There are no team orders in this year’s MotoGP Championship but how much of a part will team ‘mates’ play?
Aragon’s race has the potential to be one of Marc Marquez’s most defining moments of 2017 should he go on to be crowned this year’s world champion.
Early doors and Lorenzo looked formidable at the front, Marquez desperation to catch up to the Ducati forced him into making errors and then pushing so hard caused a couple of unforced ones, at one point I wondered whether a catastrophe was brewing.
However, things started playing into the Spaniard’s hands; for starters Vinales couldn’t stay with the leading group, holding Pedrosa back with him, Valentino for all his efforts and heart also started to fade when the Yamaha’s rear wheel spin started to become an extra burden for him to carry with the already heavy load of mounting a 23-lap challenge with a double leg fracture. The biggest one of all championship wise was Andrea Dovizioso, who was previously matched on 199 with the points leader. Dovi now finds himself 16 behind Marquez, which doesn’t sound like a lot but the season where the margins are so small, even 16 points is a bit of a problem. What happened to the Italian? It was all looking so promising early on, he made rapid progress at the start from the third row, he didn’t appear to get sucked in too much to Marquez’s fiery exchanges but he still somehow faded, even the Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro found his way past in the end. The Italian cited a lack of dry track time on Friday at already challenging track for the GP17 as part of the problem in addition to other factors that made his soft option rear tyre drop off.
The points now look like this; Marquez is 16 clear of Dovizioso, Vinales is 28 behind Marc whilst Pedrosa lost ground to his teammate but moved ahead of Valentino into 4th. Pedrosa and Rossi sitting behind Marc 54 and 56 respectively.
Before Sunday’s race when the gaps between the top 3 were a lot smaller I had asked HRC boss Livio Suppo while Pedrosa still mathematically has a viable shot of the title, should the final race become a three-way showdown-would Honda be employing team orders? Sunday’s race could have belonged to Dani, he agreed in the post-race interview that if he had found his way past Vinales sooner the top step could have been his. Even one of the journalists in the press conference joked to Marc about Dani helping him out finishing ahead of his other rivals and Marc raised his eyebrow and said, “hey he was pushing, I could see out of the corner of my eye.”. Suppo had said that Honda’s policy is that there are no team orders but that they can’t control what the riders do. Cast your mind back to 2015’s Valencia GP, Rossi starting from the back of the grid had to get up to the front to clinch the title from his team mate Lorenzo but of course he encountered different types of traffic along the way, somewhere more cordial than others.
What is going to happen this year? At this point both Dovizioso and Vinales need their teammates to put a few more riders between Marquez and the 25 points target. Add to that Lorenzo sounded intriguingly keen for Motegi and Pedrosa has a pretty tidy record there, Valentino will have had two weeks more rest and recuperation- sounds like game on. If we do return to Spain in November and a monster final race decider is on the cards, I still haven’t convinced myself that Pedrosa, Rossi or Lorenzo would meddle too much with that particular title scenario, that being said there are still old scores that have never really been settled have they…
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