2017 Valencia MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: When Team Orders Go Bad, And Other Miracles

In a season which has been rammed to the rafters with drama, it is entirely appropriate that the final round of the year should be just as dramatic. It was partly to be expected, of course, with a championship at stake. Sure, Marc Márquez entered the weekend with a nigh insurmountable 21-point lead. But he still had to finish at least eleventh or else hope that Andrea Dovizioso did not win the race.

Things were looking good after qualifying: Márquez would be starting from pole, while Dovizioso would have to line up on the third row of the grid. Between the two, a host of fast rivals capable of getting in the way of Dovizioso's charge to the front, and perhaps even depriving him of the race win by taking victory in their own right.

By the time the checkered flag fell at the end of the race, enough had happened to fill a Greek epic. Team orders and betrayal, crashes and near crashes, deceit and disguise, secret swapping of bikes, and a bunch or people finishing much higher than any had a right to expect. An intriguing winner, a rider deprived of victory, and at last, a champion crowned. If the 17 races before Valencia had generated plenty to talk about, the final race of the year topped it all.

Strategy vs tactics

In a way, a gap of 21 points made the race a little more complicated than it might have been otherwise. Strategy would be vital, both for Marc Márquez, chasing his fourth MotoGP title, and for Ducati, looking to win their first championship since 2007. Should Márquez try to push early and hard to chase the win, taking risks in the hope of maintaining focus? Should he play it safe and try to cruise around inside the top ten, but risk losing concentration and making a costly mistake? Was it better to be out front and risk crashing, or to hang with the top five and put yourself in harm's way with a feisty front group including Andrea Iannone and Johann Zarco?

The decisions were no easier for Ducati. The first order of business was to get Dovizioso near enough to the front that he could launch an assault on the lead. But with his Ducati teammate Jorge Lorenzo starting ahead of him, would it be better for Lorenzo to try to get to the front and put himself in a position to get out of Dovizioso's way if the Italian made it to the leaders? Should Lorenzo get in front of Dovizioso and offer him a wheel, towing him as far up the field as possible? Or should the Spaniard merely stand aside as quickly as possible and leave Dovizioso to his own devices?

Then there were the others. Dani Pedrosa could help his Repsol Honda teammate by trying to win the race, or at the very least finishing ahead of Andrea Dovizioso. Johann Zarco was chasing his first win, Andrea Iannone a first podium with Suzuki, but neither were keen to get caught up in controversy around the title battle.

Who decides?

All of these strategies and more were discussed by the factories and teams involved. Contingency plans were drawn up, team bosses talked to riders, riders talked to teams, riders and teams agreed on what information to show on pit boards, factories decided on dashboard messages, and told riders how such messages should be involved.

In the end, though, no matter what strategy you draw up, it is up to the riders to act on it. Riders may choose to ignore a pit board or dashboard message, or like Jorge Lorenzo at Malaysia, not see it if conditions are bad enough. Or perhaps ignore it, and then claim not to have seen it.

Break the resistance

When the lights went out, Marc Márquez' chosen strategy appeared to be to try to make a break at the front. The Spaniard shot off the line and into the lead, but not as fast as his Repsol Honda teammate from the second row of the grid. The two swerved towards each other as they headed into Turn 1, narrowly averting early disaster as Pedrosa just missed Márquez' rear wheel.

Andrea Iannone followed the two Hondas, leading from Jorge Lorenzo and Johann Zarco. But Zarco had his eyes on the prize, and by the time they hit Turn 11, Zarco was already up to third position, having slid gracefully through underneath Andrea Iannone.

Behind Iannone, Jorge Lorenzo was coming, and with him Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Dovizioso had got the start he needed, firing up into sixth off the start and latching onto the back wheel of his teammate. Lorenzo got past Iannone on the second lap, Dovizioso following suit a couple of corners later. The front five – the Repsol Honda and Factory Ducati teams, along with Johann Zarco of Tech 3 – would slowly edge away. This was the group that would settle the race between them, and with the race, the championship.

Spoiler alert

If Márquez' plan had been to break away at the front, Johann Zarco was in no mood to go along with it. Zarco had quickly made his way past Dani Pedrosa, then spent the next two laps hunting down Márquez. The Frenchman got past on the way into Turn 6, and immediately started to pull a gap. He never really got clear of Márquez, but his advantage was enough that he could ride without fear of attack.

Zarco and Márquez inched away from Pedrosa, while behind the Repsol Honda rider, the Factory Ducati riders gathered. Lorenzo chased Pedrosa, but an increasingly impatient looking Andrea Dovizioso was hovering on the tail of his teammate. The Italian closed up in the first half of the track, but then had to let him go a little in the second half of the track, never really getting close enough to launch an attack of his own at the first corner, the easiest and most obvious place to pass.

"Suggested" Mapping

This went on for the first third of the race, and when Lorenzo started to lose touch with Pedrosa, the factory Ducati team could bear it no more. "Suggested Mapping: Mapping 8" appeared on Lorenzo's dashboard, the same message which had been shown at Sepang.

Was it a gentle reminder to switch engine mapping, now that the first part of the race had taken the fresh edge off the tires? Lorenzo's failure to move aside and let Dovizioso through suggested that this might well be the case. But when it appeared again on the dashboard five laps later, the pretense was dropped. Another lap later and Lorenzo's pit board had an instruction to drop one place, allowing Dovizioso through. Ducati simply could not have made it any clearer.

Whether in code on the dashboard, or in plain language on the pit board, the messages failed to have their intended effect. Jorge Lorenzo did not move aside and let Dovizioso through, but stayed ahead of him. He had by now upped his pace, and was closing on Pedrosa again, dragging Dovizioso along in his wake. The messages kept coming, on both dashboard and pit board, but Lorenzo kept ignoring them. Yet despite that, Dovizioso was moving into his best position of the race, looking over the shoulder of his teammate at Pedrosa ahead, and Zarco and Márquez just in front of them.

That situation would cause the media to explode with discussions on team orders, and just how badly Ducati wanted Lorenzo to follow them. But all that would come after the flag had fallen. First, the race had a surprise or two up its sleeve. Things were about to get even more interesting than they had been.

Battle unfolds

As the race approached two-thirds distance, Dani Pedrosa started creeping closer to Márquez and Zarco. Taking this as his cue, Márquez considered his options. The Spaniard felt he had better pace than Zarco, and sitting behind him was causing his focus to lapse. "When I was behind him, I was able to be much faster," Márquez said after the race. "I was even losing the concentration. I was doing some stupid mistakes because I was not riding on my way. Then he did a mistake and I overtook, but I saw that he was aggressive."

Márquez and Zarco had swapped places earlier, but the Frenchman is from the same school of racing as Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi: if someone passes you, you must pass straight back. The Honda and the Yamaha danced round each other between Turn 2 and Turn 4, Zarco taking back the lead from Márquez with a fierce pass back underneath. Márquez' distraction was evident: after that pass, he sat up and looked back, fretting about where Dovizioso might be.

Four laps later, after snapping at Zarco's back wheel, Márquez saw his chance. The Frenchman entered the final corner a fraction wide, opening the door for Márquez to slip through. In previous years, the Honda would not have stood a chance against a Yamaha out of Turn 14, but the big bang engine proved its worth. Márquez crossed the line ahead of Zarco, but he could hear the Frenchman coming. The sound of Zarco's rapidly approaching M1 did nothing to soothe Márquez' nerves.

Márquez Style

"When I passed him in the last corner I was scared, because I feel like his bike was close. I tried to brake later for try to avoid a critical moment, but I put myself to a critical moment." That critical moment was, as Márquez himself put it after the race, 'Márquez style'. He lost the front going into Turn 1, the front wheel closing at full left lock. Márquez balanced the bike on his knee and his elbow, holding on in the hope the front would come back to him as smoke poured off the front tire. The rear finally gripped and he could flip the bike back up again as he headed to the edge of the hard standing on the outside of Turn 1. With something resembling control, he ran off the track and through the gravel, rejoining behind the Ducatis and several seconds behind.

Márquez analyzed the crash after the race. "First of all, I arrive in the end of the straight and I feel like some bike was very close to me and then I brake too late. This was the first mistake," he explained. "Then I go in too fast and suddenly I had a small chatter that we struggle with during all weekend. Then I lost the front. Since I lost the front, I just say, okay, I will be with my bike until the end. I don't know if we will finish in the gravel or in the wall, but I will be with her."

Hanging on to the bike, Márquez sensed that all was not yet lost. "I saw that I lost the front, but the rear was there. So, when I lost the front but the rear still is there, then I’m able to save with elbow. Then when I saw that, I just start to push with elbow, knee 100%." If the stress he was feeling during the final weekend had caused the crash, it also allowed him to save it. "I think the main reason because I save the crash is because the tension of the race. I was too stiff on the bike. At the same time, I was really sensitive all the time. Then when I pull up, maybe was able to lean again the bike and stay on the asphalt, but I prefer to go in the gravel and finish the race in fifth."

The (nearly) impossible

Márquez' near crash was just the prelude to a dramatic finale. With the Repsol Honda back on track, Dovizioso's chances of the title had improved a little. If Márquez stayed fifth, a win would still not be enough, but it was his only option. "I was completely finished at that time, and when I saw Marc make a mistake I thought I don’t care about the podium and I want to try to win. I didn’t have that pace but at that time I tried everything."

