Crew Towers Tips – 2017

Every racing fan has an opinion and we are no different over here at Crew Towers, as you would expect.

Some of the ‘creative meetings’ where we discuss future articles descend into a banter filled cacophony of voices who confidently state their opinions.

We wanted to get the 2017 championship tips from the experts….but they weren’t available, so we asked the Pit Crew Online team to make their predictions instead.

Some writers contribute across multiple series, therefore you may see them predicting a whole host of categories.

CREW TOWERS TIPS – 2017

Richard Hindson – Facebook Media Editor

Twitter: @hindson369

F1 Prediction: A Red Bull Driver

“My F1 world champion prediction is a Red Bull Racing driver. It’s hard to choose between the two. Both showed real pace last season and proved they could race wheel to wheel with no contact. This season they will be at the front of the grid battling for the sports grandest prize. Who will come out on top may come down to reliability, like we saw in 2016.”

Mitch Oakley – BTCC Editor

Twitter: @Tocco_97

BTCC Prediciton: Gordon Shedden

“Based on the last two years, it’s very hard to look past the Honda of Gordon Shedden. The reigning champ will be looking to add another title to his collection. No doubt his teammate will be pushing close behind. Also never count out Turkington now he is back at WSR and of course Plato is always there-or-there abouts. Either way it should be a cracker!”

Matthew Pigg – Endurance Editor/Photographer

Twitter: @photopigg

LMP1-H Prediction: Porsche

LMP2 Prediction: Alpine

“Looking forwards to great competition in the WEC this year with the battle in LMP1-H between Porsche and Toyota. My hunch would be that Porsche will come out on top after the whole season, but hoping that Toyota get that Le Mans win after last year’s heart break. LMP2 looks like it’s going to be interesting with new cars and teams coming in, but too close to call as to who will win. A good bet would be Alpine to retain the crown. GTE Pro sees the return of Porsche with two cars going up against Ferrari, Ford and Aston Martin. It is going to be another close call and could easily go any of the team’s way and a lot of what happens with GTE will depend on what happens with balance of performance.”

Aaron Irwin – Virtual Editor

Twitter: @AaronIrwin7

Virtual GP Prediction: Michal Smidl

“We cover a series called Virtual GP and the simplest way I can describe it is F1 on a computer. There is one stand out favourite for the series and his name is Michal Smidl, he’s won the series twice and is the hot favourite. However he has challengers to his crown in Martin Stefanko and Jaroslav Honzik. In a series of fast and enjoyable racing, anyone can shine. It’s close and tense and it looks likely that Smidl will hold on to his crown, but he won’t have it all his own way.”

Rhea Morar – Deputy F1 Editor

Twitter: @RheaMorar

F1 Prediction: Red Bull

“Unbelievably I predict that the tough fight for the championship will be between the Sauber boys… who has the more perfect hair…. Ericsson or Wehrlein? Seriously though, look out for the Red Bull boys is all that I can predict right now.”

Victor Archakis – F1 Editor

Twitter: @FP_Passion

F1 Prediction: Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel

“My heart says Ferrari. My logic says Mercedes, but I can’t resist to my heart’s willing, hence I will pick Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel as 2017 champions!”

Tonia Attard – NASCAR Feature Writer

Twitter: @audilvrs7

NASCAR Prediction: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“With the checkered flag dropped on the Daytona 500, the start of the NASCAR season is officially underway. This year’s 500, with its new rules and regulations, proved to be exciting just as NASCAR hoped although maybe in the wrong way as a multitude of wrecks perforated the green flag laps. That being said clear indications of who may, or may not, be in contention for the Championship were given and as NASCAR editor it is my job to give them to you. First and foremost, Dale Earnhardt Jr. While this may not be the choice most people would go with, Junior was fast at Daytona. Fast like we haven’t seen him for a long time. He sat on pole for a while before Chase Elliot bumped him to his second place starting position. From there he had a strong run until an accident took him out of the running. Earnhardt has a strong motivation to drive hard as well. He has said that if he wins the Championship this year he will retire. He wants to go out on top. There is no more motivation like taking that last big leap of faith. Chase Elliot, Earnhardt’s teammate also looks promising for a Championship. Young and hungry but now more experienced. Bill Elliot’s son proudly carries on the family name and hopes to make a name for himself in NASCAR history.”

