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MotoGP winter gossip, intrigue and rumour

Britain’s Cal Crutchlow believes he has the same raw speed as former team-mate and 2017 MotoGP runner-up Andrea Dovizioso, and says they would have been very close in terms of performance had he not left Ducati.

Crutchlow exited the Bologna team after one season, taking a deal presented by LCR Honda but says Andrea Iannone was already waiting in the wings with a factory deal so he would have been out at the end of year two anyway.

“I think I’m exactly the same speed as Dovi. If I look at when I was Tech3 and when I was at Ducati, we were the same speed, the same sort of rider. If I stayed at Ducati, we would have been really close. I have to say he has made a step with his team and his bike this year. But raw speed, I’d say we were the same,” said the Isle of Man, er, man.


Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis reckons 2017 wasn’t a total disaster for the works team even though they won only four races and got duffed by Tech3 in seven out of the 18 outings. Tracks with low grip proved to be their undoing this year but Jarvis is looking on the bright side, saying at least Maverick Vinales was third in the title chase…

KTM race boss Pit Beirer didn’t put Bradley Smith’s career in a skip because he believes it would have been unfair on the Oxfordshire coppertop. The Brit suffered all season and was made to look average by Pol Espargaro team test rider Mika Kallio in places but Beirer honoured the two-year deal.

“When they signed for us, there was a blank piece of paper, they couldn’t even look at the bike. It would not be fair to drop a rider halfway through the first season. We decided to give him the time to develop. I know he’s better than what he showed and something was wrong for him and not feeling good,” he said.

Self-styled Roman Emperor Max Biaggi thinks Marc Marquez has not yet reached his peak and will only get better over coming years, which is ominous for all concerned. Marquez is still only 24 - two years younger than Biaggi was when he debuted in the premier class - and the Italian also thinks that it’s not just some sort of dynamic with the RCV, he would also win on other machinery.

Johann Zarco’s crew chief Guy ‘1.21 jigawatts’ Coulon has seen the potential in Jonas Folger and thinks he will be fast in 2018 after finishing only 28 points behind Cal Crutchlow in the title chase and taking part in four races less. “This means that his level was very high in the first 14 races of the year,” he said.

Happily, electric bikes aren’t about to replace the internal combustion engine in MotoGP with all manufacturers’ representatives citing they are old and want to hear the sound of pistons moving until they shuffle off their respective mortal coils.

However, KTM’ Pit Beirier reckons there will be more battery involvement in the near future: “Electric bike development will go on. There are fantastic projects coming up and fantastic vehicles to use on completely different places than we are used to using motorcycles at the moment. We can come closer to cities with electric bike engines. But I just don’t see them ready to take over all our fuel-burning love of motorcycles. Let’s wait for the future.”

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