Forget January, the New Year starts here
While Pope Gregory XIII may be forever immortalised in the Western world for defining how we measure our year, it’s another religion that has come define mine: Motogp. And that means we’re now rapidly approaching New Year’s Eve.
With 2015’s disappointing – if somewhat amusing – end-ofseason shenanigans filed as a relatively distant memory, the focus is now firmly on the first race of the 2016 season this weekend in Qatar.
Testing has been a fascinating rollercoaster ride, not least because of the game-changing new variable affecting the entire Motogp grid – the Michelin control tyres. Riders have been introducing themselves face-first to the tarmac at every test as the unquantified Michelin front continued to catch them unawares – with problems caused by the front’s apparent lack of composure being compounded (no pun intended) by the huge grip available from the rear.
But while many teams rushed to bring new chassis to the party in a bid to negate the tyre issues, the French firm shocked them all by rapidly improving their rubber.
With most now reverting to their 2015 chassis set-ups as the Michelins edge closer to Bridgestone levels of front grip, the focus has started to once again drift back towards the riders’ performances.
Lead amongst them for me has been Scott Redding. Yes, Lorenzo has continued to begrudgingly wow me with his robotic precision and pace, and whatever I think of his mind games from last year I’m delighted to see Rossi looking effective up near the sharp end, but it’s Scott that’s got me desperate for the flag to drop.
Two years ago I was confident that he would once again be the thorn that often niggled Marquez’s side in Moto2. But it never happened. His Honda, it seemed, just wasn’t up to the job. But the final test at Qatar finished with Scott sitting pretty as second fastest. It finally appears that we might get the fight I’d hoped for back in 2014.
As tempting as it is to believe that we could have a Brit Motogp champion in 2016, no sensible money would bet on Scott ousting the Aliens – but it’s nice to dream.
Get the full inside line on Motogp in this week’s 32-page 2016 preview.