Wheelies 2017 – Moto3 Top 10 – Part 2

Yesterday we presented you the first part of the Moto3 Top 10 in the vision of our team. Now it is time to bring on the second part, where we will reveal the 1-5 positions.

5. Marcos Ramirez (#42)

Spanish rider Marcos Ramirez was definitely one of the most impressive riders throughout the 2017 Moto3 season as he managed to get involved in the podium fights more than often with a team that had been struggling outside the top 15 in the previous seasons.

Having collected 10 points in the first three races, Ramirez did a great qualifying session on home turf in Jerez, establishing the 5th fastest time. The 19-years old Spaniard mantained the same high pace on race day and stayed in the front group throughout the whole race, also grabbing the lead at some point. He crossed the line in 4th, missing out on the podium for only 0.203, but establishing a new career best. Ramirez kept up the good job two weeks later in France, where he once again finished 4th, this time only 0.104 off the podium.

After another spectacular three GPs for Ramirez in Italy (9th), Catalunya (6th) and Assen (6th), the much awaited day of the maiden podium came in Germany. The Platinum Bay Real Estate rider managed to stay close to title rivals Joan Mir and Romano Fenati and the trio pulled away from the other competitors. Ramirez settled quietly in 3rd, leaving Mir and Fenati to fight it out for the win, securing his first ever podium finish. Perfect way to end the first half of the season.

The second part was much tougher for Ramirez, as his best result since Brno before the season finale was a 7th place finish in Aragon. Two wet races in Misano and Motegi and a crash in Australia affected his good run of results. However, Ramirez knew how to strike back on home turf in Valencia and scored his second podium finish, holding off Romano Fenati to cross the line in 3rd. He finished the season 8th overall, with 123 points.

 

4. Aron Canet (#44)

Having caught some attention in his debut season, when he gathered one podium finish, one pole position and some top 10 finishes, Aron Canet evolved in 2017 to the state of championship contender.

The qualifying session of the Americas GP was Canet`s first outburst, as the young Spaniard took pole position for more than one second ahead of the 2nd place on the grid. He kept up the good rhytm on race day, establishing the fastest lap, but ended with a “heartbreak” as he crashed out while battling Romano Fenati for the win.

Canet did not let this result affect his morale and came back even stronger on home turf. He won the race in Jerez after some extraordinary last lap maneuvers against Romano Fenati and Joan Mir. The Spaniard carried on the podium form in Le Mans, where he finished 2nd, behind Mir. Two strong performances followed in Mugello and Catalunya, where Canet crossed the finish line in 5th place on both occasions. Another magnificent last lap strategy brought Canet his second win of the season in Assen, where he defeated Romano Fenati for only 0.035.

Canet could have entered the summer break as Mir`s main rival, but another crash in Germany, similar to the one in Austin (as he again started from pole) gave Fenati the opportunity to take the 2nd place in the championship from him. In the second half of the championship, Canet continued battling at the front. He kicked it off with a 3rd place finish in Brno, followed by a 5th place in Austria and a third stunning win in Silverstone. He did not climb the podium ever since that race, but two additional 5th place finishes in Misano and Aragon and a 9th place in Valencia secured him the bronze medal at the end of the year.

Next year, Canet will remain alongside Estrella Galicia 0,0 in the lightweight class and, with Mir and Fenati promoted to Moto2, we can expect the Spaniard to be a serious title contender.

 

3. Jorge Martin (#88)

Another impressive Spaniard in 2017 was Del Conca Gresini`s Jorge Martin. The Madrid-born 19-years old rider kicked-off the season with a pole position in Qatar converted in a 3rd place finish in the race. Same race result was repeated in Argentina. The Austin round held at the Circuit of the Americas brought a new season best for Martin, who crossed the line in 2nd after an intense duel with his teammate, Fabio Digiannantonio. This result lifted him to the 2nd place in the championship, only 6 points behind leader Joan Mir.

