A Beginner’s Guide To The 2017 MotoGP: What You Need To Know!
With the 69th premier class Grand Prix season’s first race only days away, we’ve decided to put together a handy beginner’s guide to the 2017 MotoGP championship. The MotoGP is easily one of the most exciting and enjoyable racing events in the world, but it’s often overshadowed by the likes of the sterile Formula One races, or our local America-based championships. If you’ve been wondering about the MotoGP and want to get involved for 2017, here’s what you need to know…
For the 2017 MotoGP, fans will be able to see more teams competing than we’ve seen in recent years, and the gap between factory teams is closer than ever. Usually, the series has been dominated by the likes of Honda and Yamaha, with Ducati getting an occasional podium position but that’s all changed. In 2016, the championship saw 9 different riders taking the top step of the podium, a landmark number.
For 2017, Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia will be joined by a sixth team. KTM have entered the fray, and it promises to add more drama to an already dramatic racing series.
The six manufacturers will be fielding and supporting 12 teams for the 2017 World Championship. All the manufacturers have their own factory teams, and some will be supporting satellite and privateer teams too.
Honda will be fielding their own Repsol Honda factory team, and providing support for the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda Team, and the LCR Honda team.
Yamaha will lead from their Movistar Yamaha MotoGP factory team, and will provide support to their Monster Yamaha Tech 3 satellite team too.
Ducati will be fielding their factory Ducati Team, and preparing bikes for the Octo Pramac Racing Team, the Reale Avintia Racing team, and the Pull&Bear Aspar Team.
Suzuki, Aprilia and KTM will only be fielding one team each: Team Suzuki Ecstar, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, respectively.
The full on factory teams will be riding brand spanking new race-prototypes for the 2017 season. These are at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing technology. All of the bikes are limited to 1000cc, although the engine configuration is up to the manufacturers, providing that they carry four cylinders or less, with a maximum bore capped at 3.2 inches. All bikes must also satisfy a minimum weight requirement. There are plenty of other little rules thrown in, but it’s much easier to go through the MotoGP rules and regulations documents on their website. Or it will get way too complicated for the purposes of this article.
Factory teams naturally favor themselves with the newest technology, whilst the satellite and private teams generally have to make do racing with last year’s race bikes. Which is not always a disadvantage.
The only other significant changes you need to know that aerodynamic winglets, first pioneered by Ducati, have been deemed to hazardous for the 2017 season. Instead, manufacturers have decided to incorporate them into the bodywork rather than sticking them on the outside.
The bike models are as follows…
Yamaha Teams: 2017 YZR-M1/2016 YZR-M1
: 2017 RC213V/2016 RC213V
: Desmocedici GP17/Desmocedici GP16/Desmocedici GP15
: 2017 GSX-RR
: 2017 RS-GP
All bikes have the benefits of running with carbon disc brakes should they choose to, and all teams must comply with the tire allocations and the rules surrounding them as provided and dictated by Michelin.
The 2017 MotoGP Riders
Even if you’re not already familiar with the MotoGP, you will have heard many of these names before. For a start, Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo are more or less household names in the motorcycle scene, but just in case you don’t know who’s riding what, here’s a quick rundown. We’ll start with the factory riders from the big three…
Repsol Honda: /Dani Pedrosa
Movistar Yamaha: /Maverick Vinales
Ducati: Jorge Lorenzo/Andrea Dovizioso
There’s going to be plenty of fireworks, and a lot of paintwork being exchanged between these guys. Rossi will be looking for a tenth world championship, Marquez will be keen to defend his title, and Lorenzo is going to fight tooth and nail to prove that he’s just as good on a Ducati as he was on a Yamaha. Vinales is the man to beat, if practice and testing is anything to go by, Pedrosa will be fighting to stay relevant, and Dovizioso will also be working hard to prove that he still deserves that factory seat. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride for these guys.
Despite the drama at the top, the beauty of the MotoGP is that anything can happen, and sometimes the most exciting and spectacular battles and maneuvers take place in the battles for top ten finishes. Keep your eyes on Andrea Iannone, Cal Crutchlow, and the Espargaro brothers…Here are the smaller teams and their riding duos.
