2017 MotoGP Season Preview

In this article, Dhruv George looks at the forthcoming MotoGP season, and the changes on the grid in Moto3, Moto2, and in the premier MotoGP category for 2017.

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Marc Marquez of Spain of Repsol Honda Team during the colective tests of Moto GP at Circuito de Valencia Ricardo Tormo on November 12th, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.

With the 2016 season long gone and the 2017 season almost upon us, MotoGP fans all around the world have a lot to look forward to. Some riders left, new faces will greet the field and more importantly, the game of musical chairs finally sorted itself out. So heading into the new season, let us breakdown these changes. The 2017 calendar remains largely unchanged from 2016. Additionally, there has been a lot of chopping and changing down the grid in all three classes.

Moto3:

Peugeot MC Saxoprint: #84 Jakub Kornfeil (CZE), #4 Patrik Pulkkinen (FIN)

Ongetta-Rivacold: #5 Romano Fenati (ITA), #95 Jules Danilo (FRA)

AGR Team: #6 Maria Herrera (ESP)

SIC Racing Team: #7 Adam Norrodin, #71 Ayumu Sasaki (JPN)

Sky Racing Team VR46: #8 Nicolò Bulega (ITA), #16 Andrea Migno (ITA)

Leopard Racing: #11 Livio Loi (BEL), #36 Joan Mir (ESP)

Aspar Team Moto3: #12 Albert Arenas (ESP), #48 Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA)

SIC58 Squadra Corse: #14 Tony Arbolino (ITA), #24 Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN)

GB Team: #17 John McPhee (GBR)

RBA Racing Team: #19 Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG), #58 Juanfran Guevara (ESP)

Gresini Racing Team: #21 Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA), #88 Jorge Martin (ESP)

Red Bull KTM Ajo: #23 Niccolò Antonelli (ITA), #64 Bo Bendsneyder (NED)

Honda Team Asia: #27 Kaito Toba (JPN), #41 Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (THA)

Estrella Galicia: #33 Enea Bastianini (ITA), #44 Aron Canet (ESP)

Platinum Bay Real Estate: #40 Darryn Binder (RSA), #42 Marcos Ramírez (ESP)

CIP-Unicom Starker: #53 Marco Bezzecchi (ITA), #99 Enzo Boulom (FRA)

Schedl GP Racing: #65 Philipp Öettl (GER)

Rookies

  • Pulkkinen, Sasaki, Arbolino, Toba and Atiratphuvapat make their debuts.
  • SIC58 Squadra Corse will make their debut this season
  • Boulom, Bezzecchi, Ramírez, Arenas and Dalla Porta will make their full time debuts.

Rider Swaps

  • Kornfeil switched from the SIC Racing Team to join Peugeot
  • Fenati landed a seat with Ongetta-Rivacold from Sky VR46
  • Herrera switched from the MH6 team to the AGR Team
  • Loi switched from RW Racing to Leopard Racing
  • Suzuki shifted to SIC58 from CIP
  • McPhee switched from Saxoprint to the Dorna backed Team GB
  • Martin moved to Gresini from Aspar
  • Antonelli moved to Red Bull KTM Ajo
  • Bastianini moved to Estrella Galicia from Gresini

In The News

Team GB was initially supposed to be backed by British broadcaster BT Sport as a means to promote British talent but talks have bee put on hold for now since the team is looking for a long-term commitment. So Dorna and Alberto Puig, the former manager of Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, stepped in to run the team. BT Sports are now waiting to secure a five-year deal to secure the right to broadcast MotoGP from 2018 onwards.

Moto2:

CarXpert Interwetten: #2 Jesko Raffin (SUI), #12 Tom Luthi (SUI), #27 Iker Lecuona (ESP)

Italtrans Racing Team: #5 Andrea Locatelli (ITA), #54 Mattia Pasini (ITA)

Forward Team: #7 Lorenzo Baldassari (ITA), #10 Luca Marini (ITA)

Federal Oil Gresini: #9 Jorge Navarro (ESP)

Dynavolt Intact GP: #11 Sandro Cortese (GER), #23 Marcel Schrotter (GER)

Tasca Racing: #19 Xavier Simeon (BEL)

Marc VDS: #21 Franco Morbidelli (ITA), #73 Alex Marquez (ESP)

Speed Up: #24 Simone Corsi (ITA), #47 Axel Bassani (ITA)

Idemitsu Honda Team Asia: #30 Takaaki Nakagami (JPN), #89 Khairul Idham Pawi (MAL)

SAG Team: #32 Isaac Vinales (ESP), #45 Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN)

Páginas Amarillas HP 40: #40 Fabio Quartararo (FRA), #57 Edgar Pons (ESP)

Red Bull KTM Ajo: #41 Brad Binder (RSA), #44 Miguel Oliveira (POR)

Sky Racing Team VR46: #42 Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), #62 Stefano Manzi (ITA)

RW Racing: #49 Axel Pons (ESP)

Kiefer Racing: #52 Danny Kent (GBR), #77 Dominique Aegerter (SUI)

Petronas Raceline Malaysia: #55 Hafizh Syahrin (MAL)

AGR Team: #68 Yonny Hernandez (COL)

Tech 3: #87 Remy Gardner (AUS), #97 Xavi Vierge (ESP)

