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Moto3: Qatar Preview: The tour of Slipstream City

Image: MotoGP.com

Moto3 is always a class full of exciting slipstreaming, four abreast racing and some of the fastest up and coming riders in the world. However, for the last two seasons, we have seen the eventual champions walk off with title success and I’m not so sure that will happen in 2018.

Jorge Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio will remain with the Gresini Racing outfit again, having been together for the last two seasons. Whilst Martin took his first GP win at Valencia, ‘Diggia’ has yet to stand on top of the podium. With 87 podiums between them, this particular pairing may well be going head to head for the championship. Both go well at Qatar, with Martin on the podium last season and Di Giannantonio eighth, setting the fastest lap.

The Angel Nieto team have Andrea Migno and Albert Arenas in what could be a team full of surprises in 2018. Migno won KTM’s only race last season at Mugello, whereas Arenas will be going in search of his first podium, having had just three point-scoring finishes last year. Migno was 6th at Losail last season whereas Arenas failed to finish.

The Leopard Racing team are the reigning champions within the Moto3 class, with their champion Joan Mir taking an incredible 11 wins in 2017. Enea Bastianini comes across after a subdued and disenfranchised 2017, with fellow countryman Lorenzo Dalla Porta joining him. ‘Bestia’ took his last win at Motegi in 2016, whilst Dalla Porta’s best result is an 8th place, from 2015 at Silverstone. Expect both to be regularly challenging at the front.

The Estrella Galicia team retain Arón Canet for 2018, with the Spaniard determined to bring the team more wins and challenge for the title. Alonso Lopez is a rookie in the class this year and will look to challenge at the sharp end straight away, as a large gaggle of riders will be best suited to the newcomer. Canet was 4th in 2017 at Losail.

The Sky VR46 team lose their star rider in Migno but replace him with 2017 CEV Junior World Champion, Dennis Foggia. The young Italian looked good at Aragón in 2017 when he wildcarded and should be on the podium at some point. In 2016, Nicolò Bulega led the Qatar race, which was his first full-time GP. Since then, Bulega has only had two podiums and he finished 12th in the series last year. 2018 has to see Bulega up the sharp end.

The SIC58 team have a shining line-up with 2016 Qatar GP winner Nicolò Antonelli and Japanese sensation, Tatsuki Suzuki. Antonelli looks much happier now he is back at Honda, after a dire year in 2017 at the Red Bull KTM. Suzuki meanwhile will miss the Qatar GP through injury but when he returns, he will look to be in the mix for a top five performance in the season.

Other riders to keep an eye on are John McPhee, who moves to the CIP KTM team, alongside Kazakh rookie, Makar Yurchenko. Gabriel Rodrigo will look to improve on consistency as his pace is undoubted, with a new teammate in Kazuki Masaki. Both riders are at the RBA KTM team.

Jaume Masiá and Marcos Ramirez are at the Bester Dubai KTM team, which has rebranded from the Platinum Bay Real Estate Team. Ramírez was a sensation at many points last season whilst Masiá will look to impress like he did at the Red Bull Ring. Adam Norrodin and Ayumu Sasaki both look matured and should be in the hunt on the Petronas Sprinta Hondas, with Sasaki finishing 11th at Losail last year.

At the PrüstelGP team, Jakub Kornfeil and Marco Bezzecchi. Both riders can be an upset and both have podiums in Moto3. Phillip Oettl is at the Schedl GP team again with big support from KTM, whilst Livio Loi gets another lifeline, this time with the new Avintia Moto3 project.

Darryn Binder will look to follow in the footsteps of his brother Brad, as he moves to the Red Bull Ajo KTM outfit. Tony Arbolino goes to the Marinelli Snipers team, with a space there after Romano Fenati left for Moto2. Kaito Toba and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat make up the Team Asia Honda outfit, who complete the field

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