A sensational run of 5 straight pole positions followed for Martin, but, unfortunately, he was not able to take advantage of them. Inappropriate strategies in the dying moments of the races threw him to 9th in Jerez and 15th in Mugello. Between this 2 GPs, he crashed out of the French GP at Le Mans, gathering no points. Two strong performances followed in Catalunya and Assen, where Martin finished 3rd and 4th, respectively.

Disaster struck for Jorge Martin in the Free Practice session of the German GP, as he suffered a heavy highside which caused him a broken ankle and tibia. He tried to come back after the summer break in Brno, but, after Friday, he announced his retirement from the reminder of the GP as his pain was too intense.

One week later in Austria Martin returned and offered us a moment we will never forget. In spite of using crutches to walk, on the bike he was simply magnificent and won the battle for the 3rd place. A 3rd place that for sure felt like a victory, as Martin could be seen crying in the parc ferme and at the podium ceremony.

The Spaniard impressed again two weeks later at Silverstone, where he fought for the win throughout the whole race. He was the leader when the red flag appeared and, unfortunately for him, he was only 3rd at the end of the last completed lap. So, once again, his effort was not enough for a maiden career win. Martin came back to the pole position ways in Aragon and Australia, converting them into a 4th and another 3rd place, respectively.

Martin once again equaled his career best in Malaysia, where he was the best of the rest behind a dominant Joan Mir. The season finale at Valencia started good for Martin as he clinched on Saturday his 9th pole of the season, an absolute record in the Moto3 class. This time, there was nothing that could stop Martin on race day. No rain, no red flag, no Joan Mir. He led from start to finish, securing his 9th podium finish of the season and the first ever win. He finished the season 4th overall, only 3 points behind Aron Canet.

Next year Martin will stay alongside Gresini Racing in the lightweight class and we can expect him to be Canet`s main rival in the title fight.

 

2. Romano Fenati (#5)

After 5 years in the category during which factors like his inconsistency and impulsivity did not allow him to be a serious contender for the World Championship, Romano Fenati finally found an antidote for these problems in 2017 alongside Marinelli Rivacold Snipers team.

Having last won a GP at COTA in 2016, Fenati struck again at the venue and won for more than 4 seconds ahead of Jorge Martin. He carried on the good form in Jerez, where he crossed the line in 2nd.

Fenati`s first and only DNF of the season came in Le Mans, where he crashed out of the race while in the lead, throwing away 25 vital points in the championship.

After a disappointing home race in Mugello, where he finished only 13th, Fenati knew how to come back in style and scored 4 consecutive podium finishes in Catalunya, Assen, Sachsenring and Brno. On each occasion, he crossed the line in 2nd place.

From that point, Fenati managed to show his class only in wet conditions. He dominated on a soaked Misano Circuit, taking the win for more than 28 seconds ahead of Joan Mir. Same scenario happened in Japan, where Fenati once again mastered the wet conditions and scored his 3rd win of the season. Solid prestations followed in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia, where he finished 6th, 7th and 4th, respectively. He finished the season as a runner-up, 93 points behind one-man-show Joan Mir.

Taking into consideration the fact that Fenati had not raced for a period of 6 months before the season opener in Qatar due to his dismissal from Valentino Rossi`s team in mid 2016, we can affirm that the Italian veteran had a great 2017 season. Next year we will finally see him stepping up to the intermmediate class.

 

1. Joan Mir (#36)

For sure there is no suprise that the first position of our top 10 goes to Joan Mir, who can be easily described in one word at the end of this season – UNSTOPPABLE.

Having clinched the “Rookie of the Year” title in 2016, Joan Mir started the season in the best way possible, winning in both Qatar and Argentina. This allowed him to slow down a little bit in Austin, where he finished 8th.

Mir came back to podium ways on home turf in Jerez, where he finished 3rd after a magnificent battle with Aron Canet, Romano Fenati and Marcos Ramirez. Two weeks later in France, he took advantage of Fenati`s crash and scored another win, increasing his lead in the championship considerably.