Jorge Lorenzo had already upped the pace and caught Dani Pedrosa ahead. Dovizioso chased behind, now left to fend for himself. But the pace and the pressure was starting to tell. Lorenzo had caught Pedrosa and was starting to push, perhaps aware that he could help Dovizioso by getting ahead of the leaders and holding them up, or perhaps that he threatened to go winless for an entire season for the first time since 2005.

Whatever the rationale, it was not sufficient to keep him upright: Lorenzo pushed too hard into Turn 5, lost the front as he tried to turn the bike, and crashed out. Unlike Marc Márquez, there was no saving the sliding front for Lorenzo.

Into the gravel

That was not because he hadn't tried, however. "When we started losing grip the front started closing," Lorenzo explained. "To choose the hard option didn't help. The 070 [the front construction used since Mugello - DE] is already harder on the sides than the old tire but the harder one is even harder. In the last five laps, on the right corners, I was losing the front a lot. I was saving the crash, saving the crash and the last time I didn't save it. I saw Dani and Zarco very close so I risked a bit more and it was too much."

Lorenzo wasn't the only Ducati rider to be pushing over the limit. Three corners later, as he attempted to close the gap on Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso couldn't get the bike stopped on the way into Turn 8, ran straight on into the gravel, and tumbled over at slow speed. The championship was over. Dovizioso remounted his bike, and cruised back to the Ducati garage, where he received a hero's welcome. Andrea Dovizioso knows that he is beloved of Ducati. And rightly so.

Though Dovizioso had given his all during the race, he had feared from the start that his attempt to win the title was ultimately doomed. "After five laps we push 100 percent from the beginning until the end," Dovizioso said. "We had the same pace as the leaders but we were pushing over the limit all of the race. That’s why Jorge crashed and I crashed. We didn’t have that pace. We were not so far. We’re speaking about two tenths, but when you’re pushing so hard two tenths can be big."

Help to be smooth

At first, Dovizioso explained, Lorenzo had held him up a little, but after five laps, Lorenzo upped his pace and Dovizioso could ride more smoothly by following his teammate. But the Italian had looked ragged and rough, visibly trying to force his Ducati GP17 to bend to his will. It cost him too much energy. "Just because Jorge tried to help me to be more smooth than the weekend doesn’t mean that I was smooth," Dovizioso said. "I used a lot of energy and the tires. I was completely finished because I couldn’t ride smooth enough. I was able to stay in the first group until the crash."

In the end, he had run out of both front tire and physical strength. "I braked very hard at turn eight because it was my good point on the track. But the tire dropped enough to mean I couldn’t stop the bike like five laps before. I was too long. I couldn’t stop the bike, the rear was sliding. I went wide, on the white line and out of the track. I was completely over the limit for a long time. I could stay there but it was like this."

Honda vs Yamaha

The championship may have been over, but the race was far from done. Dani Pedrosa had closed up onto the back of Johann Zarco, and was ready to pounce. He tried once into Turn 14, but that attempt was a little too ambitious, ending up a fraction wide and allowing Zarco back up the inside, the Tech 3 Yamaha using its drive out of the final corner to open up a gap along the front straight.

But Pedrosa wasn't done yet. With four laps left, he chased the Frenchman down, clearly quicker than Zarco, and just biding his time. But Zarco was not going to just roll over: if Pedrosa wanted the lead, he would have to step up and take it.

Pedrosa seized his opportunity at the start of the final lap. He was close enough behind Zarco to use the slipstream of the Frenchman to launch himself out of the draft along the straight faster than he had managed all weekend. He was close enough to grab the inside line as he drew level with Zarco, holding him off on the brakes. Pedrosa held the perfect line for entering the corner, forcing Zarco wide on entry and opening the slimmest of leads.

It was sufficient. Zarco was almost close enough at Turn 2 when Pedrosa got a fraction off line, but Pedrosa had him covered. The Repsol Honda rider pushed hard on the final lap, holding Zarco at bay and never allowing him to get close enough to even consider an attack. He crossed the line to take a superb victory, his second of the season, and scoring enough points to secure the team championship for Repsol Honda.

A modest greatness

It is characteristic of Pedrosa's victory that it is likely to go largely unnoticed, despite its historical significance. With that win, Pedrosa drew level with Eddie Lawson for the number of premier class victories with 31, and with Mick Doohan for the total number of victories in all classes with 54 (though Doohan's total came solely in 500s). Doohan is now the only rider from the Golden Era of 1988-1993 still among the top four of the current crop. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez, and now Dani Pedrosa have all surpassed Rainey, Schwantz, Lawson. Only Doohan is left.

Pedrosa will remain an underappreciated genius, the only rider who has consistently throughout his career been able to beat Valentino Rossi, Marc Márquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner. Fans will point at the fact that he has not won a MotoGP title, ignoring the fact that he has 31 premier class victories to his name against four of the greatest riders every to throw a leg over a motorcycle. The list of MotoGP riders who have failed to win a title is very, very long. The list of riders who have consistently beaten the other MotoGP Aliens is very short indeed.

This victory, too, will probably be largely forgotten, reduced to a MotoGP trivia question once we look back at a momentous season and a controversy-packed race. After the race, few people were talking about Pedrosa's win. The mostly heated conversations were all about team orders, Jorge Lorenzo refusing to help Andrea Dovizioso, Marc Márquez saving the front end, and much more. But Dani Pedrosa won't particularly care. He won, and now he is off to go windsurfing. Pedrosa wins for personal satisfaction, not to garner public attention.

Poor handling

Overshadowing Pedrosa's victory is a wall of intrigue. First and foremost, the question of team orders. When Ducati showed the dashboard message "Suggested Mapping: Mapping 8" to Jorge Lorenzo at Sepang, it was possible to give them the benefit of the doubt. It was obvious that Ducati had issues team orders at Sepang, but it was hard to prove a direct link to the dashboard message.

When Ducati showed the same dashboard message to Lorenzo again the first time at Valencia, it was almost confirmation that this was a coded team orders. When they showed it multiple times – indeed, the message seems to have been displayed pretty much permanently on Lorenzo's dashboard from around the middle of the race – that removed any doubt. When Ducati followed it up with an instruction on Lorenzo's pit board to drop one place, the message simply could not be clearer. Ducati had team orders in place for the Valencia race, and ordered Jorge Lorenzo to drop one place.

More troubling for Ducati is the fact that Jorge Lorenzo ignored them. At no point did Lorenzo give up his position to Andrea Dovizioso, who was following him. He did not even make any pretense at giving up a place, especially during the first few laps, when Dovizioso was visibly quicker than Lorenzo.

Don't say you weren't warned

This should perhaps come as no surprise. On Saturday, when he was asked if he would help his teammate, Lorenzo was very specific about the conditions under which he would be willing to assist. "There's not so many things," Lorenzo said. "Dovi needs to be in the first group, and if he's in the first group and there's not so many riders there and he has a chance to win, that would be the ideal thing for him, knowing that Marc will make a mistake or have some problems. It's very difficult. He needs to win for sure, and Marc has to finish lower than 12th. It's not very easy that can happen, it's more easy that Marc has some failure of the engine or he crashes."

Lorenzo gave an obvious scenario in which he would be willing to help Dovizioso. "I need to try to be in the front, and if Dovi's there, and if Marc has some problems, and I see on the board or on the dashboard, then I will try to help." Those conditions never materialized, and so Lorenzo did not feel obliged to help.

Corporate communications

The way the race played out put Ducati into urgent damage control mode. In the final laps of the race, when both riders were back in the garage, Lorenzo went over to Dovizioso to explain why he had done what he had done. The footage on TV showed Dovizioso accepting those explanations passively, but the look on his face was not one of great enthusiasm.

After the race, as the media all filed into what is euphemistically known as "The Sponsor's Hospitality" to listen to what the riders had to say, it was clear that an official message had been decided on, and the protagonists were being briefed. Journalists saw Ducati boss Paolo Ciabatti handing down the corporate line to team boss Davide Tardozzi. By the time we got to speak to Ciabatti, the message had been instilled throughout the ranks.

The key to Ducati's company line revolved around the word "Suggested" in the dashboard message sent to Lorenzo. "This is what we suggest to the rider based on what we can see from the pit box," Ciabatti explained. "And the rider knows because he can see the other riders, so in this case, I think if you also speak to Dovi, and he will tell you he thought that at the beginning he was faster in a few corners and slower in other corners, but at a certain point, with his clean lines was helping Dovi to ride in a very relaxed way. So he said it helped me up to a point to catch Pedrosa, and then he said, unfortunately we were both at the limit, and Jorge said, yes, if he had seen that Márquez had a problem, then obviously once we catch the leading group, then I would let him pass. But we needed first to catch the leading group and try to be first and second, and then see what happens."

What you can't see

Ciabatti warned against judging the situation based on TV footage. "I think honestly, you can never really judge perfectly from what you see on TV, and if a rider knows that he has the pace to close the gap to the front, and other riders following him, and gaining an advantage from following some clean lines, I think it's fine. We're not upset. We would be upset if Marc crashed and Lorenzo wins, and Dovi is second. But this is not the case."

"As I said," he continued, "sometimes you judge by what you see, but the rider is on the bike, he knows if he can push, if he has some margin, if is able to close the gap to the front and help his teammate. So I think there was never I think a situation where he was passing and the other one was closing, and so on. So the best answer is what Dovi said, and he said it because he thinks it, that in the end he is not upset at all, just he was able to actually relax a little bit without having to push so much."

