Believe it or not, the start of the Moto GP 2017 season is mere weeks away. The first race of the season, the Grand Prix of Qatar, will take place on 26th March. This year’s schedule will be in the same format as 2016, with 18 races running from late March to mid-November. The most notable news is that the British Grand Prix will remain at Silverstone in 2017, and most likely 2018 too, as the new Circuit of Wales has not yet been constructed. Winglets will also be banned from this year’s Grand Prix races, after a series of objections had been raised about their safety.
Of course, all eyes will be on the reigning champion, Marc Márquez, who won the Championship with three races to spare in 2016. Marquez third Championship triumph came about in no small part due to his consistency; he only finished outside the top five places three times, and two of those came after he had already secured the title in Japan. Márquez is rightly regarded as the favourite with the bookies to pick up his fourth title in 2017, but the run in may not be the same procession as last year.
Perhaps the most stirring challenge to Marquez this year will come from Maverick Viñales. The young Spaniard had something of a breakout season with Suzuki in 2016, winning his first Grand Prix at Silverstone and subsequently finishing fourth in the Riders’ Standings. Viñales will ride for Yamaha this season, replacing Jorge Lorenzo who has joined Ducati. Teaming up with veteran Valentino Rossi at Yamaha can only help Viñales, who is widely regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the sport. All eyes will be on the first race in Qatar to see how he copes with the pressure of riding alongside Rossi, who remains one of the true legends of the Moto GP. Hopefully the Italian legend can lend Viñales some advice on what it takes to make it at the business end of the standings.
Lorenzo too will surely have something to say about where the title is headed come November. A rough series of results, spanning from the Catalonian Grand Prix in June to the British Grand Prix in September, effectively ended his hopes of a title win in 2016. But as a three-time champion, as well as the opportunity to ride for a new team, Lorenzo will be out to prove his worth again in 2017. The romantics out there will of course be hoping that Valentino Rossi will mount another title challenge, perhaps even equalling Giacomo Agostini’s record of eight championship wins.
If you feel like betting on Moto GP, the good news is that William Hill offer some of the motoGP races in live in-play betting. This means that you can bet live on the races, reacting to every twist and turn and change in momentum as the action unfolds. Regardless of who comes out on top when the Valencian Grand Prix ends on 12th November, a thrilling season lies in front of us – and it won’t be long until it all kicks off!