Author: Sienna Wedes

Not in this modern era of MotoGP racing have we experienced a championship as close as this one. It’s 2017 and a mere 11 points separates the first four riders in the championship, followed by Dani Pedrosa with a close 28 points in 5th. Andrea Dovizioso, Maverick Vinales, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are the riders currently battling it out for the 2017 MotoGP World Title and its a mystery to all who will come out victorious in the end.

Since the introduction of the current points system in 1993 we have not experienced a close championship like the one we are currently witnessing. In the past, championships have been determined by a vast lead by one rider or a consistent fight between two particular riders. This year not only have 5 different riders won in 8 different races but the top 4 challenging each other for the championship have crashed out of at least one race each in the 8 they have taken part in. The lack of consistency of race wins, difficult tyre adaptation and the difference in bikes at each track has given riders the opportunity to keep challenging for the big reward and nevertheless kept the championship wide open.

Current championship leader Andrea Dovizioso in a seemingly state of denial is finally letting it sink in that he is in the lead. After 2 incredible victories in Mugello and Barcelona, Dovizioso’s confidence is ever growing “Anything can happen, but my confidence is really good and the feeling on the bike is good. I have a really good team and working hard”. Since his premier class debut in 2008 Dovizioso has not been able to attain a world title, his realistic point of view, focus and hard work with Ducati has created a platform which has enabled him to fight for victories and overall the title lead “Sounds strange, I am so happy with how we have worked. We have worked really hard in the last 5 years and to be in this situation is really nice. We have to keep working, especially in the last few races we worked really hard”. With this mentality, progress and hard work he is and will continue to be a threat.

Running close in 2nd is Maverick Vinales, the Movistar Yamaha newbie. His adaptation to the Yamaha machine has been a work of art and a privilege to witness. After leading the championship for sometime during the MotoGP season Vinales has found himself knocked off the top step after a small mistake at the Assen TT “It is always better leading. We make many mistake this season but we learn. Especially in the wet condition in Assen. We have a chance to work hard now”. This is something Vinales doesn’t do often and also will work hard on to make sure won’t happen again “It has been really difficult because every race we have different tyres and sometimes you cannot concentrate on yourself, your riding style. You are focusing on tyres. At the moment our bike is quite good”. Vinales has also found himself victim of Rossi’s mind games and through pure third party observation looks confident but stressed with his position. Nevertheless Vinales looks hungrier than ever to fight for his first MotoGP title even against his nine times World Champion teammate “I am happy, I am motivated. I have a good riding condition”

With all eyes on the prize, Valentino Rossi is within arms reach of a 10th world title. A title 5 short of motorsport royalty Giacomo Agostini. Throughout the season we have seen Rossi’s struggle to make a good qualifying. In saying that, The Doctor’s experience in the MotoGP class has enabled him to consistently work his way to the front “From one race to another the situation changes a lot. You have to work well through the season and with the bike and also with the tyres to arrive ready on Sunday” and now successfully labelling him as a race winner after his victory in Assen which switched up the championship once again “It is very close, there are lots of riders. A lot of different bikes and very close. Never like this before the situation change so much. Everything is open”. Here in Sachsenring, there are many variables to consider before predicting a race winner “It is very important I have to be competitive here. It is a different track to Assen. Looks like the weather forecast is quite bad for the weekend. It will be very important to be ready”. Everything can change in an instant on race day. It’s a daily process for all riders.

A small 11 points behind is last years World Champion Marc Marquez “It is so difficult to understand the championship. Two races ago I was nearly out of the battle because I was falling behind Maverick and now I am just 11 points behind there. It is really long, we need to work hard. Still I keep pushing, even that I did a few mistakes in the season, we are fighting, we are there. So, happy and we will continue with the same mentality”. Marquez’s strong point you ask, “Always I am there, maybe never the fastest one but always there even on wet, dry, slippery”. This consistency of always being in the battle will continue to drive him up the ladder and no doubt keep him a sharp competitor. The Honda bike may not be the strongest in the first part of the season yet they are always working, always there and always fighting to get the best performance out of a bad or tough situation. Comparatively, where the Honda machine shines the combination of Marquez and his team is a true love affair that just feels oh so right.

It is also essential not to rule out Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa from this championship. Although he has not won a World Championship title in his MotoGP career his experience and speed never knocks him out of the running. In theory 28 points sounds dramatically larger than 11 separating riders 1-4 but it is important to remember the experience and passion Pedrosa has for this sport. This alone is enough to see him never too far away. All four riders believe that Pedrosa is still a threat to the title, Dovizioso ensures us that “Dani is very strong, he is really fast. For sure he has a change to fight for the championship. It is easy to make a mistake, it is easy to lose a lot of points if the weekend is going wrong. If the bike doesn’t fit the best for the tyres. It is easy to ride 5th, 6th or 7th. For sure it is open”. Further Rossi believes you can never rule out a rider close by, let a lone an experienced rider like Pedrosa “For sure the situation of Pedrosa explains this championship. I think before Assen I was 5th and 28 points behind maybe and Pedrosa was in front of me. After Assen I am 3rd with 7 points I think and looks like Pedrosa is out of the game but this isn’t true because in Assen he didn’t feel good with the bike, he wasn’t strong in all the condition but here in Sachsenring he will be one of the main rivals because Pedrosa here in Sachsenring is always able to be very strong. I don’t think we can forget Pedrosa because 28 points is just a little bit more than one race”

Certain bikes fit certain tracks just like certain riders fit certain circuits, this has given all riders the opportunity to fight for victories, podiums and title contention. 2017’s change of teams, technology and constant tyre development has kept the fans on their toes, teams working tirelessly and riders fighting for the best results possible. Who will lead the championship heading into mid-season break? A question on the tip of every fan, team member and MotoGP rider’s lips. It’s a question nobody has the answer to, yet.

Credit: Repsol Honda MotoGP Team

Credit: Ducati Corse Press

Credit: Ducati Corse Press

Credit: Movistar Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team