motorsport in general, after being impressed and full of praise for Alvaro! I’m sure he’ll get quicker as the weekend progresses, as will the whole field once the track is cleaned.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my floating prose, and that the first/second sessions have been an enjoyable watch. But for now,

Thank you for reading!



Under the Lights.


Magic Marquez – Credit to

The 2017 MotoGP season gets underway tomorrow, with FP1 for all 3 classes taking place on a Thursday to allow for the particular circumstances required for the Qatari round. If you are unaware, and as you can see in the glorious photo above, the opening weekend is run entirely beneath the floodlights.

Since 2004 MotoGP has raced at the Losail International Circuit, however it was only in 2008 that the switch to a night time setting came into being. Given that the 5.4 kilometre track is situated within the middle of a mostly featureless desert, it is probably easy to understand why such a change took place.

Whatever the reason may be, the slight change in the schedule is due to something known as the ‘Dew Point’ and it is comparable to riding over black ice or an oil/diesel spillage; especially when you consider the slick tyres.

From what I can recall, this particular time tends to be at 11PM and as such the track action generally wraps up well before then; but I’m pretty sure the final Moto2 has been caught out by it on a number of occasions due to delays/stoppages.

Enough about the intricacies! If you’d like more information about this particular round, or want to take a look at the schedule yourself, as I have failed to mention one particular thing, then you can find the information here: MotoGP Official.

I‘m not even sure where to begin with laying out my feelings for the season ahead, there are a lot of nuances and surprising performances throughout testing that has left me questioning. However, perhaps the strongest and most obvious indication for a title challenge is that of Maverick Viñales.


Maverick following his old steed and rookie Alex Rins – Credit to

Out of the three official tests, he was the quickest overall and despite that not really meaning all that much; it’s still impressive. It is certainly fair to question whether a rider is really all that quick if he just tops one session, maybe he made the most of the conditions or had the right tyre? Maybe he was on a qualifying run whilst the others were focusing on race pace?

Good things to speculate over, but across three completely different circuits and conditions; Maverick managed to pull out a time quicker than anyone else on a machine which he isn’t fully familiar with. It’s fair to say and mention also at this point that the two rookies within Tech 3 for this season, Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger, have also shown a surprising amount of speed. Perhaps hinting further towards the train of thought that the Yamaha is ultimately the friendliest and most adaptable bike to ride.

Focusing on the Yamaha team as a whole, it looks as though they are certainly in a strong position to retain the manufacturer’s title for this season. Despite losing Lorenzo to the Ducati factory outfit, Viñales looks more than capable of filling the space and Rossi (despite some rather worrying articles) is always a man for the Sunday special. Additionally, if both Zarco and Folger improve from their already promising start then I can’t really see past them.

However, the beasts from Bologna might have something to say about that this season. Although it would be unfair to expect Jorge to fully wrestle with and conquer the Desmosedici ’17 within this season, let alone Qatar, this particular track is well suited to the bike. Andrea Dovizioso, a household name almost, coming close to claiming the win in 2015 and finishing 2nd to Lorenzo (then of Yamaha) last season.


Testing times ahead for Lorenzo? – Credit to

I say this mostly due to the pace of Alvaro Bautista, a man who was somewhat unceremoniously dumped by Aprillia and now finds himself aboard Gresini’s ’16 Ducati for the season ahead. He has seemingly gelled with his new charge and again, like Viñales has consistently been towards the top of the testing time sheets. The only issue that does arise when you consider an older machine, is that the development cycle has likely ended and whilst those aboard the new machines receive updates and get progressively quicker; riders such as Redding, Abraham, Baz and Barbera will likely find the gap to the factory teams increasing.

Credit where credit is due, Dorna is perhaps the best organiser of any racing series currently at keeping a relatively level playing field with regards to Satellite machinery. MotoGP is still a place where you can witness something special, think of Miller at Assen last season or both Baz and Barbera finishing 4th and 5th respectively in Brno. So, there is a chance!

I think that is a good place to conclude the preview, although there are notable exceptions which I hope to focus on and provide some insight on for tomorrow. But at that point it may just become an FP1/2/Moto3/Moto2 mishmash.

Again, I thank you for taking an interest in my blog and for reading!