MotoGP Paddock Insider: Amy Dargan's 2017 Season Preview

MotoGP
By Amy Dargan
amylouisedargan  MotoGP's official roving reporter since the beginning of the 2015 season. Previously it was three years getting muddy covering MXGP but this season she'll be filling BikeSocial readers in on the story lines in between the racing lines after each MotoGP.
AmyDargen MotoGP

Amy is one of MotoGP’s official roving reporters hunting down the riders, their managers, crew chiefs and paddock personalities at every Grand Prix. This season she'll be filling BikeSocial readers in on the story lines in between the racing lines. 

Amy is all about two wheels coming from three years covering the MXGP championship before embarking on her third season in MotoGP, she'll also be the pit lane reporter at selected Speedway Grand Prix this year. 

You can follow her 2017 season on Instagram at @amylouisedargan and Twitter @amylouisedargan

Jorge Lorenzo onboard his 2017 steed - the Ducati

The first round of 2017 is finally within sight but just in case you’ve had your head in a box since the chequered flag went out in Valencia, here’s what you missed (in brief) in the way of winter testing. 

The MotoGP Merry-Go-Round

If your memory is as good as mine you might also need a quick refresh on the movers and shakers among the MotoGP grid, so in a nutshell; Jorge Lorenzo jumped ship to Ducati to join Andrea Dovizioso, that left a space taken by Maverick Vinales to join Valentino Rossi at Yamaha, KTM becomes MotoGP’s newest manufacturer with Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro making the Austrian outfit’s full season debut whilst the Tech 3 squad have been taken over by premiere class rookies Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco. Sam Lowes is the third Moto2 rider to make the transition and straight into a factory Aprilia ride with Aleix Espargaro on board after loosing his Suzuki seat to Andrea Iannone. The other side of the Suzuki box will be occupied by our final rookie Alex Rins and Alvaro Bautista reunites with the Aspar team along with GP returnee Karel Abraham. 

Just a few changes then!

Maverick Vinales

In The Danger Zone

There was one name that ruled the roost throughout winter testing to arrive in Qatar with a perfect four from four score, Vinales didn’t just impress in Valencia, then Sepang, Phillip Island and finally Qatar, he dominated. In fact, out of a total eleven sessions, Vinlaes topped seven of them, breaking pole and lap records along the way. He sought out this winter to improve his consistency over race distance and by the close of play in Losail it looked as though mission had been accomplished.

The question now will be whether it all translates come race day and whether he’s also got the tactics to outplay our other title challengers.

Aero-Fairy

Either love them or hate them…winglets I mean, MotoGP isn’t just about racing and the biggest challenge the technical wizards were faced with this winter was the ban on 'aerodynamic winglets'. Make way for the 'aero-fairing' era.  While some manufacturers as per Yamaha’s more modest approach to encase the winglets within the fairing didn’t seem to rattle too many cages, Ducati’s 'Hammerhead' aero-fairing design got the tongues wagging.

It’s yet to be seen in Qatar what the manufacturers will homologate (remember they’re only allowed one upgrade during the course of the year, excluding KTM) but the large majority of journos have been hypothesizing it will be a 2017 aero-fairing design to be used in conjunction with a wingless 2016 fairing.

Lorenzo’s Leap

It was probably the most talked about story of 2016. After nine years, his entire MotoGP career, Lorenzo left Yamaha. Ducati once again have a proven world championship winning rider in their ranks paired with a testing team that includes Casey Stoner and a machine more than capable of winning races, 2017 sure looks rosey. Off-season testing has been a bit of a rollercoaster for Lorenzo as he adapts to the vastly different temperament of the GP17 but he finished Qatar optimistic.

We know the Ducati goes well around Losail, just ask Dovi who’s finished on the podium for the last two years but has Lorenzo adapted enough to get Ducati’s season off to a bang?

Jonas Folger under the lights at Qatar in pre-season testing

Rookie Watch

A personal favourite story of mine from winter testing is how well our rookies have done. In particular, the Tech 3 guys; Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco. If you tend to skip right to the main course on race day then you may not be aware of this pair. Frenchman Johann Zarco is our double Moto2 world champion, an absolute grafter when it comes to his workmanship, a fabulous racer but also a really good natured guy, he also somehow always manages to out-talk me which is an achievement in itself!

Then there’s Jonas Folger, if testing is anything to go by he could be a real contender for ‘Rookie Of The Year’, even The Doctor himself remarked on Folger’s impressive adaptation to the M1 when he found himself following the young German. He too is a lovely chap and I hope his pre-season performances follow him into the year as inconsistency seems to have been his Achilles heel in the past.

I'll be writing for you lovely BikeSocial readers after each race this season so make sure you check back.

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