Total madness in the last laps of the Italian and Dutch GPs saw Mir falling down into 7th and 9th, respectively, but there was no reason to dispair as the Spaniard born in Mallorca had won the Catalan GP, which took place between the other 2 races.

Mir struck again before the summer break when he pipped Fenati on the very last lap in Sachsenring, increasing his lead to 37 points. He started the second half of the year in the same manner as the first, with two resounding and dominant wins in Brno and Austria.

With a difference of already 64 points after Austria, Mir did not slow down and won again in Aragon, after a 2nd place in Misano and a 5th place in Silverstone. The only race without points occured in Japan, where Mir could not handle the wet conditions and crossed the line in 17th.

However, that motivated Mir even more as he went on to win the following race at Phillip Island and mathematically clinch the title. One week later he won again, this time in Malaysia, reaching a milestone of 10 wins in a single season.

In the season finale at Valencia, Mir ran wide in the opening laps and fall outside the points zone. Nonetheless, Mir once again showed his class and climbed all the way up to P2, finishing the season with 10 wins, 13 podium finishes, 1 pole position and 341 points (a new points record for the lightweight class).

Last rider to score 10 wins in a single season in the lightweight class was a certain Marc Marquez. Next year we will see Joan Mir racing in the Moto2 class alongside powerhouse team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, so we can expect even greater things from the young Spaniard.

 

photo credit – motogp.com

Wheelies 2017 – Moto3 Top 10 – Part 1

As we all know, the 2017 MotoGP World Championship has reached its conclusion on the 12th of November, in Valencia. We have decided to make a Top 10 of the riders in each class, taking into consideration factors like performances, team, age, constructor, previous motorcycling experience, injuries and so on. Here is our take on the Moto3 class: 

 

10. Tatsuki Suzuki (#24)

Having debuted in the category in 2015 with the CIP team and racing for them also in 2016, the young Japanese rider caught the attention of Paolo Simoncelli, the father of the late 2008 250cc World Champion Marco Simoncelli, who entered the competition this year with his own team, SIC58 Squadra Corse. Suzuki was chosen as one of the 2 riders of the team and he did not fail to repay the confidence which was put in him.

The Japanese managed to finish inside the top 10 in 4 of the first 9 races, with a best result of 8th in both Argentina and Assen. However, he was also followed by some bad luck as he scored 4 DNFs in a row (Austin-Jerez-Le Mans-Mugello). The second half of the year was better in this aspect as Suzuki finished in the points zone in 6 out of 9 races. He had his moment of glory on home turf in Motegi, where he cruised to a superb 4th place on the soaked track. He finished the championship 14th overall, having gathered a total of 71 points. Nothing really amazing for the Asian, but considering his lack of experience on a Honda and the fact that his team was at their maiden season in the World Championship, he did good, exceeding the expactations.

 

9. Gabriel Rodrigo (#19)

The rider followed by the biggest amount of bad luck throughout the 2017 season of the ligtweight class was definitely Gabriel Rodrigo.

The Spanish-born Argentine rider raced for the RBA BOE Racing Team, the team with whom he raced from 2014. He started the year by showing great pace in the Free Practice sessions of the Qatar GP, but he was forced to miss the race after suffering a collarbone fracture due to a crash sustained in the Qualifying session. He did his best in order to get back on track for his home GP in Argentina and he managed to do so, but, unfortunately, crashed out of it.

Having gathered few points in Austin and Jerez, Rodrigo suffered another injury which forced him to sit out both the French and Italian GPs. His comeback in Catalunya was once again unfortunate as he crashed while battling for a position in the top 5. Rodrigo finally managed to complete a weekend successfully in Assen where, having started 12th, crossed the line in 7th, at about half a second behind the race winner. Good things seemed to be finally coming Rodrigo`s way.

