Wheelies 30 – 28. Valentino Rossi (-20)

Our annual Wheelies 30 continues with a legendary figure.

If anyone said that Valentino Rossi will finish fifth this season, they would have been called mad. The sad reality of Rossi’s underperformance is far more complex than what we saw on our TV screens.

Though he had a reasonable first part of the season, with a gigantic win at Assen, he never was in a real position to fight for the world championship. Much more than that, Maverick Vinales dominated him throughout the whole year.

Definitely his bad performances were also technically related, as the Yamaha bike was underperforming, but he cannot blame entirely the team. Without his training crash prior to Misano, he would have had theoretical chances to win the championship.

Most likely, 2018 will be his last season. If the bike doesn’t deliver and if he doesn’t step up his game to fight against the young guns, Valentino Rossi will have no chance to win his desired tenth world championship. If he does, he will be once again a title contender as he was in 2015 when he deserved the big trophy.

 

Photo – Yamaha Racing

Wheelies 30 – 30. Alex Rins (New Entry)

Today we start the second edition of Wheelies 30, an annual top 30 which comprises the best riders of 2017 from all the motorcycling competitions throughout the world.

A rookie starts Wheelies 30. As a new entry in this top, Alex Rins seems a very good prospect for the future in MotoGP. The spanish rider had a difficult rookie year in the premier class.

He started the year on a high with a ninth place finish in Qatar, but after an injury, he missed several races. At mid point in the championship, he only had those seven points obtained at Losail.

The second half of the championship was much, much better for Rins. Several top five finishes and the unreal chance to fight for the win in Australia raised several eye brows. His best finish came in the last round, in Valencia, where he ended fourth.

We should not be mistaken by his championship place, as he managed to finished only 16th. In some of the races, he was a main eventer and he’ll definitely be a top gun in the years to come.

 

Photo – www.suzuki-racing.com

 

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

Title fight goes down to the wire in the final round as Dovizioso wins in Sepang

Andrea Dovizioso got his 6th win of the current season on the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. Jorge Lorenzo and Johann Zarco completed the podium. 

Rain made its appearance in the dying moments of the Moto2 race and persisted for some time, so the premier class race was declared wet.

Johann Zarco made an impressive start from 2nd on the grid and took the lead from Pedrosa after Turn 1. The poleman was also overtaken by Lorenzo, Marquez and Dovizioso.

The Frenchman managed to pull a gap between him and his followers, as a battle for 3rd emerged between the title contenders – Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso. Having shown on both Friday and Saturday an impressive rhytm at the venue in both dry and wet conditions, the Ducati rider rosed to the expectations and went past Marquez, leaving the championship leader uncapable of fighting back.

Now in 2nd and 3rd, the Ducati duo started chasing down the race leader. Zarco s tyre started to show signs of weakness and his pace dropped considerably. As a result, he was overtaken by both Lorenzo and Dovizioso.

Lorenzo managed to put a gap of more than one second between him and his teammate, but ”SuperDovi” was able to recover it. His mission was eased by a mistake made by Lorenzo in the final corner – the Spaniard ran wide and almost crashed.

From then on, Lorenzo did not cause any headaches to Dovizioso and the Italian got his 6th win of 2017. Jorge Lorenzo scored his third podium finish of the year and a new career best on the Ducati, while Johann Zarco impressed once again in his debut season and clinched the last step on the podium.

Marquez rode a solitary race in 4th, with teammate and poleman Dani Pedrosa completing the Top 5. Danilo Petrucci had an impressive comeback from the last place on the grid. The Italian climbed all the way up to P6, crossing the line ahead of Valentino Rossi. Maverick Vinales crossed the line only in P9, completing another terrible performance for the Yamaha Movistar team, who once again proved that they do not stand any chance in wet conditions. In P8, separating the Yamaha duo, was Jack Miller, while the Top 10 was rounded up by KTM rider Pol Espargaro.

After two difficult GPs in Japan and Australia, Alvaro Bautista came back to point ways with a P11 finish. Bradley Smith followed him in P12, completing another double point finish for KTM. The last points were snatched by Scott Redding, Hector Barbera and Cal Crutchlow.

Riders to have crashed during the race were Loris Baz, Karel Abraham, Sam Lowes and Alex Rins. All riders ok.

