9 races over, 9 to go. The top four riders are separated by just 10 points, meaning no one really knows where this year’s championship is headed to...
In the beginning of the 2017 MotoGP season, it was kind of a given that the battle for the championship will be a hard fought, two-way duel between the usual suspects – Marc Marquez and Maverick Vinales would be slugging it out for the rider’s title, while Honda and Yamaha would lock horns for the constructor’s title – that was supposed to be the usual order, you know. But, with the championship reaching the halfway mark, it hasn’t quite turned out to be the case…
Of course, if you go by the championship standings, you can argue that it’s still Marquez vs Vinales – after nine races, Marquez leads the championship by just 5 points over Vinales. It’s kind of amusing you know, because if you think about it, Marquez and Vinales haven’t really gotten into a dogfight for victory thus far in this season – in fact, they haven’t been on the podium together for even once this year. And yet there’s not much to choose between the two. In fact, the top four riders - Marquez, Vinales, Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi - they’re all within 10 points of each other in the points tally. What’s more, Dani Pedrosa is only 26 points away from the championship leader. And if you think Pedrosa is out of contention, just know it for a fact that last year Marquez was leading the championship with 48 points going into the summer break. The 2017 MotoGP championship is still anyone’s to take!
There’s no denying that the 2017 season has been a strange one and full of ups and downs. If there’s someone who’s to be blamed/thanked for this unpredictability, it’s Michelin. The tyres are playing a huge role in turning the championship around this year. You see a rider winning a race on a certain weekend, and in the very next round he’s found struggling for grip, barely able to finish in the top ten. Because the tyres behave so differently on different tracks, all the riders and teams are struggling to find a perfect setup and electronics settings – whoever hits the right note on a particular race weekend, they run away with the winner’s trophy.
After winning two races back to back in Mugello and Catalunya, most of the pundits and experts concluded that Dovizioso and Ducati’s combo is now a serious championship contender. However, as per Dovizioso, “this is not the reality”. He said that while it was an exciting feeling to win these races, it was quite unusual. As per him, a lot needs to be done to improve the Ducati and they’re far off their main rivals. Yet when he won the race in Catalunya, he said that he wasn’t really pushing 100 per cent and he was surprised that he could beat Marquez and Pedrosa without breaking a sweat.
In Assen, there was even more surprise to be had as Rossi won his first race of the season, while his teammate Vinales crashed out, losing the championship lead to Dovizioso. Dovizioso’s lead on the points table was short lived though, since Marquez’s win at Sachsenring pushed the Spaniard to the top of the leaderboard.
At this point in time, there’s no definitive answer as to who’ll be crowned champion at the end of this season. It could be Marquez, Vinales, Dovizioso or Rossi – or, it could be someone outside of the top four, who knows? There are still 225 points to take!
Having said that, whoever wins the 2017 championship title, he’ll be remembered for a very, very long time for sure, since this has been one mentally taxing season for all the riders and teams alike. And, it’s not over as yet – there are nine more races to go!