Unfortunately for the young Argentine rider, that was not the case. He opened the second half of the season with an amazing pole position in Brno, but he crashed in the very last lap while running inside the top 10. Rodrigo did not let this affect his morale and he struck back with another fabulous pole position one week later in Austria. This time he kept himself on the bike and ran in the front group from start to finish, eventually crossing the line in 7th, only 0.427 away from a spot on the podium. Rodrigo stayed in good form for the following GP at Silverstone, where he scored a new career best – 4th place. Only a red flag prevented him from his first ever podium finish, as he was running in 2nd when the race was stopped. However, at the end of the last completed lap, Rodrigo was only 4th.

The old “curse” started pursuing Rodrigo again in the next 3 GPs. He showed good pace on Fridays and Saturdays in Misano, Aragon and Motegi, but he ended up crashing out of all these 3 races. Good for him, he bounced back in Australia, where he equaled his personal best of 4th and also set the fastest lap of the race.

After all these enormous variations in results, Rodrigo ended the season in 16th place, with 54 points. It is obvious that he still has to improve his stability on the bike and his mentality in key moments, but his speed and his determination to come back stronger after every injury and after every heartbreaking failure determined us to give him a place in our Top 10.

 

8. Juanfran Guevara (#58)

One place higher than Gabri Rodrigo it`s his teammate, Spanish rider Juanfran Guevara. After 4 years spent in the class during which he was not able to really challange the front positions, Guevara managed to find his rhytm in 2017 alongside the RBA BOE Racing Team and was a podium contender in many races.

His first shot at a podium spot came in Le Mans, where he crossed the line in 6th, only 0.6 behind the 2nd place. Nonetheless, he scored his maiden podium finish in the very next GP, by crossing the line in 3rd place on the Mugello Circuit.

Except for the Catalan GP, Guevara scored points in every race until Silverstone, including an impressive 5th place finish in Brno. Then, at the British GP, the Spaniard stayed in the front group for a big part of the race but, unfortunately, suffered a heavy crash which left him unconscious near the asphalt. In spite of the fact that he did not suffer any serious injury, the crash seriously affected his form as he managed to gather only 5 points throughout the following 5 races. However, he managed to came back in style in the season finale at Valencia, where he brought some joy to the crowd by crossing the line in 6th.

 

7. John McPhee (#17)

One of the most beautiful surprises of the Moto3 season was Scottish rider John McPhee, who had his best season in the lightweight class since the start of his career.

After a disastrous 2016 season alongside the Peugeot Saxoprint Team, in which he finished 22nd overall, McPhee signed for the brand new British Talent Team, a team run by Dorna as part of the Road to MotoGP program.

McPhee had a brilliant start of the year and finished 2nd in both of the first two races in Qatar and Argentina. He could not mantain this amazing pace in every race, but he still played an important role in the battles inside or just outside the top 10. He scored a 3rd podium finish in Assen, by crossing the line in 3rd. In the second half of the season he was pretty inconstant as he failed to finish 3 races. However, he managed to compensate with 3 top 6 finishes in Brno (6th), Aragon (6th) and Sepang (5th), thus securing the 7th place overall at the end of the championship.

 

6. Fabio Diggianantonio (#21)

Having impressed in his debut season in 2016 by scoring 3 podium finishes and ending the season 6th overall, Fabio Digiannantonio remained alongside Gresini Racing for the 2017 season. The young Italian kicked off the season by setting the fastest lap of the Qatar GP, a race finished in 8th place.

After an unfortunate DNF in Argentina, “Diggia” struck back in Austin and climbed the last step of the podium after an intense battle with teammate Jorge Martin, who finished 2nd. The Italian prodigy mantained his great rhytm and finished inside the top 7 in all of the following 4 GPs, including a 3rd place in Le Mans and a 2nd place on home turf in Mugello.

A rough period followed for the Del Conca Gresini rider as he gathered only 5 points in the following 3 GPs. Nonetheless, Digiannantonio managed to get back to his full potential in the following 5 races, which he managed to finish inside the top 10, also scoring another 2 podium finishes in Misano (3rd) and Aragon (2nd). Two DNFs in Australia and Valencia caused Digiannantonio to lose 4th place in the standings in the favour of his teammate, Jorge Martin. However, the Italian`s season remains a very successful one and we can expect him to be a serious title contender in 2018.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second part of our Top 10, when we will reveal the first 5 positions!

photo credit – crash.net

Wheelies 2017 – World Superbike Top 10

The World Superbike Championship had another thrilling season in 2017. Here’s our Top 10 Superbike racers.

