MotoGP gears up to take on Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in the Gran Premio TISSOT dell’Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini, returning to the track after not only the San Marino GP, but also after a day of testing that could well increase the intrigue even more. But before we get stuck into previewing the weekend ahead let’s take a look at the latest stats and facts updates after the opening round of the Misano double-header last weekend.
MotoGP Stats Update
Last weekend at Misano Franco Morbidelli became the 113th premier class race winner and the 28th since MotoGP was introduced in 2002.
With Fabio Quartararo (Spain, Andalucia), Brad Binder (Brno), Miguel Oliveira (Styria), and Franco Morbidelli, this is the second time 1949 that there are four first time winners in the opening six races of a premier class season, along with the opening season in 1949 with Harold Daniell, Les Graham, Nello Pagani and William Doran).
This is the first time there are four first-time winners in a premier class season since 2016, equalling the record of different first-time winners in the premier class in a single season set in 1949, 1974, 1976, 1982 and 2016.
Franco Morbidelli is the fifth different winner of the season which is already as much as the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons. The last time there were more than five was in 2016 with nine different winners (the record in the class).
With Fabio Quartararo (Spain, Andalucia) and Franco Morbidelli, this is the first time that two riders from the same Independent Team won a MotoGP race in the same season since Marco Melandri and Toni Elias back in 2006.
On his return from injury, Francesco Bagnaia finished second for his first MotoGP podium, in his 21st race.
With Morbidelli and Bagnaia, this is the first Italian 1-2 in MotoGP since Assen in 2017 with Valentino Rossi and Danilo Petrucci, and the first Italian 1-2 in the premier class at Misano.
With Morbidelli and Bagnaia in MotoGP and Marini and Bezzecchi in Moto2, this is the first Italian 1-2 in both premier and intermediate classes at the same GP since the 2002 German GP at the Sachsenring.
12 different riders have stood on the podium so far, equalling the number of podium finishers in the opening six premier class races from 1951, 1956, 1973 and 1976. The record is 13, set in 1952. In addition, 2007 was the last time there were 12 different podium finishers in a single MotoGP season. The record in a single MotoGP season since the class was introduced in 2002 is 13, set in 2004.
Joan Mir was third for his second MotoGP podium, along with Austria when he finished second. This is the first Suzuki podium in Misano since Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins finished second and third in 2007.
At the Emilia Romagna GP, Valentino Rossi will start his 250th premier class race with Yamaha, becoming the first rider to reach that milestone in the class. Next closest is Dani Pedrosa, with 217 premier class races with Honda.
The san Marino GP was the sixth MotoGP race without a Spanish winner, the longest sequence since Donington 2008 to Losail 2009, 12 races in a row.
With Fabio Quartararo crashing out and failing to score any points for the first time since Australia last year, only two riders have scored points in every MotoGP race in 2020: Andrea Dovizioso and Takaaki Nakagami. Of them, only Nakagami has always finished in the top ten.
There has been no Honda rider on the podium so far. This is the first time there has been no Honda rider on the podium in five or more successive premier class races since Honda returned to the premier class in 1982.
Johann Zarco finished the San Marino GP in 15th place, crossing the line just 20.152 seconds behind race winner Franco Morbidelli, which is the third closest top 15 of all-time in a full length premier class Grand Prix.
Andrea Dovizioso is leading the MotoGP Championship with 76 points, the lowest score for a Championship leader after the opening six races of a premier class season since the current scoring system was introduced in 1993.
Dovizioso is now 51 points ahead of his teammate Danilo Petrucci in 15th place; this is the closest top 15 after the opening six races of the season in the premier class since the current scoring system was introduced in 1993.
With 18 points between Dovizioso and Maverick Viñales, this is also the closest top five after the first six races.
Only one of the rookies in MotoGP this year has previously won a GP race at Misano: Brad Binder (Moto3, 2016).
Alex Marquez has three podiums at the track: Moto3 in 2013, 2014 and Moto2 in 2019.
Stefan Bradl, replacing Marc Marquez, is scheduled to make his 100th MotoGP start at the Emilia Romagna GP.
