And then there were three…
With Valentino Rossi forced to sit out of his home race and Dani Pedrosa once again finding himself in serious trouble getting the Michelin wet rubber up to working temperature, the 2017 title race lost a couple of players this weekend.
Points wise Marquez’s last lap wonder saw him regain valuable ground and match Dovizioso on 199 in the championship whilst Vinales notched up an extra 13 points. Rossi now finds himself 42 back on the joint points leaders whilst Pedrosa’s dismal outing now sees him 49 off.
With five rounds to go and a maximum of 125 points available, whilst it’s not mathematically impossible for The Doctor and the Baby Samurai to rise again, it’s highly unlikely that the former three will give them any room to do so.
That being said, this has been the year when the previously unimaginable has become reality.
I was surprised to hear from Marquez after the race that the plan for the rest of the season is to go for broke, just like we saw him do on Sunday. He could have easily settled for 2nd behind Petrucci who is no challenger to him in the championship and taken the safe points, we even witnessed him hang on to some big warning moments during the race of attrition that normally would be a signal to calm it down. But with one lap to go he threw everything at it and came out on top. When I was asking him about whether this would be the approach for the rest of the season, a little puzzled that he was reverting back to the Marquez he had supposedly discarded after 2015 he made a very good point; we are staring down the nose of a championship that looks as though it could be a three man race to the wire, literally down to the final checkered flag of the season, every single point is going to count, right down to the single digits.
Dovizoso on the other hand had said it was the championship that had forced his hand to settle for third in the treacherous conditions that had seen an unbelievable amount of crashes that day. Pedrosa literally limped up the stairs of the Honda hospitality to his post race debrief after taking a huge whack to the hip in his morning warm up crash. Dovizoso’s play seemed a wise one to me considering the conditions but as we know from that Austrian battle royale with Marquez, he equally won’t shy away from any future showdowns that are on the cards.
Vinales I think will be the interesting one to watch, I’m not sure what his championship tactics will be, his confidence has been up and down this year, he doesn’t really give too much away either in interviews or debriefs, renowned for keeping his answers relatively short and precise. We’re sure to find out soon enough, one thing is for sure that from what the riders have already started to be quizzed about from the journalists, over the next few races be prepared for a lot of talk about whether team orders will come into play with one Honda, one Ducati and one Yamaha all vying for the same prize, guaranteed the paper answer will remain no but the actuality could be an entirely different matter.
Race results and championship result below:
Who is Amy?
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