Honda: EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Jack Miller/Tito Rabat
Honda: LCR Honda – Cal Crutchlow
Yamaha: Monster Tech 3 Yamaha – Johann Zarco/Jonas Folger
Ducati: Octo Pramac Ducati – Danilo Petrucci/Scott Redding
Ducati: Reale Avintia Racing – Hector Barbera/Loris Baz
Ducati: Pull&Bear Aspar Team – Alvaro Bautista/Karel Abraham
Suzuki: Suzuki Ecstar – /Alex Rins
Aprilia: Aprilia Team Racing Gresini – Aleix Espargaro/Sam Lowes
KTM: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – Pol Espargaro/Bradley Smith
The Race Format
Now you know who’s riding, our beginner’s guide to the MotoGP 2017 wouldn’t be complete without an overview of the format. The racing weekend comprises of four free practice sessions, two rounds of qualifying, and the full race being on Sunday*. Races are always preceded by a warm up practice, a warm up lap, a sighting lap, and then the race proper.
The best combined times of the free practices determine which qualifying session a rider will be entered in to. Q1 (as it’s known) sees the slower riders compete for grid positions from 13th place and downwards. However, the top two fastest riders will be allowed to participate in Q2. Q2 determines what rider will go where on the grid, from pole position down to 12th place. Once the riders know where they can start from, we can move onto the main race.
The race is fairly straightforward: the lights go out, the race begins. Unlike a lot of racing competitions, being the fastest doesn’t mean you’re the best in MotoGP. Braking ability, corner entry, tire conservation, and the careful weighing up of other riders are crucial factors to determining a race winner. You’ll have to watch it to get the idea!
The top three riders to cross the finishing line after completing the allocated number of laps are granted podium positions, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Riders who place between 1st and 15th place are awarded points in a descending scale, with 1st place being granted 25 pts, 2nd place gets 20 pts, 3rd bags 16 pts, 4th 13 pts, 5th 11 pts, and from 6th onwards they just descend appropriately.
Whoever has the most points at the end of the season becomes the champion. Simple.
*Except at the Dutch GP in Assen, which is always on a Saturday.
The MotoGP 2017 Calendar
And now, of course, time for the schedule…Here are the race days for the 18 rounds of the 2017 MotoGP.
- Qatar – Losail International Circuit: 26th March
2. Argentina – Termas de Rio Hondo: 9th April
3. USA – Circuit of the Americas: 23rd April
4. Spain – Circuito de Jerez: 7th May
5. France – Le Mans: 21st May
6. Italy – Mugello Circuit: 4th June
7. Spain – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya: 11th June
8. Netherlands – TT Circuit Assen: 25th June
9. Germany – Sachsenring: 2nd July
10. Czech Republic – Automotodrom Brno: 6th August
11. Austria – Red Bull Ring: 13th August
12. Great Britain – Silverstone: 27th August
13. San Marino – Misano: 10th September
14. Spain – Motorland Aragon: 24th September
15. Japan – Twin Ring Motegi: 15th October
16. Australia – Phillip Island: 22nd October
17. Malaysia – Sepang International Circuit: 29th October
18. Spain – Valencia, Circuit Ricardo Tormo: 12th Novemeber
How To Watch It
The commercial rights to the MotoGP are currently held by Dorna Sports, and they’re generally pretty good at providing coverage of the MotoGP all over the world. Naturally, there are too many individual tv channels that have secured broadcasting rights to name any specific ones, however, if you’re not blessed with a premium cable TV package, you might be out of luck. That’s not to say that the dream is over. The MotoGP website provides video passes to live stream the races online – although it’s very expensive to do it that way. Luckily, a lot of broadcasters do have the rights to an abridged version of the race, which usually broadcasts a day or two later.
If these aren’t good enough alternatives, we always recommend heading down to your nearest sports bar and persuading the barman to switch it over to the GP. They’re never up for it at first, but we can tell you this as the gospel truth: we’ve converted many a surly barman into a die hard MotoGP fan after a few rounds have been shown…
And of course, there are unscrupulous ways of viewing anything these days, but we don’t recommend it. No doubt you can find a shoddy stream with an over excited Spanish commentator barking through your headset, but that’s no way to enjoy the best racing in the world.
Hopefully this beginner’s guide to the 2017 MotoGP has given you the motivation to tune in. If you want to find out more, send us a message. Or if you want more coverage in the future…just let us know!