READY…SET…OH COME ON NOW…
It’s almost time, boys and girls
Scant days remain before the 2020 MotoGP Plague Season roars into life at the Circuito de Jerez, which is hosting two MotoGP rounds back to back – the Grand Prix of Spain and the Grand Prix of Andalucía.
It is the first venue to welcome the circus back for what will be one of the most amazing seasons ever, for all sorts of reasons, the plague being just the blue touch-paper for what will follow. I’m gonna go out on a bit of a limb here, and predict it will be an altogether special season, which might even see the last few rounds snowed out.
But there only have to be 13 races for there to be a valid championship, and while Dorna has promised maybe four fly-away rounds…erm, make that three since Austin was canned last week, I’m thinking those 13 European races will be all we’re gonna get this year.
So 13 races crammed between the 19th of July and the 15th of November will offer up a level of intensity we have not seen before.
Back-to-back races are great for the fans, but the riders will struggle a bit. Not so much for fitness, since these are some of the fittest athletes on earth, but consider what will happen if one of them has an off and breaks a collar-bone – just as Andrea Dovzioso did the other week in training.
Dovi has had his operation and is physio-ing like a thousand bastards, but he’s going to be sore when he mounts up this Sunday.
So what will happen if a small collar-bone-busting off happens to someone during this season? There will be no time to recover and it could well spell the end of the season for that hapless rider.
Will this be in the back of their minds? Sure. They all know the score. Up until the red light blinks out and then they’re going to race like they have always raced…because racers.
Certainly the young guns, Fabulous, Marquez Junior, Iker Lecuona, and Brad Binder will come out blazing like suns. Much to prove and much to learn, all in a very short space of time.
Fabulous, has already signed for the Factory Yamaha team next year, while Rossi, after holding out for a bit and angling to get his whole team over to Petronas, will run a fully-supported factory Yamaha for the Malaysian team. If the planets align, the wily old wolf, now in his 41st lap of the sun, could well be a strong contender for a title this year. All he has to do is not fall off, run solid podiums and let the rest of the field crash and burn around him. Yes, I am very hopeful.
Marquez Junior, without turning a wheel in 2020, has been relegated to the LCR Honda team next year, probably shunting Cal Crutchlow either onto the vacant Aprilia seat Iannone’s battle with WADA will offer, or maybe just into a retirement village.
Takaaki Nakagami ain’t going anywhere, fuelled as he is at LCR Honda by the vast Idemitsu money. Solid sources tells us Pol Asparagus will replace Marquez Junior at Repsol Honda, which will, if Marc’s shoulders don’t turn into dust this year, make it the team to beat in 2021. Pol will ride that terrible motorcycle faster than Marquez Junior ever would have.
There is, of course, no guarantee of anything at Aprilia, other than one or two of the new bikes might catch fire again. Rumours have Dovizioso signing there for 2021. Petrucci will be off to KTM to hang with young Iker, and Jack “You Bloody Beauty” Miller gets his long-awaited Factory Ducati seat next year.
Rumours are also swirling around the retired Jorge Lorenzo, who will be stumbling around the Factory Yamaha garage this year as a test-rider for Rossi and Vinales, both of whom barely tolerate him. I have heard he has been talking to Ducati with a view to taking Dovi’s seat if it becomes vacant. Stranger things have happened, I guess, but it would be great to see the Mamba back on the grid.
Suzuki will be quite a force this year. Both Rins and Mir are legitimately quick, and the Suzuki improves year on year. All is peace and harmony in the team, according to Davide Brivio, who might have a lot more to smile about this season. I reckon Suzuki is still hampered by not having a satellite team, but it’s doing OK, I guess.
Zarco will be joining the journeyman, Tito Rabat at Avintia Racing, the satellite Ducati team, but no-one knows where the Frenchman will go next year. Tito will remain there until the end of 2021.
Now let me climb further out on the limb and make a few half-arsed predictions…
Marquez will hit the track running. It is not in him not to race as if every round was the championship clincher. If he doesn’t trash his shoulders again, he is the man to beat.
Binder hates Marquez Junior, so I look forward to some zesty exchanges between them, which I think Binder will win.
Rossi will make a strong showing, and like I said, if he’s smart (and he is), old age and cunning will always triumph over youth and skill.
Cal will crash a lot.
Fabulous will be splendid. He has the world at his feet and he will bring it to Marquez every chance he gets.
Miller will also shine this year, validating Ducati’s decision to give him a factory ride in 2021. I don’t think Dovi and Petrucci will do much of anything, other than consider their future options as they put in the laps behind the really fast boys.
I look to see both Rins and Mir on the podium at some stage, and I remain hopeful that Taka will get all his bushido in one neat pile during this furious season.
And it will be a furious season. Short, sharp and brutal – and one we shall talk about in the years to come. I can’t wait.
2020 MotoGP Calendar
- July 19 – Jerez
- July 26 – Jerez
- August 9 – Brno
- August 16 – Spielberg
- August 23 – Spielberg
- September 13 – Misano
- September 20 – Misano
- September 27 – Catalunya
- October 11 – Le Mans
- October 18 – Aragon
- October 25 – Aragon
- November 8 – Valencia
- November 15 – Valencia
Argentina – TBC before the 31st of July
Thailand – TBC before the 31st of July
Malaysia – TBC before the 31st of July