Kiko Giles – Crew On Two Editor

Twitter: @MotoGPKiko

MotoGP Prediction: Valentino Rossi

Moto2 Prediction: Franco Morbidelli

Moto3 Prediction: Fabio Di Giannantonio

WSBK Prediction: Chaz Davies

BSB Prediction: Luke Mossey

“MotoGP is fierce this year, with young hounds challenging the young – and old – established war horses. My money in 2017 is on Valentino Rossi. And before you all sigh and look away, there are some alternative reasons, apart from his ability to ride. He’s old, he’s getting on and it could be now or never for Rossi. But a new teammate will also spur him on. He enjoys a challenge and has re-invented himself for the last four seasons. The Michelins have a year under their belt so Valentino has a solid base-setting to work on. Cut the crashing, and bring home the bacon, on the podium at every round like he had potential last season and he’s your man in 2017 – not without stiff competition.

Moto2 sees four of the top eight in last season’s campaign move up, leaving the door open for many challenges and a break of what we have known. Franco Morbidelli is a rider who impressed me so much towards the end of last season. Having come so close in Australia in that finish with Tom Luthi, and having been in a titanic scrap in Valencia with MotoGP graduate and double champion Johann Zarco, Morbidelli must be favourite this season. It could be between him, Luthi and San Marino GP winner, Lorenzo Baldassarri.

Moto3 is anyone’s guess, but due to his sheer skill last season, Fabio Di Giannantionio definitely gets my backing. The rookie Italian came so close to winning at Mugello as well as Assen and his only retirement after his first point scoring ride was getting wiped out at Phillip Island. He is retained by the same team for 2017 and the Gresini Racing set up have some titles in their pocket from seasons gone by. Fabio will be up there, but that is only one prediction out of many that could possibly take the title.

In WSBK although Jonathan Rea has started with a double victory, Chaz Davies took his best points haulage from the first round of the season. The Welshman is my tip for a tilt at the title in 2017. His sensational form that ended 2016 (7 wins in 8 of the final races) was something that only Colin Edwards had done before. The Ducati is getting better and at last Davies looks like he may have a teammate that he can rely on for support in Marco Melandri. The 30-year-old will be on fire once we get to Europe, which is where Chaz is at his absolute finest.

British Superbikes sees additions galore in 2017. Davide Giugliano and Sylvain Guintoli amongst the most notable. Shane Byrne took his 5th title last season, as an out and out Shakey fan I want him to do the same – but I am not backing him and I’m not tipping Leon either. I believe the upset could come from his teammate. Luke Mossey is my stab for a title this season. The youngster – now with a full factory set up – put in some astounding results last year, and could be the one to be keep an eye on this season. However, BSB is BSB, and we know Shakey, Haslam, Ellison and the like will all be up there – it really is anyone’s guess.”

Viv Gillings – Photographer

Twitter: @viv_simmons

WEC GT Prediction: Ford

MotoGP Prediction: Ducati

“I am predicting with my heart not my head on the above series. I have always been a ‘Ford Bird’ and they are my prediction in the GT category for WEC and in MotoGP I am going with a Ducati rider, whether that is Jorge or Dovi. My predictions are purely heart fuelled as Ford and Ducati are my favourites. I will also be cheering on Chris Wheeler in the British Rally Championship.”

Tomasz Kubiak – WTCC & DTM Feature Writer

Twitter: @tomekkubiak

WTCC Prediction: Rob Huff

DTM Prediction: Mike Rockenfeller

“WTCC – The favourite to win the 2017 World Touring Car Championship should be Rob Huff. The Briton saw an opportunity in leaving the factory Honda team to join the privateer Münnich Motorsport and it is not as crazy as it sounds. The single-car operation will be focused around him and won’t have to worry about a manufacturers’ championship, dealing with rookie team mates (there’s one in both Honda and Volvo camps) or developing a car, as the Citroën is a fully finished and impressively quick machine. If factories will decide to go after drivers’ title, Tiago Monteiro and Nicky Catsburg would become the biggest treats.