Misano II Preview
The man now in the hot seat, despite all the twists, turns and surprises of the season, is veteran Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). The Italian had a more muted race weekend last time out, but his trademark consistency brought him home with some solid points – and more than enough to overhaul former points leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) after the Frenchman crashed out.
Dovizioso is six-points ahead and that may not seem much, but he was brimming with positivity after the test and we can likely expect him to be a little further up the board this weekend.
“The Championship is crazy. A lot of up and down for everybody, which is why we are very close. I’m happy to be in this position at this moment of the Championship, but for sure we have to make a step to be able to fight. I’m really happy about Tuesday’s test, we had two targets and we achieved those two targets. I’m really happy about that, my speed was really good. A lot of riders did a really good pace. In the way I rode it was much better, we understood which corners I wasn’t good enough and I was able to be better, more relaxed. We changed the set-up to allow me to help me in a better way and we tried something on the bike, a new piece, and it was a bit better. Overall the feeling is better than Sunday for sure, but there are a lot of really fast riders, especially after Misano 1 – we will see. For me it’s always difficult to make a really good lap in qualifying and in MotoGP, it’s very important. But that’s not the biggest issue at the moment. Most of the race I wasn’t fast enough, it’s very important to be stronger now than what I did was. For example at the start of the race I was with Pecco, so I still had a chance to get a podium but I didn’t have the speed. I’m really happy with the way the test ended, so let’s see if everything we tried is true.”
The fastest Ducati last Sunday, however, was Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing). Coming back from a broken leg, no one expected him to pick up exactly where he left off, but that he did. The impressive Italian blasted through to take his first podium, and made it look easy – so can he do it again? And could he even take to the top step? He’s a candidate to make it five first timers in seven races.
His team-mate Jack Miller was in the mix early on in the San Marino GP too, and then faded due to a wrong tyre choice, so he’ll be looking for more after examining that data. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) will want a step forward as well, and Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) could be one to watch. Still struggling to get back to full fitness, he nevertheless put in quite a shift at the test and ended the day third fastest.
“It is good to repeat this weekend on the same circuit. We had a test on Tuesday that was very important, because we had more time to try some different set-ups, also, try even more things, I improve my best lap time, and this is positive to start the weekend. Last race I had some problems at the end of the race, and for this weekend, the target is to feel more comfortable to finish the next race better, instead of lose positions, gain positions, and I hope to finish in a Top-10.”
San Marino GP victor Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), did not test, however. The first time winner was sidelined through illness but will be back for the weekend – so it will be interesting who’s managed to cut the gap to the runaway man at the front.
His team-mate Fabio Quartararo hasn’t even shown his full hand at Misano either as he crashed out too early to unleash his pace – so can he bounce back and take back to the top step? Ominously for the man who made everyone else fade into the distance in Jerez, he said he was working on race pace at the Misano test… when he already had a fair bit of before the extra track time. Can he regain that top spot?
At Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, meanwhile, there’s even more to talk about. Maverick Viñales was on pole and then faded back in the early stages on the harder tyre… before finding some serious speed later in the race. Can he iron that out? At the test the Spaniard was fastest and focused on working with the medium tyre for much of the day, which he says is work he’ll continue during the race weekend. If he can solve that and get in the mix earlier on… Jaws music may be heard by those around him.
“The feeling I had during the test was really positive. I was fast on both the medium and the soft rear tyre, so for sure we will try these tyre options again over the upcoming weekend. We tried some new items for the bike yesterday, and I felt really comfortable. I was setting good lap times without having to push all the way to the limit, so this is positive. However, we haven’t been able to test these new features under the exact same circumstances we have in the race, when we ride with a lot of Moto2 rubber on the track, so we’ll have to wait and see. In any case, I will be pushing 100% again, so I can start from the front to make sure we are in with the best chance possible to ride a good race.”
Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was tantalisingly close to that 200th podium in the San Marino GP too. Over more than 400 corners of the race, ‘The Doctor’ was there – and then with a handful to go, got mugged by Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). His pace was good and his defence of position exemplary as ever, however, so don’t count Rossi out… especially on home turf.
