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The great contenders: Moto2™ fire up for 2017

Search for the heir to Zarco’s throne begins in Qatar

Moto2™ is another strong field once again in 2017, with a huge amount of competition ready to hit the gas in Qatar. Last year’s title contenders like Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) and Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) will be looking to get off to a flier first time out, as well as the guys who are looking to join that fight: Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) and 2014 Moto3™ World Champion Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS). 25 points per race starts at Losail, regardless of the pressure that amps up throughout the season.

There’s a host of rookies for this year, too. Reigning Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) will be hoping to hit the ground running as he comes back from a broken arm to move into the intermediate class, alongside old lightweight class rivals Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2), Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) and Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46). Then there's Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Axel Bassani (Speed Up Racing), Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team)...and even more.

Bagnaia is joined by Stefano Manzi at the new Sky Racing Team VR46 intermediate class outfit as they debut in Moto2™, with another debutant ready to share pitlane with the Italians: KTM. The new chassis for Red Bull KTM Ajo sees the Austrian manufacturer now have a presence in each class – and Miguel Oliveira has been impressive in testing, with the bike seeming a real contender. With more Suter presence with Kiefer Racing and Dynavolt Intact GP, too, the competition is sure to be tight.

The race for the intermediate class is set for 19:20 (GMT+3), as the battle to replace the king of recent seasons begins - the crown now up for grabs as reigning Champion Johann Zarco vacates his throne.