MotoGP 2017 Preview: Marc VDS Honda

The team of many names, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda isn’t a massively memorable name, and neither are their performances. Two podiums in two years for a satellite team isn’t too bad, but they are very much the anomalies. Even Jack Miller winning a rain-affected Assen last year didn’t shift the needle much – his highest place finish besides that was one seventh.

It’s a satellite Honda team that suffers from being a satellite team, but unlike LCR, they haven’t got the pure talent on the machine to push it on.

The bike

motogp-bike

Name Honda RC213V
Engine 1000CC liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC 4 valve, V-4
Power >240BHP
Chassis Aluminium twin-tube
Transmission 6-speed
Brakes Brembo carbon fibre front, Yutaka rear/wet front steel

It’s your basic RC213V. It’ll be a good machine without all the developments. Whether it can get on a level with some of the better satellite rides depends on whether the riders can step up.

The riders

miller.jpg

43 – Jack Miller
Age 22 Born Townsville, Australia
Honours None
2016 18th, 57pts, Marc VDS
Race Record
Class Races Wins Podiums Points Best
125CC 6 0 0 0 N/A
Moto3 49 6 10 403 2nd, 2014
MotoGP 31 1 1 74 18th, 2016

The higher ups at Honda quite like Jack Miller. So much so, he was fast-tracked from Moto3 straight onto a ride on the open class LCR bike alongside Cal Crutchlow. That season was defined in one corner, when on the first lap at Silverstone he took out Crutchlow.

So keen on him, are Honda though, that they moved him sidewards, onto the Marc VDS (removing Scott Redding from a job), and to a point they were rewarded with his aforementioned win at Assen last year. That said, 25 of his 57 points for the season came from that one race, so we need to see more from him.

The lad is clearly pretty quick, and did come close to winning the Moto3 championship, and he’s got age on his side, but I’m yet to believe the hype.

rabat

53 – Esteve “Tito” Rabat
Age 27 Born Barcelona, Spain
Honours 1xMoto2 World Champion
2016 21st, 29pts, Marc VDS
Race Record
Class Races Wins Podiums Points Best
125CC 76 0 3 318 6th, 2010
Moto2 83 13 33 989 1st, 2014
MotoGP 17 0 0 29 21st, 2016

A man who I thought would forever be condemned to Moto2, Tito was always there-or-thereabouts in the middle class. Third, first and second in his last three years there, he was somebody I hoped would step up and be given a good ride and a good chance, but instead he finds himself at the lower end of the midfield pack.

There is a chance Tito won’t make the start of the year, too. The following quotes come from Crash.net.

Former Moto2 champion Rabat suffered a ‘distal fracture of the radius and a fracture of the fifth metacarpal’ in the right hand, as well as a fracture to the ‘distal phalanx in the right foot’ in a big turn 11 highside at the Sepang test.

“Tito has worked hard to be fit for the Phillip Island test, after sustaining quite debilitating injuries in Malaysia,” said team manager Michael Bartholemy. “While the fractures have healed nicely and wouldn’t have stopped him from riding in Australia, the knee injury is a different story altogether.

“Despite intensive physiotherapy he still doesn’t have the necessary extension in the joint and he risks popping the stitches – with the associated danger of infection – if he participates in the Phillip Island test.

“This is why we made the decision together with Tito to give him more time to recover ahead of the Qatar test, rather than risking everything for little gain by having him ride injured in Australia. This is the right decision for him and for the team.”

Rabat is now working to regain full extension in the left knee ahead of the final preseason MotoGP test in Qatar, starting on 10th March.

He should be back in time for the Qatar test, and he’s got a couple of weeks after that to be fully ready for the start of the year, but it was a nasty one, so here’s hoping he can be in a state to race for the season opener.

The team battle

This depends on how race ready Tito is after the injury. If he can get a good start, he stands a chance, but it could also be the year that Miller builds on his win and breaks out a bit. Dani Pedrosa will need replacing at some point, after all.

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