The 2018 MotoGP season.
Consisting of 19 meetings, commencing in Qatar on 18th March with the final event held on 18th November in Valencia with three classes, Moto3 (250cc), Moto2 (600cc Hondas) and MotoGP (1000cc.) All Four-Stroke engines.
Probably the biggest name currently in the MotoGP class has to be Marc Marquez who began his championship winning ways back in 2010 aboard a 125cc Honda. Since then taking another 5 World Championship wins in Moto2 and MotoGP classes and has to be favourite to add another in 2018. Although fierce competition is likely to come this year from several riders, Maverick Vinales, Johann Zarco, Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone and of course Valentino Rossi to name just a few!
The season so far.
At the time of writing, the Ducati engine is currently fastest on the track this season with Honda close behind. However, top speed is not everything.
Round 1. Qatar.
The opening round of the 2018 at the Losail Circuit series saw Andrea Dovizioso on the top step of the podium beating current champion Marc Marquez into second place by a mere 0.027secs!, with veteran Valentino Rossi standind on the 3rd step. Englishman Cal Crutchlow managed a very creditable 4th place.
Round 2. Argentina.
Round 2 held at the Autodromo termas de Rio Hondo saw Cal Crutchlow, no doubt aided by the fiasco that preceded the race, achieve a remarkable but gratefully received win in Argentina which put him in first place overall with 38 points and 3 points in front of Dovizioso.
With the start delayed by rain confusion ensued. Current champion, Marc Marquez suffered multiple penalties resulting in just an 18th place finish. Both Johann Zarco and Alex Rins benefitted, resulting in second and third palces respectively. As for the unfortunate Valentino Rossi who was in in 6th place with only 4 laps remaining, Marc Marquez forced him off the track and onto the grass resulting in him (Rossi) to drop his bike and managing only a 19th place finish.
Round 3. Austin, Texas.
Moving to the Circuit of the Americas in Texas for the 3rd round and "normal racing" was resumed. Marquez scoring maximum points beating Maverick Vinales into 2nd place by just over 3.5 secs. Cal Crutchlow finished in just 18th place after sliding out on the final turn resulting in him dropping to an overall 4th position and being replaced at the top of the table by Andrea Dovizioso.
Round 4. Jerez, Spain. 6th May.
And so to Europe for the first time this season with Spain hosting at the Circuito de Jerez on 6th May, where Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Alex Rins and Jorge Lorenzo could all benefit from home support with Pedrosa managing 2 top podium places in the last 5 years including 2017. Probably unlikely to suffer from the problems by Argentina's damp conditions pre-race and the bizarre start delay which ensued, with Marquez managing not one but two race penalties and finishing just 18th. My money would definitely be on MARQUEZ for the win!
Round 4, Jerez results :-
saw Honda's Cal Crutchlow on pole. Unfortunately for him he was unable to match his qualifying permance in the race with a DNF after crashing on just lap 9. Marquez, however, headed the pack from lap 8 onwards and, despite a spectacular save on lap 12, reamined in 1st place all the way to the chequered flag. Drama on lap 20 resulted in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place riders, Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Dovizioso all going down in a single spectacular crash. Remarkably all 3 riders escaped any serious injury. This left Marquez with a comfortable lead finishing some 5 seconds in front of second place Zarco and means Marquez now leads the overall with 70 points, 12 more than Zarco in second.
And so to Le mans, France for Round 5, 20th May.
Can Marquez continue his current dominance? History says no since he has not been on the podium since winning in 2014 - but you still wouldn't bet against him! Le Mans in recent (3) years is Yamaha territory with wins by Vinales last year and Lorenzo in both 2016 and 2015. Or maybe Yamaha's success can continue into 2018 with Rossi and/or Vinales to benefit? Can Zarco threaten? He certainly has the ability. There is no clear-cut answer and difficult to pick a favourite.
Round 5, Le mans results :-
Many will not be surprised that Marquez proved history is nothing to go by! Despite a bad start which saw Marquez drop from second on the grid to sixth place on the first lap, he soon recovered two places on the second lap. By lap 10, aided by Dovisioso and Zarco crashing out on laps five and eight respectivley, Marquez passed Lorenzo to take the lead. A lead he held to the chequered flag. Danilo Petrucci (2nd) and Valentino Rossi (3rd) joined Marquez on the podium.
Next up Mugello, Italy and Round 6, June 3rd.
Same question as for Le mans.... Will Marquez continue to dominate and increase his current overall lead of 36 points? Rossi will see it otherwise. This is his territory! Ducati too will want to shine in their homeland if Dovi can keep it upright and, no doubt, Petrucci will be boosted following his 2nd at Le mans. Lorenzo will also be hoping for more than his 6th place at Le mans. Should be a good one!
Round 6, Mugello results :-
With Rossi taking pole, his first since 2016 and championship leader and Marquez in a lowly 6th place on the second row this was always going to be good! Ironically, it was Lorenzo with the holeshot, a lead he held to the finish and his first ever success aboard the Ducati coming just four days after he had confirmed his contract with Ducati was not being renewed. Dovisioso did indeed keep it upright and finished in 2nd with Valentino a quarter second behind in 3rd place. Marquez saw his overall lead reduced to 23 points after losing the front end on just lap 5.
Two weeks until Round 7, Catalunya June 17th June.
Barcelona, Catalunya is home for some of the top riders - Marquez, Lorenzo, Vinales, Pedrosa and the Esparago brothers will all being wanting to prove themselves in front of their home fans. Can Dovisioso improve on his second place at Mugello - finished first here just last year. Marquez will also be aiming to improve on the 2nd place he achieved here in 2017 and 2016 to increase his overall points lead. Possibly Lorenzo can continue his good form in Mugello?
Betting markets available for MotoGP are limited at just
- Race winner
- Championship winner
History of MotoGP.
In the early days there were four classes, 350cc being the additional category although throughout history there has also been, at times, classes for 50cc and 80cc engines. The success of British built motorcycles was fairly short lived with the Italians leading the way through the majority of the 1950s until the arrival of the Japanese in the early 1960s when we saw domination by legendary Mike Hailwood aboard the 6 cylinder Honda in the 250cc and 350cc classes. However the Italians still led the way in the prestigious 500cc class with the MV Agusta 500-3 from 1966 to 1972 ridden by Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini and then the MV Agusta 500-4 in 1973 and 1974.
It all changed for the Japanese in 1969 when the FIM ruled that gearboxes were limited to six gears, 350 and 500s to four cylinders and all others to to two. This led to Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha staging a mass walk-out with Suzuki and Yamaha not returning until 1973. However, with their return they brought with them their 2 stroke weapons which eventually the Italians had no answer for. Despite the handling problems and the fact that the sheer power shredded tyres, the Japanese ruled the roost from 1975 onwards being ridden by more great names such as Barry Sheene, Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan. Honda returned to the scene some years later in 1979, firstly with their 4 stroke NR500 which proved to be unsuccessful, but by 1983 were winning with a 2 stroke 500. Finally, for the 2 strokes, in 2001 a certain Valentino Rossi won his first 500cc World Championship before winning a further 6 MotoGP's between the years 2002 and 2009. Major changes since 2009 has seen engine capacities increase to 800cc in 2009 and then to 1000cc in 2012.
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