The 2017 MotoGP season will start in just under two weeks in Qatar. This season, KTM makes its debut in the premier class with the Red Bull KTM Factory team. New alliances are formed this season with several riders moving to different teams. There was also a lot of speculation surrounding the British GP this season. The Grand Prix was supposed to move to the Circuit of Wales, but construction at the venue has not begun. British Conservative Party politician David Davies was an strong dissenter against hosting the race in Wales. However, the backers behind the construction of the Circuit of Wales are fighting back. But for now, the race will be held at Silverstone and have an option to host for 2018.
31 Moto3 riders from all around the globe are expected to take the field in Qatar this season. Moving on to rider changes, Italian rider Lorenzo Dalla Porta will make his full-time debut after spending two seasons as a replacement rider. Another Italian, Romano Fenati will return to racing after a fallout with the Sky VR46 team. But this time he is riding for the Marinelli Rivacold Snipers team. Italy’s Niccolo Antonelli moves to the Red Bull KTM team from the Marinelli Rivacold Snipers team. Another Italian Enea Bastiannini will move to the Estrella Galicia team from the Gresini team, Spanish rider Jorge Martin will fill the seat vacated by Bastiannini. Scotland’s John McPhee will join the newly formed British Talent Team from Peugeot MC Saxoprint, Czech rider Jakub Kornfeil will take his place. Moto3’s sole female rider Maria Herrera will move to the AGR team from her privately owned MH6 team. The Spaniard will be the sole rider in the team. Another Spaniard, Albert Arenas, will also make a full time appearance after spending last season as a replacement. Livio Loi moves to Leopard Racing from RW Racing. Among the rookies are Finland’s Patrik Pulkkinen, Italy’s Tony Arbolino, Japan’s Ayumu Sasaki and Kaito Toba, Thailand’s Nakarin Atiratphuvapat and Italy’s Manuel Pagliani and Marco Bezzecchi.
In terms of team changes, the SIC58 Squadra Corse will make their Moto3 debut, 3570 Team Italia will leave the Moto3 grid. RW Racing will withdraw from Moto3 and shift their focus on Moto2. In testing, Spanish rider Aron Canet and Italian rider Nicolo Bulega and Romano Fenati dominated the timesheets for Honda, KTM and Honda respectively. Mahindra were nowhere near the front end of the grid except for the 3rd session on Day 2 when Lorenzo Dalla Porta finished 3rd.
Dalla Porta said “It has been a very interesting third day. We improved our race pace even though we didn’t do a simulation because we still have work to do. We are getting close to where we need to be and it will be important to arrive in Qatar feeling calm and confident that we can take that next step and be pushing at the front. I know that we can and that is what we are going to try. We get the new engine in Qatar and for sure it will help. The key is to have the best possible set-up for the chassis.”
Meanwhile teammate Arenas said “Our overall reflections from Jerez are good. This morning we tried for a fast lap but we were a few tenths short. Then for the second session we decided to try a race simulation, although it was the hottest part of the day. Even so, I felt comfortable, I set a consistent pace and I was close to my best lap. We are working with the new suspension and shock they brought for us here to try and find some more pace. We are finding a good set-up and I hope that when it comes to Qatar and we need to find something extra for a fast lap we can make the most of the soft tyre and also complete another race simulation to make sure we are competitive on a used tyre.”
But, as seen from 2016, Moto3 can be very unpredictable and viewers will be treated to huge bike trains fighting for the win.