I am literally beyond thankful to be writing again and that MotoGP season is right around the corner. Really and truly, it is right around the corner. Can I hear an AMEN??! Today, I sit at my computer writing and the date is February 25th and MotoGP 2018 starts in Qatar on Sunday, March 18th. We are on the home stretch now! Sadly, I haven't been working on my predictions as I wanted to but I will now. I am very goal oriented so it is my goal to write every day this week. Bank on it because it will happen.
Let's talk about some newbies to the MotoGP lineup this year and what this will look like on the MotoGP circuit. One thing I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is you don't just stroll into MotoGP and expect to be one of the greats right away. It takes time to get a handle on riding a GP bike and even the greats falter with small changes to their bikes or if they change to a different team/bike. Think Jorge Lorenzo and his move to Ducati. So, it will be interesting to watch the riders moving up from Moto2 in 2018 and how they handle the change. There are four new riders this year so shall we explore?
Last year's Moto2 World Champion and superstar is moving up this year. He handled the pressures of Moto2 like a true pro, usually just as calm and cool as could be, on and off the bike. Boy, he was fun to watch in 2017 as he was consistent, disciplined and almost never made an error. I really look forward to his debut in MotoGP in 2018. It looks like he is handling the new class well in testing, too. My prediction for Mr. Morbidelli for this season is he probably won't do a ton of winning but he will do a ton of learning and add skills to his already impressive portfolio. If he can keep his calm demeanor and use 2018 as a growth year, we will undoubtedly see amazing things coming down the pipe for him. I'm sure all of us fans will be watching him closely.
Tom Lüthi ended the 2017 Moto2 season early due to a quite serious injury so I sort of feel like he fell off the radar a little bit as an incoming rookie. His riding is solid and consistent, though he was often out paced by Franco Morbidelli. In 2018, these two will be teammates on Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS and will have access to all of the same equipment. This makes the competition very, very interesting. We will really get to see how they compete and shine on a level playing field. I don’t really have a prediction per se but a desire to watch this show unfold in 2018. I think Tom Lüthi is an excellent, cool, composed rider so I am looking forward to seeing him and his teammate weather the move to MotoGP. My only side-note would have to be, will the injury of last year plague Tom Lüthi? He is young at 31 so his body should cooperate in recovery but his teammate is a lot younger and did not experience an injury. How will this play out for Tom Lüthi this year? Will he feel 100% on top of his game?
I do enjoy watching Takaaki Nakagami ride but I have to wonder about his move to the MotoGP class. Does anyone else question this? Are people seeing something that I am missing? He didn’t do a ton of winning in Moto2 but we know that these two classes are extremely different so this isn’t always a predictor of success or failure. Some riders really rock Moto2 and never find their stride in MotoGP. Maybe Takaaki Nakagami will be the opposite of this. Maybe he is meant for a MotoGP bike. I am not predicting this, don’t get me wrong, but it would be really cool to see. I will watch this move very closely and with great deal of curiosity.
I will admit it, Xavier Simeon was not on my radar at all last year. In fact, I really didn’t even realize he was moving up this year. Maybe this is because I am new to Moto2 as a spectator and I missed some of his impressive history between 2013 and 2015, when he seemed to be on top of his game. In 2017, I think he was overshadowed by some larger presences on the track – Morbidelli, Luthi, the KTM explosion at the end of the season, and Alex Marquez. I don’t even have a prediction here except I predict I will pay attention to him a little more closely. Lesson learned. Keep your eye on the ball, Miller!
Alright moto people, another chapter of the 2018 prediction anthology is in the books. Stay tuned because there is still so much to explore. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet. I told you this might be reminiscent of the Shelby Foote Civil War Anthology!