2020 MotoGP Round 14 – Valencia
Suzuki’s Joan Mir arrives with his first shot at the crown, 37-points clear and looking to wrap it up at the venue that just hosted his first premier class victory.
Joan Mir became the 114th different premier class winner and the 29th in the MotoGP era. He is the ninth different winner this season which equals the record of the most different winners in a premier class season, set in 2016.
With Fabio Quartararo (Spain), Brad Binder (Brno), Miguel Oliveira (Styria), Franco Morbidelli (San Marino) and Joan Mir (Europe), it’s the first time there are five first time winners in a single premier class season.
These are the scenarios whereby Mir can win the Championship this weekend and become the first Suzuki rider to do so since Kenny Roberts Junior in 2000. Mir would also become the first Moto3 Champion to win the premier MotoGP class title, and the first Red Bull Rookies graduate to do so.
Mir will be Champion in Valencia if
- He is on the podium
- He is 4th, 5th or 6th: Quartararo or Rins don’t win
- He is 7th: Quartararo, Rins or Viñales don’t win
- He is 8th, 9th or 10th: Viñales doesn’t win, and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better than 3rd
- He is 11th: Viñales, Morbidelli or Dovizioso don’t win, and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better than 3rd
- He is 12th, 13th or 14th: Morbidelli or Dovizioso don’t win, Viñales doesn’t finish better than 3rd, and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish on the podium
- He is 15th: Morbidelli or Dovizioso don’t win, Viñales doesn’t finish better than 3rd and Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better 5th
- He fails to score any points: Morbidelli and Dovizioso don’t finish better than 3rd Viñales doesn’t finish on the podium, Quartararo and Rins don’t finish better than 5th
The 23-year-old had this to say at a press conference overnight ahead of what is a big weekend for the Suzuki rider.
“I feel great, it’s a special weekend because we have a chance at match point so it means we did a great job during the season, we have a good advantage in points but for sure it’s not done, there’s still a lot of work to do in the second race, for sure a lot of riders will improve performance because it’s the second weekend at the same track so a lot of people will improve. I also hope to improve. I think we have a bit of margin, and well… let’s see.”
And what about Suzuki’s incredible season, with the Triple Crown in sight?
“For sure I didn’t expect it, I think it’s not work from this year it’s work from all the years that we’ve been doing, and the bike is getting better and better, this means that the work from last year and the work in the previous years was super good, it’s this. A competitive MotoGP bike is not made in one year. It’s a lot of effort, work and information and at the end, in my case I didn’t expect this potential of the bike at the start of the year. I felt great and in the tests in preseason, I could see the performance, but you know these results are super good and competitive, consistent. We have a great team.”
Fabio Quartararo and Mir’s team-mate Alex Rins are currently holding down joint second place on the championship points table, and Maverick Vinales is only a slender four-points behind that pair.
“It was tough times like you said but I think we need to enjoy it, that’s the most important thing because when you enjoy it everything comes easier. The last few races were more about struggles, so I think it’s important to have a good mindset, think about Sunday and qualifying better, and fight for the victory, if we want to take it to Portimao it’s the only solution.”
What is lacking for Yamaha?
“I think the grip is something important for us and we can see in qualifying when we put in a new tyre everything comes easier. The best example of that is in Aragon where I was struggling all weekend, I put in a new tyre and I found two seconds. It looks like the competitors are much less affected, so the grip is important. The consistency too. When the bike is good, we’re fighting for victories but it’s all or nothing. We need to find something in the middle where we can fight every race, maybe not all the time for the win but for good results. I think consistency and something about finding a good way to be there in every race, something Suzuki has and it’s a key for them to be on top. It’s been a strange year for everybody, but we need to use this year to learn for next year.”
Rins finished second at the European GP for his 12th MotoGP podium and 52nd overall, equalling Barry Sheene and Wayne Gardner. This is the first time that Rins has taken three podiums in three successive MotoGP races. This is also the first time there are two Suzukis on the podium in three successive premier lass races since 1981 when Suzuki riders did it in four successive races from Belgium to Finland.
“For sure if we want to reduce the advantage to Joan, I think the only thing is to get first position. He has demonstrated he’s very consistent, let’s see. First of all let’s try to improve my setup, we were struggling a bit in the last part of the race. And then let’s try to enjoy it, try to do a great race. The work we did in the past, these previous years means a lot now, it looks like we’re taking the fruit from the tree and that’s very nice. To get the triple crown in the standings, for Suzuki for us would be super nice. Let’s try to get it, to work for that, and for sure we are also waiting for the time to go Japan and celebrate with all the team in Suzuki headquarters.”