Despite this, Ducati had kept on trying to communicate with Lorenzo. "Yes, because in our opinion, in some areas he was slowing Dovi down," Ciabatti told us. "But then again, if it was like this, Dovi would come into the garage and be quite upset, but he's not. So I think we must really give credit to professional riders that they know what they are doing. And it's our suggestion because we think, OK, let him go. We think, let him pass. But then at a certain point, you saw also Dovi was losing a little bit and then gaining again."

Ducks in a row

There was more to just allowing Dovizioso to pass, of course. For Dovizioso to have any chance of wrapping up the title, much more had to happen. "At least to try to pass the first two, you have to catch them," Ciabatti explained. "If you don't catch them, then there's no point. And I think it worked quite fine until they both crashed, because they were closing the gap on the first two. But anyway, seeing that Marc was able to save that almost crash, he would finish fifth, fourth, and it would be unfortunately pointless for us. The only way is if he would crash. But when he went into the gravel, there was a high chance of him not being able to pick up the bike and start again. But in the end it didn't happen, and we have not so much to regret."

Ciabatti was clear that Ducati did not feel unjustly robbed of a championship. "Honestly, Márquez deserves his title, because he rode a fantastic season, and I think being able to come to the last round, still fighting with Márquez and Honda, is an achievement," the Ducati boss said.

"Obviously I can't say we're totally happy, we regret Brno, we regret Phillip Island, we regret the crash in Argentina, where we had no fault. If we came here in a better position, and Phillip Island, and we had the eleven points we lost in Argentina, it would be different story. You have maybe only five, six points to gain. You can use a different strategy, and Márquez would have more pressure and so on, but this is racing. Then he blew the engine in Silverstone, so you know, and if that didn't happen maybe he would be on the podium there." Ciabatti was painfully aware of the contingencies of racing. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.

"It's a good job he is a gentleman"

Dovizioso was his usual magnanimous self in defeat. "I didn’t know about the message," he said. "At the beginning I was a little bit faster in some parts of the track but in the last part of the track I was so slow. During the weekend I take a minimum of three tenths per lap from Jorge. In the race I was better – much better – but still I was slower." He emphasized that Lorenzo had helped him save his energy, by allowing him to ride a little more smoothly. All throughout the race, Dovizioso did not look like himself, wrestling the bike around. Following Lorenzo had made that a fraction easier.

Dovizioso looked to take positives from the final race and from the season. "I was able to stay in the first group until the crash. I want to take the positive things also from that because we are more competitive than last year. I’m more competitive than last year in Valencia so I’m really happy about that. But the result confirms that it was not enough. But we’re not too far. It’s not enough. For sure the point we have to improve is the turning and we have to be smooth on the riding on the bike."

The third degree

While Dovizioso was treated gently by the press – and given a massive round of applause when he sat down for his debrief – Jorge Lorenzo was cut no slack. During his debrief with the Italian media, one journalist started almost picking a fight with the Spaniard over his refusal to stand aside for Dovizioso. Lorenzo grew so irritated that he stopped responding in Italian and switched to Spanish. "You're not asking a question," he said. "I'm not going to answer you if you're not asking a question."

With less at stake, Lorenzo was less combative with the English-speaking press, though he was given a grilling over what happened. He laid out his stall, from which the Ducati corporate line had been constructed. "In respect of Dovi being behind me you could see that he didn't have the rhythm all weekend and suffered a lot," Lorenzo explained. "It was a shame to be at one of the circuits that is not one of his strongest in the championship; if it was another then he would have been a lot quicker. Instead I was quick all weekend and had a speed similar to Márquez. The front group were a few tenths away and I saw the messages about Dovi but thought it was best for all – Ducati, my interests and Dovi - that I kept pushing until the end and with my wheel close it would help find that last tenths."

He acknowledged he had seen the messages. "I saw the messages but even looking at this suggestion I kept pushing until the end," Lorenzo said. "My feeling was the truth because I helped Dovi to improve this one or two tenths of pace to be closer to the first group. My intention was to arrive to the first group – like I did because I was behind Pedrosa – and if Dovizioso was on my wheel and had the option to win I would let him pass. Unfortunately was not like that. If I saw that Márquez had crashed I would let him go."

Decisions made on the fly

Lorenzo's exasperation was plain to see. "What more can I do? I tried to make my best for the team, for me and for Dovi. Maybe in some corners Dovi was close and I slowed down a little bit to give him some space but in general terms over thirty laps having my Ducati bike in front of him made him improve."

The Spaniard was not concerned how the situation looked to the fans watching at home, he told us. "Firstly I am a person – at this moment in time – that does not care about what people think. I do what I think is right and I want the best for the team. This time it was the same. I don't know why we keep talking about that. It is already difficult for a team to understand so imagine for people who are not in this business; it is ten times more difficult."

When he had returned to the pits, Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna came over to Lorenzo to ask him if he had seen the messages, Lorenzo told us. "Gigi asked me if I saw the messages and I told him that, for me, it was the best thing to do. He talked with Dovi and he would say my wheel helped him to arrive. I went also to Dovi to explain why I kept pushing and he said 'I did not have anything more'."

A bad look for all

Was Lorenzo's decision the right one? Or should he be punished for ignoring team orders? Whatever the outcome, neither Ducati nor Jorge Lorenzo come out smelling of roses. The drama which has been created around the situation makes all parties (all parties bar Andrea Dovizioso, that is) look terrible. Ducati look bad for trying to force their rider to obey team orders. They look worse for pretending that they weren't issuing team orders via dashboard messages in the first place. They look terrible because Jorge Lorenzo completely ignored them.

Jorge Lorenzo looks awful too. Whether he was doing the right thing or the wrong thing, the team orders make it look like he was hanging his teammate out to dry. Not just any teammate: Andrea Dovizioso was the likable plucky underdog going up against the overwhelming might of Marc Márquez, widely acknowledged as the best rider in the world. Even if he was helping Dovizioso more by staying in front of him than letting him through, the optics of that decision are just awful. Lorenzo already has a public image problem. This will only make things worse.

Perhaps the worst thing about the whole situation is that it really didn't make any difference whatever happened. Andrea Dovizioso didn't have the speed at Valencia to win the race, whether Lorenzo towed him forward or let him past. Marc Márquez may have been uncharacteristically nervous, and making a lot of mistakes, but finishing much worse than fifth was out of the question. Nor was Dovizioso immune from the stress and tension: he looked awful on the bike, wrestling the thing into every corner, his body taut as a longbow, all that pent up energy slowing him down.

What would have happened if Lorenzo had let Dovizioso past? The Italian would still probably have crashed, though he would likely have gone down much earlier trying to catch the leaders. Dovizioso was slower than Lorenzo in the latter stages of the race, so he would have left Lorenzo out of touch of the leaders and incapable of scoring a result.

Right, wrong, or immaterial?

Did Lorenzo do the wrong thing? Not really. His behavior had no material effect on the outcome of the championship. His case, that he could help Dovizioso catch the leaders, is plausible, though in a case like this, cast iron proof would be preferable. You could argue, as he has, that he could help Ducati soften the loss of the championship by trying to win the race. All valid points. But the optics remain absolutely terrible.

From a PR perspective, the best course of action would have been for Ducati to impress on Lorenzo to let Dovizioso through at the first opportunity, and for Lorenzo to do as he was told. Sending repeated dashboard messages looks bad for Ducati. Putting them in code looks worse. Lorenzo ignoring them looks bad for both Ducati and Lorenzo.

You can't blame Ducati for doing everything they can to try to win the 2017 MotoGP championship. They did what they could, and came up just short. It is unfortunate and rather sad that this debate is overshadowing what has been the biggest, and frankly, most heartwarming story of 2017: the rise of Andrea Dovizioso to greatness, and his battle with the man rapidly establishing a claim to be the greatest rider of all time.

Greatness in the making

Make no mistake, 2017 has cemented Marc Márquez' claims to the title of greatest of all time. His rides throughout the season proved it time and again. He found new ways of winning when it was needed, whether it by tactics, strategy, or just plain, unparalleled speed. His ability and talent is unquestioned, the numerous frankly ridiculous saves almost rubbing his talent in our collective faces. At the tender age of 24, Márquez has six world titles, four in the premier class, and becomes the youngest to achieve both of those milestones. He starts every MotoGP season as favorite for the title, and every race as favorite to win.

He won this championship with consistency. Sure, he won a lot – Márquez and Dovizioso won six races apiece – but he made sure of the title by the points he scored when he couldn't win. He had six podiums to Dovizioso's two, and his worst finish was sixth at Mugello. He had two more fourth places, the only other times he finished off the podium.

That consistency is what helped him overcome the three DNFs which marred his season. Two of those were his own fault, pushing too hard when the conditions weren't up to it. But the third was on Honda, an engine failure at Silverstone. Without the engine failure, this all would have been wrapped up a lot earlier.

Andrea Dovizioso, on the other hand, sometimes struggled badly when he couldn't win. He finished outside the top five a total of four times, including a thirteenth place finish at Phillip Island. But he also defeated Márquez in direct duels in the last corner, coming out on top at Austria and Motegi. There is no shame in Dovizioso's loss.

No easy victories

Just how hard Márquez had had to work for this title was apparent one day at his hairdresser, Márquez said in the championship press conference. After Barcelona, Márquez had gone to get his hair cut, and his hairdresser had asked him what was wrong. "After Montmelo I was with my hairdresser and she said, 'what’s going on? What’s happening?' I said, 'why?' 'You are losing the hair.' I said, I’m 24. It’s impossible. My grandfather, my father, have hair. Then I went directly to the hospital and he said, you need to change the approach of the races or something because your stress inside your body too much. Then realize I’m always smiling, always be happy, but inside of me, we are humans and the tension is there."

