So the 2018 MotoGP season is upon us.
We start in Qatar in March and finish in Valencia in November. We go all over the world with one goal, to find a new World Champion. Moto2 is looking stacked with talent this year, however there are four genuine title contenders, of the 32 riders in the entire field. You can find the full entry list here.
For this preview, we will be looking at the main title contenders, with the reasons why they will be able to mount a challenge, and also maybe why they won’t.
Miguel Olivera- Red Bull KTM.
To keep it simple, Olivera is one of the classiest riders on arguably the only ‘factory’ Moto2 effort. Everything is in place for him to mount a title challenge, with the KTM widely regarded as the bike to be on this year. Indeed, the chassis seems to be kinder on it’s tyres than the Kalex, and has been widely praised by the riders for it’s stability under braking. There is also the juicy carrot of Tech 3 moving to KTM in 2019, and they will surely look to promote from within. Olivera is probably the favourite, and surely will be disappointed to not take the title this year. The only thing that could potentially derail that title charge is the fact that this is only the KTM’s second season, and they are still learning the best setup for the bike.
Alex Marquez- Estrella Galicia 0’0 Marc VDS.
On the face of it, Marquez doesn’t seem to be able to be classified as a title contender. He is fast, there is no doubt about that, but there always seems to be someone faster than him on any given season. He also has a penchant for crashing out of great positions when he is pushed slightly out of his comfort zone. However, if you dig a little deeper, there is definitely something there. In Moto3, it took him three years to be a title contender, yet he took the title under extreme pressure from Jack Miller, showing great mental fortitude to do enough to win by 2 points. This year, he seems to have the confidence to go with the speed, he is on the most experienced team and he is on the chassis that has won the title every year apart from the initial Moto2 season. Is this the season it all comes together for the Spaniard? Many would argue this is his final chance to take this title, and potentially move to the premier class alongside his brother.
Francesco Bagnaia- Sky Racing Team VR46.
Before the season has even started, one big advantage Bagnaia has over the other title contenders is the knowledge that his 2019 ride is already sorted out, and he will be moving to the premier class with Pramac Ducati. He is one of many in Valentino Rossi’s stable of riders, run out of the Sky VR46 Moto2 team on the Kalex alongside another VR46 stablemate in Luca Marini, and has already proven he knows how to win. He remains the only rider to ever win a World Championship race on a Mahindra in the Moto3 class. Prior to Qatar however, he has not won a Moto2 race, but we can expect that to change in 2018. He appears to completely abuse the bike, backing it in sideways and practically booting the gear lever, and yet he always hits his markers and makes his tyres last to the end of the race. If he can find consistent finishes to go with the speed, he will certainly be in the mix.
Sam Lowes- SI Investors KTM.
Sam Lowes is one of those riders who you cannot help but watch and wonder when the bike or gearbox is going to explode into a million pieces and he will be walking back to the pits holding nothing but a throttle tube. Yet it never actually happens, despite the abuse the poor Honda engine receives. He holds in the clutch, stomps it down two gears and lets the rear practically overtake him. It is an extreme style of riding, and it is also very effective. Sam has had to drop back down to Moto2 after a season with Aprilia in the premier class, unluckily dropped after half a season. He comes back with a lot to prove, as a proven winner in the class on a Speed Up chassis. However he will have to get to grips with the way Moto2 works again, will he be able to get up to speed fast enough to mount a challenge? He is probably the outsider, but certainly has the talent.
You can see where all of the title contenders finished the first race in Qatar here.