2020 MotoGP Round Seven – Misano
The MotoGP travelling caravan is currently en route to the newly resurfaced Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli which will stage a busy schedule with two MotoGP and three MotoE races spread over two consecutive weekends firstly in the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, try saying that three times quickly, and then the debut running of the Gran Premio TISSOT dell’Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini the following weekend, got it? Right…
The 4,226m circuit is situated close to the coastline of the Adriatic Riviera and its technical layout is one of the most intricate of the season. High-speed curves and corners, slow turns and a short straight put specific demands on the front tyres and the Michelin rubber chosen for the two events have been matched to the new asphalt – which was tested earlier this year by the French tyre manufacturer. The six left- and ten right-hand turns of the circuit will be tackled by a range of soft, medium and hard compound front slick tyres, all with a symmetric finish, plus the addition of a fourth specification – as the rules allow for a newly resurfaced track – of a hard asymmetric front slick – with a harder right-hand side – to give the riders a greater scope of available tyres. The soft, medium and hard rears will be asymmetric with a harder right shoulder due to the greater number of turns in that direction and the increased stress on that side of the tyre throughout the 27-laps of the two MotoGP races.
Commonly known as the ‘San Marino Grand Prix’, the event’s location and time of the year has led to many wet days being encountered in recent years and thus wets in both soft and medium symmetric fronts, and asymmetric soft and medium rears.
Situated close to the city of Rimini, the circuit has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP calendar since its return in 2007. It is always a colourful affair with the 60,000 capacity being filled to the full. This season due to the COVID-19 restrictions MotoGP has taken place behind closed doors, but the two races at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli will be the first to admit fans inside the arena. At the behest of local authorities, 10,000 spectators will be welcomed every day and have to meet various rules and regulations regarding social distancing to give them the opportunity to be trackside.
And if the previous rounds of 2020 are to serve as a form guide as for what to expect, then perhaps they should be prepared for the unexpected! Four different winners from three factories, battles to the line; history has been made across the board for man, machine, team and nation…
Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) started the year with double wins but we have then watched that record-breaking pace fade over the tougher rounds of Brno and Austria. But cast your thoughts back 12 months to a rookie taking the reigning Champion to the wire and remember where ‘El Diablo’ belongs… the question is though, can he get back there? For Yamaha it should be a track more suited to their strengths, and no one should count out the only man to have so far won twice this season.
“Misano is one of my favourite circuits because it has a little bit of everything: slow corners, fast corners and switching from left to right. I’m curious to see how it works with the new asphalt and if the conditions will have changed a lot since last year. It is a very beautiful circuit. It also has my favourite corner from the whole calendar, Curvone. On the back straight you arrive in sixth gear, just roll off, use the brakes a little bit and then full gas as soon as possible. It’s a great corner and I can’t wait to be riding there this weekend. We fought for the win until the last lap for the first time last year, so we will try to repeat this over the next two Sundays. We need to return to the podium in these next races and achieve a big number of points at a circuit that suits our bike better. The target is to get back the feeling on the bike we had in the first two races in Jerez.”
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) will also be eyeing Misano with optimism and a chance for him to put to bed some truly awful luck at the Red Bull Ring. Narrowly avoiding one huge crash only to get hit by technical trouble, and then playing protagonist in another huge incident a week later due to… technical trouble, it hasn’t been an easy ride for ‘Top Gun’ lately. But he’s been quick, taken podiums and been on pole, and he knows – as we all do – that the unpredictability and ever-shuffling pack this season means one thing: no one is out of it yet.
That goes for his team-mate, too. The “Most Wins” stat at Misano is shared three ways, but only one of the riders on the list will be lining up in 2020: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). The ‘Doctor’ has three wins at the venue to equal Jorge Lorenzo and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who remains sidelined, but it’s the number 46’s backyard. He also arrives with some deceptively solid consistency in 2020. The rumours have also started about Rossi considering retirement at the end of this season and not heading to Petronas SRT in 2021 after all.
His protegee of sorts, Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), will also be optimistic on the way in. Robbed of what looked like a first podium earlier in the year, the number 21 has taken a key step forward this season. The satellite Petronas SRT squad is out-pefrorming the factory Monster Energy Yamaha team so far this season and lead the Teams World Championship.
“Misano is my home track and so, of course, I like it a lot because of this! The layout is quite tricky because originally you used to ride it in the opposite direction. This has created some unique characteristics and because of this it is very tricky. It’s also quite twisty and narrow. These things also make it a great circuit to ride: I love it! It’s a great feeling to have two races coming up at my home circuit and I’m really looking forward to them. In addition, we will have for the first time this season, some fans in the grandstands! That’s great news, because it means that is a first small step to normality. It will be great – especially for the Italian riders – to have the public cheering again for us. I hope we can give a good show and a good result!”