1. Jonathan Rea

The wisest choice for #1 by a mile. The northern irish rider has demonstrated once again that he is probably the greatest rider to throw a leg over a bike in World SBK. His total domination combined with his nearly flawless season makes the rightful man to be placed at no. 1 in this top.

2. Kenan Sofuoglu

He may have lost the titles, but he definitely won a lot of hearts. With his never say die attitude, the turkish rider went on to fight for the world championship until the very last corner in Qatar. Sadly for him, he lost the battle against Mahias, but he definitely could have been the Superbike racer of the year if there was no Johnny Rea around.

3. Chaz Davies

After the amazing end of the 2016 season, Chaz Davies had the opportunity to fight for the first time in his career for the championship. In the early stages of this season, he was up there with Rea, but marred by inconsistency, his results dropped and his championship chance ran away. Maybe next year, Chaz!

4. Michael van der Mark

The Dutchman was by far the best rider out of the Ducati-Kawasaki quartet. Therefore, we can actually give him at least the honorific title of best the rest. At some points, he was outpaced by his more experienced team mate, Alex Lowes, but, overall he was the main rider of the Yamaha team. Definitely a champion in the making!

5. Lucas Mahias

Lucky champ or a well deserved one? Hard to say. Overall, 2017 was marked by consistent top three results. Although he unnecessarily crashed in several races, he kept his calm in Qatar and grabbed his first championship. It is yet unknow if he stays in the Supersport class to defend his title. If he chooses so, it’ll be very hard against a hungry for revenge Sofuoglu.

6. Alex Lowes

In football, Arsenal is the eternal fourth placed team in the Premier League. In the first part of the Superbike championship, Alex Lowes seemed to be destined to be the eternal fourth placed rider. All in all, his season was very good, even though, in the second half of the championship he was severely outpaced by his team mate, Michael van der Mark.

7. Leon Camier

Though he had many opportunities to show his skill and talent throughout the years with better machineries, Leon Camier demonstrated that he deserves to ride a very competitive bike. For 2018, he has an agreement with a falling Honda. In 2017, he was up there with the Kawasaki and Ducati riders in some races and he scored very well round after round. It’ll be interesting to see a mature Camier on a Honda. A championship combination? Why not!

8. Tom Sykes

His days at Kawasaki seem to be numbered. The results are not on his days and having Jonathan Rea as a team mate is not a good option if he ever wants to become a world champion again. Anyway, he won several races in a season where he was completely dominated by Rea.

9. Marco Melandri

His comeback in Superbike was not as good as he expected, but it wasn’t a very bad one either. A race win and some good racing action. Not an enormous collection for this season, but it might be a good start for 2018. An italian champion on an italian bike? The perfect dream for the team based in Bologna.

10. Nicky Hayden

Sadly, he is not among us anymore. Anyway, while he was alive, he had some good results given his bike. Unfortunately, Nicky Hayden’s career ended suddenly when he was killed in a tragic road accident in Italy. To never get yourself seriously injured while racing at 300 kmh+ and to die while riding your bicycle in your spare time. Life has its own ironic twists sometimes.

 

Photo – Motorcycle News

 

Wheelies 2017 – MX Top 10

The 2017 season in motocross has reached the finish line and we decided to make a top10 from MXGP and AMA.

10) Jeremy Seewer

After a successful 2016 season, where he finished as runner-up, behind Jeffrey Herlings, the Swiss rider remained in MX2 with Suzuki to fight for this season’s title.

Credited as the main favourite of 2017, Jeremy was the championship leader after the Indonesian GP and managed to stay there until the Latvian round. Although he didn’t gain back anymore the 1st position in the standings, he managed to bring the fight until the last round with pretty consistent results.