“For us last Sunday it was an unforgettable day, especially for all the people who work for the academy project. We are very proud of our riders and very happy for my brother, Bez and especially for Pecco and Franco. Yes like you said if I could have arrived on the podium it would have been a historic moment, but unfortunately Mir overtook me on the last lap. For me anyway it was a good race. I was able to keep a good pace from the beginning but at the end I was a bit in trouble. I tried everything to remain on the podium, and I was able to stay in front of Rins but when Joan arrived he was too fast for me. It was a great shame because the podium is always special, Misano more, to share with Franco and Pecco could also be more special but it’s like this. It was a good day and good race, we have another chance this weekend, I think it will be difficult for everybody because I expect the other riders and bikes to be more competitive, and closer to us. So if we want to try and fight for the podium we have to try and improve Sunday and be stronger on Sunday. It was a good test on Tuesday, we worked very hard, I did a lot of laps and we had some stuff to try. Some things were better, some were worse. For tomorrow I don’t think we will change a lot the race bike to start with. After we’ll see during the weekend. Also, the forecast and track conditions will be very important.”
Joan Mir has scored more points than anyone else in the last few races, despite the Red Flag in Styria interrupting what looked like a charge for the win, and the San Marino GP saw the Suzuki man put in a stunner and take his second podium. His ruthlessly brilliant charge through whole postcodes of distance on Sunday to catch and dispatch those fighting for third was something to behold – and then he says he found some more race pace at the test. His gap to the top of the Championship is just 16 points… and he’s the one man in the seven close at the top who hasn’t won yet. Mir is, surely, one of, if not THE candidate to continue the history-making run of first time winners.
His Team Suzuki Ecstar team-mate Alex Rins was no slouch in San Marino either. Still recovering from his shoulder injury sustained earlier in the season, the number 42 was right in the podium fight until the last couple of laps. He also explained that compensating for the weaker shoulder ended up giving him arm pump in the latter stages, but another new week is a little more time to recover – and some more time in testing to work towards a solution. The last time a Suzuki was on the podium at Misano before Mir’s second place last time out was in 2007, but that day… there were two. Could we see that again in the Emilia Romagna GP? And which way round? It’s a stunning battle at the Hamamatsu factory between two seriously fast riders.
At KTM, meanwhile, the euphoria of the last few races faded into a tougher first weekend at Misano, but the Austrian factory seemed to have a positive day testing, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) happy with an improvement in race pace and ending the day in fourth. Can he move forward? His rookie team-mate and Brno winner Brad Binder is always an interesting prospect too, and Misano was the first time the South African hadn’t teased a serious threat on race day. Styria GP Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was also testing and said the focus was on those details they’d be lacking… so if they’ve solved those, what can we expect from KTM in Emilia Romagna?
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) continues to lead the Honda charge, and despite a tougher race in the San Marino GP there are positives to be expected next time out. Testing saw the Japanese rider end the day happy, and he’ll want to get back to the top five fight he’s frequented so far in 2020. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will also want a step forward after a tougher time since some solid opening races.
“So this is the second of two races in a row in Misano and I have a really positive feeling for this weekend. Normally with back-to-back races we are able to make a big improvement from the first race to the second race. Also here on Tuesday we had a one-day test between the races here. So I’m really looking forward to this weekend because we struggled last weekend, but during the race on Sunday we found quite a positive feeling on the bike so that was an important step for this weekend. We need to keep working hard to develop the bike, but Friday is key because if we can get off to a good start we can fight for the podium on Sunday. So we’ll try to concentrate and stay positive.”
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro and Bradley Smith, after a solid day of testing and a mountain of laps, will also be looking for a step forward at one of Aprilia’s home races. The Noale factory are continuing work on their new bike and both have scored some solid points finishes, but will definitely want more as the season goes on…
Seven riders are within less than 20 points at the top of the Championship. Every single one of them has now won a premier class race bar one… and that’s the man in form, Joan Mir. Four maiden winners in the first six races hasn’t happened since the first season of the MotoGP World Championship. Can Mir – or maybe Bagnaia – make it five in seven? We’re about to find out!
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.