Rookies

  • Navarro, Locatelli, Bassani, Pawi, Quartararo, Binder, Bagnaia and Manzi make their Moto2 debuts
  • Tetsuta Nagashima and Iker Lecuona make their full time debut
  • Yonny Hernandez is bumped down from MotoGP
  • Remy Gardner also gets a full time seat
  • Ajo Motorsport collaborate with Red Bull KTM
  • Sky Racing VR46 expand their operations to Moto2
  • Kiefer Racing replaces Leopard Racing

Rider Swaps

  • Jesko Raffin moves from SAG Team to CarXpert
  • Marcel Schrotter switches from AGR to Dynavolt
  • Xavier Simeon switches from QMMF, who left the sport, to Tasca Racing
  • Isaac Vinales switches from Tech 3 to SAG replacing Raffin
  • Miguel Oliveira leaves Leopard racing to join Red Bull KTM Ajo
  • Axel Pons leaves AGR to join RW Racing
  • Dominique Aegerter partners Danny Kent at Kiefer Racing, thus ending a  seven year partnership with Technomag Interwetten
  • Remy Gardner leaves Tasca Racing to partner Xavi Vierge at Tech 3

In The News

QMMF team withdrew from the championship for this season, thus allowing Speed Up to field two bikes.

MotoGP

Aprilia Racing Team Gresini: #22 Sam Lowes (GBR), #41 Aleix Espargaro (ESP)

Ducati Team: #04 Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), #99 Jorge Lorenzo (ESP)

Octo Pramac Yaknich: #9 Danilo Petrucci (ITA), #45 Scott Redding (GBR)

Avintia Racing: #8 Hector Barbera (ESP), #76 Loris Baz (FRA)

Pull and Bear Aspar Team: #17 Karel Abraham (CZE), #19 Alvaro Bautista (ESP)

Estrella Galicia Marc VDS: #43 Jack Miller (AUS), #53 Tito Rabat (ESP)

Repsol Honda Team: #26 Dani Pedrosa (ESP), #93 Marc Marquez (ESP)

LCR Honda: #35 Cal Crutchlow (GBR)

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: #38 Bradley Smith (GBR), #44 Pol Espargaro (ESP)

Team Suzuki Ecstar: #29 Andrea Iannone (ITA), #42 Alex Rins (ESP)

Monster Yamaha Tech 3: #5 Johann Zarco (FRA), #94 Jonas Folger (GER)

Movistar Yamaha: #46 Valentino Rossi (ITA), #25 Maverick Vinales (ESP)

Rookies

  • Lowes, Rins, Zarco and Folger make their debuts in the premier class

Rider Swaps

  • Aleix Espargaro left Suzuki and joined Aprilia
  • Andrea Iannone took up the place vacated by Espargaro
  • Jorge Lorenzo replaces Iannone at Ducati
  • Maverick Vinales completes the cycle by taking up Lorenzo’s Yamaha slot
  • Karel Abraham returns to MotoGP in the place of Yonny Hernandez who was bumped down to Moto2
  • Stefan Bradl (GER) and Eugene Laverty (IRL) switch to Superbikes for 2017
  • Smith and Pol Espargaro leave Monster Yamaha and join newcomers KTM
  • Bautista leaves Aprilia and joins Aspar

In The News

To make the fans more involved in the races with the help of an automated system for identifying the tyre compounds used by each rider. Also any rider who makes the cut into Q2 has the opportunity to use an extra rear tyre for the pole shoot-out. One stand-out feature in 2016 was the set of winglets on the Ducati and the Yamaha, but this season the FIM has banned the use of winglts.

Team Talk

Aprilia: In 2016, Aprilia introduced a new frame for better traction. This season, the aim is to improve braking and cornering, more RPM and more power. Romano Albesiano (Race Director, Aprilia) also has an improved chassis balance in mind.

Honda: Honda had been disadvantaged by Dorna’s traction control and the bike was highly unstable. As a result, the team switched to an engine setting that would help reduce wheelspin. Honda’s top speed is also the slowest off the big four manufacturers. Honda will be hoping for better corner exit performance to aid them in 2017.

Yamaha: Yamaha started off strong but fizzled out by the halfway point in the 2016 season. One of the issues was the inability to find the right balance. With too little weight up front caused the riders to lose the front end. Similarly, too little weight at the rear caused a chunk of wheelspin. Another problem was that the bike was simply eating up the rear tyres and causing the bike to slip and slide. Yamaha will be aiming to address these issues for this season.

Ducati: Ducati won two races in 2016 and they will be hoping to add to that tally in 2017. Ducati’s main issue was the front end but the situation has improved a little. Undoubtedly, the winglet ban will hobble the Italian squad but they had been getting to the bottom of it with the help of test rider #27 Casey Stoner (AUS). The team will compromise on acceleration but can make up for it in top speed and a smoother change in direction while turning due to the decreased downforce.

Suzuki: Suzuki achieved new heights under the heels of Maverick Vinales who delivered a win in the dry for the team. It was also the second fastest bike after the Ducati. Another advantage that Suzuki had was that the bike was more front end oriented so they were able to adapt to the Michelin tyres easier.

KTM: KTM are the real dark horses this season. The team timed their entry almost to perfection with Dorna’s unified software and the Michelin tyres also being added to the mix. Even their decision to race in Valencia was a stroke of genius because they were able to identify the key problems to work on over the winter.
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