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

The rise of Joan Mir – from Replacement rider in 2015 to World Champion in 2017

Last Sunday in Australia, Leopard Racing rider Joan Mir scored a magnificent 9th win of the current Moto3 season at the Phillip Island circuit, thus becoming the new Moto3 World Champion. We will now make a short review of his season and of his performances prior to 2017. 

Before making his debut in the Moto3 World Championship, Joan Mir competed in the Red Bull Rookies Cup in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He was a constant point scorer in 2013, also notching a maiden podium finish at Silverstone (2nd place). He finished the season 9th overall. Already with one year of experience behind him, Mir was a contender for the championship in 2014. In spite of having scored 3 victories and 3 other podium finishes, Mir finished the season as a runner-up to Jorge Martin.

For 2015, Mir moved to the FIM CEV Moto3 Junior World Championship alongside Machado Leopard Junior Team. He managed to win 4 of the first 6 races of the season, but his lack of consistency (Mir failed to score points in no less than 4 races) put him in only 4th place in the final standings of the season.

Also, in 2015 Mir was given the first chance to shine on the World Stage. He took part in the Australian GP as a replacement for Leopard Racing rider Hiroki Ono. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he had to retire after an incident with John McPhee while battling inside the top 10.

However, his talent did not go unnoticed inside the Leopard Racing garage and he was offered a full ride with the team in 2016. He was a constant top 10 finisher in the first half of the season, with a best result of 6th on home turf in Jerez. Right after the summer break, Mir exploded on the then newly introduced in the calendar RedBull Ring, and took the win from eventual World Champion Brad Binder after starting from pole position. A second podium finish was scored in Misano, where he crossed the line in 3rd. After two consecutive retirements in Phillip Island and Sepang, Mir arrived at the season finale in Valencia with mathematical chances to clinch the Rookie of the Year title. The Valencian GP was Part Two of the Binder-Mir battle, with the Southafrican walking away victorious. However, with Bulega outside of the point zone, Mir finished 5th overall in the championship and clinched the Rookie of the Year title for five points.

Joan Mir remained in the lightweight class in 2017 and, with Brad Binder, Jorge Navarro and Francesco Bagnaia moving up to Moto2, he was considered a championship contender before the start of the season.

He rosed to the expectations and kicked-off the year with a stunning win under the lights of the Losail Circuit in Qatar, defeating John McPhee, Jorge Martin and Aron Canet after a hard-fought battle. He doubled up in Argentina, with the same 2 rivals alongside him on the podium, but in a more impressive manner, as he made his way up from P16 on the starting grid.

The American race held at COTA in Austin, Texas was a tough one for the championship leader, who crossed the line in 8th after qualifying 2nd on Saturday. However, the Spaniard did not let this result affect his morale and came back to podium ways in the next GP. In front of the home crowd at Jerez, Mir crossed the line in 3rd, losing out to winner Canet for only 0.155.

Only 9 points ahead of Romano Fenati before the French GP, the first place in the championship seemed in jeopardy as the Italian veteran took a flying start and got away at the front. However, Fenati crashed, throwing away crucial points in the championship. Mir took advantage and won the race for more than 4 seconds ahead of Aron Canet.

Leading the championship comfortably after Le Mans, Mir finished 7th in an insane Italian GP, before taking a magnificent 4th win of the season on home turf on Circuit de Catalunya.

A wrong strategy in the last lap of the Dutch GP caused an only 9th place finish for Mir on the TT Assen, but this motivated the Majorcan even more, as he went on to win the following 3 GPs (Germany, Brno and Austria). The pure domination of the Leopard Racing rider on the RedBull Ring, corroborated with Fenati s 13th place finish, increased the lead of Mir to 64 points with 7 races to go.

A red-flagged shortened British GP brought a 5th place for Mir, who still managed to finish ahead of key rival Fenati, who was 7th. In a rain soaked race at Misano Mir ran in safe mode, securing the 2nd place after the crash of Jorge Martin. In Aragon Joan Mir came back to the beast mode and clinched a record 8th win of the season, thus giving himself a first match point in Motegi.

Unfortunately, the Japanese GP was wet from start to finish and Mir was not able to repeat the performance from Misano. He crossed the line in 17th, which was his first race finished outside the point zone in 2017.

There was no reason to dispare for Mir as he came in Australia still with an impressing lead in the championship. In need of an at least 2nd place to wrap up the championship, Joan Mir took another resounding win in another race stopped by the red flag. Thus, he officially became the 2017 Moto3 World Champion, on the track on which he made his debut in the championship 2 years before.

Altough not so strong in qualifying sessions (Mir still lacks a pole position in 2017), most of the race days belonged entirely to Joan Mir, who now holds an absolute record in the Moto3 class – 9 wins in a single season. With 2 races to go, the Leopard Racing rider has the chance to equal the record for the most wins in a season in the lightweight class, which was established by Valentino Rossi in 1999 in the 125cc (11 wins).

Next year we will see the World Champion racing in the Moto2 class alongside powerhouse team EG 0,0 Marc VDS. Will he follow the steps of Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins and move to MotoGP with some wins in the class to his name? Or will he add his name to the list of lightweight class World Champions who turn from hero to zero after progressing to the intermmediate category? Time will give us the answer to this question, but, until then, we must leave in the present. And, in the present, Joan Mir is the new Moto3 World Champion.

#MiracleM1R

photo credit – motogp.com