MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Could 2017 be Rossi’s year?
The 2016 season has only just started, but 2017 is already looking good for VR
So silly season is over. And it’s not even June. Now that all the major title players (with one exception) have inked their contracts for next year, it seems like the right time to write a 2017 preview. In May 2016.
Next year MotoGP’s balance of power will shift more dramatically than it has done since the arrival of Marc Marquez four years ago. What this means is that 2017 could be Valentino Rossi’s best shot at the title since his 2010 effort went west at Mugello; though obviously I’m not suggesting he’s already out of the 2016 hunt.
Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Ducati is the biggest factor in the 2017 scenario. Lorenzo’s sweet, neutral riding technique goes together with the sweet, neutral handling of Yamaha’s M1 like fish goes with chips, so it’s a huge deal that the reigning champion and current championship leader won’t be riding the bike that has brought him so much success.
Lorenzo will surely win races on the Ducati, but even with his former Aprilia guru Gigi Dall’Igna and Casey Stoner at his side, the Desmosedici will do what he wants at some tracks but not at others. The Italian V4 is more of a corner-speed machine than it’s ever been – which will suit Lorenzo – but it’s still a bit hit and miss. Witness Jerez where the best Ducati rider’s race pace was 0.99 seconds a lap slower than Rossi’s winning pace. Thus Lorenzo will most likely struggle to reproduce the consistency that’s been a vital cornerstone to his three titles.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.