Veteran Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) hasn’t had a perfect run of form in 2020, but he’s wrung the most out of it on the day including that searing ride to victory in the Austrian GP. After the up and down form of so many and the drama we’ve seen in 2020, the wily Italian is now the man doing the daunting as he homes in on Quartararo’s lead. It’s just three-points now, and Dovizioso has won at the venue before. He and Rossi will also have some fans cheering them on, giving that little extra twist of hometown glory to the mix. Like Rossi, there are also significant rumours gathering around the future of Dovizioso and that he may also retire. There is also talk that if Rossi does choose to step down, that perhaps Dovizioso could end up on a Yamaha in 2021…
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) is certainly one to watch. 11-points off Dovizioso and therefore just 14 off Quartararo’s lead, he’s very much in the game for the Title after some impressive rides to the podium at the Red Bull Ring. Riding Ducati machinery on their home soil, there’s plenty at stake for Miller and the Australian is seriously on song. He would dearly love to repay Ducati’s faith in him with a win in Italy.
Miller’s team-mate Francesco Bagnaia will be back from injury and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) will be striving hard for a return to form in front of his countrymen after a tough 2020 so far.
A run through of the likely Borgo Panigale factory frontrunners would no longer be complete without a shoutout to Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing), however. Since that searing Long Lap Penalty – yes, we’re going to keep bringing it up – the Frenchman has been on quite the rollercoaster, but he managed to take two points last time out despite a broken scaphoid and a pitlane start. More time to heal and no penalties on the horizon at Misano make Zarco an interesting prospect, as ever.
And then, of course, there’s KTM. Brno was a milestone and Styria another, as Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) added to Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) glory, as well as making some history for Tech 3 with their first premier class win.
The Austrian factory are the steamrolling success story of 2020 so far, and are now third in the constructors’ standings, only six-points from top spot, and with almost twice the points scored by Honda…
MotoGP Constructors Championship
Is this new found KTM form a flash in the pan, or the new normal…? Tech3 boss Hervé Poncharal is always good for an insightful quote.
Hervé Poncharal – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Manager
“The Red Bull KTM Tech3 team will arrive at the Misano circuit with for sure a still very positive and light feeling after the incredible achievement in Spielberg. Clearly, Misano will be another story, a particular scenario. The circuit is very different to the ones we’ve been riding during the summer and it will be very interesting to monitor the performance of the KTM RC16 with our four riders on that twisty circuit. We’ve been doing some testing prior to the restart of the 2020 season here and the feeling for both, Miguel and Iker was quite good, but of course not the whole grid has been there. It’s going to be another back to back rounds on the same venue and I have to say, I like it quite a lot, the team likes it a lot and the paddock is pretty happy with that organisation. It’s interesting to have two GPs at the same track, you can experience and test things, which you couldn’t with only one round. We are looking forward to continue the strong performance we were showing since the beginning of the 2020 season. Both, Miguel and Iker are fully fit, fully ready, fully recharged and as usual it will be a pleasure to be on the Adriatic coast. Two races at that time of the year in such a great place are amazing and it will be very interesting to see how the organisers handle the spectators, as it will be the very first time this season. This is very good news. Congrats to them and Dorna to make that happen. We will also have some more journalists there and it’s a good feeling to see, that we are slightly trying to move back to our normal organisation. To summarise; everybody is eager to be in Misano soon, ready to start FP1 on Friday morning!”
For Team Suzuki Ecstar, meanwhile, the points don’t really tell the story. The Hamamatsu factory are very fast, and Alex Rins and Joan Mir have now both run at the front despite injury struggles for the former and still ever-growing experience for the latter. But some bad luck and crashes – and the Red Flag in Styria seemingly snatching victory from the hands of Mir – mean they’re not quite where they should be in terms of results on paper. Nevertheless, they remain two extremely fast riders on one extremely quality motorcycle, and the reset of Misano will see them aiming for the top again.
The Red Flag that seemed to dent Mir’s hopes of a perfect Sunday last time out was a similar story for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). A fourth in Jerez is his best so far, but the Japanese rider was on the front row in Styria for the first time and stayed as calm and collected as if he’d been there every week. He’s not been out the top ten so far this season, and he’s fought far up within it. Will Misano see that form rollover to the next events?
Cal Crutchlow has been off for some surgery to help relieve arm-pump issues and showed off some of the gory detail earlier this week on Instagram. You will have to do some extra clicks to uncover the hidden content, don’t check it out over lunch if you are squeamish.
