Boris previews the 2020 MotoGP season

We are scant weeks away from the start of the 2020 MotoGP season. And given all that has transpired – and will doubtlessly still transpire in this time – this will be a season that could well become folklore in the years to come.

Almost all the riders’ contracts are up this year, and that always makes for a tense and crazy season.

MotoGP Rnd Valencia GPstart GP AN
MotoGP 2020 is set to get underway with round one in Qatar on March 8th

Two crucial tests remain – Sepang on February 7th, and Qatar on the 22nd, where the season then kicks off under lights to the sound of howling camels on March 8th.

This year there is an added round at the KymiRing in Finland – a track none of the riders liked, saying it was rough and awful, and which none have raced on. Being in Finland, it will probably snow, or the Russians will invade, so it’s an unmissable round in that regard.

MotoGP KymiRing Test Finland Pirro
Finland is a beautiful country, with a shit racetrack…

The big news over our summer was Iannone being full of banned drugs. Well, maybe “full” is not the right word. He was just over the limit, so maybe just full enough. The substance found crawling through his veins was drostanolone propionate – an anabolic steroid which was originally used to treat breast cancer, but was soon seized upon by bodybuilders for its strong anti-estrogenic properties. This means it inhibits estrogen and ramps up testosterone. And the good Lord knows Andrea needs as much of that as he can get, what with his hot new girlfriend and all.

MotoGP Valencia Test Day Andrea Iannone
Andrea Iannone

Drostanolone is administered by direct injection into the bum or shoulder muscles. Iannone states that he inadvertently ingested meat contaminated with the steroid, and its still possible this defence may see him not banned for four years when Dorna’s judicial body hands down its decision – which could well be sooner rather than later. If Andrea does get banned, Aprilia might well have to field grid-filler Brad Smith, on its long-promised and much-hyped new race bikes, alongside Aleix Espargaro. Which could leave Iannone free to pursue a career in underpants modelling.

Iannone Underwear
Will Iannone be riding or modelling more underpants in 2020…?

The factory Ducati team is still hoping Dovizioso can do something about Marquez, but those hopes, like his team-mate Fat Petrucci, are doomed. Fatso was meant to lose a bunch of kilos over the winter, probably to counter Ducati fitting more electrical whizzbangery to its bikes. It is still unclear if his time at Fat Boys Anonymous has worked.

MotoGP Rnd Sachsenring Thu Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci looks longingly at the cakes on the table that he is not allowed to eat….

The satellite Ducati team, now allegedly fielding equal machinery to the factory team, will comprise once again of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia and his hot sister. Both of these racers will torment the two factory riders, and will likely outperform them on a regular basis.

MotoGP Rnd Valencia Race Miller Quartararo Podium
Quartararo and Miller in Parc Ferme at the 2019 season finale at Valencia

The current world champion, Marc Marquez, has his brother as a team-mate this year. Daddy Marquez can now pour all his finger-crossing stress-weirdness into one race, rather than spreading it out over two classes.

FIM MotoGP Awards Ceremony Marc Alex Marquez - They should not be allowed to have that many teeth
Alex and Marc Marquez at the FIM awards ceremony

This is the first time two brothers have ever ridden in the same factory team – though what that means in terms of anything during the race is anyone’s guess. I’m guessing the new Marquez will plough a lot of gravel and maybe get a fair bit of solid air time.

MotoGP Testing Valencia Day Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez with the evil Puig…

His brother may well not have it all his own way this year, either. Which would be nice. I don’t know if I can stand another lame-arse celebration of video games and pool balls. Wrestle a damn bear or something.

MotoGP Rnd Thailand Race Marquez Puig
Marc Marquez with the evil Puig

Rossi and Vinales have made some encouraging noises about the progress the factory Yamahas may or may not have made recently. Rumours are rife Vinales may well piss off to Suzuki and be replaced by Fabulous Quartararo, if his team-mate Morbidelli doesn’t snap and beat the young Frenchman to death first.

MotoGP Rnd Malaysia Morbidelli Quartararo
Franco Morbidelli in Sepang leading Fabio Quartararo

For his part, Rossi has maintained he will continue while he remains competitive – though what that means in his own head is unknowable. My guess is he will certainly see the season out, and maybe sign on for another year just because it pisses so many of his detractors off. Personally, I hope The Doctor is still racing in his fifties.

Rossi F
Boris hopes Valentino Rossi is racing into his 50s, but not in a bloody car!

Over at LCR Honda, Cal Crutchlow will once again limp his way onto the satellite bike alongside his team-mate Nakagami, and explore new and exciting places to crash when he isn’t finishing seventh. He is the king of consistency in that regard. But I feel it is his last year. He’s just too banged up to carry on. Nakagami on the other hand will show a nice turn of pace this year because he is Japanese and full of Bushido.

MotoGP Rnd Valencia Race Crutchlow Crashed
Cal Crutchlow watches on from the fence at the Valencia finale after crashing out

Zarco joins the hapless Tito Rabat on the satellite Avintia Ducatis, and it’s anyone guess how the Frenchman will go. Everyone’s already guessed how Rabat will go, and that will be the same as always except he no longer has Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah to keep him honest at the back of the pack.

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Will Zarco fire or fizzle on the Avintia Ducati, word says that he has some Ducati Factory support for 2020 – Image by AJRN

Mir and Rins return to campaign the factory Suzukis and will continue to suffer because Suzuki lacks a satellite team to help with development. I feel that Mir will eclipse Rins this year, but both are young and brave enough to annoy the front-runners from time to time.

MotoGP Testing Valencia Day Mir
Joan Mir

That leaves the two KTM teams.

This year, South African rookie wunderkind, Brad Binder, will want to make a name for himself. And rightly so. The poor South Africans have spent a lot of time in the MotoGP wilderness. Kork Ballington last raced and won in the 1800s, so the advent of Binder has caused everyone’s bloemfonteins to become engorged with hope. My South African friend, Donovan Fourie, has even built an altar and lit a candle made of rendered lions in Brad’s honour. Brad partners Pol Espargaro, who will continue to glare at the Austrians and their crazy racing ideas.

MotoGP Test Valencia Binder GPT AN
Will Brad Binder spend more time in the seat or getting bucked out of it….? – Image by AJRN

The satellite KTM team will debut another fabulously-named 20-year-old Spaniard, Iker Lecuona Gascón, alongside Miguel Oliveira, who’s only in the paddock because he has nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. I look forward to him breaking more of Rabat’s bones this year. Young Iker may well surprise a few people until the Marquez boys gang up on him in the tyre shed and bare their manifold teeth in anger.

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Iker Lecuona – Image AJRN

So that’s that then.

It’s going to be an extraordinary year on every level.

2020 MotoGP Calendar

  1. March 8 – Losail, Qatar
  2. March 22 – Chang, Thailand
  3. April 5 – COTA, USA
  4. April 19, Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina
  5. May 3 – Jerez, Spain
  6. May 17 – Le Mans, France
  7. May 31 – Mugello, Italy
  8. June 7 – Catalunya, Spain
  9. June 21 – Sachsenring, Germany
  10. June 28 – Assen, Netherlands
  11. July 12 – KymiRing, Finland
  12. August 9 – Brno, Czech Republic
  13. August 16 – Red Bull Ring, Austria
  14. August 30 – Silverstone, GB
  15. September 13 – Misano, Italy
  16. October 4 – Aragon, Spain
  17. October 18 – Motegi, Japan
  18. October 25 – Phillip Island, Australia
  19. November 1 – Sepang, Malaysia
  20. November 15 – Valencia, Spain
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