Analysis

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 10: Hector Barbera & Andrea Iannone

In the tenth part of our mid-season review, we come to the Ducatis. Hector Barbera is the surprise leader of the Bologna pack, just ahead of Andrea Iannone. We compare Barbera's consistency with Iannone's impetuosity.

7th: Hector Barbera, Ducati, 65 points

First Ducati at the halfway point. That must be particularly sweet for Hector Barbera, given his reputation inside and outside the MotoGP paddock. With so many Spanish riders packing the grid, Barbera is one of the riders Dorna are believed to be keen to ditch. Yet the Avintia Ducati rider keeps finding sponsorship to ride, and keeps proving that he is still fast enough to compete. Both and without a tow.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 9: Maverick Viñales & Pol Espargaro

The next part of our MotoGP mid-season review focuses on the first of the non Aliens in the standings: Maverick Viñales and Pol Espargaro:

5th: Maverick Viñales, Suzuki, 83 points

Is Maverick Viñales the next Alien? There are many who claim that he will be. Yamaha clearly believe he has the potential to become one, as they signed him as Jorge Lorenzo's replacement for 2017 and beyond. In 2016, Viñales has show real potential with some impressive performances. Yet at other times, he has been positively middling. The jury is still out at the moment.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 8: Dani Pedrosa

Our MotoGP mid-season review continues with the man everyone tipped for the title on Michelin tires, Dani Pedrosa.

4th: Dani Pedrosa, Honda, 96 points

Before the start of the 2016 season, many insiders, including several MotoGP riders, were telling anyone who would listen to look out for Dani Pedrosa. The new Michelin tires played perfectly into his hands. The extra grip of the powerful Michelin rear gave him the grip he had been missing with the Bridgestones, and his smoothness with the throttle was helping to overcome the limitations of the spec electronics. Pedrosa was the unanimous outside tip for the championship.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 7: Valentino Rossi

As our mid-season review of MotoGP continues, we come to the man who was so bitterly disappointed in 2015, and started the current season out for revenge.

3rd: Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, 111 points

Yet another impostor. Valentino Rossi is arguably the most complete racer on the MotoGP grid, and probably the most complete racer of all time. His experience is unrivaled, as is his ability to adapt to circumstances. Yet he has thrown away one win and the chance of a very strong result through something resembling youthful impatience. The most experienced rider on the grid has made life impossible for himself as a result of two rookie mistakes.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 6: Jorge Lorenzo

We continue our mid-season look at the performance of the MotoGP riders with the reigning world champion, Jorge Lorenzo.

2nd: Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha, 122 points

Who is the real Jorge Lorenzo? Like Marc Márquez, it sometimes looks like Jorge Lorenzo's place has been taken by an impostor in Movistar Yamaha leathers. The swap would have taken place at Barcelona: in the first six races of the season, Lorenzo's results included three wins, two second places and a crash in tricky conditions in Argentina. From Barcelona onwards, Lorenzo was taken out by Andrea Iannone as he dropped down through the field, a tenth and a fifteenth place finish. Tenth at Assen was Lorenzo's worst finish in MotoGP since his rookie season. Three weeks later, he had his worst finish in Grand Prix racing since 2004.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 5: Marc Marquez

Politics may have featured heavily so far this year – witness the first four pieces of this mid-season review – but there has also been plenty of racing. So now, lets take a look at how the MotoGP riders have fared so far in 2016, counting down the riders based on their current position in the championship.

1st: Marc Márquez, Honda, 170 points

2016 is the year of the impostor. Everything we thought we knew about the current riders in MotoGP has been turned on its head. Marc Márquez is a shining example of this. He has gone from a rider who wants to win every race, even if he risks crashing out, to one who is willing to settle for less when there are no better options.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 4: The Wildest Silly Season Yet

Why do they call it Silly Season? Its origins lie in the 19th Century, when a London publication found itself concocting trivial stories to try to pad out its pages. Its meaning has mutated to cover any story consisting mainly of speculation and rumor meant to fill empty column inches. And in motorcycle racing, it has come to mean the period of time during which riders and teams are negotiating over new contracts, and working on who will be riding where the following season.

