THE MEN TO WATCH
ENEA BASTIANINI He was Danny Kent’s strongest challenger for much of 2015, which included a debut win in Misano. Faded out of contention but is many people’s hot tip for glory.
NICCOLO ANTONELLI Once a serial crasher, 2015 was the year the Italian finally delivered on his potential. A career first win in Brno was followed up with another victory in Japan. Two other podiums and six top-six finishes mean he’s definite title material.
JORGE NAVARRO Don’t be surprised to see him break his victory duck very soon after a storming finish to 2015. He took five podiums in the last five races of the season, and is a serious contender for 2016 glory.
ROMANO FENATI 2016 is the year Fenati has to fight for the title. Despite a Le Mans win and 10 other top-six finishes, last season still felt like a year of under achievement. Team owner Rossi has made it clear what he expects, so the pressure is on.
BRAD BINDER Plenty of insiders think the South African is KTM’S best hope of capturing their first Moto3 crown since 2013 after taking four podiums last season. Interesting to see how he copes with the pressure and attention of being Red Bull Ajo’s number one rider.
FABIO QUARTARARO Justified the mega hype around him at start of 2015 with second place finishes in Austin and Assen. A broken ankle in Misano wrecked his year and he now has the spotlight on him again after quitting Honda to join KTM with Leopard Racing.
He added: “It is a lot easier to ride. On the Speed Up, when the track has got good grip and you’ve got the right conditions, the bike is very good. But when you’ve got five sessions a weekend over 18 races it maybe happens 10 times. I can run wide in a corner now. With the Speed Up if I ran wide on entry the corner was done. On this bike I can make more lines because you can turn the bike in a lot easier way. If you run a bit wide you can just square the corner off and that is such a big advantage when you are battling. That’s massive.”
Lovers of Lowes’ loose and wild riding style though need not fear. The Kalex can still be ridden fast using his spectacular sliding technique and he said: “I can ride my normal style but be more in control with this bike. I might not be quite as loose as last year but I’ll still be moving around more than anyone else. But that’s my riding style. That’s how I find I can get the most out of these bikes and these tyres. I use backing it in as a brake.”
Lowes is also in the luxurious position of having his future sorted with Aprilia’s Motogp project for the next two years and is due to test the RSGP in June. He said: “I believe in Aprilia. I think the project is great and anyone putting that much effort in during hard times like these is definitely worth being on board with. And if I go to Aprilia and beat my team-mate and do better than people expect, whoever that maybe, it will open doors. My dream now is to win this championship and that’s what I’ve got my heart set on.”
Most pundits and fans are predicting a titanic three-way tussle for the Moto2 crown between Sam Lowes, reigning champion Johann Zarco and highly rated Spaniard Alex Rins. Here’s what they all think of each other...
RINS ON LOWES AND ZARCO
“I think Zarco is the clear candidate for the title again. He was incredibly fast last year with very few mistakes and I don’t think that will change. Sam is a really good rider and last year everybody knew that the Kalex was more consistent than the Speed Up and with the Kalex he can do big things and we will need to be careful of him.”