The provisional 2017 World Superbike calendar has been released, but unlike the MotoGP calendar, which is unchanged, there are a couple of minor differences to the schedule. The World Superbike class will contest 13 rounds, just as they did in 2016, spread across three continents. Sepang and Jerez have been dropped, and Portimao makes a comeback.
Dani Pedrosa is in his eleventh season in MotoGP. Throughout that period, he has seen many changes in the premier class. He raced in the last year of the 990s, then throughout the 800 era, and saw the return of the 1000cc machines. Only Valentino Rossi has been in MotoGP for longer, or raced, and won on, a greater variety of machines.
Pedrosa arrived in MotoGP being heralded as the next big thing, the prime candidate to challenge Valentino Rossi for the title. He started strongly, winning races in his first season, and clearly being competitive. But the focus would shift in his second year to his former 250cc rival Casey Stoner, who took the factory Ducati ride and blew the competition out of the water in 2007.
In 2008, Jorge Lorenzo came to strengthen the top of MotoGP, creating the narrative of the four MotoGP Aliens. When Stoner hung up his helmet at the end of 2012, Marc Márquez stepped into his boots and upped the level of competition even further.
The level of competition Pedrosa has faced has meant he has not received the recognition he deserves for his incredible record. In eleven seasons, Pedrosa has won 29 races in MotoGP, putting him in 8th place on the all time winners list. His win at Misano, after a very difficult start to the season, laid any doubts to rest over his motivation, and his ability. Pedrosa remains capable of winning any race he lines up on the grid for.
There is a current fashion in moviemaking, of taking proven formulas from the past, giving them a light makeover and then relaunching them, then trying to spice them up by referring to them as a "reboot" or "reloaded". Dorna executives must have been to see Ghostbusters, Mad Max, and many more, as the 2017 MotoGP calendar is best described as 2016 Reloaded.
The 2017 MotoGP calendar is almost identical to the 2016 calendar, with a couple of minor tweaks. Those tweaks are a clear improvement on 2016: there are fewer large gaps, and there are fewer back-to-back races. There have been some changes to help with logistics, and some to help with race organizations.
After Misano, let’s hope the off-track chatter at Aragon doesn’t once again eclipse the on-track action
Right now the world’s MotoGP media is all agog, counting down the minutes and seconds to 17.00 hours on Thursday. The reason: a live edition of the latest episode of the MotoGP pantomime, a kind of petrol-head’s soap opera, during which Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will be encouraged to say nasty things about each other by journalists hungry for Friday morning newspaper headlines, or Thursday afternoon clickbait.
Pedrosa has had major tyre struggles this year – finally it all came good at Misano
The first time I interviewed Dani Pedrosa, in 2002, I asked the 17-year-old (born in 1985) what kind of music he liked. 1980s pop music, he told me. Wow, I thought, his mentor Alberto Puig even tells him what music to listen to.
Therefore I’m not sure if Pedrosa has ever listened to the song That’s Entertainment sung by new-wave heroes The Jam. (The greatest band the world has ever known, in case you didn’t already know.)
The aerodynamic rules for the 2017 MotoGP season and beyond have been published. At a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Misano, a proposal from Dorna's technical team was accepted banning aerodynamic devices in as general a wording as possible. Wings, bulges, and anything protruding from the front of the fairing is now banned.
There are few more intimidating atmospheres in motorcycle racing than the MotoGP race at Misano. Unless, of course, you are from what the regional government refer to as Motor Valley, the area which stretches from the Adriatic coast and the up the Po valley towards Milan. The fans are fiery, passionate, and vocal. If you are not a local, to come here and race is to enter the lion's den.
The irony is that since 2010, Spaniards have won every MotoGP race held in Italy, with the exception of the 2014 race at Misano, which was won by Valentino Rossi. The enemy has come into the heart of Italy, and left victorious. It is a grave wound to Italian pride.
For the second time this year, it looked for a long time that Valentino Rossi would heal that wound. At Mugello, it was Yamaha who broke the hearts of Italian fans, after turning up the revs on the Yamaha M1 just a little too far, and causing the engine to detonate, leaving Rossi dejected at the side of the track. At Misano, Rossi took the lead with a firm pass, exploiting a minor mistake by Lorenzo and diving through the barn-door sized opening Lorenzo had left on the inside of Turn 14. There would be fall out from that pass, but not until the press conference.
MotoGP standings after Misano: