The first championship of the season was tied up by Marc Marquez two races ago but the BTSport.com versus MotoGP team head-to-head is still finely poised and the responsibility falls on Gavin Emmett's shoulders this week.
The scoring system works like this, it's 10 points for correctly predicting a rider’s position on the podium or five if they finish elsewhere in the top three.
Here are the overall standings after 15 rounds:
Hodgy picked up five vital points for the MotoGP team last weekend - are you confident your picks will help you wrestle back that lead?
About time he contributed. He goes around making out I’m the weak link, when actually, he has these hair brained ideas of who will win, and invariably gets it wrong. Riders… They think they know what’s what, but they can’t even dress themselves in the morning!
I wish I could say I was confident, but to be honest, with the way the weather is looking at Phillip Island, it’s guesswork.
With 10 wins, you can’t look anywhere else other than the world champion to win. He’s won the last four on the bounce, albeit he’s been pushed at all of them, and before that the ones he didn’t win (Austria, Silverstone) he’s lost in the last corner. I’d be stupid to guess any other way.
Then it gets sort of tricky, Quartararo has been second at three out of the last four so you’d expect me to put him in there, and this should be the track which suits him and the bike most - however, will he get enough dry track time to extract the best from the Yamaha?
But then Maverick, who won in Australia last year, has that previous track knowledge and knows how the tyres perform at a notoriously tough track on the rubber. That’s why I’m saying the factory man second and Fab third.
Confident? Not at all, but it’s common sense.
Predictions Round 17: Grand Prix of Australia
|Podium position||MotoGP team (Hodgson)||BTSport.com|
|1st||Marc Marquez||Marc Marquez|
|2nd||Maverick Vinales||Fabio Quartararo|
He was also less than complimentary about your prediction performance this year. What did you make of his comments?
For reference, they were: So who is to blame for it being this close?
“Quite clearly the weak link is always Gavin Emmett. He doesn’t know enough about the sport and in my opinion he concentrates too much on rugby. When I see him in Japan he’s getting some ear flogging!”
Well, it’s standard Hodgy isn’t it? He’s just a bit put out because the bosses at BT Sport have asked me to do the guide laps of the track next year because he has been so slow and not hit one apex in six seasons.
If he were able to read or do any sort of simple maths he’d see that I’ve beaten the BTSport.com team by five points in both my appearances this year. But I won’t let the facts get in the way of his story, it’s just the post-truth world we live in...
As you said it would be “madness” not to pick Marquez for the win once again. He’s obviously dominated hugely this year but do you think he’ll need to break all of Valentino Rossi’s records before we can call him the greatest of all time?
Oh yes, he’s still got a way to go before that moniker. I think he is an incredible talent that we have never seen the likes of before. You get your once in a generation rider, and he is this generation’s legend.
These are the riders who change the sport and move it on to the next level, whether it be their technique or dominance they define an era.
It was Rossi before that (Casey Stoner was also a phenom, but unfortunately we didn’t see enough of him), Mick Doohan before that, and back through your Kenny Roberts, Giacomo Agostini, Mike Hailwood and John Surtees and right back to Geoff Duke.
Let’s not forget that Rossi racks up 400 GPs this weekend. That’s a stunning achievement, and when you see just how many he’s won, Marc still has some catching up to do.
The fact that he hasn’t won too many in recent years brings his percentage figures down, but it will never take away from what he’s done.
Do you think that’s fair? Does he deserve a bit more love than he gets?
He does, and I think people are grudgingly coming round to realising what he is doing. It’s now up to the next generation to topple him, and that means your Quartararo, Viñales, Joan Mir, Jack Miller and the rest. The sport is in great shape, he’s just that bit ahead of everyone at the moment. The time will come...
Vinales had a strong end to last year and the latter part of this season has been much stronger than the first. What do you put that gradual improvement down to?
It looks to me like the engine rules as they are haven’t gone in Yamaha’s favour in recent years. With the engines sealed at Qatar they’re stuck with what they have, and it gets to this point of the year they’ve got the electronics working to a point when he can compete a lot more.
They need to get that work done over winter this time around for him to be able to mount a challenge. Whether it’s him mounting it or Fabio, only time will tell.
And what does he need - be it him or the bike - to change to have that consistency all year long and put himself in a position to compete for a championship in 2020?
He definitely needs to sort out his early race pace, because he’s got it in the latter stages, just not early on, but he needs a bit more from Yamaha to start the year off better and he has the capacity.
Quatararo has obviously had a brilliant year not just for a rookie but for any independent rider. How close is he to winning that illusive first race for you?
I think it’s in the post. I said earlier this year that I didn’t see him winning one this year - history of satellite Yamahas winning races was my argument - however, he has gone beyond all our expectations and I would absolutely LOVE to be proved wrong.
It is so exciting to see how he has gelled with the Yamaha, and all the big teams will want a piece of him but he would do well to keep his head down, stay at Yamaha and keep progressing.
He’s learning every race, and what he did at Motegi, at a track which really doesn’t suit the Yamaha, is remarkable. This weekend could be his big chance, I think it’s the best opportunity he’ll have in what remains of 2019.
Do you think we already know who Rossi’s successor at Yamaha is going to be or does he still have a bit more to prove?
Deals for 2021 will be sorted soon believe it or not, that’s just the way things are going now, no manufacturer wants to miss out on their targets.
Fabio has already had offers for a switch, but as I said I think he should stay at Yamaha, he is their new golden child and I’m sure they will do everything they can to keep him.
Whether Rossi retires or not, I can see Quartararo signed as a factory Yamaha rider at the very start of next year, but who knows who will be his teammate.
I think Rossi will be allowed to retire when he decides, so it may mean Maverick making way - which wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he did.
He has cut a frustrated figure sometimes at Yamaha, and with Fabio giving all their riders the hurry-up, maybe he will feel a move is his best way of challenging for the championship.
The deals are starting to be discussed for 2021 already, and I reckon we’ll see a shake up. Some riders are coming to the end of their time in MotoGP and the young guns are all lining up to be their replacements, jockeying for position - it’s going to be an exciting time - and that’s just off track!