MotoGP riders embrace the new year, 2017
Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo shares image of him applying his number to the Desmoesdici GP17 - www.facebook,com (Jorge Lorenzo)

MotoGP riders embrace the new year, 2017

The clock struck midnight and we all welcomed in the new year; one we have anticipated since early on during the 2016 MotoGP season. The new year was a chance for the riders to embrace their new contracts as they took to social media to share their motivation with their new ventures.

Danielle Overend

We are into the new year, the long-awaited and highly anticipated 2017 that we have looked forward to for a good while; due to the amount of changes to contracts in the MotoGP paddock which during an already exciting season, which was making us wish our lives away.

Although many of the riders have already had a taste of their new bike, some over several occasions, but the majority during the two days of testing in Valencia after the 2016 season finale, many were still restricted by their current contracts from promoting the changes that lay ahead of them.

Changes embraced over new year throughout the paddock

The clock struck midnight however, 2017 got underway, and gradually the riders began to acknowledge and give us an insight on social media regarding their new ventures that lay ahead.

For a majority of the riders, they are remaining with their 2016 team and referred to the different outlets to thank fans for support and to send good wishes for the new year. But for those who are facing changes, they chose to make that acknowledgement in a variety of ways.

Now we could totally read into the posts and see that there has been no love lost with some particular riders, but that would be speculating. Instead, a much more positive way of viewing it is to share in the excitement that these particular riders are clearly experiencing with regards to their new challenges.

Subtle changes in the Lorenzo camp

Jorge Lorenzo, now with the Ducati Team after deciding to make the move from Movistar Yamaha who he, chose to make a subtle hint at first by posting a picture of a milky coffee beverage served in a Ducati cup with a Ducati sugar leaning on the side. He was clearly embracing his new venture.

His feelings have become clearer since as he has shared images of ‘one of the most important days’ of his career and as the image captures him sticking his number ‘99’ on the front of his Ducati Desmosedici GP17 he wrote, “New bike, new number, new home. Ducati is something special.” It appears the angel has gone from his logo, both number nines are now sporting Devil horns; he clearly means business this season.

Dovizioso is full of fight

Lorenzo will be joining Andrea Dovizioso at the factory Ducati team, the Italian rider who was chosen to stay as they let Andrea Iannone go, chose the  use the beginning of 2017 as a way of wishing “a very special thanks” to all of his “amazing fans around the world” who he feels have always supported him in the “glorious moments” but also “during the hard times” saying they have been “fighting” with him “for the whole 2016 season”. He ended his message saying, “Bring it on 2017!

Vinales dreams of winning the championship?

Replacing Lorenzo at Movistar Yamaha is Maverick Vinales. The Spaniard chose to make the move from Team Suzuki Ecstar, where he has worked to evolve the bike over the last two years as part of the collaboration that has brought it to its winning ways. Vinales won his first ever MotoGP in Silverstone when he dominated at the British track winning with a lead.

On New Year’s Eve he reflected on “a great year” and mentioned how in 2017 he plans to “go with all [he] has to make [his] dream come true”. Vinales has his eyes on the championship with a team who have proved capable on several occasions with Lorenzo and Vinales’ now new teammate, Valentino Rossi.

Iannone motivated for 2017 with new teammate Rins

Having being released from the factory Ducati team, Team Suzuki Ecstar immediately signed up Iannone who had become available; riders were keen to remain with factory teams. Always keen to promote himself on Social Media, on January 1st the Italian changed both his profile photo to an image of him from the Valencia test aboard the GSX-RR, his cover photo promoted his website. He since posted another photograph from the test with the quote, “2017 start now…”

Four rookies and one old face return to the paddock in 2017

Joining Iannone at the Team Suzuki Ecstar team is one of the four rookies in 2017, Spanish rider Alex Rins who is moving up from the Moto2 team Paginas Amarillas HP 40.  He too has changed his profile and cover images, and has retweeted a message from his new team that quotes Rins’ own tweet and said, “Welcome to the family”.

Other riders including the two Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rookie riders Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco have also changed their images to their new machinery and/or the gear they were donning over the two days.

Karel Abraham is returning to the Aspar Ducati team replacing Eugene Laverty and Yonny Hernandez who have left the MotoGP class. He will be joining Alvaro Bautista who made the move from the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini and who was promised the Ducati Desmosedici GP16. Both chose to change their images and Bautista retweeted a welcome message from his new team.

As part of his contract with Gresini Racing, it was known early on that the Lincolnshire born twin Sam Lowes knew he was progressing up in the ranks moving to the MotoGP team aboard the Aprilia. On New Year’s Eve Lowes chose to describe his experience from his year and thanked his fans and Gresini Racing.

Instagram @aleixespargaro
Instagram @aleixespargaro

Aleix Espargaro very keen for 2017

Lowes will be joined by Aleix Espargaro, who spoke out after Team Suzuki Ecstar signed Iannone, expressing his disappointment of the lack of consultation from his team, and revealing he was exploring options elsewhere. Later on in the season he announced his new contract with the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.

Another rider keen to share his experiences on a variety of social media platforms, and who has also changed his images, when welcoming in 2017 and wishing his fans Happy New Year he was quick to say “Hi” to his new team and share an image also from testing in Valencia. MCN reporter Simon Patterson replied to his tweet saying “How long have you been ready to post that?” and the Spaniard replied saying, “You can have an idea how motivated I am!”

Smith and Pol Espargaro take on the new challenge with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team

Bradley Smith has made the move from the Tech 3 team to the new Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team and also chose to thank the team for helping him with his rehabilitation. Back in August, Smith was forced to miss several rounds beginning with the Silverstone GP as he damaged ligaments in his leg whilst participating in the practice session ahead of the Oscherlben World Endurance where he was riding for the YART Team. He has since had a lot to overcome, and at the beginning of December expressed his gratitude to his new team as they helped with his rehabilitation.

Finally, Aleix’s brother Pol Espargaro, who also rode for Monster Tech 3 Yamaha decided to make the move to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing with his British teammate. As well as updating the images on his profiles he shared a series of images with the caption, “Ambitious, without fear! We can do it #ReadyToRace 2017”.

So it isn’t just us who are really excited about the what the new year and the 2017 season will bring…