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MotoGP Season Gets Underway - 22 Weeks Until Silverstone

Author: Paul Evans Published: 22nd March 2017 09:49

Excitement ahead of August’s Octo British MotoGP™ at Silverstone intensifies as series starts in Qatar this weekend  Excitement ahead of August’s Octo British MotoGP™ at Silverstone intensifies as series starts in Qatar this weekend

Excitement ahead of August’s Octo British MotoGP™ at Silverstone intensifies as series starts in Qatar this weekend
With just 22 weeks to go before the Octo British MotoGP™ at Silverstone (24-27 August Bank Holiday weekend), the excitement and anticipation reaches fever pitch this weekend with four British riders on the grid for the opening round of the season in Qatar.
Leading the quartet of British riders under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit just outside Doha on Sunday will be Isle of Man-based Midlander Cal Crutchlow, who re-wrote the history books last year with two MotoGP victories on the LCR Honda. The 31-year old was the first British rider to win a premier class race for 35 years and in pre-season testing he has continued to impress – giving him every chance in the next 18 Grands Prix of winning more races and even challenging for ultimate championship success.
It’s a big season for Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding, who came strong in the final test at Qatar last week. Riding the Octo Pramac Ducati, the 24-year old was seventh fastest at the Losail International circuit. A repeat in the 22 lap race on Sunday would be the perfect start for Redding who is still the youngest ever grand prix winner.
Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith faces a tough opening few races as he spearheads the new Red Bull KTM team’s maiden season in MotoGP. He has recovered from the serious knee injury sustained last August and will be looking for points scoring rides in the opening three flyaway Grands Prix starting on Sunday.
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes makes his MotoGP debut after two Grands Prix wins last year in the Moto2™ class. The 26-year old, whose twin brother Alex competes in the World Superbike Championship, has joined Aleix Espargaro in the Gresini Aprilia team.
In the other categories, former Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent continues in the Moto2 class. The Wiltshire-based rider had a tough time last year after winning the Moto3 Championship the previous season. He continues with the Kiefer team but switches to a Suter frame.
22-year old Scotsman John McPhee gives the new British Talent Cup team it Grand Prix debut. McPhee returned to testing fully fit after missing the last two races last season following a crash in the Australian Grand Prix, just a few weeks after a brilliant win in the Czech Republic.
Can Maverick Vinales turn his dazzling testing form into race wins after he has dominated MotoGP™ pre-season testing on the Movistar Yamaha? The 22-year old Spaniard has made a sensational start to his Yamaha career leading all three pre-season test sessions including the Losail International Circuit test last week. He joins 38-year old nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi, with the departure of last year’s Qatar winner Jorge Lorenzo to Ducati. Last year Vinales, a former Moto3™ World Champion, took his maiden MotoGP victory at the Octo British Grand Prix riding for the Ecstar Suzuki team. He is replaced at Suzuki by Austrian Grand Prix winner Andrea Iannone who has rookie Moto2™ winner Alex Rins as his team-mate.
World Champion Marc Marquez crashed five times in the Qatar test as he struggled to tame the power of the Repsol Honda and it promises to be a season long fight for glory between the three times MotoGP Champion and Vinales. Lorenzo made good progress on the GP17 Ducati in Qatar but the 22 lap race on Sunday may just come a little early for a repeat of his victory last year. His Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso has been fast and consistent throughout testing at a circuit where he has a good MotoGP form.
The surprises on Sunday could come from a fit Danny Pedrosa, a rejuvenated Alvaro Bautista on his return to the Pull and Bear Aspar Team Ducati, the Monster Tech3 Yamaha rookie duo of Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger. The Grand Prix also marks the proper debut of the Red Bull KTM team of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.
With four of the leading riders stepping up to MotoGP this year’s Moto2 Championship is wide open. Pre-season favourites must include Tom Luthi, Franco Morbidelli and Takaaki Nakagami but there is some big talent coming up from Moto3 including World Champion Brad Binder and Grand Prix winner Khairul Idham Pawi.
It’s the same story in Moto3 with the departure of the World Champion. Italian Romano Fenati returns after his problems and has looked impressive on the Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda and will face tough opposition from fellow Italian grand prix winners Enea Bastianini and Niccolo Antonelli.
Channel 5 will broadcast highlights of the entire MotoGP™ season this year, giving UK viewers new free-to-air access to the world’s best racing. The opening race of the season will be shown on Monday 27 March at 19.00.
BT Sport will continue to broadcast the MotoGP™ action live. Fans will be able to watch the action from Qatar on BT Sport  2 at these times:
Thursday 23 March: 14.00-19.45
Friday 24 March: 14.45-18.45
Saturday 25 March: 14.30-18.30
Sunday 26 March: 13.45-21.00
talkSport2 will also have live commentary of the race on Sunday.
The Octo British MotoGP™ (24-27 August) is round 12 of the 2017 MotoGP™ series and tickets are on sale at: silverstone.co.uk

British MotoGP Accommodation 2017

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