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2016 is drawing to a close, and motogp.com says goodbye to a truly historic season with nine reasons why the season with nine winners was so incredible - before soon we look ahead to the coming year and a few ideas as to why 2017 could be even better.
For now, enjoy the swan song of a spectucular year of competition in the premier class of Grand Prix racing - before the engines fire up once again in Sepang for the first test of 2017.
Nine different winners…
Season so far: MotoGP™ stars on cloud nine
In 68 years of premier class Grand Prix racing, it had never happened before. But 2016 saw nine different riders take MotoGP™ victories, showing the incredible level of competition on the grid this season. Who was on that honour roll? Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Jack Miller (EG0,0 Marc VDS), Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Amazing!
…and eight of them in a row!
When Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line in a photo-finish just ahead of Marc Marquez in Mugello, it seemed like it was a spectacular race and the end of another chapter in a great season. But what transpired in the seven following races made the Italian GP the starting point of an unbelievable run of eight different winners - giving it an extra place in history. That run of eight came to a close in the second race on Italian soil at Misano when Dani Pedrosa took a stunning victory, adding another dash of record-breaking to an already incredible year.
Four different manufacturer winners…
It was Yamaha who kicked off the year on top when then-reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Jorge Lorenzo took victory in Qatar, before Honda’s first wins followed it up as Marc Marquez won in Argentina and at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas. Then later, in Austria, Andrea Iannone ended a drought for Ducati that stretched back to Casey Stoner’s final win in Phillip Island in 2010 – followed by another Borgo Panigale victory at Sepang for Andrea Dovizioso. Add in a win for Suzuki at Silverstone with Maverick Viñales’ first victory in the premier class, and the season was the highest level of competition between the four factories for years.
Independent Team race winners…
MotoGP Rewind: A recap of the #DutchGP
Before 2016, you had to go back 10 years to Estoril 2006 to find the most recent Independent Team winner, when Toni Elias took on the big guns and won. Fast forward to this season and Jack Miller was the man who changed the record books, winning at the TT Circuit Assen for Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS and taking his first premier class win. An emotional victory for man and team, the Dutch GP turned out to be the first of three for Independent Teams in 2016 – with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow the man to take two more.
The first British win in 35 years – twice!
MotoGP Rewind: A recap of the #CzechGP
Brno saw a tyre choice for Cal Crutchlow pay off as the Brit sliced through the field in a stunning wet weather display and took the victory from Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez. The first British win in 35 years for the number 35 was another Independent Team win in the season and a real turning point for Crutchlow, who had a difficult start to the year before the German GP and his subsequent win in Brno. Then, in Phillip Island, the LCR Honda rider did it again. Inheriting the lead from Marquez after the Spaniard made a mistake, Crutchlow pushed to perfection to manage his pace and tyres and was simply uncatchable, even for Australian GP veteran Valentino Rossi. Another incredible win – and this one in the dry.
Suzuki back on top…
Suzuki make their mark in 2016
Suzuki’s return to the top of the podium is part of reason number three, but the Hamamatsu factory’s return to the top is more than just a race win. After a more challenging first season back in the premier class in 2015, this season Suzuki came out the blocks much more competitive from the outset – with top five pace and podium-challenging charges all year. Viñales put the cherry on top at Silverstone, but the Spaniard took more podium results in Le Mans, Motegi and Phillip Island, and teammate Aleix Espargaro was also often a force to be reckoned with as the Japanese factory got back in the mix.
Ducati’s double triumph…
Phillip Island, 2010 – the last time Casey Stoner raced a Ducati at home and won – and the last time a Ducati had been a race winner. Until 2016! After a long period of reformation and hard work to bring the Borgo Panigale factory back to the top, this season saw the Ducati Team take not one but two victories, with a win each for Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso. Since the recent lowest point for the factory in 2013 and the subsequent arrival of Luigi Dall’Igna, the long road back is now beginning to be paved with trophies – and the Italian manufacturer have their eyes set on even more for next season.
…and the return of the Red Bull Ring
Voted the best GP of the year by the Grand Prix Commission, the Austrian GP saw the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg back on the calendar with a bang. Last raced on by the World Championship in 1997 and since modified, the venue was a spectacular backdrop for the Ducati win taken by Andrea Iannone, as the characteristics of the track proved to suit the Italian machines to perfection. The stunning bull presiding over the track makes a truly unique feature for a venue that is sure to become a modern classic on the MotoGP™ calendar – off to the best possible start.
Finally, the superstar grid!
At MotorLand Aragon, 2006 MotoGP™ World Champion Nicky Hayden stepped in at EG0,0 Marc VDS to sub for injured Jack Miller – meaning there were 28 World Championships lining up to go racing in the Aragon GP. One for Hayden, nine for Rossi, five for Lorenzo, four for Marquez, three for Pedrosa and another slew courtesy of Alvaro Bautista, Tito Rabat, Stefan Bradl, Pol Espargaro, Maverick Viñales and Andrea Dovizioso - star-studded by anyone’s reckoning! In addition, the one-off (or first half of the one-off) return for Hayden from WorldSBK was the first time a MotoGP™ Legend has returned to competition – and the ‘Kentucky Kid’ did himself proud with a points-scoring finish.