So we have reached the mid point of the 2018 MotoGP season, we still have 9 exciting races to come, including 4 flyaway rounds before we return to Valencia for the finale. These are the riders who have impressed me, and on the flip side, disappointed me so far.
The good, the guys who so far, have stood out for me are these.
First up we have the obvious choice. The man who seems to be the class of the field in 2018, in his distinctive Sky Racing colours. I’m talking of course, about Pecco Bagnaia. The man has barely put a foot wrong, signalling his intent to come out all guns blazing from the opening round in Qatar where he took his maiden win. He’s not always been the fastest rider on the track, but his smooth style and top level brain have finally clicked this year. He has to be favourite for the title.
Next up is a man who I feel has finally unlocked the potential that we all knew was there from the minute he jumped into the Moto2 class. He’s gangly, he’s fast, and he’s a little bit mental. Its ‘Iron Balda’ Lorenzo Baldassarri. Often you cannot say the championship is a lie, but on this occasion it’s justified, he’s had such bad luck (including a flat tyre in Assen, when was the last time THAT happened?) but has powered through and taken poles, wins and podiums. If he stays with the Pons outfit for 2019 I can’t see past him winning the title, he is that good. He’s finally got the brain to go with the pace (it must be having Pecco as a flatmate rubbing off on him)
And rounding out my mid season podium is the man who I believe will utterly dominate MotoGP for years to come. Simply put, and I know all of my fellow writers agree with me, he is the most complete rider we have seen come through the ranks since Marc Marquez. I’m talking about ‘Miracle’ Joan Mir. I’m sure by now you’ve heard every superlative, every cliche bestowed upon this young Mallorcan’s shoulders and yet he does not flatter to deceive. No rider has moved up to Moto2 from the Moto3 class and podiumed in 5 races. No Moto3 graduate has looked as comfortable beating the established names as this young Spaniard has, and with a freshly inked contract at Suzuki in his pocket, I would not be surprised if he goes to MotoGP as ‘Joan Mir- Moto2 winner’
But of course with the good must come the not so good, the riders who have not delivered what we expected of them, whether it’s in terms of a title challenge, or simply in all aspects of the season so far.
So first up may not make a lot of sense to you, but I’m choosing the man who is second in the championship, but hear me out. Miguel Olivera was supposed to be the man who took the title this year, going up to MotoGP with KTM as a Moto2 champion, but so far it doesn’t look as though that will happen. Yes his race pace is fantastic, but his qualifying is utterly abysmal and he gives himself a lot to do. I feel as though this isn’t the way a championship contender can carry himself through the season and expect to win. He needs to pull his finger out when qualifying comes around or he will not be graduating as a champion..
Next up is a man who’s career trajectory has gone the opposite way to a lot of his peers. It hasn’t been all his fault, after some very rough treatment from Aprilia in the big class however, but he also hasn’t been as fast as he (and us) know he can be. I’m talking about Sam Lowes. We knew he’d take time to adapt to the Moto2 bike again but we didn’t account for the sheer speed deficit that Sam has shown, as well as his consistency being below the level required. I’m hoping he will find the form that pre-MotoGP Sam had achieved but he has a LOT of work to do.
And we end our ‘not so good’ with Alex Marquez. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, it was supposed to be a romp to the title on his favoured Marc VDS Kalex machine that he has been on in the last 4 years, and then join his brother in the big class as the champion of both Moto3 and Moto2. But that simply is not going to happen. This year he isn’t fast enough, smart enough or consistent enough to even challenge for regular podiums. He has been a huge disappointment, coupled with the fact that his rookie teammate has been setting the class alight and you realise that he probably will never win the title. He does have another shot in 2019 thanks to Marc VDS giving him what is likely his final shot, but he will need to seriously up his game if he is to reach the level that they seem to think he is capable of.
I’ll end this with a ‘most improved’ award, as the man who gets this doesn’t fit into either category.
I’m talking about Fabio Quartararo, as his Speed Up either seems to work or it doesn’t. He’s taken a very memorable win at Catalunya and followed it up with a great podium at Assen and then fell slightly off the radar again with a 9th at Sachsenring. Somehow he’s managed to make the Speed Up work despite it’s many inadequacies, and there are a LOT of whispers about him potentially moving up to the big class next year on a Yamaha. Is it too soon? Possibly, but he is still only 19 and has a bright future ahead of him. He will add to his win tally before the season is out, I’m sure.
So that is my mid season review. Do you agree/disagree? Let us know!
For championship positions so far click here.
Featured Image Credit- http://www.motogp.com