It was something he had discussed with his team earlier. "After Le Mans we were in the car going to the airport with Emilio and Jose and I told them, I’m not enjoying on the bike," Márquez said. "I’m just riding because I need to ride but I’m not enjoying. Then we changed the mentality and we said, first of all we need to find a way to enjoy it on the bike, then we will find the results. We go on that way. We just work hard on the test. We did more than 100 laps every test day. We find a way to enjoy it."

The change had come with a change of chassis, Márquez switching to use the same frame as the other Honda riders, abandoning the especially stiff frame he had used before. "After Le Mans we did the Montmelo test," he explained. "We changed there. We try a different chassis that was not a new chassis. Was another specification that was using Cal and the others. I was using a different one. I felt a little bit better. Step by step we tried a few different things. Step by step, I get the feeling." He was still not feeling entirely safe on the bike, which explained why he ended the year with 27 crashes, but he could at least be competitive, and had feeling with the bike again.

Yamaha's conundrum

If Marc Márquez is the champion everyone expected, Johann Zarco has been the surprise of 2017. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider won both the Rookie of the Year award and was the best independent rider. It is obvious he is very close to his first MotoGP win, but the pieces could not quite fall into place for him this season, nor at Valencia. He came within a third of a second at Valencia, beaten by a firm but clean pass into Turn 1 by Dani Pedrosa.

What has been remarkable is how Zarco has outperformed the factory Movistar Yamahas on numerous occasions. In the second half of the season, Zarco has finished ahead of both Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales on four of nine occasions. Valencia was much the same, the factory bikes playing second fiddle to Zarco.

That was despite the fact that the Movistar Yamaha team had taken a step back at the end of the season to reevaluate the 2016 chassis. Both Viñales and Rossi raced at Valencia with the 2016 frame, after giving up on the 2017 bike. The original plan had been to try the old frame at the test, but after a relatively poor qualifying, neither Rossi nor Viñales felt they had much to lose. Both were relatively happy with the switch: the old frame gave them the feeling they had been missing throughout the season. But with limited setup time, they could not hope to make the bike competitive enough to feature at the front of the race.

The throwback

Setup time was particularly limited for Maverick Viñales: the Spanish youngster stacked the bike on his third flying lap, getting overconfident with the feeling he had. "Feeling with the chassis was great. Already in the first lap I did a 1'32 low, then on the second lap I was already one second faster. Something I hadn't been able to do all weekend. So already I was feeling great, and maybe I pushed too early and too much for the feeling, because I was feeling good."

That lack of setup hampered Viñales most of all. He had an issue with vibration in the rear tire, and struggled home in twelfth. Yet the feeling he had had left him optimistic for the test starting on Tuesday. As for 2017, he just wanted to put it all behind him. "I don't want to think about this season any more, I want to finish this season now, and try to start a new season and not make the same mistakes. Honestly, I don't want to think a lot, especially because the last races were quite difficult, quite crazy for us, so we want to finish those difficult times and start new ones."

Valentino Rossi was a little more forthcoming. "We did this choice because the program is try the bike Tuesday and Wednesday. So we say, why don’t we try today? Because at the end sometimes in a race you understand more than ten days of testing. So we do. Unfortunately is not that you put and come better. But I think we find some… we understand something interesting. But now it is not easy because for me we have to work in different areas for reduce the gap. Electronics side but also about the dynamic behaviour of the bike. So it will be an important period for sure. "

The big improvement for Rossi was that there was more feeling from the bike. "This bike is more easy to ride and you feel better in general. Sincerely, it is what I feel last year when I tried the new one! But it is also true that we are more in trouble with the rear tire. So at the end the result was similar. If I use my bike of yesterday more or less I can arrive in the same position."

Managing tire wear

The biggest downside of the 2016 chassis is in tire wear. The tire drops off at the end of the race, Rossi said, meaning it was difficult to be competitive in the final laps. Difficult, but not impossible, as Johann Zarco demonstrated by finishing a third of a second behind Dani Pedrosa.

Why is Zarco not suffering the same problems with the 2016 chassis that the factory riders reported? The difference is probably in Zarco's smoothness with the throttle. On Saturday night, Michelin boss Nicolas Goubert named Zarco as one of the riders who had surprised him most, especially his smoothness with the throttle. That may be a skill he learned in Moto2 racing the Kalex: that bike is fast in the earlier part of the race, but chews up the rear toward the end. Zarco learned to manage the tire in Moto2, and is applying that skill in MotoGP. Zarco can work the throttle to produce precisely the right slip rate in the rear tire, maximizing both life and performance.

Yamaha's decision to revert to the 2016 chassis as the starting point for 2018 is a startling admission of failure. (On a side note, it is also a salutary lesson in PR speak – aka lying – as throughout the season, whenever we asked Valentino Rossi about using the old frame, he claimed it was impossible, as the 2017 engine would not fit the 2016 frame. That has proven to be, shall we say, an erroneous misrepresentation, unrelated to the actual facts.)

Taking a wrong turn

Where did Yamaha go wrong? The 2017 frame felt better over the course of winter testing, while Maverick Viñales was riding with the style picked up at Suzuki: braking very hard in a straight line before turning the bike in. Rossi was less happy with the bike: Viñales' style stressed the front tire enough to get the bike to turn in, but it was not the quickest way to ride a Yamaha. As they developed the bike – and especially after Michelin changed to a stiffer front tire casing – the direction of the M1 and the Michelins began to diverge, getting slowly worse at the season progressed.

And so Yamaha return to the 2016 chassis, which they will use as the basis for all their testing in Valencia and a week later in Sepang. The hope is that they can keep the feel with the front which the 2016 chassis gives, while fixing the issues with tire degradation they suffered through the year.

Valentino Rossi had finished in the second group, thirteen seconds behind the winner, in the company of a pair of Suzukis. Alex Rins finished fourth, his best result in MotoGP, just ahead of Rossi and Rins' Suzuki teammate Andrea Iannone. To an extent, the Suzukis benefited from the attrition of the factory Ducatis, but Rins and Iannone are making progress again, the Suzuki project starting to head in the right direction. A new engine for 2018 should fix the power issues the bike had: at a test after the race in Aragon, the bike was a second quicker than it had been in the race.

A few seconds behind the Suzukis, a pair of satellite Hondas crossed the line in seventh and eighth. Jack Miller just pipped Cal Crutchlow to the line, Miller closing his Honda account in solid style. Michele Pirro was the first Ducati across the line in ninth, while Tito Rabat made it five Hondas in the top ten, his best result of the season.

Miracles don't always happen

The support classes had provided plenty of entertainment before the final showdown for MotoGP. The day had kicked off with Moto3, and what looked like being Joan Mir's record-equalling eleventh win of the season. But Mir was forced off track when Gabriel Rodrigo crashed in front of him, leaving him nowhere to go. Mir blamed himself, saying he had been too close to Rodrigo, and left stuck on the outside of his back wheel.

Rodrigo and Mir had been chasing Jorge Martin at the time, the trio slowly breaking away from the front. Once the two behind him crashed, Martin opened up a gap and went on to take his first win unopposed. That victory has been a long time coming, and sets the scene for a strong 2018 campaign.

Mir eventually fought back to take second place, ahead of Marcos Ramirez. But what was most impressive was Mir's pace: he took the best part of 4 seconds out of Martin in the last fifteen laps.

The Moto2 race started off as a thriller, but Miguel Oliveira soon asserted his dominance, beating 2017 Moto2 champion Franco Morbidelli by over two seconds. Brad Binder made it the third KTM double podium in a row, taking third behind Morbidelli.

An orange future?

The KTM Moto2 project has made enormous progress in its first year, and is creating a stepping stone for the Austrian manufacturer to build on. On the Monday after the Valencia race, in an interview with the German-language publication Speedweek, KTM boss Stefan Pierer said that they were already planning for the 2019 season. Their first port of call was to replace Bradley Smith with Johann Zarco, he said, with talks already a long way advanced.

Signing Zarco makes sense for both KTM and the Frenchman: there is no room in the factory Movistar Yamaha team, for as long as both Viñales and Rossi are riding. Rossi is showing no signs of retiring: he is clearly still competitive – despite finishing fifth in the 2017 championship – as he won a race again this year. Viñales is the future of Yamaha, the Japanese factory has decided, and so is there for the long term.

Zarco has proven he is an exceptional talent, and his feedback is outstanding. Zarco is the rider KTM need to take them into championship contention. And as the very first Red Bull Rookie champion aboard a KTM 125, it would be a return to the place he started.

Part of KTM's plan is to have a satellite team, to be run as a junior team in much the same way as Pramac is for Ducati. Filling the seats in that team is straightforward: Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder have proven they are quick, intelligent, competitive. Pierer was particularly impressed with Binder, saying he "brakes like a God." The pair will make the jump in 2019, with Marc VDS the likely candidate to act as a satellite squad.

A bright future

All that is in the future, however. Now, the 2017 season is behind us, leaving only memories behind. And what memories! 2017 proves many things: we are in a new golden era of racing, with some of the most prodigious talent ever to have graced a racing motorcycle. Races are close and dramatic, but the sport still has room for personalities. Under the new regulations, with less testing, a spec ECU, and standard rubber, intelligence has become a key factor. Races have to be managed, balancing tire and machine degradation against raw speed. You can't win if you are not blindingly fast, but speed alone is not enough. The sport is all the richer – metaphorically and literally – for these developments.