Another runner-up finish in MX2 was supposed to bring Seewer a seat in the MXGP category for Stefan Everts team, but the unexpected withdrawal of Suzuki makes both Jeremy and Jasikonis revalue their offers.

9) Adam Cianciarulo

After a lot of seasons cursed by injuries, Adam finally had an entire season to show his full potential. And he did: he fought for both 250 title in AMA and 250SX East in Supercross, maintaining the thrill for the last one until the Las Vegas finale.

He finished in top3 in both competitions and if he’ll keep himself away from injuries, we’ll see Adam very soon in the upper category.

8) Pauls Jonass

After missing the world title in MX2 in 2015, Jonass took his revenge this season, becoming the first ever Latvian world champion in MXGP. Sure, he had a difficult year, with strong opponents like Seewer, Paturel or Convington, but his experience didn’t let him down.

Pauls will remain in MX2 in 2018 with KTM Factory Racing to defend the crown, but it’s very possible to see him in the MXGP class from 2019.

7) Blake Baggett

2017 will be an unforgettable year for Blake, not only for his performance in Supercross, where he gained a podium in Atlanta and finished the season in 6th place, but especially for the results in AMA.

2 round wins and many other podiums kept Baggett in the title battle until the Ironman finale, completing the top3 of the category, behind the champion Eli Tomac and runner-up Marvin Musquin.

Considering the fact that Baggett didn’t have a factory bike and Ryan Dungey surprisingly decided to end his career, this season could be the beginning of a very nice career for the Grand Terrace-borned rider.

6) Zach Osborne

The Husqvarna factory rider had a hard season, especially with a fired-up Adam Cianciarulo as opponent. However, Osborne was able to beat him in the same 2 competitions and win the 2 titles, repeating Cooper Webb’s performance from last year.

The former Junior Motocross world champion will stay in 250SX East in Supercross next year, but he’ll promote to 450 class in AMA with the swedish manufacturer and who knows, he might become a star in the future.

5) Marvin Musquin

At his second season at the upper category in both american competitions, Musquin has shown another face and became a serious championship contender. At Arlington, he became the fourth frenchman to win a round in Supercross, finishing 3rd in the general classification.

After his teammate Dungey retired, Marvin had a bigger pressure in AMA, but he kept the title hopes until the Ironman finale and he was quite close to make the surprise in front of Eli Tomac.

Well, it’s more than likely that these 2 will be the men to watch in 2018, and if Ken Roczen manages to get back to his shape, the show will be granted.

4) Eli Tomac

After a very good 2016 campaign, the expectations for Tomac were pretty high. In Supercross he managed to win 9 out of 17 rounds and he also got the red plate, but the lack of consistency costed him the tile in the Las Vegas title.

Even with Dungey’s retirement, he had a tough season in AMA, with Marvin Musquin and the surprising Blake Baggett as main rivals. However, the Kawasaki factory rider clinched the title and has the main chance in 2018 in both AMA and Supercross championships.

3) Jeffrey Herlings

“The Bullet” has finally promoted to MXGP, and the expectations were high, especially after Febvre and Gajser’s performances from 2015 and 2016 respectively. But a hand injury created a lot of difficulties for Herlings in the first 5 rounds.

Everything changed after the first home round from Valkenswaard: 6 GP victories and many other podiums made him the championship runner-up, behind teammate Tony Cairoli.
The Dutch rider has also ridden in the final round of AMA 450, where he clinched a double win at his debut and not only that he’s now a big championship challenger for the 2018 MXGP title, but we’ll probably see Jeffrey moving to AMA soon.

2) Ryan Dungey

After a 2016 season that started with a Supercross title and finished with a serious injury, nobody knew what to expect from Dungey. He hasn’t got back on a MX bike for like 6 months and even he said that in the first rounds of Supercross he’ll try to find back his pace.

After Ken Roczen’s horrible crash, Dungey became surprisingly leader in the standings, but the hard was about to begin. A lot of start problems and a fired-up Eli Tomac were some of the difficulties that Dungey had to face.