“I think that the most positive thing from the race was that I had a clear answer to the guys of where we need to improve, that was the clear thing from the weekend. In the wet you can’t see a lot of things on the bike, so it was very important to concentrate during the race on where we need to improve and riding on my own, I was able to understand everything clearly. We have some direction now. For sure, the Championship is now won. Joan only needs a few points and for sure he will do it. Right now, our mindset is on improving for next year, because we can’t continue with these irregularities on the bike. One weekend with grip we win, the next we struggle a lot, so it’s important for us to improve that. We have two races at two different tracks, so I think it’s a good opportunity to make an improvement and with it being race time it’s the best time to improve and test, it’s not like at a test when the grip is high and everything is working well. We always see that when the Yamahas have grip it’s hard to beat us but without grip, we struggle a lot, more than our competitors, so we need to focus this weekend and try to find these improvements. These two races will be without grip for various reasons so it’s crucial for us to stay focused and work hard.”
And what has been the key issue for Yamaha?
“I’ve been facing these adversities for many years. It’s not that we want to change it in just one race, we need to understand things. We still haven’t found the correct point. We need to learn and explore areas and see if we can find it. We won’t find it in one day, we need laps. Unfortunately, we can’t change the engine next year which would help a lot but we can touch in other areas that I think can still make an improvement.”
While Mir certainly has an upper hand on the championship trophy, the battle for second is wide open, only eight-points separate the next five riders. Franco Morbidelli and Andrea Dovizioso are equal fifth on 117-points apiece.
“I feel great, I have a great feeling with the bike especially in the last race, I enjoyed riding it a lot and I felt great. Maybe Alex and I joined the party a little late, but we are trying to catch up anyways. I will speak for me, but I will give my everything in these last three races in order to get the Championship because we are here now fighting for that, and we need to aim for that and to have no regrets at the end of the year. Whichever way it will go, it will be a positive Championship for me and a nice Championship anyway, but at this point, three races from the end and 25 points behind and having the momentum we have, we have to aim for something big.
“I think that being in a fight for a Championship is a particular feeling, it is a strange feeling and a strong one. It is a feeling that I had in 2017 and that most of these riders had in the past. Having that feeling again is for sure nice, but bad at the same time, but I am sure I am one of the guys that is feeling that ‘bad feeling’ less, because I am behind, I am 25 points behind and I need to catch up, I need to do everything perfectly to get that (the lead), so basically I have nothing to lose. I am a little bit, and I think the guys that are behind, are in an advantageous position this way but a disadvantageous position from the point of the view of the points. We are behind so we need to do everything perfectly but maybe we have less pressure so we can force a little bit more compared to the front guys.”
“If it were wet we would have to use that chance in an intelligent way, but like you say we have to be faster on the dry to think about and fight with them. It looks like they are in a really good situation and with good confidence at the moment, something we don’t have and it is difficult. But you know every race is a different story and this is a different track so we will see, we will try our maximum in the remaining three races, we will do everything. It will be tough, but we will try.
“In the end it is the way I ride, it really doesn’t work with this tyre. We couldn’t find anything really good because if you see the season of the Ducati riders, more happened for the competitors and this created a really difficult situation. It was very difficult during the season to work and improve because it was every race was up and down and more down than up, so this is the reality. But this is a different track. We will start on the wet tomorrow for sure so the weekend will be different than the previous races so we will see. We will have to stay calm and try to find something.”
Next in the rankings Pol Espargaro and Takaaki Nakagami are separated by a single point.
“My target is to beat Taka in the Championship, and Honda before I go there! (laughs) But honestly talking, we are really strong in the second race, after Misano we struggled a lot and in the second one we were on the podium. In Aragon we struggled a lot and in the second one we were close to the podium. I don’t know what’s going to happen here, normally in the back-to-back races we struggle and then improve, but this is a different situation. We were good behind the Suzukis, on the limit but good behind them. The situation is much different but we need to improve, the improvement isn’t very big but I don’t feel we have a huge margin, let’s say it like that. we are seventh in the Championship, super close to Taka and I feel Taka is going to be very fast this weekend. Let’s see if we can beat him and keep going up in the Championship which is very good at the end of the year.”
And what about looking for that first win, before saying goodbye to KTM?
