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