For me, the image of last year wasn’t one of Marc Marquez’s myriad miracle saves, it was a portrait of Johann Zarco sat on the Le Mans grid apparently in a trance as the packed grandstands belted out La Marseillaise. As the revolutionary call to arms rang out, behind his implacable mask Johann was thinking that he wouldn’t mind hearing it again in about an hour.
He didn’t hear it again last year but he surely will this season. Making predictions on the basis of testing is a notoriously stupid thing to do, as is using results from Qatar to try and spot any trends. It’s unusual for anything to become clear before Jerez.
So what do we think we know? Honda are in a better position than at this time last year. So are Ducati. Yamaha do not appear to have improved their tyre-wear issues, Suzuki do. Also remember that just about the whole grid have their contracts up for renewal this year, the exceptions being Rossi, Marquez and Vinales. Who goes where, along with who will get to be Yamaha’s satellite squad until Rossi decides his organization is ready to take over. These issues will take up as much airtime as the racing for a while.
There are a few things to check out though. Aprilia had a stunning race at Qatar last year, can Aleix Espargaro do it again? Will KTM start this season as they finished the last one? That is regularly deep in the top ten. Marc Marquez has only won once at Losail in MotoGP, Lorenzo three times. Dovi has been second for the past three years. Valentino, of course, has won four times, but not since 2015. Not an easy call.
I do know one thing though. They are all worried sick about Johann Zarco.