The best thing about 2017? We are in the middle of a golden era, and as yet, there is no end in sight. There is plenty of established talent, but there are phenomenal young riders like Franco Morbidelli, Miguel Oliveira, Brad Binder, Joan Mir, Jorge Martin all making their way through the ranks. The future is as bright as the present.

Gathering the background information for long articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, buying the beautiful MotoMatters.com 2017 racing calendar, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page.


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A fantastic report as always, David! Once again thank-you for your great writing. On to 2018!

As a footnote, if I know them as I think I do (and I could well be wrong), the Ducatisti will never fully forgive Lorenzo, even should he win them a championship.

Well, Jorge isn’t really asking for forgiveness but I’m willing to accept the explanation given by him, Dovi, and Ducati.  All of their stories reconcile with one another and even if that was owing to a coordinated effort by team management I think that keeping every one of those very different personalities on script would be nearly impossible. So, I accept the explanations. 

With that said, I simply don’t understand why Jorge wouldn’t realize that the best thing he could do for himself would be to obey the team’s “suggestion”. He seems almost incapable of doing himself any favours in dealing with the press or public, which is a shame because I like the guy. 

The big thing to remember here though is that it’s all immaterial to the championship, and what a great season it was. Not only with the on track racing but with the respect riders showed their competitors, and the lack of much negative off track drama. I thoroughly enjoyed virtually every aspect of this year’s championship.

The sad bit for me is the change in broadcast personnel for 2018. I understand the disappointment people are experiencing as Nick Harris leaves but honestly I’m happy with the combination of Steve Day and Matt Bird and look forward to hearing them commentate MotoGP. My heart sank though when it was said almost in passing during the live Moto2 broadcast that Dylan Gray was leaving. He’s been such a great technical resource. I’ve learned so much from his commentary and will greatly miss his contributions. David, I’d be very interested in any additional info you have on his departure and/or replacement. 

Dovi's hopes were litteraly hanging by a thread. Not only he needed Marquez to crash, but also to find a race pace he never had. Once Lorenzo closed the gap on the leaders, Dovi just didn't have anything left.

You won't find a rider of Lorenzo's pedigree kissing his chance at a victory goodbye just for ifs and buts, remember Motegi 2010, and that's exactly what Lorenzo announced the days prior the race. He was going to help Dovi under the right circumstances, not at any cost. Ducati crapped the bed with that mapping 8 "suggestion". It was a team order and that shit has no place in motogp. Well done, Jorge.

I’ve also been looking for information on Dylan and there’s absolutely nothing. The announcement came as a shock. I really enjoyed what he added to the commentary during the race but also in the other videos like After The Flag. I’m hoping he’s moving on to interesting things and that he’ll still be part of the Circus in some form or another.

to see I'm not the only one feeling surprised (and sad) about Dylan's announcement. His enthusiasm was so noticeable. I'll miss him, & just like you I wish him all the best for his future endeavors.

thank you for this great report David. Yes it's been a fantastic year. I must say that my major surprises were Dovi and Yamaha. I would have never ever expected to see Dovizioso fight until the end and be so strong. As you rightly said he even managed to beat MM on the last corner not once but twice. And I hope that this newfound strenght will carry on in 2018. On the other hand i would have never imagined that the official Yamaha team would have gotten so lost and powerless. I'm just speechless. And not very confident about some sudden miracle for next year....

The championship went to the best, and he fully earned it. I wish him just a little tiny bit less of speed/form- just to keep next year exciting :) 

Personally I look forward to see Morbidelli in action, he is strong, and calm. He has the speed and the right amount of aggressiveness. He just needs to improve his skills in the wet. I'm certain it's just a matter of time. Shame he'll start the test by himself, it would have been better to have both team-mates working together... Also I expect to see the KTM improve more and more.  You are right that Zarco would make a smart move to sign with them in 2019.

As for yesterday.... you are right - again !- about Dani. It's always a pleasure to see him race, and win. there was so much drama! That save from MM and that motocross move... impressive!

I cannot but spend a few words on the Ducati drama... Besides the PR disaster, and no matter what has been agreed as the official narrative, i think JL behaved in his usual JL mode. It's not up to me to judge it, but what makes me laugh in desbelief is that there is no way when you are in front to know the precise speed of the bike behind you. So as soon ans they asked him to move over he should have complied. Let Dovi pass, assess his speed for a lap or two, and then, only then, IF Dovi is slower overtake and sign him to take the tow. Moreover, in the first part of the race Dovi was faster in 3 sectors (how many times he almost touched him?) and only in one sector slower... In those laps you could clearly see JL closing the door most of the time And this is not an impression... Ducati posted 6,  six !, dashboard messages, plus the big messages, and the waving... I mean it was farcical at a certain point. We don't know what would have happened if Dovi had gotten through. bu JL decided not to let him the chance. And I repeat, he could have let him through check his speed and take over if necessary. I don't know what the mood will be next year in the Ducati garage, and how Dovi will feel. He is the actual number one, right? 

I cannot bother to write about Yamaha... but please, David, do find out more about this terrible year and what caused it.

All in all a year to remember. Dovi can be very proud. MM too.  And so should you David, be proud, for all the great reporting you've been doing for us. What a glorious time to be a motogp reporter!

First time posting here, I've been reading your articles for many years and your love for motorcycles and motorcycle racing it's obvious and pure. It's been a fantastic year ,i hope and I'm sure that next year will be even better. Thank you mr Emmett!

David, Thank you so much for this absolutely fantastic piece of writing. I personally think you have hit the nail on the head. 

I also thank you for your tweets throughout the season. You make me smile, laugh and look at some things in a different light.

Here's to a 2018 season that will give us more of what we've had this year. I can't wait already ☺


Thank you David (and the other writers who posted) for a year of insightful analysis, writing and video throughout the year.  I had one question and one comment coming from the MotoGP racing at Valencia:

  1. Has anyone calculated the force MM would have to exert to raise his bike up under the conditions we witnessed on Sunday?  I know speed and angle plus repositioning the front were all a part of this (or at least I think I do), but, whew.  When riders talk about the feeling whenthey are riding, I have to believe that was part of his instantaneous decision-making to ride it out and, miraculously, return to the race.
  2. Like many, I don't understand how JL could ignore his team's orders repeatedly and not forfeit ... something.  This sends the message that the rider calls the shots, and while I agree they're taking the risks, it's still a team sport.  If JL changes teams in future years, this is a signal to a prospective new home that he's a Me First rider.

....in his assessment of the race and of the right time to let Dovi by -- or not. He had better pace. If Dovi has been hounding him, my guess is Lorenzo would have moved aside. And given Dovi's weekend-long struggles, a faster, smoother, in-front Lorenzo was his best bet to catch the leaders.

That said, Ducati has the right to enforce team orders even if they are misguided at the time. As a former boss once told me, "Until your name moves from the 'payee' to 'payer' line on the paycheck, you don't get to make final decisions." 

Case in point: I tried in vain to convince David, the czar and owner here at motomatters.com, to pay for my flight to the Austin MotoGP race this year by texting "Mapping 8" to him dozens of times. No effect whatsoever.  

Like he said by mid race he was already on the limit of front tyre grip and he should know the best he could finish would be 3rd. Why didn't him give Dovi the "easy" favor now and put himself in a good position at the receiving end of team order next year?

The two factory Ducatis will be close next year, and now Dovi has all the justification not selecting engine mapping 8 next year.

One interesting little fact that has been largely forgotten about during the whole chat surrounding team orders, is that for the first time since he joined the Premier class in 2008, Lorenzo has failed to take a win all season. Likewise no pole positions, nor fastest laps either. His first winless season since 2005 in 250s! Quite remarkable that run has come to end. However, the speed has been gradually coming and you have to imagine that winless run will end some time next season. First year was always a build up year. In 2018, there are no excuses. Time to deliver and start winning races. I don't see him challenging for the title next season, but winning races is the minimum aim, and perhaps trying to finish top 3 overall in the championship.

Another amazing season of MotoGP comes to an end. Each year seems to get better and better, and there's no reason to doubt that the pack will continue to close up. Suzuki starting to make head way again after a tough year. Aprilla won't be an effective one mean team anymore, and KTM will surely get closer to the sharp end.

These really are the good old days, right now in MotoGP!

We can be warned all we like about what we see on Television, but in some instances, I’m sure that puts all of us at an advantage, not a disadvantage.  Early on in the race Dovisioso was definitely faster and was obviously trying to make his way through but was unable to find enough room.  Lorenzo could not see that. Not once did he look behind, there was no way that he could know that he was riding any better than Dovi. His pit board said +0.  Not 0.1, 0.2, 0.3…. but 0.0. That should be information enough to say that Dovi is right up your clacker and can’t get past.  Surely they would have discussed that.  Lorenzo should have sucked it up and let Dovi though to see if he could be faster.  If he couldn’t then they should have organised between themselves before the race that Lorenzo would help by leading and dragging him forward.  It is obvious that didn’t happen. 

I do understand the Lorenzo wants to run his own race, but this isn’t his year. Lorenzo proves again that he isn’t a team player.  I try and like Lorenzo, I really do… but damn he makes it really hard.  His comment “I saw the message, but ignored it as I know better” says sooo omuch about his personality.  He has no humility.  He couldn’t overcome his own pride for the sake of his team. Yeah, he might have been faster on race day than Dovi… and arguably in the end so was Pedrosa faster than Marquez. But Pedrosa behaved in a way that was in the interest of his team…. Not himself.  Bravo Pedrosa! 