But the unbelievable comebacks and especially: the consistence, brought the last title of the KTM’s career, Ryan deciding to retire in glory a few days later. But considering what he’s been through last year, it’s understandable.

1) Tony Cairoli

At his age or even earlier, most of the riders would retire, and after 2 seasons where he felt the pain of a seriuos injury and a very hard pack of opponents from 2017, Tony was very close to this point.

But the sicilian rider overcame all the odds and became world champion in motocross for the 9th time in his career. Indeed, Gajser and Herlings had some injuries this season and Febvre had problems with the pace, but once again, the consistence is probably the most important in motorcycling.

If Cairoli keeps it like that or even better, it’s not excluded to hear: Tony Cairoli, the 10 or maybe 11 times motocross world champion, at maybe 35 years old, the same age for Stefan Everts at his retirement. Who knows, Antonio might give an advice for his friend, Valentino Rossi. ūüôā

 

photo – Ray Archer/KTM Media Library

Marvin Musquin wins Supercross de Paris

In front of more than 20000 people, Marvin Musquin won the Supercross de Paris. After a tight battle, the frenchman defeated both Cole Seely and Dean Wilson to retain the King of Paris crown for another year.

Aged 27, Musquin won this year the Monster Energy Cup, Red Bull Straight Rhythm and now the Supercross de Paris. The KTM rider also finished third in the overall standings of the Supercross world championship and runner up in the US national championships in the 450 category.

Marvin Musquin will take a well deserved break until the first weekend of January, when the Supercross world championship will start at Anaheim.

 

Photo – Ray Archer/ KTM Media Library

Loris Baz returns to WorldSBK alongside Althea BMW

It has been announced that Loris Baz will take part in the 2018 Superbike World Championship alongside Althea BMW Racing Team. This will mark his return in the World SBK after a three year break, period during which the Frenchman competed in MotoGP. 

Loris Baz made his debut in the WorldSBK back in 2008, in the European Superstock 600 class, winning the championship at the very first attempt.

He debuted in the premier class in 2012. Only 19 years old at that time, he impressed by winning the first race of the British round held at Silverstone.

Having demonstrated his talent right from his debut in the Superbike class, Baz did not disappoint in the following year, 2013, as he was a constant presence in the top 7, also adding a second career win, again on the Silverstone Circuit. Unfortunately, he missed the last 10 races of the season and finished 8th.

2014 was even better for the Frenchman, as he scored 9 podium finishes throughout the season and ended 5th overall.

His performances did not go unnoticed in the MotoGP paddock and Baz was offered a chance to perform on the World s biggest stage in 2015 alongside Forward Racing. He did well for a rookie, finishing the season as the 2nd best rookie (behind Maverick Vinales), with a best result of 4th.

2016 brought a change for Loris Baz as he moved to Avintia Racing, where he rode a Ducati Desmosedici GP14. He managed to race in only 14 races, missing the other 4 due to injuries. However, he mantained his reputation as a wet weather specialist as he finished 4th in Brno and 5th in Malaysia.

He remained with Avintia Racing in 2017 and rode a Ducati Desmosedici GP15. His teammate, Hector Barbera, was offered the GP16 model. However, Baz managed to end the championship ahead of Barbera (Baz finished 18th overall, while Barbera was 20th), but the team considered his results unsatisfying. As a result, he was not offered a contract for the 2018 season.

With the MotoGP grid completed, Baz started looking for a spot on the WorldSBK grid and he has now found it. The Althea BMW Racing Team has lined up on the SBK grid in 2017 with Jordi Torres and Raffaele de Rosa. Torres was a constant point scorer and finished the season 9th overall, having gathered 158 points.

photo credit – asphaltandrubber.com

Justin Barcia to replace injured Millsaps at Yamaha

After a heavy accident in a training session just right after he signed with Yamaha, Davi Millsaps will now miss the first six rounds of the World Supercross Championship.

In no time, Yamaha searched for a replacement rider so the Japanese team. After a short scrutiny they have decided to go on with Justin Barcia. Aged 25, Barcia will fill-in for Davi Millsaps in the first six rounds of the Supercross series.

