MotoGP: teams head east to Japan

MotoGPTM kicks off the Pacific-Asian leg of the 2017 world championship this weekend with the Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Round 14), the first of three back-to-back races along with Australia and Malaysia. Provisional leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) stand out as the big favourites for this year’s title. 


MotoGP: Honda’s Aragon one-two

The Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón – Round 14 of the 2017 MotoGPTM World Championship – was won by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), ahead of team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team). 


MotoGP: Qatar to kick off 2017 world championship

After a memorable 2016 campaign, which saw nine different riders win races as Michelin returned to the series following a seven-year absence, the first fixture of the 2017 MotoGPTM World Championship (March 23-26) will take teams to Losail, near Doha, in the middle of the Qatari desert.


One of the favourites to win the season’s opener is rising star Maverick Viñales who has emerged as the dominant force after pre-season testing at Valence, Sepang, Phillip Island and Doha.

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His Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team-mate and four-time Qatar victor Valentino Rossi (last win in 2015) has had a more difficult build-up to the season, so the Italian star will be hoping for a strong result after posting the sixth-best lap at Losail testing.

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Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati), who has been coming to terms with the new Desmosedici, has been gradually upping his pace and he concluded the last test in Qatar with the fourth-best time. A win on Sunday would see him become only the second rider – after his former team-mate Rossi – to claim back-to-back victories with two different makes.

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Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez, the outgoing champion, and Dani Pedrosa are buoyed by their positive winter testing programmes. The former has amassed one win and two podium finishes from four starts at Losail, while Pedrosa has scored five podium finishes.

To build on its 2016 effort, which harvested one race win and four podiums, Team Suzuki Ecstar has recruited Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins. Meanwhile, Aleix Espargaró and Sam Lowes will be coming to terms with the Aprilia RS-GP for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, as two-time Moto2™ world champion Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger – two MotoGP rookies – appear for the first time in the colours of Monster Yamaha Tech3.

After a long time preparing for the occasion, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is poised to make its return to motorcycle racing’s premier class as a permanent entry and will be represented by Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith. The move means it will be the first team to be active in every class, from Moto3™ to MotoGP.

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There is plenty new from Michelin in 2017, too, including the availability of a new front MICHELIN Power Slick (revised profile), plus a new rear tyre for enhanced traction and rideability.

Rule changes mean that Michelin will now propose three different front- and rear-specification tyres for each race compared with two in 2016. This broader range is expected to provide more variety in terms of tyre choice and add to the dynamism of what is in reality a control-tyre series. The use of intermediates has been dropped.

Free Practice is due to start at 7:55pm local time on Thursday (March 23), with the first grand prix of 2017 scheduled to get under way at 9pm on Sunday.

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Meeke bounces back in Spain for Citroën/Michelin

Citroën Racing’s Kris Meeke stemmed a recent barren spell with an emphatic victory on the 2017 RallyRACC Catalunya-Rally de España in his Michelin-equipped Citroën C3 WRC. The Ulsterman was followed over the line by M-Sport team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tanak (Ford Fiesta WRC/Michelin) whose efforts took the British outfit a step closer to its first Manufacturers’ crown since 2007. 


Porsche and Michelin triumph in Texan heat

Porsche Team collected its third consecutive one-two finish in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship when Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley took the win at Austin, Texas, USA, in the N°2 919 Hybrid, ahead of the similar car of Jani/Lotterer/Tandy. The N°51 Ferrari 488 GTE/Michelin of Calado/Per Guidi won the LM GTE class.


New look for world class endurance racing

Created in 2012, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) is to undergo significant changes from next season when the series will straddle two calendar years (2018/2019) and conclude with the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours. The LMP1 cars will run to new technical regulations. As a participant in the FIA WEC since the outset, Michelin approves the latest moves.  


Porsche/Michelin enjoys Mexican fiesta

The 6 Hours of Mexico saw Porsche Team claim its second one-two finish in as many rounds of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship, with the N°2 Porsche 919 Hybrid/Michelin (Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley) securing top spot ahead of the N°1 sister prototype (Jani/Lotterer/Tandy). The N°8 and N°7 Michelin-equipped Toyota TS050 Hybrids were third and fourth at Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.    

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