“About the victory, I’m not really super nervous to get it. In the Czech Republic before Johann took us out, I was there for the victory. In Styria I was there until the last corner fighting with Jack and in the first Austria race I was running away before the red flag. We had a lot of match points but for one reason or the other, we couldn’t get it. But we could, that’s what I know inside me. For sure I want this victory, 100%, but I have a feeling we haven’t had the easy chance like we did in the Czech Republic, that we had a really clear advantage on the bike – setting, tyres, whatever was working. And also in Austria. Here, last weekend, I was really on the limit behind the Suzukis, and I never had that feeling I could win the race – I always had the feeling they had something else. When they were pushing I was really on the limit to follow them, I had no chance to overtake them. Having said that, I will try. This weekend and next weekend in Portimao, it’s not going to be easy. And from leaving KTM for Honda, that was a choice before the start of the season and I took it, because I knew it was a great opportunity. Most of the guys in the paddock want that opportunity. I saw the opportunity in front of me, I couldn’t say no. I’m really looking forward to finishing this year in the best shape possible, but also to start the next one beside the best rider in the world, riding the best level on for me, the best if not one of the best over the past years. It will be a pleasure for me to see me in the mirror dressed with a Honda jersey, so lets finish this year with good results and lets see how we can face the next one and if we can adapt fast, see the results coming as fast as I want.”
“Normally this season in back to back races we’re able to improve from the first to the second weekend so the strategy we don’t need to change. Try to start in FP1 with the race bike from last Sunday, as always try to understand the conditions and how I feel on this bike, and then try to, session by session, develop the bike and setup. Last Sunday was not enough dry sessions for everyone, we struggled and I was taking too much care of the tyre life because the last six or seven laps to go I realised I had a lot of grip to close the gap, I was really fast at the end of the race but that’s a key point to bring forward to this weekend. For us the first priority is to finish the race and if I have the opportunity to win the race, of course, but if not then the podium. That’s the first priority and the second is in the Championship. If I can beat Pol we are more than happy but first priority for me is if we can win the race.”
And what’s the secret to his impressive step forward this season?
“We had a bad race in Jerez 1 and after the first race, I was thinking this is really bad… I need to change for the second race, and then I thought ok I need to check Marc’s data because Marc’s always able to adapt, I don’t know how but he gets the maximum performance from this bike, and the first time I read it it was difficult to understand how he rides this bike, but I had to change my style and step by step we tried, and even now, we try to always look at his data, I try to compare to his data from last season because we use the same bike so this is the key point, to try to improve myself. Then the first moment I felt it was much better the feeling on the bike and I’m able to bring the performance easier… then after that I thought this is the way to improve the result with this. And as you can see on TV I have great support from HRC and the engineers, and they are also always trying to improve, after the session they’re always by my side with some tips and that’s it. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a podium but definitely we’re improving from last season or even during the season, for the progress I’m quite happy but we’re missing something for a podium. This is racing sometimes, but we never give up, always some bad results or luck, we are always looking to the next one and this is the key.”
Jack Miller holds down ninth in the championship by a slim margin over Miguel Oliveira, the KTM rider rounding out the top ten ahead of Danilo Petrucci and Brad Binder. The South Africa with a handy ten-point leat in the rookies rankings after Alex Marquez recorded two DNFs in succession.
KTM look well on track to finish ahead of Honda in the Manufacturers Cup, the Austrians currently hold a 29-point lead over the Japanese powerhouse.
In fact, if KTM have a really good run across the final two rounds, they could well knock Yamaha off for third spot in that contest. The Iwata brand was docked 50-points for the use of engines with different spec’ valves than had been homologated which sees KTM with a very real chance at taking third place in the Manufacturers Cup. Late time out with Pol Espargaro in third, Miguel Oliveira in fifth and Brad Binder in seventh, this was the first time that there are three KTM riders within the top seven across the line of a MotoGP race.
At the top Suzuki currently lead Ducati by seven-points. And of course Suzuki have done this with only two riders on the grid, compared to the six on Ducati Desmosedici machines…. If they do this would be the first time Suzuki have done it in the premier class since 1982. They can win it if the first Suzuki rider scores more than 18-points more than the first Ducati rider, more than one more than the first Yamaha rider and doesn’t concede more than three points to the first KTM.
In the Teams Championship the Ecstar Suzuki squad have an almost unassailable 72-point lead over Petronas SRT Yamaha.