This year, Silly Season has needed a new name. It has gone from beyond silly to being outright insane. In a normal year, riders touch base with teams at Jerez, start talks in earnest at Mugello, and sign contracts during the summer break, announcing deals at the first race after the break. But this is no normal year. As we approach the first race after the summer break of 2016, all but two of the twenty-three seats in MotoGP have already been filled, officially or unofficially, and Silly Season is basically over.

The madness started before the season had even begun. At the Movistar Yamaha launch in January, Jorge Lorenzo stated publicly that he wanted to sign a new deal with the team before the start of the season. Yamaha did their part, sending offers to both Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi in the period before the first race at Qatar. Lorenzo did not sign his deal, however. Valentino Rossi did. The seven time MotoGP champion has tied his long term future to Yamaha, and never seriously looked elsewhere. Yamaha and Rossi will be making money for each other for many years to come.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 3: Aerodynamcs, or Snoopy & The Red Baron

One factor which could be having an effect on tires is the aerodynamics war which has seen wings sprouting from every forward surface of the fairing. The outbreak of strake cancer has seen the winglets massively increase in size and surface area, making the latest version on the Ducati Desmosedici GP resemble Baron von Richthofen's Fokker Dr.I triplane.

Ducati were the first to understand and seize on the potential of the aerodynamic winglets, debuting them at Qatar last season. There were met with some skepticism for most of last year, until Yamaha suddenly rolled out their own version of them at Aragon. In 2016, the winglet craze has infected the entire paddock, with the bikes of all five manufacturers now sporting some form of aerodynamic device.

Why did Ducati start fitting winglets? Because they work. One engineer who has seen the data told me that the effect was visible in it. The bike wheelies less when it has wings fitted compared to not having winglets. That reduction in wheelie means that wheelie doesn't have to be managed using the electronics to reduce power and torque. That, in turn, means the bike can accelerate harder out of the corner, reaching higher top speeds at the end of the straight. The other manufacturers have all come to the same conclusion, hence the outbreak of winglets.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 2: Michelins Aren't Bridgestones

New electronics was just one of the changes for 2016. The switch from Bridgestone to Michelin has been a much bigger story in the first half of this season. The wildly different character of the tires has had a big impact on the championship, changing riding styles and rewarding some riders, and punishing others.

How should we appraise the first nine races with Michelin as official tire supplier? Their return has seen both ups and downs, highs and lows. In a sense, you could say it has gone very much as you might expect it to go, in that there were always going to be surprises they hadn't taken into account. As Harold Macmillan once said when asked what he feared most, "events, dear boy, events".

The biggest fear of the MotoGP riders after the Valencia test in November last year was Michelin's front tire. A spate of crashes – over twenty in two days, with almost everyone hitting the floor – where riders lost the front inexplicably was a great cause for concern. To their credit, Michelin worked to address that issue, bringing a much improved front to a private test at Jerez in November, and another iteration to Sepang. The front had grip again. It was no Bridgestone, but there was at least some predictability to it and some feedback from it.

2016 MotoGP Mid-Season Review Part 1: Spec Software - You Win Some, You Lose Some

Before the second half of the MotoGP season gets underway, now is a good time to take a look back at what happened in the first nine races, and how that reflects on the next nine. There has been plenty to talk about, with new rules turning results around, and riders transforming themselves to chase greater success. There have been plenty of surprises in all three classes, and more likely to come. Despite this, clear favorites have emerged in MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3. There is still everything to play for in all three championships, but betting against the leaders is looking increasingly risky.

New rules bring the expected and the unexpected

Fans and media were excited about the changes for the 2016 season. New tires and spec electronics should have shaken the field up, and made the racing closer. Halfway into the season, things haven't quite turned out the way we might have expected. The complexities of change have been shown to favor those best equipped to handle them. That, inevitably, means that the factory teams have done better than the satellite teams.

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