For the Pramac racing squad, 2017 will be their 16th consecutive season in MotoGP and this year could be their best one to date. There’s a Desmosedici GP17 in their ranks in the hands of Danilo Petrucci after he won the inter-team battle against Scott Redding last season, which means the Italian will get the same package as factory boys Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso. However, that may not be the best thing in the early part of the season. Scott will have a bike that is a proven race winner, whilst Danilo’s is yet to reach such stages. It might only be a short-term advantage but Scott might have the upper-hand early doors on his Italian teammate.
So, can we expect Petrucci to be competing with the likes of five-time world champion Lorenzo? It will be a fascinating challenge for him that’s for sure, as the GP17 will be the most competitive bike he has ever ridden. He’ll be looking to get this year off to a better start, as a testing crash at Phillip Island last year meant he had to miss the opening four rounds. No such crashes this year though for the 26-year-old, who will be looking to add to his podium finish at Silverstone back in 2015. Petrucci has excelled as a rider having left the Ioda team and you get the feeling that he could produce something special in mixed conditions. And, if there is an issue with the factory team riders, Petrucci may well get a call up. It’s all experience after all.
As for Redding, he is on board a bike that has proven race winning potential, as factory riders Dovizioso and now Suzuki pilot Andrea Iannone proved in 2016. Race wins, in the dry at least, will probably be a step too far for Scott. For me, the Gloucestershire born rider can definitely challenge for the top 6 as there is no doubting that the youngest ever GP winner is quick. Redding has had a difficult pre season, however he seemed to have found a set up that works in the final pre season test, good news for us Brits. But, with tricky weather conditions always a threat at Assen and the Sachsenring, Scott could give Paolo Campinoti’s team a much-deserved victory. His 3rd place in The Netherlands last season was a real indicator of the Brit’s talents.
The Pramac team have had a lot of mixed fortunes over the last few years but podiums have prevailed. In 2015, Petrucci put the bike on the podium in monsoon-like conditions at Silverstone and a year later, Redding did the same at Assen. Petrucci momentarily led last season’s German GP, whilst setting the fastest lap of the race in Holland. More of the same in 2017 perhaps?
An intriguing battle to see who will come out on top between these two is certain and it adds yet another sub-plot to the 2017 championship. Another dimension to the series with yet another rivalry brewing. Fallouts from last year look to spill over into this season, so just what exactly lies ahead? Stay tuned.
Elliott York @journoyork