In the championship standings, with Marquez only fourth in the Malaysian GP, the difference between him and Dovizioso has been chopped to 21 points (282-261), with 25 still up for grabs. So, the fight goes right down to the wire in Valencia. Maverick Vinales has now secured 3rd, as he has 226 points, 29 more than Valentino Rossi, who will have to defend 4th against Dani Pedrosa, as the Spaniard sits only 12 points behind ”The Doctor”.

photo credit – www.andreadovizioso.com

Michael van der Mark will replace Jonas Folger at Sepang

After being absent in the last two rounds, Jonas Folger will also miss the Malaysian GP. Unfortunately, the german rider didn’t manage to cure his Epstein-Barr virus so far and he will most likely miss the last round of the season in Valencia as well.

Given this problem, Tech3 announced that Michael van der Mark will replace Folger at Sepang. van der Mark, aged 24, will finally make his MotoGP debut after being snubbed by Valentino Rossi’s return to action at MotorLand Aragon.

Initially, van der Mark was announced as the replacement rider for Rossi, but, given the italian’s sudden comeback, he was ruled out for the third spanish week of the season.

Michael van der Mark will make his MotoGP debut next week. The young dutch rider is currently riding for Yamaha in the Superbike series, where he is currently sixth in the standings.

 

Photo – Yamaha Racing

 

Broc Parks will replace Jonas Folger at the Yamaha Tech3 in the Australian GP

Aussie rider Broc Parks will take part in the MotoGP Australian GP as a replacement for Jonas Folger in the Yamaha Tech3 Team. This will be the first appearance for Parks in the premier class of the World Championship since the 2015 Valencian GP. 

Jonas Folger came back to Germany before the Japanese GP to undertake blood tests for the suspected Epstein Barr virus.

The French team is ready to welcome local hero Broc Parks for the Australian GP, a name well known by the motorsport addicts. The Aussie is a double Supersport World Championship runner-up, in 2004 and 2007, and a former rider in both World Superbike and MotoGP.

He raced as a full-time rider in MotoGP during the 2014 season alongside Paul Bird Motorsport. He finished 23th overall, having gathered 9 points.

photo credit – motogp.com

Striking back – Dovizioso pips Marquez in Motegi as the title fight rages on

Andrea Dovizioso took the win on Sunday in the Japanese Grand Prix after a magnificent duel with championship leader Marc Marquez. Danilo Petrucci completed the podium.

Pole starter Johann Zarco could not keep up with the pace of his rivals and was overtaken by Jorge Lorenzo, Danilo Petrucci, Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso.

In spite of the amazing start, Lorenzo was another one to drop, as in the fifth lap he was already in P8. Petrucci took control of the race, with title contenders Marquez and Dovizioso closely following.

The Yamaha Movistar riders started well and settled inside the top 10 in the opening laps, looking capable of battling for at least the top 5. Unfortunately, disaster struck for Valentino Rossi on Lap 6, as the nine-time World Champion crashed heavily out of the race.

Danilo Petrucci managed to pull a little gap at the front, but later in the race Marquez and Dovizioso caught up with him and passed him. There was nothing the Pramac Ducati rider could do.

Then, Andrea Dovizioso also went up in P1, becoming the 5th different leader of the race. Marquez fought back and regained his lead.

The duo entered the last lap with Marquez in front. The Spaniard managed to pull a little gap which seemed to be enough for the win, but a mistake which almost provoked a highside for him allowed Dovizioso to re-enter the battle for the win. The power of the Ducati engine proved crucial on the backstraight as the Italian overtook Marquez. The Honda rider hit back in the last corner but ran wide, allowing Dovizioso to get him back on the inside, just like two months ago in Spielberg.

Dovizioso clinched the win for 0.249. Petrucci came home 3rd, more than 10 seconds behind Marquez, securing his 4th podium finish of the season. As the battle for P1 raged on and caught the eye of the public, the Suzuki riders were running their race of the season, making their way through the pack to eventually finish 4th and 5th, respectively, with Andrea Iannone ahead of Alex Rins. Jorge Lorenzo managed to recover some positions and finished 6th, almost 4 seconds ahead of Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro. Poleman Johann Zarco crossed the line in 8th, ahead of Maverick Vinales, who received another massive blow to his championship chances.

Loris Baz locked out the top 10, with Pol Espargaro securing important points for KTM in P11. 36 year old wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga showed his experience on home turf and finished 12th, while Sam Lowes scored his second point-finish of the season with P13. The last points available were grabbed by Spaniards Hector Barbera and Esteve Rabat.

Except for Valentino Rossi, other crashers were Kohta Nozane, Cal Crutchlow, Karel Abraham and Alvaro Bautista- riders ok, while Dani Pedrosa retired due to technical issues.

