The script is quite similar to what we saw in 2016, although there are new players on the stage, Dovizioso and Viñales. Once again, the butler did it, namely Marc Marquez. If last season was defined as the Championship of maturity, the 2017 season can be described for all intents and purposes as one under the sign of certainty.
In fact, the Spaniard proved once again to be cold and calculating, capable of combining intelligence, speed and a pinch of madness to perfection. These were the necessary ingredients that let him bring home this sixth world title. And to think that for number 93, the Championship Title race was once again an uphill battle, because over the winter, Maverick Viñales and Yamaha seemed to have a little something extra.
As if the double win of his compatriot in Qatar and Argentina were not enough, the subsequent crash by 93 at Rio Hondo risked tainting the little Spanish devil’s 2017 season straight away. Austin became the race where he absolutely could not make a mistake and Marc fulfilled predictions, riding his Honda to the top step of the podium ahead of Rossi’s M1, which moved into the championship lead that weekend. It was a momentary first place for the Doctor that slipped through his fingers between Jerez and Le Mans.
On those two occasions, Marc managed to bring home a precious second place finish, whereas in France he ended up in the gravel just as things were looking their best, moving farther away from the lead which was taken over by Viñales, winner at the Bugatti circuit. The Honda rider had to dust himself off and start all over again, but Marc is not the sort to lose hope; to the contrary, in his difficulties, he finds that strength needed to come back stronger than before.
And so, while at Mugello he would have to settle for sixth place, in Catalonia his Honda rose again, on the day when the true crisis began for Yamaha with the tyres that did not work and frames that later proved to be wrong. Barcelona became the true turning point of number 93’s season as he made a leap of quality that he had been searching for since the season start.
The Spaniard shone, while Maverick’s star began to wane between DNFs and results that were below expectations. Things seemed to be going smoothly, but then a new character burst onto the scene, a certain Andrea Dovizioso, who took home a memorable double win at Mugello and Barcelona.
It was the first time that the Italian had ever been a title contender in the top class and Marc had absolutely no intentions of underestimating him. Just to be sure, number 93 took full spoils on the Sachsenring and in the Czech Republic, he proved to be a flag-to-flag strategist, winning at Brno. In Austria it was a different story, because Dovizioso showed his claws, beating his rival in close-quarters combat with a heart-stopping final corner. The Italian was no longer in stealth mod and his win on the Red Bull Ring sent a clear message: he was also in the battle for the Championship Title.
It was no small worry for the Spanish rider, although he did not have the least intention of dropping his guard. So, Silverstone was the chance to re-establish his superiority, but in England the incredible happened, because the Honda engine left number 93 stranded and his position at the top of the standings was snatched in a single blow.
However, Marc is all talent and nothing seemed to affect or condition him. This phenomenal rider has the ability to go beyond his difficulties and get back up before the others. He demonstrated this at Misano, when he beat out Petrucci on the last lap, restoring his status as victor. At Aragón he even shifted into overdrive, taking home a solitary triumph on the day when Dovizioso finished seventh, moving to 16 points away from 93.
In Japan the challenge between the two contenders was renewed with a script that was reminiscent of Austria. Marc had a go on the last corner of a track that was at the limits of viability because of the rain, but the Italian proved to be clever enough to snatch the win from him.
Andrea’s success on the Twin Ring seemed to reopen the Championship, but it was only an illusion. Indeed, because in Australia Ducati showed its limitations against a Honda and a Marquez that were from another planet. The Spaniard won and he did it his way, battling to then leave crumbs for the competition. But Dovi was unable to pick up even the crumbs, falling 33 Championship points behind.
For Marc, the win at Phillip Island was the checkmate move for the title that could have come as early as one week later in Sepang. However, Dovizioso spoiled the little Spanish devil’s plans, winning in Malaysia. Celebrations were simply postponed fifteen days until the Valencia round for Marc.