With nine races run and the riders of the 2017 MotoGP championship laid up on the beach for their month-long summer break, we’ve finally had a brief truce in what has so far been the fiercest start to a Grand Prix championship season that we’ve ever seen, with no less that five riders going into the second half of the season vying for the title.
Five winners, ten podium finishers and four riders separated by only ten points at the top of the championship standings after nine races mean that statistically it is the closest title race in the premiere class’s 68-year history.
With that in mind, we look at the contenders so far and chart just how well they’ve managed their first halves of 2017.
- Championship position: 4th
- Points: 119
- Wins: 1
- Podiums: 4
Last season in MotoGP, Valentino Rossi put together a blistering title attack that few saw coming, the veteran stood on the top step of the podium multiple times and proved that he did still have the pace to fight with his much younger rivals – even if unusual inconsistency did cost him a shot at the title in the end.
Since then, we’ve all known that if he could combine that speed with the dependability of 2015 (where he also ended the season second overall) then there was no reason why he couldn’t be a title contender again in 2017.
Instead, what we’ve seen from him so far is a bit of both. Stunningly fast on his day (like at Le Mans, when he took the fight to teammate Viñales) but also making uncharacteristic mistakes (again, like at Le Mans), he’s also suffered from Yamaha going in the wrong direction with their new M1 chassis and leaving him unable to be competitive in low grip conditions.
But there’s a new frame in the bike now, there’s been a chance to regroup over the break, and he’s still only ten points adrift as MotoGP heads to some of his strongest circuits on the calendar – and only a fool would rule him out of being right in the mix come Valencia.
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