The Rest of the Story – Valencia 2017 #2

© Bruce Allen

We were taking a look at the performance of the riders at Valencia, in the order they finished the year. The first post took us through Jonas Folger in 10th place for the year. We continue:

  • Jack Miller finished seventh after starting 12th, another respectable day for the blunt Australian, whose tenure in MotoGP thus far has been somewhat predictably disappointing, having skipped the Moto2 class altogether. With little to ride for and his ticket punched for the Octo Pramac Ducati team next season, he didn’t mail it in. He also got up to speed on the Desmosedici GP17 in a hurry in the Valencia test. Good on, Jackass.
  • Alvaro Bautista, who did, in fact, mail it in, running last all day until finally putting an end to his and our misery by crashing out on Lap 15. Re-signed by the Pull & Bear Aspar team for next season, he had nothing to ride for and let it show. But his hair looked great, his smile wide and white. Happy to be there. Narcissist.
  • Andrea Iannone qualified on the front row and finished sixth, his best outing of the season, finishing the year strong with three top six finishes in his last four races. My view of his season through Misano was that he was sandbagging. Perhaps he’s just adjusting to the Suzuki and is a work in progress after four seasons with Ducati.
  • Scott Redding euthanized a grim second half of the season at Valencia by starting 22nd and crashing out early. With nothing to ride for, he has again worked himself out of a job, having failed on the Honda and now the Ducati. Perhaps Aprilia is the answer. Somehow I think not. Dude should be riding AMA on a big fat Harley.
  • Aleix Espargaro, everyone’s favorite non-winner, capped off an impressive second half by qualifying 8th, although he crashed out later. Aleix showed plenty of potential, had a few top ten finishes and just missed qualifying on the front row at Motegi, but spent too much time off the bike, too many DNFs, too many contusions. The bike needs to improve more than he does, but the overall trend for the year was positive.  Not as positive as KTM but positive.
  • Alex Rins qualified 10th and finished 4th in his best outing of a year trashed by a serious early-season injury to his wrist. Once he returned to “fitness,” he showed plenty of potential heading into 2018. I had him pegged for Rookie of the Year going into the season, and might have been right had things gone better. Plenty of reasons to be optimistic next season.
  • Pol Espargaro, the #1 KTM rider, showed major improvement in the second half of the season, though Sunday in Valencia was not his day. Having glued on his 10th engine of the season, he was forced to start from pit lane, got over-excited, and crashed out for his 5th DNF of the season. But KTM has it going on, and the outlook for 2018 is very bright for young Espargaro, perhaps less so for his teammate.
  • Loris “Too Tall” Baz lost his ride this season through no real fault of his own. But he’s kind of like a well-nourished kid who wants to seriously pursue gymnastics. At Valencia he qualified 23rd and finished 16th, mostly due to attrition. He will ride for BMW next season in WSBK and we wish him well. He’ll have the same problem, but at a few different tracks.
  • Tito Rabat had his best outing of the year in his Marc VDS swan song, starting 14th and finishing 10th, his first and only top ten finish of the season. He showed some flashes of mediocrity later in the season after a year and a half of utterly dismal showings. Ducati can be a career killer, but it has also saved a few riders. I could easily see him back in Moto2 in two years.
  • About the best thing one can say about Karel Abraham’s 2017 campaign is that he qualified 2nd in Argentina. Otherwise bupkus. Started 18th at Valencia and finished 14th. Returning to the team next season with another pile of sponsor money, a law degree, and, like Bautista, seemingly happy just to be invited to the party.

If you are interested in the results pertaining to Bradley Smith, Hector Barbera or Sam Lowes you’ll need to visit the MotoGP website, because it’s too depressing for me to try to describe with any good humor the performance of this trio over the year and again on Sunday. Smith finished 11th.  There.

Finally, a brief word about the Valencia test. Marquez, it seems, is going to be faster next year than he was this year.


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6 Responses to “The Rest of the Story – Valencia 2017 #2”

  1. Old MOron Says:

    Your take on Rabat is hilarious, Brucey. And accurate, too! I was hoping Abraham would luck into another front row start, but I knew it wouldn’t happen. You did, too.

    I think Yamaha needs to make some KTM-like improvement if Vinnie and Vale are going to be factors next year. Ha! Yamaha needs to be like KTM. Too bad Sayyed Bashir isn’t here.

  2. Bryan Townsend (Vrooom) Says:

    Nice of you to give the back half of the grid some attention Bruce. I’d love to Rea race a couple of wild cards. Won’t happen, but it would be fun.

  3. spiff Says:

    I have a question. How do satellite teams work? Both Cruchlow and Petrucci have better than average bikes, Petrucci’s being a GP17. Can the factory give the satellite two current bikes? I think that is the way it should be.

    Also. The VDS Honda will be the KTM satellite in 2019 with their riders. Zarco/Espargaro and Morbidelli/Kallio. Mark my words.

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Everyone on a factory team works for the factory, is paid by the factory, etc. The satellite teams agree to use a certain brand of bike and negotiate the vintages thereof. LCR has had Honda factory support for quite some time; Crutchlow’s bike is not that different from Marquez. The satellite Yamahas have always ridden the previous year’s bike. Ducati satellite teams run the gamut, from Octo Pramac with a factory GP17 and an independent GP16, to Avintia and Aspar both running a 16 and a 15 this past season. The VDS Hondas have been a model or two older than the Repsol bikes. For the satellite teams, it’s all about the Benjamins, clawing for sponsorship money, securing the best equipment they can, then explaining to the sponsors how one of your riders crashed on Lap 2 and the other finished 20th, and how that’s good for his brand. I hope you’re right about having 4 KTMs on the grid. Suzuki and Aprilia will need to step up in the next year or two as well.

    • Old MOron Says:

      So are you saying?…

      Factory KTM
      * P.Espargaro
      * Zarco

      Satellite KTM (VDS)
      * Kallio
      * Morbidelli

      Ooooh, that would be great!
      Make it happen, Spiff.

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