A lot of 'expert eye facts' about Lorenzo where I am sure you have never even met the guy. He has a good relationship with Dovi to start with. If Dall'Igna respects and trusts Lorenzo's strategy, who are you to judge his decisions? I don't remember Lorenzo ever requesting a wall in the garage, talk about team players.

Just because he is not handkissing in the camera shouldn't let anyone judge his personality. Just like how Pedrosa all of a sudden found himself the most hated, selfish man in MotoGP 11 years ago. Really.

You must have me confused with a Rossi fan.... I am far from one, thats for sure.  

I have met Lorenzo.  I liked him, thought he was a nice guy. I love watching him ride.  I've barracked for him.  I didnt barrack for him when he first joined Yamaha as he still reminded me of the rider of the chuppa chup days and I didnt like his attempts at post race celebrations which were just poor man Rossi's.

But he changed, I grew to respect him him, and recently, would barrack for him to beat Rossi and Marquez. Thats changing though..... no matter how much I try to continue to like him, he keeps making it harder and harder.  There is a lot of ego there.... but its seems to be mixed in with a form of tradgedy... 

Gigi and his team didnt trust his decision, hence the persitant message on dash and pitboard.  Dovi was ok with it in the end because he knew in the end he wasnt going to win and he is the kind of guy not to dwell on the negative side.  But that doesnt mean it was the best thing Lorenzo could have done.  He can say he, as the rider had all the facts, but I dont believe that 100%.  sure if he was behind Dovi, he could make that statement, but Dovi was behind him.... at +0.0.

but feel gutted on the final round. I guess 2017 delivered so many surprises I was hoping that the true underdog would pull off a miracle to beat the evil empire!

Marquez has immense talent, but he also has immense luck. No one can deny that he has trained to save the front and is very flexible to avoid injury. But 27 crashes is a year on no significant injury?? There is a large amount of luck here. Dovi hit the gravel and fell off, Marc hit the gravel and stayed on, talent sure, luck also-Hence the dice was a fitting celebration. His luck will run out one day, and judging by the strength of the competition coming through the next 5 years should be very good. 

One has to look at, and remember Sepang 2015 when reading Marc's comments on not wanting to engage Zarco in a battle due to the fact that the title was at stake. Where in lies the difference Marc? I seem to recall he was not afraid in engaging in one of the fiercest series of passes with the man who was leading the championship with one round to go. 

Lorenzo, well the man makes himself more and more difficult to like, particualrly when he crashed out anyway! The 20M Euro man has had a shocker of a season, worse than Rossi's in 2011 on a bike that won 6 races and almost the title, and finishes by not obeying team orders for the worls to see before binning it. Easy to see why the Yamaha garage was so frosty in those years...

And Yamaha, what a mess. So strange to read Vinales comments on the bike not being able to break and turn last weekend, which is what Rossi has been saying since the Qatar preseason test! I truly believe they thought they were going to walk away with it early on, and it seemed the case, but with Rossi so displeased and relativelty slow one had to assume something was up, and the rest is history. Roll on 2018, hopefully a Yamaha resurgence, Ducati KTM Suzuki Aprilia improvement and a Honda stumble ;)




David, thanks for another very insightful write up about the final race weekend. Always great reading!


Great season roundup your Emmettnance. Cheers.

What an amazing year, AGAIN. It keeps getting better. Thanks for your informative work this year and hoping for another belter of a season in 2018. Which reminds me, I have not heard mention of your new calendar yet David. There will be spaces to fill on the wall at my place and my daughters. Hoping for details soon. Thanks again mate :)

I was crying watching Lorenzo blocking Dovi for as long as he did, and then to see the mapping message again (which we all knew exactly what it meant) and then the pit board and he still wouldn’t yield says so much about the man. As MGM said, let Dovi by and give him a chance to run down the leaders, because JL sure as hell wasn't able to do it. 

Who knows what what would have been going through Marquez’s head if he knew Dovi had moved up a place. He was obviously on the limit as shown by his miraculous save so who knows. 

And thanks to Lorenzo’s selfishness, we’ll never know. 

I pity Lorenzo and his team going forward as he’s painted them all as not being part of the Ducati family which makes you wonder if the angst in the Yamaha pits really was all down to Rossi. 

But other than that what an incredible year we’ve been able to experience. Kudos to David and his team for the quality reporting and analysis they deliver through this site. I am hitting refresh hourly on Thursdays onward throughout every race weekend as I eagerly look for the latest developments!!

Thank you David. 

Listening to the commentary and reading some of the opinions expressed after the race it seems like 90% of motogp following world has forgotten that Dovi could've actually overtaken Lorenzo if he truly posessed that much more speed. Last time i checked this isnt F1.

Sure it looked bad for Lorenzo that he didnt move aside (and as one of the more natually gifted in the unlikability stakes he really doesnt need that), but i really dont think it affected Dovi's race that much, if anything it was probably a net gain by the time he fell off.



Given the Ducatis' pace, the only thing Lorenzo could have done from behind Dovi would have been follow Marquez into the gravel trap and try to make sure the Honda rider didn't come back out.

I am not against team orders per se, but it is a fact that they deprive spectators of a true competitive outcome, and Lorenzo is right to impose tight constraints on his adherence to them. It wasn't like he was throwing out big blocking moves to stop Dovi getting past. There were a few times when Dovi might have snuck through if Lorenzo had made a mistake. But it would have been the end of the Ducatis' progress towards the front.

I always enjoy David's writing and respect his experience and expertise, but in this situation I respect Jorge's more. I think David is placing slightly undue emphasis on how it looked.

Regardless of all the opinions about who should have done what, Dovi's response and conduct not just at Valencia but throughout the whole season has been outstanding and the applause given him by the team shows just how much they appreciate him. Dovi has covered himself in glory this season, on and off the track. Jorge is a different beast, but ultimately while he did disobey team orders (I think not "suggestions"), his actions had no ill effect on Dovi's championship challenge.

From about the midway point in the season it became evident the 2017 Yamaha M1 was a nail. But it took till the end of the season for them to go back to the 2016 chassis, which quite remarkably transformed itself into being able to accept the 2017 motor overnight. Ahh, the wonders of 21st century chassis magic.

What a remarkable debut season from KTM. No one would have predicted at the start of the season that by the end of the year they would be regularly pushing for top 10 results and claim results inside the top ten in dry conditions. Their progress has been amazing and the next couple of years is going to be very interesting to follow indeed. Especially as they have committed to the steel tube frame which even Ducati abandoned. I have no doubt KTM will take out a world championship within the next 5 years. Their approach is so unlike the Japanese manufacturers and are so responsive and passionate.

Lastly a huge thanks to David for your insights and entertaining coverage of the greatest show on earth!

I think, of the top riders, only Pedrosa could be called a team player. To win multiple championships a rider needs to have self belief bordering on narcissism. Lorenzo's behaviour was frustrating, but not at all surprising. Ducati disappointed me more, with their unprofessional reaction.

...Pedrosa certainly was not called a team player during Nickey Hayden's championship season in '06. (He was, however, called a lot of other things by American fans smiley.) If Dovi and Gigi are cool with Lorenzo's rationale, I guess I'm cool with it too. I did enjoy how emphatically the team was shaking Jorge's -1 pit sign during the race.  It looked like a shake weight. Ha!

Bologna will not forgive nor forget. If JL does not produce race wins next season, they will drop him like yesterday's news. Podium placings will not be enough. Whatever Lorenzo felt (and I am a fan), he should have let Dovi by to try his hand at hunting down the leaders.

He's lucky Dovi didn't throw him under the bus, postrace. That he accepted Lorenzo's explanation speaks volumes about Dovizioso's honesty, and his character.

Congratulations to Marc Marquez, a very deserving World Champion, and also to race winner Dani Pedrosa and Johann Zarco.

I'm a Lorenzo fan who has a personality opposite of him. I was totally worried about the optics of the situation  though pretty confident that JL had good reasons. The quote from him about not caring what people think, and doing what he felt was the right thing says it all for me. I respect that a lot, especially in today's social media environment. I can't help but salute that.

Thank you David for your great commentaries!

Fact : As part of a team, the onus on you is to defer to team orders to the best of your ability under the given situation and circumstances. Whether JL thought he was more capable than Dovi was irrelevant when he got the request followed by the demand. One thing not mentioned is the fact that the pair have such contrasting styles and hence bike set up that at a circuit like Valencia it would have been nigh impossible for JL to have passed Dovi had the situation been reversed. If's and but's for sure although I'm sure many at Ducati too must be wondering how much better Dovi's rythm and tyre usage could have been had JL let him go within 10 laps. We will never know. Dovi was clearly a lot faster in many sectors early on and was being held up. Thanks to JL we,the fans, will never know what Dovi's actual race long potential actually was. This is now the second time, two races in a row that JL placed his vision above that of the team. Ducati's explanation post race fooled no one. I would love to know what Tardozzi thought. I guess his face said it all. As for Dovi, day 1 2018 starts today in testing. Behind the scenes JL must be skating on thin ice. Iannone can attest to that.                                                                                                     

Nevertheless it was a great 2017 for Marc and Dovi. Most entertaining race was PI. Greatest duel was Motegi. Yamaha seem to have the same problem as Ducati in a way...the bike being tugged in two directions by two very fast but very different riders. KTM...much applause! Zarco to KTM? I relish the prospect. If the racing in 2018 is not as good as 2017, you can bet the 2018 silly season is going to be the greatest in a decade. Livio Suppo's shock announcement already has my personal rumour mill spinning. With the old crew of Tardozzi, Gabarini and Stoner all back at Ducati, who knows. Marc will surely be toying with the ambition of winning a title with another marque.

