The next rider to go under the microscope in our retrospective of 2016 is one of the most interesting of the year. Cal Crutchlow had a season of two halves, but up and down. Here’s how we rate the LCR Honda rider’s performance last year:
We continue our review of 2016 with a look at the man Ducati decided to keep. Here is how we saw Andrea Dovizioso’s performance last season, and why Ducati preferred him to Andrea Iannone.
The next rider to be put under the microscope over his 2016 performance is Maverick Viñales. Just how did the Spanish youngster fare last year?
Though the date has already clicked over to 2017, the world of motorcycle racing is still wreathed in silence. Riders train, factories develop, teams prepare. All of that is done in relative silence, little news of any significance emerging from workshops or factories.
To fill the void until the first of the team launches, when the season starts to ramp up in earnest, we have time to take a look back at 2016, and cast an eye over how the riders fared last season. So it is time to rate the riders’ performance in 2016, and award them points out of ten for how they did last year.
Running through the MotoGP riders in order of how they finished in the championship, we start with the man who lifted the 2016 crown.
Top ten lists are by their very nature subjective; beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. From the moment the season started in Australia until the very end there was a great scrap for the title, with the fight going down to the wire in Qatar. But, who was the best rider of 2016? This is the our Top 10 riders of the 2016 World Superbike season.
Dani Pedrosa, Honda, 4th, 206 points – Score: 8
If you wanted the very definition of a roller coaster career, look no further than Dani Pedrosa. Three world championships in the junior classes, and one of the most successful riders in the premier class.
He has never won a championship, but he has come within a whisker in 2012, winning more races than the eventual champion Jorge Lorenzo. Injury has dogged him, breaking most of the bones in his body, and fracturing his collarbone so often there is hardly a piece left intact.
His collarbone nearly ended his MotoGP career once, the plate fitted after his practice crash in Motegi in 2010 causing Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, causing numbness and weakness in his left arm, making it almost impossible to last a race.
He suffered through 2011, until the removal of the plate on his collarbone fixed the problem. He was back with a vengeance in 2012, winning seven races and getting close to beating Jorge Lorenzo. That experience stood him in good stead in 2015.
Marc Márquez, Repsol Honda, 3rd, 242 points – Score: 8
This was Marc Márquez’s worst season in Grand Prix racing since 2009. From 2010 onwards, in 125s, Moto2, or MotoGP, Márquez has finished as either champion or runner-up.
Not only did Márquez finish outside the top two for the first time since finishing eighth in 2009, but this was also his worst championship points total since that year. You could say this was a very bad year for the Repsol Honda rider.
Yet it was also undoubtedly the year in which Márquez learned the most in his Grand Prix career. This was the year in which Márquez changed his approach, and gained a deeper understanding of how to win a championship, rather than just races.
Márquez crashed out six times in 2015, fully one third of the races. Four of those crashes were entirely on his own, and completely his own fault.
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha, 2nd, 325 points – Score: 9.5
British MotoGP commentator Julian Ryder has one cliché he uses about Valentino Rossi all the time. “Never write Valentino Rossi off.” It may be a cliché, but in 2015, Rossi showed once again why clichés exist.
At the age of 36, he was past his physical prime, and not capable of keeping up at the front. Twenty seasons of top level racing had dulled his desire to compete.
Two seasons at Ducati and a poor return to Yamaha proved he was past his prime. With more money than he will ever need for the rest of his life and a fashion model girlfriend (who rides motorcycles), there was nothing to fire his motivation.
The VR46 racing team was proof Rossi was looking to his retirement, not another championship.
There was at least some truth in all of those statements, voiced by pundits and fans across the world. But they overlooked one crucial fact: you can never, ever, write Valentino Rossi off.