After Sam Lowes was released by Aprilia, being replaced by fellow British rider Scott Redding for 2018, the MotoGP paddock is down to just three Brits this year.
As well as Redding, Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith will be flying the flag for British interests and ahead of the curtain raiser in Qatar, BTSport.com asked our pundits to have their say on the home trio.
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Every lap from every session will be available to watch on TV or to live stream via the BT Sport app or on BTSport.com and Suzi Perry talks us through what viewers can expect from our coverage.
Last season: 9th
Team: LCR Honda Castrol
Neil Hodgson: “It looks positive for Cal. He had a strong season in 2017. He did what Cal does, he was incredibly fast but inconsistent. I think that was more down to the motorcycle than Cal. In the rounds when the bike was right for him, he was up there, and when it wasn’t he was battling for seventh or eighth.
“It looks like Honda have improved the bike this winter. I confident Cal is a fast Cal. So I think he’s going to have a much better season.”
Keith Huewen: “Cal is by far and away still Britain’s top dog when it comes to performances. Takaaki Nakagami has come up to join him at LCR this year, a rookie, and I’ve got to say he is looking good. Cal, with a good team-mate, might just get their data in a place where he can achieve consistent top three results. He’ll be our top performer.”
Michael Laverty: “Cal is an interesting prospect this year and he could be back to his best. He’s said the bike is better and on his strong tracks I think we can see Cal win races and get plenty of podiums.”
James Toseland: “It looks like Honda have a strong package and Cal has been in the top three or four in quite a few of the tests in Sepang and Thailand. He’s an amazing talent so I hope he has a strong season.”
Gavin Emmett: “With the Honda working, it’s good to hear positive noises from him. The start of the last seasons it’s been more, ‘he’s got a good bike, but’.
“I know he won a couple of races a couple of years ago, but in terms of final position in the championship, I think we could see the best of Cal this year.”
Last season: 14th
Team: Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Hodgson: “Scott is going to have a difficult season. Aprilia is not the bike to be on in my opinion. There is a lot of pressure on Scott, he knows if he has a bad season, then he’ll be out of MotoGP.
“But that is the beauty of our sport. If Aprilia tweak that bike and it suits his style, then he could have a cracking year. He’s certainly got the talent to do it.”
Laverty: “Scott is moving into a factory MotoGP team for the first time. That might benefit him as the team can adapt the bike to his dimensions because he is a big guy. No matter how lean he gets, he’s still going to be about 80kilos due to his size, which is a lot of weight when racing against someone like Dani Pedrosa at 52-54 kilos.
“Aprilia can make adjustments, make him comfortable on the bike and then we might see the best Scott Redding.”
Toseland: “It’s not going to be easy going to the Aprillia. It’s a package that is developing at the moment. I hope he can adapt and get close to Aleix Espargaro because he’s not an easy team-mate, he’s very, very fast. Scott’s got amazing natural talent, so I hope he can settle in and enjoy riding again.
Emmett: “We know that bike was an absolute beast for Sam Lowes to ride, not in terms of its power, but in terms of the overall package. I wouldn’t say Scott has taken a poisoned chalice, but not everyone is clambering to be on that machine. However, you can’t read too much into testing. He could be a surprise package.”
Last season: 21st
Team: Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Hodgson: “It’s a big year for him because last year was such a disappointment and he’ll be the first to say that. One thing we know about Bradley is that he is a grafter, he will have analysed everything.
“If testing is anything to go by he will come out fighting. He’s fighting for his ride, it’s a big year for him, so fingers crossed.”
Huewen: “The Professor, still younger than most would give him credit for and as a development rider I don’t think you’re going to get much better. Will the KTM be up for it? We’ll find out fairly soon. The best he can do is beat his team-mates by a substantial margin, that is how we’re going to be able to measure Bradley throughout the course of the year.”
Laverty: “Bradley has a tough challenge ahead of him. For me the KTM developed massively last season and now Bradley has to take that step forward. He has the task of getting into that top 10 and he’s more than capable of doing it. I expect a bit more from Bradley this season.”
Emmett: “Bradley will know only too well that getting into the points is a good result, but they need more than that. It needs to be higher than that, so there is a lot of pressure on Bradley and KTM because people are expecting progress.”
Watch the opening day of the Qatar Grand Prix from 9.45am on Friday 16th March