From the Blog

So, who will win?

Photo courtesy of mcnews.com.au

Well, the MotoGp teams for 2019 are now settled and the last two end of year tests are done and dusted. Firstly,

Repsol Honda

  • Marc Marquez
  • Jorge Lorenzo (moves from Ducati Team)

Movistar Yamaha

  • Valentino Rossi
  • Maverick Vinales

Ducati Team

  • Andrea Dovizioso
  • Danilo Petrucci (moves from Pramac Ducati)

Suzuki

  • Alex Rins
  • Joan Mir (Rookie)

Red Bull KTM

  • Johann Zarco (moves from Tech3 KTM)
  • Pol Espargaro

Aprilia Gresini

  • Aleix Espargaro
  • Andrea Iannone (moves from Suzuki)

Tech3 KTM

  • Hafizh Syahrin
  • Miguel Oliveira (Rookie)

LCR Honda

  • Cal Crutchlow
  • Takaaki Nakagami

Pramac Ducati

  • Jack Miller
  • Francesco Bagnaia (Rookie)

Reale Avintia Ducati

  • Tito Rabat
  • Karel Abraham (moves from Angel Nieto Team)

SIC Yamaha (New team)

  • Franco Morbidelli
  • Fabio Quartararo (Rookie)

Let’s look at that list for a minute or two and I’m going to do that on a team basis first, looking at what teams have gained strength, which have lost strength and which are expected to stay substantially the same.

Repsol Honda have undoubtedly gained strength. Regardless of our feelings about Dani, Lorenzo is a proven race winner and front-runner and the 2019 team looks by far and away the strongest on paper.

Yamaha remains unchanged but there are still serious question marks there. Testing (and I know that it’s not an infallible guide) has only served to muddy the waters. Vinales claims to be happier with the 2019 bike though warning that it is not the big improvement that he hoped it would be. Rossi, on the other hand, remains totally disenchanted with the new offering, suggesting that there is no substantial improvement over this year’s bike. Where Yamaha go is going to depend entirely on who they choose to believe. Historically, whether he is officially #1 in a team or otherwise, Rossi always gets his way in technical matters and, given that he finished in front of MV25 this year, that seems fair. However, he didn’t win a race while Maverick did so there is set to be some head-scratching at Team Blue. Strength = unchanged.

Ducati. Team Red will be weaker because they have lost Lorenzo and gained a rider who will never be as good as the rider he is replacing. I feel Ducati missed the boat badly here in signing Petrucci instead of Miller, despite Miller’s crash record.

Suzuki will be weaker until Mir gets up to speed and that is the great imponderable. As noted previously, Joan has really struggled to tame the bigger bikes and his Moto2 season was forgettable in the extreme. I hope he adapts to the bigger bike better because he is an extraordinary talent. The team will miss the fast but erratic Iannone.

Red Bull, the “works” effort KTM gain a real star in the form of Zarco but it remains to be seen how he will cope with having to develop a bike rather than just ride one. His tests were very unflattering with Johann expressing great disappointment with the speed of the 2019 bike. Overall, I’d say KTM should be slightly stronger, but not by much.

LCR Honda start out the season with two fast but unpredictable riders. Cal HAS to stop crashing, that’s the #1 aim. I’ve never been impressed with Nakagami, he’s there because Honda want a Japanese rider on the MotoGp grid and that has usually worked out badly; it will do so again, I fear. LCR will be weaker.

Aprilia have to get some performance, that’s their main objective. Aleix is competent and will probably be overshadowed by Iannone who will be out to prove that Suzuki got it wrong by sacking him. As with Cal, Andrea will first have to stop crashing and then maybe we can see his true colours. Unchanged.

Tech III KTM will struggle. Weaker than 2018 in terms of rider roster, but, since it is a new team altogether, it’s hard to rate them overall. I don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel for them in 2019.

PRAMAC will be a little stronger with Jack having a 2019-spec bike. Bagnaia will take some time to get up to speed; the jury is still out on him. As with Cal and Crazy Joe, Jack MUST stop crashing through unforced errors. We cannot have another year of apologetic post-race press releases.

Real Avintia Ducati are there to fill the grid. Time will tell if Tito can regain his mental strength after his horrendous Silverstone injury. Karel is there because he has money but I don’t expect to see him troubling the scorers too often. Weaker.

SIC Yamaha. No real guidelines here though Franco had a better second half of the season. Fabio? Well, I hope that they have made a good choice. Personally I’m not convinced but I’d be equally happy to be proved wrong.

The first test of 2019 is going to be very interesting though inconclusive as tests are. It seems to be a long time for the first race of the year, oh, well, be patient, I guess.