Barcia was left without a bike for 2018 after he announced earlier this year that he will end his contract with his former team, JGR Suzuki at the end of this season,  In the first six races of the next season he will race alongside Cooper Webb at the Yamaha Factory Team.

 

photo – Yamaha Motor USA

Livio Suppo leaves Repsol Honda

In a major announcement made today, Livio Suppo announced his departure from Repsol Honda. Suppo, who was the Team Principal, has left the team after a successful eight years stint.

In this time, he helped the team to win six constructors championship and five riders championship (four with Marquez, one with Stoner). Before his time with Honda, he worked for Ducati, where he was a main factor in their 2007 success.

Suppo, aged 53, signed with Honda in 2010 and worked as Marketing Director for three seasons. From 2013 onwards he was the Team Principal, a position he held until his resignation.

It is yet unknown who will replace Livio Suppo. Also, there is no information about his future appointments.

 

Photo – Motorcycle News

KTM interested in Johann Zarco for 2019

In a brief interview, KTM’s CEO, Stefan Pierer has suggested that the Austrian team is interested in Johann Zarco’s services from 2019 onwards. At the moment, both Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith are signed for 2018.

Pierer has also stated that he’s interested to motorise a client in order to improve the factory team development. Rumors within the paddock have suggested that Marc VDS will race with KTM engines from 2019 engines and Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder to the team.

Johann Zarco made his MotoGP debut at the beginning of 2017 with Monster Energy Tech3 Yamaha. The Frenchman won both the Rookie Of the Year and Best Independent Rider awards as he finished sixth in the final standings.

 

Photo – Yamaha Racing

Dani Pedrosa wins Valencia thriller, Marc Marquez grabs his fourth MotoGP championship

After a formidable battle throughout the three free practices and the qualifying session, Marc Marquez scored his eight pole position of the season. His championship rival, Andrea Dovizioso managed to secure a place only on the third row of the grid, finishing the Saturday timed practice only ninth.

The debut of the race brought serious drama. Johann Zarco nearly took out both of the Hondas and with two dashing passing maneveurs he led the first part of the race. Behind the Zarco-Marquez-Pedrosa trio, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso had an absurd battle for the fourth. Further back, Yamaha was once again in misery after a shocking weekend with disastrous results.

While the race progressed, the tension in the Valencian air was overwhelming. First to make a mistake was Marc Marquez. While trying to pass Zarco for the lead, he braked too late and saved a fall with his right elbow. Following the recovery, he came back fifth in the race, with no serious chance to win the race.

A few minutes later, Jorge Lorenzo made a stupid mistake in Turn 5 and he lost the bike. Unfortunately for him, he was out of the race. At this point, Andrea Dovizioso had promoted to third but his satisfaction was short lived.

Soon after Lorenzo’s childish mistake, Andrea Dovizioso went out after a similar crash. Following his incident, his theoretical championship chances were over. Therefore, Marc Marquez secured his fourth MotoGP world title in five years and his sixth overall world championship.

The last laps were also very tense. In front, Johann Zarco and Dani Pedrosa exchanged places very often and at some point they nearly took out each other. In the end, it was Pedrosa who won the race and Zarco who had to stick with the second place.

Far behind them, but with the championship already in his pocket, Marc Marquez completed the podium of the race, with a distant third. Behind him, Alex Rins did a sensational race and brought home his Suzuki in fourth ahead of the likes of Valentino Rossi, Andrea Iannone, Cal Crutchlow or Maverick Vinales, who eventually finished only 12th.

In the final championship standings, Marc Marquez wins his fourth MotoGP title with a total of 298 points, 37 more than Andrea Dovizioso, who had to settle for the runner-up spot. Maverick Vinales finishes third, while Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi are the other two riders within the top five.

The 2018 season will start in March at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. Before that, the MotoGP riders will have the first official taste of the 2018 bike on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the first tests for the upcoming season will take place.

 

 

Photo – Honda Racing Corpoation