Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) was MotoGP’s final champion of 2016 to be crowned, the Frenchman winning the Honda-powered Moto2 World Championship with a dominant victory at Sepang. This was his sixth win of the year but his first since August’s Austrian Grand Prix. In the next few races Zarco appeared to lose form and saw a 34-point lead shrink to just one point after September’s Aragon race.
The man on the charge at that point was Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex), who seemed to have the necessary momentum to win the title. But then it was Rins’s turn to enter the doldrums. Rins scored just two points from the next three races, allowing Zarco to secure the title. Zarco is the first rider to successfully defend a Moto2 crown since the class – in which all riders use identically prepared CBR600 engines – was inaugurated in 2010.
Rins’ below-par results at recent races, combined with a late-season surge by Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex) have pushed the Spaniard down to third. Luthi scored the first back-to-back wins of his career with victories in Japan and Australia. The Swiss rider comes to Valencia holding a 14-point lead over Rins, making him favourite for the runner-up spot, which would be his best championship result since he won the 125cc world title in 2005.
Indeed Rins could slip to fourth overall at Valencia, because young Italian Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex) has also found excellent form, with podium results at each of the last four races, including strong rides to second place in Australia (where he missed a first win by 0.01 seconds) and Malaysia.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex) was a title contender in the early stages of the season but a series of tumbles have dropped him to fifth overall, with Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex) and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex) now just three points behind him. The current top ten is completed by San Marino winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team Kalex), Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) and Simone Corsi (Speed Up Speed Up).