First of all. Congrats for all your reviews David. There is no perfect GP weekend without your review to close it properly. 

Nothing much to add. Maybe, for those who didn't read it yet, just a link I found interesting about JL99 attitude : The Difficult job of being Jorge Lorenzo .

I mean we can imagine He's at home in Valencia , a track he outrageously dominated during a few races and Dovi's is not much faster (if faster he is). Ducati's order for sure were hard to stomach for the spanish and maybe he acted like the guy who wanted to claim that , from now , he'll be the number one in the team. during last few races, JL99 is getting better and better, closer from the top and the win. Maybe it was time for him to affirmate his leadership. 

I hope for him his results from today to the end of next year will demonstrate he was right. 

KTM/Zarco is my dream plan. Both want to rob the bank in motoGP and for sure, both are determinate and growing quickly. What an exciting challenge it would be to watch :) 

Yamaha : Back in the future then... I pay a beer ( or maybe a few more) for who will be able to explain me why Vinales couldn't keep the Chassis he loved during last year winter tets and the beginning of the season. 

2019 looks very promising. Can't wait the first FP1 in Qatar next year ! 

I hear you Pom, but you need to know that the author of the article you're quoting is known to have a very biased position on some topics (unsurprisingly he managed to add some quick stabs at the italian in Yamaha when the article was about JL and valencia race....)
And basically he adds that JL is reclaiming his number one status in the garage....
But honestly, there is no way he can be number one right now. And given Dovi outstanding season, in worse case, they are on equal bases. My main point here is to always take those articles by Paolo Scalera with a little bit of circumspection....
As for Yamaha: the Italian press has been all over this since the beginning of the drama turned into soap opera. I'm in the dark about the technical aspect of what went wrong. But for Vinales' choices it's quite straightforward: he stayed with the "old" chassis and then seeing the teammate changed his mind. And it's been like this all year long. Not later than yesterday he said that he loved the new/old/new chassis.... My guess is that he is surrounded by a group of people with so much experience (I'm talking about Forcada & team ) that makes it difficult for him to just impose his own idea when he is not certain about it. All in all he is a great racer. Let's hope Yamaha will pull their s**t together as early as today.

Thks for the enlightment. :) We all know everybody is a bit biased in this hobby but it's always useful to know which is the bias of any people we read here or there. 

About MV25 : declarations are somewhat a bit all over the place. One day , he's grumpy and tells they followed the wrong route with all chassis changes, the day after he's happy will all chassis . It's honestly hard to follow... A bit like this whole Yamaha affair . 

It's Hard for me to elaborate a proper opinon honestly. I guess I should even stop to hope and just wait for Yamaha to fix things and give competitive bikes to all Yamaha Riders. 


My observations from the race:

- Overtaking, between riders of varying skill levels, is very much possible in Valencia.

- Contrary to popular (but rather incorrect) belief, Rossi isn't the only 'difficult' team mate. It is various situations that can make a team mate appear to be 'easy' or 'difficult'.

- JL should have sacrificed his position for AD regardless of their pace - what if MM had actually crashed, Dovi would have had 1 less racer to overtake. But whatever, it's ifs and buts

Lastly, mighty congratulations to MM, what a season and what a racer. Probably only thing left for him to do is switch to a team that hasn't seen success in a long time and turn it into a winner. There... GOAT status guaranteed.. until that happens, it's VR for me (personally he will always be) ;)

Unless he is 100 points in front by Mugello, he may live to regret his seemingly selfish attitude. The fans won't forget. Other teams will have noted it too..

Why was it so hard to let Dovi past? 

My final two cents on this one. Its called Movistar Yamaha Team, Repsol Honda Team, (Marlboro) Ducati Team. Any rider is a major cog within said team and subservient to the team when extraordinary circumstances and challenges demand it on the day in the interests of the TEAM. Over the decades there have been riders with attitudes coupled to tallent that saw them believe they as individuals were bigger than the TEAM with disastrous consequences. Most memorable was Barry Sheene back then. He ended up essentially with his own Akai Yamaha project and essentially blew himself out of contention. My compatriot Jon Ekerold is another example. Different situation as he dissed Yamaha when they did eventually offer him a factory ride after his enormous 350cc title as a privateer. His career went no further. Every rider wants a factory ride with good reason. Best kit, best support, best everything. Factories at corporate level are biased toward the brand and its success rather than rider accomplishments as a necessity relevant to sales which at the end of the day pay rider and staff salaries. For them, manufacturer title is more important than rider title everyday of the week.  I've always been a big JL defender, especially during his years alongside Vale. Another if and I have no doubt about it. Had the situation title wise been reversed, you just know Dovi would have let him by within 6 laps instead of trying to guess his race long potential. If JL continues to play that game he can always take his money, sponsors and get as close to a factory deal anything bike to run with as an independent TEAM JL MONSTER, whatever. I am totally averse to team orders until the stage of the season that the riders title and manufacturer title are at stake. JL was not part of that scenario throughout 2017.

“At the beginning I was a little bit faster in some parts of the track but in the last part of the track I was so slow. During the weekend I take a minimum of three tenths per lap from Jorge. In the race I was better – much better – but still I was slowerIn the middle of the track I was able to overtake but I couldn’t find a way. But after a few laps he started to ride in a better way and I had the same pace as him. And I was completely on the limit like him. So after five laps we push 100 percent from the beginning until the end. We had the same pace as the leaders but we were pushing over the limit all of the race.That’s why Jorge crashed and I crashed. We didn’t have that pace. We were not so far. We’re speaking about two tenths, but when you’re pushing so hard two tenths can be big. So that’s what happened and apart from the first few laps. Just because Jorge tried to help me to be smooth than the weekend doesn’t mean that I was smooth."


Passion, villians, likely and unlikely heroes.  And emotion.  Perhaps too much, but not from the riders.  

We were treated to another great race.  Full credit to Pedrosa on his win.  Full credit to Zarco to being perhaps the most exciting rider to watch all season besides Marquez, and this race was absolutely no exception.  Suzuki near the top after practice sessions and qualifying?  KTM?  So many good stories from the weekend, that do well to summarize the season, also.  

A lot of energy being spent focusing on an alleged villian.  I say this as someone who came all the way from Ohio, USA to watch this race and hoped to see Dovi do it.  However, I wasn't at all disappointed in what transpired.  The right man has the title now, and no objective information exists that can convince me Dovi could have come close to winning that race if it weren't for JL.  I guess the key takeaway here is that towing is only a "thing" so long as it's not JL doing it.  

Great race.  Epic season.  

Without wanting to hijack this thread, doesn't this highlight the thrill of motogp vs the yawnfest that's wsbk? All a matter of passion, heroes and villains.

Great season, can't wait for next year. Are we there yet?

I thought about that as I wrote my post.  How to address emotion without making it seem useless, or bad, even?  Because it is necessary (emotion) and good...however, I just wanted to point out indirectly my opinion that emotion is also a veil that can distort visibility of the truth.  It can cause lost grip on objectivity and reality.  

I believe there's a lot of objective facts available, on the surface and easily accessible, that should quell the doubt cast by the optics and emotion.  They're in the data.  They're within Dovi's own comments.  Etc.  It's clear, though, that for many, this is not good enough.  

I think WSBK has it’s share of characters and personal drama, like it or not, but the dominance of 2 factories / 3 riders are for me what makes it way less exciting than MotoGP.  Dorna dealt with a similar problem in MotoGP a few years ago and did an amazing job turning things around, and now they’re trying to work that same magic with WSBK.  I hope they can pull it off again!

Channelling some Donald Trump with the subject line. 

Round of the season is very hard to pick and each had its own special kind of drama but for me Mugello was my favorite. 3 sensational races.

Moto3 was edge of the seat material with 20 riders trying to all fit into turn one at the same time lap after lap. Real racing is that.

Moto2 also a fantastic race with Pasini doing the business at home and showing pace and determination not previously seen.

But MotoGP was brilliant with so much emotion. Dovi taking his first win of the season and surviving a massive tank slapper coming over the hump on the main straight. An Italian on an Italian bike winning in Italy. A triple whammy for emotion.

Well, at the end of 2016 we were gushing at being treated to one of the best seasons in history with what, 10 different race winners? How could it get any better? Well, I'm not altogether sure that it did but wow, it was an absolute cracker and who is NOT looking forward to 2018 rubbing their hands together at the prospect of potentially an even more dramatic season?

Zarco has clearly announced his arrival and is elbowing his way to front of the crowd. Folger has shown flashes of real pace and could well be in the mix. Miller has climbed straight onto the Ducati and shown front row pace on day one. And lets not forget the KTM's which are progressing at a rate that has got everyone looking and a little bit worried. A fit Rins is looking like a very hot prospect as well.

MotoGP is alive and well and a big mention has to go to Dorna CEO Carmello Ezpeleta for crafting a simply brilliant series from the sea of competing interests that make up our favorite sport. Carmello, you really have "made MotoGP great again".


This is a great article!

Much more here than the team orders crap. It wasn't a big deal even in real time during the race. Dovi got a tow. And was faster in fewer sectors even with the tow. Jorge is a PR douche full of spendy hams that is #2 at Ducati yes. But he has adapted to this bike and is doing just fine. The focus on vapid egoic drama misses the real beauty!

Is NO ONE going to make mention of Marquez bursting out from 9.5 tenths suddenly to over the limit and flipping crashing? Then saving it on his elbow and knee? In a TITLE CHASE RACE?! Bigger story.