DTM – Stopping BMW will be extremely difficult as the Bavarian brand won three drivers’ titles in five years since they returned to DTM. They are, however, yet to win in an odd year and if someone is in position to capitalise on that, it should be Audi. The Neuburg-based marque was the only one to keep all of their teams and will utilise the resources freed up by the unfortunate ending to their endurance racing programme. Watch out for Mike Rockenfeller but BMW’s Marco Wittmann and Mercedes-AMG’s Edoardo Mortara are good guesses as well.”

Jack Prentice – F1 Technical Editor

Twitter: @JPrentice8

F1 Prediction: Sebastian Vettel

“Predicting the Formula One season ahead of us right now is a bit like predicting when a comet will next hit the earth. The immense changes in technical regulations have the potential to shake the order up somewhat, but after the first round of testing it looks like the same three will be at the sharp end. That said, once again Ferrari look like they’ve taken the game to Mercedes while Red Bull still have some work to do. If Ferrari have upped their game, then it’s hard to look past a Vettel v Hamilton title scrap. How much fun would that be?”

James Matthews – Formula E Editor and Mercedes Feature Writer

Twitter: @James16Matthews

Formula E Prediction: Sebastien Buemi

“If anyone but Buemi and Renault come out on top this season, it could well be the upset of the year. With three wins from the opening three races, Buemi is driving at a level above the rest of the grid—at this rate, even his absence from New York won’t hurt his campaign for a second title.”

Warren Nel – Rally Editor

Twitter: @Warren_S_Nel

WRC Prediction: Sebastien Ogier

“I believe that Seb will become this year’s Champion. His main challengers will be Thierry Neuville, Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala. Hyundai have built a very good car. It’s certainly faster than the others! Citroën are a sleeping giant and are on the back-foot. The Toyota return has been remarkable with two podiums and a victory. I’m not sure if they can sustain a full fight all year, but they are the dark horses I believe, with a resurgent Jari-Matti Latvala. He’s definitely looking more relaxed behind the wheel. Next round is Rally Mexico! 9th to the 12th of March.”

Elliott York – Crew On Two Feature Writer

Twitter: @journoyork

MotoGP Prediction: Maverick Vinales

WSBK Prediction: Chaz Davies

BSB Prediction: Leon Haslam

“MotoGP – The 26th of March is a date that every MotoGP fan will welcome with open arms as Qatar kick starts what promises to be a stellar year of Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

For me, Vinales on the M1 Yamaha is going to take some stopping this year. You only have to look at testing to see how quick he is going to be, which is why he is my tip for the crown.

I’d love to see Rossi claim his 10th title, and I think he will be challenging the likes of Vinales and Marquez all the way, but I just see Maverick being the top gun in 2017.

WSBK – Phillip Island gave us an indicator of just how competitive this year is going to be in World Superbikes. Johnathan Rea laid down the gauntlet, however I think Chaz Davies can really take it to him this year and claim his maiden Superbike title. The Ducati looks like it is the complete package this year, and with the help of team mate Melandri, Davies can upset the Kawasaki party. If the Welshman can remain consistent on tracks that he doesn’t go well at (Phillip Island being a great example) then I think he’ll be in pole position to get his hands on the title.

BSB – It is hard to see past Leon Haslam and Shane Byrne again this year, which is why I’m backing the Kawasaki man to go one better in 2017. Leon now has a year’s experience under his belt after returning to BSB from World Superbikes which will give him a vast amount of confidence. It will be another titanic battle between the two, with other names such as James Ellison having an outside shot, but for me it’s Haslam who will take the title.”

