The 2015 MotoGP season is right around the corner. Not much has changed at the top, but there have been some rider changes, some exits and some new entries, including two new manufacturers, bringing us to five.
Let’s have a look at some of the contenders for this year’s premier class, and what they have to offer:
If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. So, unsurprisingly no major changes with the top four riders.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda)
Dani remains in the Repsol Honda team. Dani is great when everything comes together but is still struggling to get consistent results. Every year could be Dani’s year, but he is somewhat fragile when crashing, and he will need to avoid injury to stay in the running. The question is will he push hard enough to beat the fierce competition?
bet365 Odds (to win the championship): 15/2
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
Repsol Honda must be glad to have taken a punt on the young Marquez in 2013. There’s no denying the golden boy is on fire. He won the first 10 races of last year’s season (there are 18 races). If that’s not a statement to the other riders, I don’t know what is.
Marc is at the top of his game. He is talented, hungry and he loves to ride the wheels off his bikes. He is on a bike and in a team which works well for him. Brimming with confidence, you wouldn’t bet against him to win another championship this year.
While Marquez is fast making a name for himself, winning almost everywhere and breaking new records, it’s easy to forget he is only 21. Marquez turns 22 the day after Valentino’s 36th birthday. To put it another way, Valentino was hooning around pulling wheelies on scooters around the time Marquez was learning to walk. Hasn’t he done well! Expect more of the same in terms of confidence and form, this year.
bet365 Odds a miserly 1/2. A foregone conclusion? I don’t think so, but he’s clearly still the bookie’s favourite.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha)
They say you can’t teach an old GOAT new tricks (do they?), but Valentino has proved he can still cut it with young gun and major contender Marquez. Comfortably second in the championship last year, there’s life in the old goat yet. At 35, Valentino has a huge bank of experience to draw from, which should make him the master tactician; the rider with the coolest head, who knows when to push and when to ‘coast’.
After a nightmare time with Ducati, and a recovery year with Yamaha in 2013, and after sacking his long time crew chief Jerry Burgess in favour of a new approach, he’s back to his best.
Bet 365 Odds 5/1
Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha)
If Valentino has the experience, Jorge has the focus. I am always in awe of this young man, he is one cool customer. He always looks as though he’s just woken up from an afternoon nap.
When it all comes together for Jorge, he clears off in the way that Casey Stoner did when he won the championship with Ducati in 2007. You’d think he’s running a turbocharger. Jorge is a calculating rider and he doesn’t mind a bit of a gamble. Last season he came third, just 32 points behind Rossi. He is a former World Champion, so he knows the taste of success, and will be focussing his Zen-like mind on the prize for 2015.
After that lot, the rest of the field gets some pretty high odds. We may not be expecting them to win, but we are expecting to see some exciting racing from the following:
Back from Ducati onto a more familiar CWM sponsored LCR Honda, Cal had a bit of a nightmare year on the Ducati GP14, managing one podium in Aragon. Should go much better this year, but it may take him a while to get up to speed riding a Honda factory RC213V. I’ll be cheering from the settee. Odds 66/1
Crutchlow’s team mate at CWM LCR Honda, Jack Miller has moved up from the Moto3 championship in which he was runner up las year. He is an Australian from Queensland. It will be interesting to see how he fares with the power increase, especially in race conditions.
Brad stays with Tech 3 with teammate Pol Espargaro. Bradley is improving steadily, and I think he will have a better year in 2015.
Ducati holds onto Andrea Dovizioso (40/1) who seems to get on pretty well with the Desmosedici, coming 5th in last year’s chamionship 85 points ahead of teammate Andrea Iannone (66/1), who also stays with the team this year.
Runner up in the 2013 WSBK championship, the 28 year old from Ballymena, Northern Ireland has a lot of experience on a lot of bikes, and it’s great to see another Brit on the grid this year. It could take him a while to get up to speed. Laverty will be racing a Drive M7 Aspar accompanied by teammate Nicky Hayden.
While Forward Yamaha may have lost Aleix Espargaro to Suzuki, they have gained Loris Baz, a young Frenchman who has been racing well in the World Superbike Championship on a Kawasaki ZX–10R for the last three seasons. His 9 podiums last year have clearly brought him to the attention of Yamaha.
At the tender age of 21, he clearly has enormous potential. Let’s hope he can realise some of that in his rookie year
There are two new teams in the Paddock this year: Aprilia and Suzuki.
Aprilia comes into MotoGP with a brand new V4 engine:
The hedgehog is back! After a promising start to MotoGP, Melandri lost his way, ended up in Ducati where he really lost his way and ran a bike for Kawasaki and then Gresini Honda before disappearing from the MotoGP paddock.
He’s been doing a good job in World Superbike, and although he’s not the most popular rider, he is fast. But will he be any good coming back into MotoGP? He has been racing with BMW in WSBK in 2012 and 2013, and Aprilia in 2014, and he stays with Aprilia for 2015 in MotoGP. Melandri’s teammate is Alvaro Bautista
What can you say about Bautista? He’s certainly committed. He should be committed? I’m not sure. He can be very fast, but there’s no point going fast if it means falling off all the time. Brave’s the manager who signs him up, and he’s likely to have a large repair bill. Still, while you can rein in the tendency to crash, it is not as easy to get people to push hard in the first place.
Bautista is coming on better every year, last year he had a bad start to the year with three crashes which set him back from the outset.
Providing the Aprilia boys have a good package, and I can’t see why they wouldn’t, I think this year will be another growth year for Bautista, and I expect him to go well.
Team Suzuki MotoGP
Suzuki are back in the MotoGP paddock, this time with a cross plane crankshaft I4, like the Yamaha M1. Early indications from riders are that the bike is good.
Suzuki has brought in Davide Brivio, who was previously team manager for the Factory Yamaha team before he quit back in 2010, so they have an experienced, successful team manager running things, so it will be interesting to see how they perform in 2015.
Suzuki have two ambitious riders in Aleix Espargaro, and newcomer Maverick Vinales. Vinales is on the fast track; he won the Moto3 championship with KTM in 2013, came third in Moto2 last year, and this year comes to MotoGP.
Local boy (to me anyway) Scott Redding had an excellent rookie year last year and showed his potential on the RCV1000R Honda. This year he gets a factory spec Honda RC213V Honda and is accompanied by his old team from Moto2 days, Marc VDS.
I’m looking forward to the racing starting on BT sport. Especially good luck to the British four: Cal, Bradley, Scott, and Eugene.