In the championship standings, the lead of Marc Marquez ahead of Dovizioso is cut down to 11 points (244-233). Maverick Vinales remains 3rd, with 203 points, while Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi round up the top 5, with 170 and 168 points, respectively.

photo credit – Ducati Service Press

Another wildcard for Kallio – The Finn will take part in the season finale

KTM test rider Mika Kallio has been given another opportunity to race in MotoGP in 2017 as he will represent the Austrian manufacturer at the final race of the season in Valencia.

The 34-year old veteran has already raced in 3 GPs in the current season. After barely missing out on the points zone in Sachsenring, where he finished 16th, the Finnish rider took a sensational 10th on home turf for his manufacturer in Austria.

Kallio also impressed last time out at the Aragon GP, where he finished 11th, after running in the top 10 for the most of the race.

Throughout his long and fruitful career, Kallio has raced as a full-time rider in the premier class only in 2009 and 2010. If he mantains his great form, KTM might consider offering him a full ride next year, thus relegating Bradley Smith, whose results are going from bad to worse, to the status of test rider.

Apart from Mika Kallio, Michelle Pirro will also be present at the Valencian GP as an wildcard for the Ducati Team. This way, the field size for the season finale is enlarged to 25 bikes.

photo credit – KTM PRESS CENTER

And another one – Marquez stamps his authority on MotorLand Aragon

Marc Marquez took a resounding win on home turf in Aragon after a hard fought race. Dani Pedrosa completed a Repsol Honda one-two, while Jorge Lorenzo made it an 100% Spanish podium. 

The scenario of the start was one with whom we got used to, as Jorge Lorenzo stormed into the lead after Turn 1. Valentino Rossi also went past poleman Vinales.

As Lorenzo was pulling a gap at the front, Vinales made a mistake and went wide, losing 2 more positions in favour of Dovizioso and Marquez.

Rossi, with Dovi and Marquez behind him, managed to catch up with Lorenzo, but ”the Doctor” was not able to overtake.

As the laps were passing, Marquez decided to make a move on Dovizioso. There was nothing the Ducati rider could do. Marquez quickly went past Rossi, too.

Lorenzo s soft rear tyre started to show signs of weakness and ”the Spartan” s pace dropped. He was overtaken by Marquez and, in spite of having fought back, he had to recognize himself defeated.

The dying laps were approaching and they brought with them an amazing Dani Pedrosa. ”The Baby Samurai” made his way through Vinales, Rossi and Dovizioso and settled in 3rd. He seemed capable of engaging in the battle for victory, but he was only able to go past Lorenzo in P2.

Just like his teammate, Dovizioso also lost the rhytm in the final part of the race and was overtaken by Aleix Espargaro, falling down in 7th.

Marc Marquez crossed the line in 1st place for the second race in a row and for the fifth time this season, showing once again why the MotorLand is his favourite track in the calendar. Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo came back on the podium ways, while Maverick Vinales managed to get past Valentino Rossi and finish 4th.

Rossi completed the top 5 on his comeback race, only 24 days after sustaining tibia and fibula fracture. Impressive indeed, even though his championship chances have most probably been check-mated.

Aleix Espargaro was another home hero who impressed, taking his Aprilia up to P6. Andrea Dovizioso resisted Alvaro Bautista s efforts to secure P7, while the best rookie was Johann Zarco in P9. Positions 10-11 were taken by KTM, with Pol Espargaro ahead of wildcard Mika Kallio.

Andrea Iannone finished 12th and finally scored some points after two consecutive retirements. Jack Miller and Scott Redding were 13th and 14th, respectively, while the last point was grabbed by Tito Rabat.

Cal Crutchlow and Karel Abraham were the only crashers – riders ok.

In the championship standings, Marc Marquez reaches 224 points. Andrea Dovizioso remains second, with 208 points, while Maverick Vinales suffers a blow to his championship chances as he sits 3rd with 196 points. Dani Pedrosa goes in 4th with 170 points, 2 more than Valentino Rossi.

photo credit – Repsol Honda Team

 

Rossi passes medical test in Aragon

Valentino Rossi has been declared fit to take part in this week-end s Aragon GP.

The medical examination was mandatory and it was carried out by the Chrief Medical Officer of the Motorland Aragon, Cllemente Milan.

Fortunately, the 9-time World Champion passed it fit and he will take part in FP1, only 3 weeks after sustaining tibia and fibula fractures in the right leg.

In case that Valentino Rossi decides after FP1 that he will withdraw from the GP due to pain, he will be replaced in the reminder of the GP by Dutch rider Michael van der Mark.

photo credit – motogp.com