By Stefan Ficarra
MotoGP fans, start your engines for another action packed season of racing.
Igniting on March 26 in Qatar, the new season brings with it the promise of potential success for all riders and teams, as well as a new sense of optimisim.
Some of those riders however, will this year be suiting up for other teams in their quest to make 2017 the year that they make significant strides in their careers.
In the list below, you will find all the information you need about which riders have swapped which teams and what this could mean for their final placement in the overall MotoGP standings.
This comprehensive list has been compiled by hopeful student journalist Stefan Ficarra, a self-confessed MotoGP fanatic. Kick-starting the list of riders in new places is a six-year veteran who has made the change to Pull&Bear Aspar.
Alvaro Bautista has been riding in the MotoGP class for six years, making him one of the most experienced riders out on the circuit. In 2016, riding for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, Bautista did not score any podium places (nor a victory), however, he proved that he is a consistent points scorer and rarely misses out on a top 10 placement on race day. Furthermore, Bautista finished with 82 points at the end of the 2016 season, placing him in an impressive 12th place overall. He will this year race for the Pull&Bear Aspar Team, where he will continue to be a contender for the Top 10, potentially even cracking into the Top 5 if the latest testing results reflect a true race pace.
Maverick Vinales can be classified as one of the young riders that could eventually shape MotoGP in the future years. He is a very talented rider who joined the class in 2015 as a rookie for the Suzuki Ecstar Team, and remained there for the 2016 season. Vinales triumphed during the 2016 World Championship, recording four podiums, one of those resulting in his first ever win in the class, as well as Suzuki’s first win since Chris Vermuelen in 2007. He finished in 4th place in the championship standings, accumulating a further 202 points to go along with his best year in MotoGP racing. He now joins the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team for the 2017 season, where he will be a top contender to take out the World Championship with ease.
Andrea Iannone is a well-respected Italian rider who is known for his risky overtaking manoeuvres on race day. Iannone spent the entirety of the 2016 season riding for the Ducati Team, where he achieved a decent feast of success. During the year, Iannone took three podiums, one of which was a victory. The Italian looked comfortable with keeping up with the pace setters on race day, however on many occasions crashed out of podium places during the race. At the end of the season, Iannone accumulated 112 points, placing him in 9th place at the seasons conclusion. Going into the 2017 season, he will replace Maverick Vinales at the Suzuki Ecstar Team, where he will most likely be a Top 6 contender. No doubt about that!
Aleix Espargaro is another veteran of the MotoGP class with an elite ability in cornering and overtaking. Over the course of the 2016 season though, Espargaro did not record any wins or podiums, but was almost a certainty to finish in the Top 12 on race day. In a year that was complete with 93 points and an 11th overall placing, Espargaro showed that he can ride with class, patience and precision. Espargaro rode for Team Suzuki Ecstar last season, and will hit the track for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini in 2017 with the British rookie, Sam Lowes. He will this year most likely stay at the same level as he was with Suzuki, occasionally cracking into the Top 7 or 8 if he and the bike perform well on the day.
Jorge Lorenzo is very well-known Spanish rider who has been racing in the MotoGP class since 2008. Riding for the Movistar Yamaha Team in the 2016 World Championship, Lorenzo impressed spectators with his amazing pace in all the weekends’ sessions. Every race, you could almost be certain that Lorenzo would be in a Top 4 position when the checked flag was waved. Lorenzo recorded 10 podium places, four of which were victories. Overall, Lorenzo finished with a combined total of 233 points, placing him in an impressive 3rd position when the season ended. This year, Lorenzo will replace Andrea Iannone riding for the Ducati Team. From this writers’ perspective, he will continue to be a force to be reckoned with, and has the potential to steal the World Championship when the calendar concludes.
It is difficult to predict who will become the new MotoGP World Champion, but one thing is for sure, new rivalries will be born and old rivalries will resurface, to the delight of every MotoGP fan across the world.
Feature Image: Jorge Lorenzo is one of several stars changing teams in 2017. (photo via MotoGP.com)
Stefan Ficarra is an aspiring sports journalist, who contacted MarkUp Media with the idea of publishing MotoGP news. If you have a strong interest in sports media, or wish to get in contact with us, follow MarkUp Media on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and get in touch.