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Two restarted races in Austria helped Rookie Alex Marquez to deepen his understanding of the MotoGP class and focus on his speed in the opening laps. This is not Alex’s first time riding an RC213V in Misano, having done a shakedown back in 2016. In 2019, Alex achieved one of his three career podiums in San Marino on route to the Moto2 World Championship title.
“It has been nice to return home, relax a little, see the family and keep training. Austria did not go exactly as I wanted it to, but I am determined to comeback stronger this weekend. We had a good battle and result in Misano in the esport race earlier this year, hopefully we can have a good race again! Misano is a circuit with a lot of variety, the tight opening section and the faster back section.”
As Marc Marquez continues to recover from injury, Stefan Bradl will again deputise the eight-time World Champion for the upcoming San Marino GP. The German returns to the Italian circuit having tested there just after the two races in Austria. It will be his first race outing at the circuit since 2018 when Stefan was a wildcard aboard the Honda RC213V. Bradl is again looking to close in on the points while working with HRC to continue the development of the Honda.
For Aprilia, as well as Ducati and the Italian riders, Misano is also the first home race of the year. What can Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) do? He’s scored a good chunk of points in the last three races, and he’ll want more – as will team-mate Bradley Smith, a few places behind in the standings.
Misano. It’s a modern classic that’s staged some serious memorable showdowns, and now we’re on the verge of enjoying two races at the track. First it’s the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini as we return after a short break. Strap yourself in for another awesome weekend of MotoGP action.
MotoGP World Championship Points
It seems the blink of an eye since the flag flew to mark the finish line of the Styrian GP, but the Moto2 grid will soon be back in the saddle again fighting it out for another 25 precious points. This time it’s the stunning Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli as the classic track hosts the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, and a good few riders at the top are racing on home turf.
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) is the man in charge of the standings heading in, and the Italian has been consistent ever since an issue near the end of the Qatar GP dampened his hopes in the season opener. A winner, a podium finisher or a solid points scorer so far in 2020, he’ll be aiming high at home… but so will the man he took over from in P1, who is only eight points behind.
That’s Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), although it’s been a rougher two rounds for the Italian since he won two in a row at Jerez – his first intermediate class wins. A crash – an a memorable one at that – in the first race in Spielberg was followed by a more muted outing in the second to dent his momentum somewhat, but he, like Marini and many of the home heroes on the grid, will be expecting to make the most of Misano. And it’s where he took his first ever Grand Prix win back in Moto3 in 2015.
The man in third, meanwhile, will feel he has a score to settle. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) may not be Italian, but he’s on his own mission after crossing the line first in the Styrian GP and then getting demoted to second by a penalty. They were solid points to cement him third overall, but he feels denied a second Moto2 win in a row after his first intermediate class victory a week before… and to make it even worse, the man he lost out to was fellow sophomore and old Moto3 rival Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46). Martin will be on a mission, but then so will that same Bezzecchi…
It was a rough rookie Moto2 season for the number 12, but he’s had an emotional comeback to the front of late and was the only man able to live with Martin’s pace last time out. Add that to another podium earlier in the year and it’s far from a flash in the pan. He’ll be on home turf too and joins Martin and Bastianini as a first time winner in the class this season – so he’ll be flush with confidence to add to that proven speed.
It’s unlikely, on such well known ground, that we’ll see a four horse race, however. Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is seemingly ironing out some inconsistency since his win in Qatar and could be a force to be reckoned with, Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was on pole and the podium in the last two races, impressive rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) has been on a roll until a blip in Styria… and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing Team) can’t be counted out. Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and teammate Marcel Schrötter are turning it around from a rougher few races earlier in the year too… there are plenty of names in the fight for the podium, top five or top ten.
One man who would expect to be in that battle but likely won’t be, however, is Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The Brit was given a pit-lane start for his next Moto2 race for causing a crash during the Styrian GP – so he’ll be pushing to try and move as far forward as possible, but sidelined from the fight he’d rather be in.
Moto2 World Championship Points
|8||Aron CANET||Speed Up||43|
|15||Jorge NAVARRO||Speed Up||19|
|16||Hafizh SYAHRIN||Speed Up||17|
|17||Stefano MANZI||MV Agusta||15|
|23||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Speed Up||3|
|26||Simone CORSI||MV Agusta||1|
|28||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Kalex||0|
|29||Andi Farid IZDIHAR||Kalex||0|
|32||Alejandro MEDINA||Speed Up||0|
Austria gave us two more barnstormers in the lightweight class, and we wouldn’t expect anything less. Now the Moto3 grid are ready to get back in action for the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, and we can be sure it’ll be another incredible show as the grid attempt to gang up on Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) once again. The Spaniard remains firmly in charge of the standings on the way in though, and probably still the pre-race favourite courtesy of his stunning 2020 form so far.
