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2017 MotoGP Preview: Part 1 - The Five Aliens

And then there were five. Should that statement have a question mark after it? On the evidence of preseason testing, definitely not. Maverick Viñales earned the right to add his name to last year's list, dominating testing and finishing fastest in all four. Marc Márquez demonstrated why he is reigning world champion, and why his rivals have reason to fear him even more this year. Dani Pedrosa finished fifth at Valencia and Sepang, then third at Phillip Island and Qatar.

Jorge Lorenzo found the process of adapting to the Ducati tougher than expected, but was third quickest on his first day on the bike, and fourth fastest at Qatar. And the man with the worst preseason results of the lot, Valentino Rossi is, well, Valentino Rossi. You only ever write off Valentino Rossi after the final race at Valencia is done and dusted. And not a millisecond before.

So we head into the first race in Qatar with five Aliens, all of whom are likely to win at least one race this year. Some, like Viñales, will win a lot more this year than they have in the past. Others, like Lorenzo, will win far fewer, but will surely end up on the top step at one race, at the very least.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - ‘Now we are together again at the top… Honestly, it’s strange!’

Maverick Vinales and Marc Marquez first raced each other 15 years ago. Now they are set to resume their battle, fighting for the biggest prize of them all

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and they are often right. This photo (follow the link) shows three schoolboy racers: an 11-year-old Frenchman called Clement Dunikowski and a couple of younger Spaniards called Maverick Vinales and Marc Marquez.

If life is a game of snakes and ladders, Dunikowski climbed ahead of the others over the next few years, making his Grand Prix debut at Le Mans in 2006, two years before Marquez and five before Viñales. But as the Spaniards kept moving up the ladder, Dunikowski slithered down the slippery snake. He struggled to get backing and faded out of the sport.

The podium photo shows Dunikowski after he had finished second in a round of the Catalan 50cc Metrakit championship, organised by the venerable Penya Motorista Barcelona club. Seven-year-old Viñales won the race, while nine-year-old Marquez finished third. The date is autumn 2002, roughly the same time as Valentino Rossi wrapped up the first four-stroke MotoGP title. The photo suggests Marquez isn’t too happy with the result.

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Press Release: Michelin Explains New 2017 Tires, New Tire ID System, And More

MotoGP's official tire supplier Michelin issued the following press release ahead of the 2017 season. In it, they detail the changes they will be making for the upcoming year. They lay out how the new front tire they have brought is an improvement over the old one, how the new tire identification system will work, and why the intermediate tires have been dropped for the coming year. 


Michelin ready to ring in the changes for 2017

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Subscriber Feature: Marc vs Maverick - The Making Of A Rivalry

Two men have emerged from the 2017 preseason as favorites. In many ways, Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales are alike. Both are young, handsome Spaniards with an aura about them. Both grew up racing, and were immediately fast on every new bike they swung a leg over. Both have a keen intelligence, especially about racing, and what matters.

But above all, both Márquez and Viñales are driven by their ambition. They enter each championship with the fixed intention of winning. They have talent to spare, but more than that, they both have a deep understanding of what it takes to win a world championship, and are prepared to put in the work, to make the sacrifices needed to achieve their goal. They are single minded, obsessed with winning.

They are two very different characters. Márquez is cheerful, gregarious, outgoing. Whenever you see him, he is always laughing or smiling, joking with the people around him. He loves company, and spends almost every waking minute of each race weekend in the garage with his crew. When he joined the Repsol Honda team, he was allowed to take most of his Moto2 team, and crew chief Santi Hernandez worked under the tutelage of Cristian Gabarrini. At the end of his first year, Márquez demanded that HRC brought the last two members of his former Moto2 team into the Repsol Honda garage, and Gabarrini was moved on to other duties, despite being regarded as perhaps the best crew chief in the business.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 47: Qatar MotoGP Test, Getting Ready For 2017

With the 2017 MotoGP season rapidly approaching, it is fitting that the latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast should take a deep dive into the final MotoGP test of the preseason at Qatar. Hotfooting it from the desert, Neil Morrison talks to David Emmett about what he learned at the test. There was certainly a lot to talk about.

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2017 Qatar Moto2 & Moto3 Test Press Releases

Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the final day of testing at Qatar:


Top-10 for Rodrigo and Guevara in the last preseason test in Qatar
19.03.2017
Losail, Qatar

The last preseason test ended today for the Moto3 class, just few days before the first Grand Prix of the 2017 World Championship.

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2017 Qatar Moto2 Test Final Times: Morbidelli Fastest On Sunday, Nakagami Quickest Overall

Franco Morbidelli and Taka Nakagami cemented their status as Moto2 front runners at the Qatar Moto2 test, Morbidelli ending the final day of testing as fastest, Nakagami leaving Qatar as fastest rider overall.

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2017 Qatar Moto3 Test Final Times: Fenati Leaves As Fastest

Romano Fenati leaves the Moto3 test in Qatar as fastest rider overall. The Rivacold Snipers Team rider barely circulated on the final day of the test, but his time from Saturday was good enough to top the overall timesheets, and lead a Honda clean sweep going into the first race.

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2017 Qatar Moto2 Test Sunday FP7 & FP8 Times: Morbidelli Leads Again

While the high winds which have battered the Losail International Circuit on Sunday have badly hampered the Moto3 class, the larger, heavier Moto2 bikes have had less trouble with the wind. After the first two sessions of the last day of the test, Franco Morbidelli is once again the fastest man in the Moto2 class. The Marc VDS rider was quickest in the second session, nearly three tenths quicker than Miguel Oliveira had been on the KTM in the first session of the day.

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2017 Qatar Moto3 Test Sunday FP7 & FP8 Times: Rodrigo Fastest In Limited Action

High winds are plaguing the Losail International Circuit on the last day of the Qatar Moto2 and Moto3 test, wreaking special havoc on the Moto3 bikes, making it hard for them to set a time. The first session saw little action, especially as there were also drops of rain about. More bikes took to the track in the second session, in which Gabriel Rodrigo set the quickest time of the day so far. But Rodrigo's time is a second and a half off the times of yesterday, meaning the test has been less than productive.

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