2017 MotoGP season review
In one of the closest championships to date, the 2017 MotoGP season gave more and more with every race. It was one to remember, and with so much drama, it’s easy to forget some of the best moments of a year that will go down in history. Not only because Marc Marquez didn’t steam to victory as easily as was expected, but because it was punctuated with unlikely winners and injuries and impactful races. Here is just a small look at a huge season.
Valentino Rossi – During an enduro training crash, Rossi had displaced fractures in his tibia and fibula, and was forced to miss his home race, Misano, which lies only a few miles away from his home in Tavullia, where his infamous Ranch sits. Astonishingly, only 22 days later, Rossi was back on his bike and racing at Aragon, finishing 5th. This isn’t the first time the 38-year-old has sustained an injury like this, in Mugello in 2010 he also broke his leg after a crash in practice.
Jack Miller in Free Practice 4 at Le Mans, France – In a horrifying crash, Miller is spun through the air like a rag doll by his bike. Unbelievably and in true Miller style he was conscious and walked away from the crash, although he did seem dazed. The Australian went on to race in qualifying that day, coming 8th in the race.
Johann Zarco – Where the Frenchman managed to find the nerve or the skill to manage a 6th finishing place in the championship in his rookie year, we will never know but he also managed to achieve all of this on the Tech 3 Yamaha. No, he wasn’t on a factory Yamaha bike! Beautifully riding to two 2nd places and one 3rd place, but always hanging around in races, never letting himself go unheard. His performance this year, on a bike that is meant to develop younger talent before they jump up to factory bikes, shows that he is ready to race with the big boys.
Andrea Dovizioso – This man could have been your 2017 world champion if it wasn’t for an unfortunate crash in Valencia, which saw him fall from top spot contention. With only 2 career wins in MotoGP since 2008, the Italian went on to win 6 races, whilst constantly remaining a thorn in the side of every person that has held any chance of winning the championship at any point in the season. Where 2018 will take him is another story. Will his amazing form continue or fizzle out? Will he even continue to improve? Maverick Viñales better watch his back then, because Dovi wasn’t messing around in 2017.
Le Mans, France – Valentino Rossi held on to perform incredibly against his younger Yamaha teammate Maverick Viñales before he crashed on the second last corner of the Le Mans circuit. The Doctor and Viñales were entangled in a bitter fight for first place as they overtook each other, ran wide and cut corners, but ultimately it was the Spaniard who won the race after Rossi’s disappointing crash. Johann Zarco came second and Dani Pedrosa came third. Marc Marquez also failed to finish the race, crashing out earlier on in the 5th race of the season.
Assen, the Netherlands – It’s not in Italy, but Assen is Valentino Rossi’s stomping ground, scoring 13 podium finishes there since 1996! And it showed in 2017, when he got his first win of the season. During the race, Maverick Viñales crashed, leaving no chance for a team battle between the Yamaha racers but it was Johann Zarco that left us all shaking in our boots at the thought of The Doctor crashing out as the Frenchman’s tire caused a minor wobble between the two. But fear not, for Rossi eventually made it home and dry, causing him to sit at third in the overall standing. What with this being one of the closest seasons to date, there was only 11 points separating the top four racers. Now that’s just spoiling us!
Brno, Czech Republic – This was a strategic race that Marc Marquez dominated! He pitted early enough that he could get a lead on the rest of the pack, waiting for the crowded pit lanes and wrong tires to mess with everyone else’s performances. And it worked. He got ahead of the carnage that ensued in the pits, from overcrowding and knocked over bikes, no one was going anywhere as fast as they wanted to. Alas, it was Rossi and Zarco who failed to pit when everyone else did and suffered for it. This is becoming a problem for Yamaha, who don’t have the best track record for pitting well. Overall, Marquez won, but not before Jorge Lorenzo could take a hair-raising lead, on a track that is not traditionally a Ducati track.
Franco Morbidelli’s 2017 season has been filled with awe inspiring levels of improvement, winning 8 races in one season having never won a race in any of his previous 4 seasons. His worst result, apart from two retirements, was an 8th place at the Japanese GP at Motegi. Morbidelli’s path to Moto2 stardom has been a hard one, with financial struggles haunting his previous attempts at joining the Moto2 community. At 23, it’s hard to believe what he could have been capable of achieving had someone given him a ride and Valentino Rossi mentored him early. Now, he’s joining his hero in MotoGP for the 2018 season.
For Andrea Migno, it was an amazing win at Mugello that scored him his first chance to stand on the top step of the podium. At his home race in Italy, and in front of his mentor Valentino Rossi, the 22-year-old managed to pull off a breathtaking achievement – 3 Italian winners across all 3 classes (Mattia Pasini in Moto2 and Andrea Dovizioso in MotoGP). But it would be Joan Mir who would clinch the title, in his second competitive year of Moto3, with an incredible 10 race wins out of 18 races.