Can Morbidelli Match Marquez in Moto2?
Most of the attention for this Sunday’s Grand Prix of Japan on the Motegi circuit will be focused on Andrea Dovizioso’s attempts to catch a rampant Marc Marquez on the MotoGP ladder. However, there’s plenty to entertain punters in the second-tier Moto2 class, especially as a record Marquez set during his two seasons in Moto2, in 2011 and 2012, may be in jeopardy.
The danger man is Italian Franco Morbidelli, who has been racing in Moto2 since 2013. He’s having a bumper year, riding a German-made Kalex for the Belgian Marc VDS Racing Team, which is about as pan-European as racing can get. Morbidelli has won eight of the 14 Moto2 races held so far this year, including the most recent Grand Prix in Aragon last month.
Two More Wins Sets a New Record
Marquez set an all-time record with nine Moto2 wins 2012, so if Morbidelli wins in this class on Sunday, he’ll be level with the Spaniard. And there are three more races left in the season after Japan: the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island on 22 October, the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at Sepang on 29 October, and the Valencia Motorcycle Grand Prix at Circuit Ricardo Tormo on 12 November.
Given the season Morbidelli is having in Moto2, there’s every likelihood that he’ll set a new record this year. The man who could thwart him is veteran Thomas Luthi, who has been racing in Moto2 since 2010. The Swiss racer’s best finish was last year, when he was runner up on the riders’ ladder to Johann Zarco, who is not defending his title in the 2017 series.
Luthi, also riding a Kalex, but for Team Interwetten, has only won one race so far in the 2017 Moto2 series: the Czech Republic Motorcycle Grand Prix on 6 August. However, he’s finished well enough in all the others to leave him with 227 points, just 21 points behind leader Morbidelli on the riders’ ladder.
He’s also 70 points clear of their nearest rival, Miguel Oliveira, so it looks like 2017 Moto2 is down to a two-horse race. Nevertheless, Luthi could well close the gap in the final four races, so Morbidelli will have to fight hard to stay on top. The Italian is odds-on to win the 2017 series in the outright futures betting, at $0.05 or lower, with Luthi the only other serious contender, at $8.00 and up.