Neil Simmons – Tin Top Editor & McLaren/Feature Writer

Twitter: @world_racing

F1 Prediction: Max Verstappen

WRX Prediction: Johan Kristoffersson

BTCC Prediction: Colin Turkington

IndyCar Prediction: Will Power

Indy500 Prediction: Josef Newgarden

WEC LMP1 Prediction: Porsche #1 (Lotterer, Tandy, Jani)

WEC LMP2 Prediction: Rebellion #31 (Prost, Senna, Canal)

WEC GTE-Pro Prediction: Ford #67 (Priaulx, Tincknell, Derani)

WEC GTE-Am Prediction: Aston Martin #98 (Lauda, Dalla Lana, Lamy)

MotoGP Prediction: Maverick Vinales

WSBK Prediction: Chaz Davies

BSB Prediction: Davide Giugliano

Isle Of Man TT: John McGuinness

“I cover a lot of racing here at The Crew, but I narrowed it down to my favourite series.

In Formula One I am looking back over the last couple of seasons and at the confidence of Red Bull and their young star going into 2017. I think it will be a closely contested season between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, but Max Verstappen gets my tip, just, ahead of Sebastian Vettel. One to watch on my list is Nico Hulkenberg, he could be the breath of fresh air that Renault need to lift their hopes of regular points.

World Rallycross is a difficult one. There is such a depth of talent in the field this year and although I think both Solberg and Ekstrom will be in the mix again, I am going with my ‘joker’ and tip Johan Kristoffersson for the title in the works Polo. Also watch out for Kevin “Round The Outside” Eriksson who I expect to cause a few upsets in the MJP Ford Fiesta.

In the BTCC my prediction changed recently. When thinking of this article I was looking at Mat Jackson in the Focus or Jason Plato in the Subaru. Then a certain Colin Turkington signed for West Surrey Racing and the former 2009 and 2014 champion is my tip in the BMW, though I expect the usual suspects to be sniffing around. Watch out for Ash Sutton in the Subaru, I like this lad.

Over in the good old USA, the IndyCar season is upon us and I really can’t see any other person than a Team Penske driver taking the title. However, I don’t think Simon Pagenaud will retain his title because I believe the 2017 championship will go to Will Power. I also think that Ryan Hunter-Reay will have a good season, but another prediction I will make concerns the Indy 500. My tip for the ‘big one’ goes to Josef Newgarden who steps into Team Penske, moving Montoya down to a more part-time driving role, and I think he could be the surprise name of the season, possibly even challenging Power for the title?

WEC – with four classes it is hard to get them all right, but I will try to have a punt on this. In the LMP1 class I can’t look at anything else other than the #1 Porsche of Lotterer, Tandy and Jani. I just think they have the quality to take this and I think they will win Le Mans. In LMP2 with names such as Prost and Senna in their cars with Canal also, I am going for the #31 Rebellion. In GTE-Pro, my heart says Aston Martin (as a lifelong fan) but I am going to predict a class championship win for the #67 Ford of Priaulx, Tincknell and Derani. In the Am category I am sticking with the #98 Aston Martin of Lauda, Dalla Lana and Lamy.

Bikes – some of you are aware that from time to time I step in to assist our Crew On Two editor Kiko Giles with some bike stuff, being a massive bike racing fan myself. I think that MotoGP will have a rocket put up its exhaust pipe and that Maverick Vinales will be crowned 2017 champion, though I expect Rossi and Marquez to be in the mix as always. My tip in WSBK for 2017 is the same man I tipped in 2016, Chaz Davies. I just think this is his year, be it that Jonathan Rea won the opening races. I think Chaz in the long run will come out on top and the Ducati is just getting better. In British Superbikes, which I have to say is my favourite bike racing series, although I am a massive Shakey Byrne fan and a lifelong Ducati fan, add to that I like Leon Haslam, I am predicting a 2017 title win for Davide Giugliano on the Tyco BMW. My one to watch is John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins back on the Ducati at Moto Rapido. For the Isle Of Man TT, I’m going to go for the old war horse John McGuinness to take the big one. I don’t think he’ll surpass Joey Dunlop’s tally this year, but I am tipping him to take the big race.“

Those are the predictions from Crew Towers for the forthcoming season. Who are your tips?

See you at the chequered flag.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

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