With three wins in the last six races, Ducati is poised to upset Honda’s championship hopes - something that hasn’t happened since time immemorial…
After the summer break, MotoGP is back in action for the second and more crucial phase of the championship. Of course, there’s still no clear picture on who’s going to take the title home, but if the last two rounds at Brno and Spielberg are anything to go by, a few things are quite apparent now – like, Marquez is back to where he belongs – at the top, that is, Dovisiozo is surprisingly going for the kill this year and factory Yamaha riders are going backwards.
The second half of 2017 MotoGP kick started in Brno as the field lined up for the CzechGP. Thanks to a number of updates including a new aero fairing, the factory Hondas and Ducatis showed significant improvements. That said, over the weekend it was Marquez who emerged as the man to beat. After what looked like a catastrophic race start for the four-time world champion owing to a wrong tyre choice, the Repsol Honda rider yet again revelled in flag-to-flag format as he convincingly cruised to victory in Brno.
It wasn’t until the AustrianGP, though, that we’d witness the improvements in factory Honda and Ducati bikes. From the get go, it was a given that Ducatis will reign supreme at this circuit. The track layout with its long straights and tight corners favours the monstrously powerful machines from Bologna. And yet it wasn’t going to be a straightforward affair. Even though tyres continue to dictate the outcome, Honda seemed to have sorted out the acceleration issues which have been affecting its riders. Yes, Ducati was yet again victorious in Austria, but the Honda was only 0.176s behind.
The main highlight of the Austrian Grand Prix was, of course, the duel between Andrea Dovizioso and Marquez. The fight for the win was so intense at that it kept the spectators on the edge of their seats till the very last corner of the very last lap. From Marquez sliding to pull a brave overtake on the final corner to Dovizioso holding his nerves and winning the race, the AustrianGP was quite a spectacle.
Dovizioso may have won the race but he’s still 16 points behind Marquez in the championship tally. With factory Yamahas of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi still having chassis woes and excessive rear tyre wear, it seems we’re likely to witness a Honda vs Ducati battle for the 2017 winner’s trophy.