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The year that was… | MotoGP | Sport

Spare a tear for Danilo Petrucci, named victim of the year

Rookie of the Year

Being the obvious choice doesn’t make Johann Zarco any less of a hero – an instant star at Qatar, and by year’s end
a constant front-runner.

In Moto2, Brad Binder might have taken the official rookie title ahead of Pecco Bagnaia but for a lingering early injury. Three straight podiums in the last three races proved the point.

But these were just class rookies: in Moto3 rank newcomer Dennis Foggia only made three starts, scoring points each time, top 10 in the last two. At Valencia he challenged for the podium, and finished less than a second away.

Rookie of the Year (Machines)

KTM. What a start for the MotoGP beginners. Well, almost beginners. Just shows what clever engineers working with big budgets can achieve.

Clot of the Year

The Dorna guy who selected incredibly stupid social media questions at the press conferences (sample: “If your rivals were pizza toppings, what flavour would they be?”). And the official Dorna yearbook, which not only called the Foreword the “Forward”, but misspelled the name of its honoured author, the Dorna CEO. Carmelo Ezpeleta became Cermelo instead. Means something bad in Catalan.

Disappointment of the Year

Maverick Viñales started out favourite after dominating all the tests, won three of the first five races, then slumped. Fellow Spaniard Jorge Martín took the whole season to turn a record nine pole positions into a single win. Injury didn’t help, and he made a brave return. Both should have achieved better.

Disappointment of the Year (Machines)

Ever since Rossi and technical boffin Jerry Burgess took over in 2004, Yamaha’s M1 has been admired: the best-rounded and best-balanced MotoGP bike. In 2017 the engineers must have read the blueprints upside-down. Factory riders Rossi and Viñales were regularly beaten by Zarco’s 2016 M1.

Another lowlight was the departure of Mahindra from Moto3.

Mess-up of the Year

All but the last attempt to stop Moto3 riders cruising for a slipstream in qualifying. Escalating fines didn’t help, nor did threats of escalating punishments, ranging right up to disqualification. Only at year’s end, when the first back-of-the-grid start
was slapped on, did riders start to
take notice.

Rider of the Year

Fans might wish it to be Valentino Rossi, who still towers above the rest in popularity. But Marc Márquez towers above in matters of talent, bravery, and spectacular saves. A genuine giant of
the sport.

Victim of the Year

Spare a tear for Danilo Petrucci, in spite of having by far his best ever season. The swarthy and jovial Pramac Ducati rider took four podiums, but on two of those he was denied a first win by cruel misfortune, and was actually robbed by Márquez at Misano.

Surprise of the Year

Dovi’s and Ducati’s championship challenge. The rider has seemed fast but under-achieving for some years; the bike has been slowly struggling back from the doldrums of the Rossi disaster of 2011/12. It took until Round 6 at Mugello, a change of front tyre and a new chassis, and the pair were transformed. Six wins equalled Márquez’s tally.

Crasher of the Year

Most spectacularly, Marc Márquez, with 27 tumbles. But the big number was set by hapless Aprilia MotoGP rookie Sam Lowes, with 31. Some, to be fair, triggered by mechanical failure. Álvaro Bautista had 26; Moto2 rookie Jorge Navarro an impressive 30; while Scotsman John McPhee (20) was the crasher of Moto3.

Save of the Year

Early on it looked like Loris ‘Too Tall’ Baz had taken the coveted title when he slipped right off at Austin in practice, only to land up back on his wheels. But the master of the art remains Márquez, who had five or six such moments that would have been crashes for anybody else at all sorts of speeds, most crucially mid-race when going for the title at the Valencia GP.