Whew, testing in Qatar has been tucked into bed, all the final data has been compiled, adjustments have been made, and we are ready to race!
In two short weeks the wait for the 2018 MotoGP season will finally be over and we will have a steady fix of action provided by our favorite GP athletes. I, for one, am relieved the off season is reaching a conclusion. Agonizing times for fans, I tell you. I believe I will have time for one or two more of these prediction entries for us all to ponder in this last push to the finish line in Qatar on Sunday, March 2018. Does anyone want to sponsor me to cover the race? Dorna? I am willing to do some great coverage in Qatar and I have a very fun personality – no stuffy, boring coverage from this girl. No??! Ok, I will just write from lovely and cold Bend, Oregon then...
Let's talk Johann Zarco.
He has been en fuego in testing. I predict some serious wins this MotoGP season from the French rider. He might actually give Marc Marquez a serious roadblock to yet another world championship. Last year, Marc Marquez didn't hit his stride until Austin or perhaps even later in the season, so if Johann Zarco can start the season bagging wins, we could see an interesting fight between these two. I hope so. It was really fun in 2017 to see Andrea Dovizioso give Marc Marquez something to bite into and fight for. It was so fun I spent a chunk of change to watch the final race in person, not something I would have done if the fight didn't go on for so long. Zarco might be a force to make me spend a chunk again in 2018, perhaps.
Prediction: Zarco will do some serious winning this season. Remember my previous prediction that in 2019 Zarco would take over for Rossi at Factory Yamaha? It looks like that is a no. Rossi is hinting that he will sign on for two more years! So, he will still ride with Yamaha at age 41 and his spot will not be open for Zarco. First let me say – RESPECT! Second, let me say as a 41 year old – HOLY SHIT, ROSSI! I feel beyond old most days and I do not ride a high-speed racing machine and crash said racing machine regularly. Don't get me wrong, I am in great shape, eat right and take care of myself, but I literally cannot fathom being a 41 year old prefomance athlete. Just saying 41 is no joke. The 2019 season is less decisive for a Zarco move, though. Watch this piece unfold, I know I will. Also, watch for Tech3/Yamaha drama as a result of this Rossi decision.
On to the fellows of the Ducati Factory Team, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso.
In Qatar the Ducati Factory riders just said no to aerodynamic fairings – maybe they still have a little work to do on this piece of the bike. If so, there better be some hustle because, tick-tock - time is almost up. It also makes me wonder what else in undecided at Ducati for the upcoming season start. In testing Andrea Dovizioso seemed solid, just as solid as last year. He really is Ducati, he and his bike work together like peanut butter and jelly, just a perfect compliment to one another. I don't know if Jorge Lorenzo shares this partnership with his bike. It seems like he is always fighting with the Ducati, trying to tame it somehow and usually failing. I am so curious to see if this year he and his bike can find a common ground and he can go back to some winning. If testing is any indication, there are still issues with him and the bike. Dovi was solid but Lorenzo was just doesn't seem quite there.
Prediction: Ugh, this is tough! I don't know what to expect with Dovizioso. It's a fork in the road at the start of the 2018 season. Will he fight and grow and show us what he's made of? Or will he go for the safer, more comfortable route? I think he has it in him to give the season a big kicking, punching and screaming fight. Bring it on, Dovi. Jorge Lorenzo, in my opinion, will spend the season trying to get on the same page with the Ducati. I predict it will take work to get to a good place with it and that we will see Zarco win more than Lorenzo in 2018. Will I be wrong? Very, very curious to see how this prediction plays out. I would love to see Lorenzo get back to a fast, winning place.
Lastly, let's talk Team Honda.
It almost doesn't seem worthy of much discussion, to be honest. It feels very status quo with Honda, Marc Marquez, and Dani Pedrosa. The testing performance wasn't anything note-worthy, though I think they intentionally held back and kept in conservative. I feel sad to say this because I really like Honda and the riders, but I hope someone comes in and shakes things up for them. I am a little bored with them. The team seems to have everything so dialed in that there isn't anything surprising or interesting happening. It's very....comfortable, like a old, married couple. I am pretty sure being old, comfortable, and married and a high-speed motorcycle racing team is not a good combination.
Prediction: More of the same from Honda, Marquez and Pedrosa. Yawn.