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“Last weekend was fantastic, with Joan taking his first win in MotoGP and Alex finishing in second, but since then we’ve just tried to keep our heads down and keep working. We need to stay focused and concentrate on getting the best out of the two remaining rounds.”
It looks as though we are in for dry weather all weekend and action gets underway with MotoGP first practice at 2055 (AEDT) tonight. We are in for another late one come Sunday with the race not getting underway until midnight.
MotoGP World Championship Standings
MotoGP Constructors Championship
MotoGP Team Championship
|1||Team Suzuki Ecstar||287|
|2||Petronas Yamaha Srt||205|
|4||Red Bull Ktm Factory Racing||182|
|5||Monster Energy Yamaha Motogp 159||159|
|8||Red Bull Ktm Tech 3||117|
|9||Repsol Honda Team||83|
|11||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||39|
From record-breaking wins in a row to a crash, the Europe GP ensured Sam Lowes’ (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) has now had a rollercoaster few races. And with that, it’s Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) back on top in the standings as the Italian did some solid damage control after qualifying 15th, coming home fourth to take back the lead. Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), after some tougher races, put in a solid performance too – taking sixth to keep himself in the hunt, now 19 points back with 50 on the table. So what awaits on take two at Valencia?
Lowes, despite the mistake, was the man with the best pace of the top three in the title fight – and he crashed out of a podium position. So if the Brit can keep calm and carry on, there should be a solid chance to hit back and keep the fight rolling to the season finale. But Bastianini seems unflappable and now has a whole race of data under his belt – valuable indeed after a weekend of mixed conditions and then a dry race. He’ll also have a first shot at the crown…
Marini is also back in the hunt, however, as he took the first important step towards reversing his negative momentum. Sixth isn’t the wins he’s already taken this year, but it’s both good points and a good finish to calm his nerves. The pressure is less than it was, so can he move further forward this time around? He’ll need to if a real challenge is to come in Portimão.
The man with the serious speed last time out though was Marini’s teammate Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46). He needed an ace card to stay in the title fight and the Italian played one in style as he dominated the race, putting him 29 points off the top. Can he do it again? Will Lowes, Bastianini or Marini have an answer? Or can the riders just behind him catch him with a little more track time?
Those riders were Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in second and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) in third, and they can’t be counted out from challenging again either. The title is now mathematically over for them, so it’s gloves off and no pressure – and no stake in who they’re overtaking or when.
Bastianini has his first longer shot at the title this weekend, but it’s likely far from a done deal with his rivals still very much in touch.
Moto2 World Championship Standings
|11||Aron CANET||Speed Up||66|
|12||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||65|
|16||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||58|
|21||Hafizh SYAHRIN||Speed Up||21|
|22||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||21|
|23||Simone CORSI||MV Agusta||15|
|27||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Kalex||5|
Last week it seemed the ball was firmly in Albert Arenas’ (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) court but after another dramatic Grand Prix, the fight for the Moto3 crown is almost back at deuce. The Championship lead is now just three-points after Arenas was caught up in a crash, sustained damage, took to pitlane and headed back out… only to get Black Flagged for irresponsible riding, battling despite being a number of laps down. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) capitalised on the open goal, taking yet another podium in third, and now it’s both three points at the top and fast becoming a two-horse race.
In the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana, Arenas’ goal will be to bounce back quickly, put the Black Flag to bed and stamp some authority back on the standings. Ogura, on the other hand, arrives at maximum attack – and says he’s mentally back on his game. That may be a warning shot for Arenas, as the Japanese rider has more podiums than anyone and at times has made that look effortless. But then Arenas has made race-winning tactics look effortless sometimes too…
Although it’s fast becoming a two-horse race, on the way into Valencia second time around there nevertheless remain seven contenders for the crown. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) is third overall; 20 points back, Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) is fourth with a deficit of 23 and Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) is fifth, 24 off the top. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) faces a longer shot from 38 points in arrears, and Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is the last rider in with a mathematical chance, 39 points behind Arenas. Some are more likely than others, but nobody expected the drama that befell Vietti, McPhee and Masia last weekend – so there’s plenty time for another twist.
Will Ogura strike while the iron’s hot? Can Arenas take the pressure as he gets his first chance at the title? Or will another contender make life difficult for the two at the top?
Moto3 World Championship Standings
Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo Schedule (AEST)
2020 MotoGP Calendar
|14||15 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|15||22 November||Autodromo Internacional do Algarve|