It’s unlikely (for example) that the big prize will go to MotoGP’s oldest inhabitant (Andrea Dovizioso, turning 36, takes over from the departed Valentino Rossi); nor to one of the three rookies (Darryn Binder, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Marco Bezzecchi). The oldest premier-class champion, by the way, was decorated WW2 bomber pilot Les Graham, inaugural champion in 1949, aged 37; the oldest race winner 44-year-old Fergus Anderson, both British.
There has only been one true rookie title winner in 73 years of history: Kenny Roberts came in stone cold in 1978 from the USA, running at first in both 250 and 500 classes, seeking more time to learn his way round tracks he’d never seen before. By year’s end he was concentrating on the big bikes, and defeated reigning champion Barry Sheene by ten points. In 2013, new champion Marc Marquez was technically a rookie, a class rookie, but had behind him five grand prix years and two championships in the smaller classes. But nobody should rule out any surprises, and there have been several over the past two years. More should follow, with some notable changes to important aspects of the overall landscape.
Most importantly, after two years in which engine development was frozen during the pandemic, the 2022 MotoGP bikes will be proper new models. Ideas and experiments that have perforce been bottled up can now be set free. Pandora’s petrol-powered box.