Zarco is the top Yamaha performer at the end if the season on a satellite bike that should be WAY out developed by now.

Suzuki has come good. With BOTH of its riders.

Aprilia isn't languishing. And has two riders. Nice bike.

Ducati. DUCATI. With wee mortal professor Dovisioso. Ran to the line w HRC and MM93. THAT is a story.

Even Marquez's triumph has a really beautiful narrative. He crashed as often as Haga, Checa, and the most limit pushing 9 lives kitty litter tumblers we have ever seen to land on their feet. To win the title! It hasn't been easy in that garage.

David, has a title winner EVER crashed that much? Even over 20?! "I have been losing my hair from stress. The bike needs to be safer to ride." The Honda a year ago was not very rideable. Two years ago it was a f*cking widow maker.

Yamaha...YAMAHA came up with a bike for 2017 that lacks drive grip and eats tires. Like a pre-Gigi Duc going in reverse. Bizarre. I love what you got together in this and the last articles about the Yamaha David. We aren't paying you enough. Spot on. Vinales had a riding style initially that masked the bike's issues. The Michelin changed. No, don't blame Rossi for that. Do wonder how Yamaha engineers dig their way out of this hole (hint, electronics).

Dani Pedrosa wins. On Michelins and a unforgiving Honda. The hard way.

Zarco - ZARCO! An analog right hand sensitive rider for this new era. Who takes the Yamaha and makes it move around like a Honda w/o losing any time to a lack of smooth. In yrs gone by we would be crying out "get this man a factory bike!" Now we are saying "get a factory this man!" and seeing KTM or Suzuki as the place.

And Lorenzo was right as rain to get on to the Ducati, the 2017 red bike is a gem. Albeit not as consistently as preferable. But the Yamaha is worse. And the Honda was JUST recently utter shite until the latter part of 2016.

Enjoying your mention of upcoming satellite teams. I will hold my excitement at bay until we see ink on paper. I didn't think we were going to go through this season without a Suzuki team announced. Then thought Aspar a fit with Aprilia given their history. So many Ducati teams! And Hondas. Blech. MarcVDS to KTM would be great to see and surely help the Orange project. Next year MarcVDS has a nice Honda, and were I a rider I would prefer it to the KTM. But for a team, having a guy like Binder on an Orange factory contract handed to me would be very desirable. And along with that, rather than a customer of cast offs our garage could become like Pramac? Not pre-Gigi Pramac, but like 2018 Pramac? Sounds pretty good.

Keep up the fine work David. Again, Alien.

It was a forgone conclusion during the pre-season and the first few races that the Tech 3 guys might be fast *now* but would start going backwards after a few races because the factory teams would continue the development of their bikes, and that the 2016 M1 had reached the end of its useful life. I'm pretty pleased for Zarco and Folger that that didn't turn out to be the case (although Rossi, Vinales and Lin Jarvis probably aren't quite as pleased, hahaha!).

David, I would add nothing to the endless speculation about what might have been at Valencia, except that it was a great year with great reporting and I'll be continuing as a site supporter in 2018.

However, one almost aside comment you reported about KTM is that their first priority is to replace Bradley Smith with Johan Zarco in 2019 and talks are well advanced. If this is the case, I am surprised they are so public about this so soon. as this both effectively ends Bradleys' career on a factory bike and reduces his role next year to a test rider for Zarco. It's hardly lkely to enthuse Bradley to give it his all next year, unless he knows all about this and is being sufficiently financially compenstated. 

I also wonder what Herve Poncharal's take on this would be.

Unless I am reading this wrongly it makes Aprilia's treatment of Sam Lowes seem positively gentlemanly.

While I was also surprised at how frank that quote was, they have stood by Smith (in spite of some pretty average results earlier on) and will see out his two year contract.  The worst they were talking about was swapping him and Kallio, so he would have kept a role in the project.

With Lowes, Aprilia whiteanted his season from the outset by giving him equipment which often broke down and when it didn't was clearly inferior to his team mate's gear.  They then terminated his contract one year early due to poor performance.  While I'm not inclined to think Lowes was going to be a star, he had no chance and has now had his career set well back.

I don't think it's terrribly fair to compare KTM/Smith with Aprilia/Lowes.  Both Smith and Pol must surely know that they will have to ride out of their skin to remain factory KTM pilots, those bikes are on an upward trajectory and will require alien like riders.

I think KTM are probably quite wise to not too seriously court Marquez.  although I'm sure he would go great on the bike they most definitely would be in the Rossi/Ducati world of pain if he didn't win on it.  Better to back an upwardly mobile in the mould of Vinales / Zarco / Folger / Mir / etc and hope they catch the lightning in the bottle ala Ducati/Stoner.

Thanks for mentioning Oliveira. While the talk about the future KTM MotoGP riders (including from the factory itself) pretty much always names Oliveira and Binder in the same breath, it then usually veers immediately to praise Binder extensively without ever mentioning Oliveira again. This includes several German-language interviews with Pit Beirer, despite Oliveira bringing them their first Moto2 wins and consistently performing above expectation. It's been very confusing to me to see him being "passed over" in discussions so often even though he is clearly an incredibly exciting prospect for MotoGP and in my opinion a bigger talent than some of the other riders listed for the seats. Maybe I missed something? I no longer follow every single detail outside the race track like I used to, but he certainly looks the red hot favourite for next year's Moto2 title and I would think he'd move up to MotoGP before Binder does, so I'd have expected more eyes on him at the moment than there seem to be on Binder, for example.

is Leopard finding a set-up for Danny Kent in 2015 that worked better than the pre-season Honda recommened one that all the other Honda riders were using as a baseline.  Without that advantage, Oliveira would most certainly have been 2015 Moto3 Champion, with the resulting higher reputation (a somewhat dubious thing, considering the hit and miss careers of lightweight class champions when they move up).

Trust me, I certainly did not miss that one. ;) I've been closely following Oliveira since he won his wildcard races in the Red Bull Rookies and have a somewhat high personal investment in his career after meeting him several times and being knocked over by his maturity and professionalism even at a young age. 2015 still irks me greatly as he most definitely should have won that championship. But since KTM figured the bike out halfway through the season in testing (too late) and then Binder went on to take it to the title the next year with the expected rising profile, I was only referring to the latest results from this year which should have certainly raised Oliveira's reputation enough again for him to be mentioned more in terms of MotoGP rides now.

It's a real shame people always look only for titles instead of all the actual happenings on track throughout the season. As you mention, it's a dubious honour. Case in point: It was clear that Joan Mir was something special and the best of the CEV crop even before he joined the world championship, but after too many crashes and Canet injuring himself, Bulega got the CEV title and the hype moving up to Moto3 because nobody bothered to watch the races. I'm more or less confident though that the people in the paddock who make the final decisions on riders actually do their research and look beyond just titles. At least I'm hopeful. Jonas Folger springs to mind, but then again, Herve Poncharal is awesome.

Thank you, David, for the best site on the internets. Bravo! Valencia was perfect in that all players acted completely in character. MM was transcendent, Zarco meticulous, Pedrosa unsung, Lorenzo confounding, Dovi admirable,,,imo a fitting end to one of the greatest years ever in motorcycle racing. I won't miss Nick Harris, now I'll get to hear Matt's comments without Nick cutting every single one of them off. BT Sports has far far superior coverage anyway. Most importantly for actually watching racing action I hope every producer of motorcycle racing has been recently fired and been replaced by ones who will show me the action and NOT force me to watch people watching what i want to be watching. AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT MM's FATHER. Show the racing live and show the heart warming dreck before and after. There, TV producers, I just did your job for you. You're welcome and thank you.

Marquez is a splendid rider (one of the best) with a splendid bike (the best). And when the bike is not the best at the beginning of the season, it becomes so after four or five races.

I totally agree with Brian a couple of posts above about the MOTOGP feed showing Marqueze's father while the race is going on. Not just Marquez's father, but while the race is going on they show the faces of other team members. At least they should be able to find at least one good looking woman to capture on the camera instead of what they do show. Or how about just showing the other racers battling? There are battles down the field that they could show instead of someones father or some team managers face.

And why all the closeups of the riders faces when they're in the pits waiting to mount their bikes? Beyond irritating. I'd never stare at someone like the cameras do. Whoever is in charge of the cameras.........a message: retire or just go away forever.

Marquez most likely has the best reaction time of any other rider in the sport. He seems to be figureing out how to recover from a front end washing out before the bike even gets laid over. If there is a greatest of all time, he's it for sure.

I've long been an NFL fan and once snowmobiled70 miles just after a heavy snowstorm to watch my Broncos play, it was the year of "The Drive," but NFL Now stand for Not For Long, because as entertainment it just pales in comparison to MotoGp. 

Marquez, as a fellow poster here says, has an Alien-like ability to process information coupled with boundless courage and fierce desire to win,  or else. 

That "or else" used to mean win it or bin it, but Marquez has found a third way, another option, pick it up with your elbow and knee, why didn't anyone think of that before, he asked rhetorically, because no one else can.

World Superbike is boring by comparison, the announcers are annoying with their incessant chatter, would it kill them to let us hear the motors wind out once in awhile?

I'm sure Johnny Rea will have a bit more competition next year, but judging by the sparse rowds at WSBK races, they have a long way to go.

MotoGp is the greatest sport on earth, and I can double down on that seeings how the Broncos just plain suck this year!


After last season, this season exceeded expectations. Great article and March 2018  can’t come soon enough.