Last time out however, Arenas didn’t get it all his own way and couldn’t quite get on the podium. The man closest behind him in the points did though, and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) will be aiming for a rinse and repeat on the Riviera di Rimini as he attempt to claw back that gap. Consistent in the truest meaning of the word, the Japanese rider hasn’t put a foot – or wheel – wrong for a long, long time, and keeps racking up those podiums. A first win has evaded him as yet, but it can surely only be a matter of time – but he’ll have to balance scoring and beating Arenas with that last-lap instinct to win at any cost…
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), in third overall, has a balancing act of his own too. There are plenty points left in play in 2020 despite the condensed season, but the Brit will be aiming for a return to the top and to iron out the kind of error that saw him hit the deck in the Styrian GP. He’s done in before though, and is both a proven veteran and winner, so he can’t be counted out.
The Italian contingent will be eager for some home glory in Misano though, and their ranks are led by the top two in the Styrian GP: first time Moto3 winner Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and runner up Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team). Vietti has been a podium contender since his debut – quite literally – and a win felt like a matter of time, but it will be a solid shot of confidence for the impressive Italian. And so will the podium for Arbolino as he gains some traction in 2020…
Last year’s winner can probably be expected as a frontrunner too: Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse). It was an emotional first win for rider and team at the aptly-named track last year, and that will boost his confidence after a couple of tougher races following his Andalucian GP win. But Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) and his teammate Dennis Foggia, another first time winner in 2020, will be aiming to fight it out with them in the upper echelons – along with the now-consistent frontrunner and race day threat Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power). And what about the likes of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), veterans both and the latter a winner at the track? Can they pull out all the stops on home turf?
Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s pace could be one to watch too, as both Ayumu Sasaki and Deniz Öncü played big roles in the Moto3 freight trains in Austria and Styria… before some awful luck in the latter saw Öncü collect his team-mate and both crash out. Misano is two more chances to get up there in the battle.
Moto3 World Championship Points
|30||Khairul Idham PAWI||Honda||0|
The FIM Enel MotoE World Cup is ready to get back down to electrifying business. After two rounds in Jerez saw the first fifty points doled out, there are 75 more on the table in the next two weekends – the first third of which are up for grabs at the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini.
It’s rookie – although veteran of many a different machine – Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP) who leads the way as it stands, with the Swiss rider having seriously hit the ground running in the electric class. A podium first time out was an impressive debut, but that was swiftly followed up by a maiden win in Andalucia – giving Aegerter 41 points and an 11-point lead over Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40).
Torres is another rookie and has impressed so far, taking a podium in the second round of the season as he avoided the drama that befell a few of the more established names around him. That “drama” was a crash that saw reigning Cup winner Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE) tangle with and take down first round winner Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing), with the Italian out of the race and the Brazilian re-joining but only able to manage two points.
Ferrari was the double winner at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli last year, and he’ll be hoping to repeat the feat and claw back some of his already sizeable 21-point deficit. Having started the year on the podium, he knows at least that his pace has gone nowhere in 2020. Granado, meanwhile, smoked the field in the first round of the year, and was very much in the fight in round two before losing the chance to battle it out to the end. He’s only two points off Torres though, and there’s time yet to reel in Aegerter – but he’ll want to kick that off with another win.
Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) is another name who’ll be looking to fight for the podium after he got back on the box in the Andalucia GP. He was also on the podium last season at Misano, so it’s a good omen for a home hero – and riding for what is most definitely the home team. Rookie Lukas Tulovic (Tech 3 E-Racing) is just behind Casadei in the standings though and will be looking to build on some awesome E-Pole sessions on race day, with the German having got very close to a top three finish but not quite sealed the deal yet.
Those who’ve been fighting for the top five or a little further back will want the same. Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is having a tougher season so far after proving a winner last year, and Xavier Simeon (LCR E-Team), a couple of places back on the Frenchman, is another who will feel a little out of position so far. Simeon was also on the podium at Misano last year. Meanwhile Josh Hook (Octo Pramac MotoE) splits the two, and he’s one who’s taken a definite step forward in 2020 – so what can he achieve? And what about Niki Tuuli (Avant Ajo MotoE), who will be coming back from injury and was the first ever race winner in the Cup?
Finally, home hero Alex De Angelis (Octo Pramac MotoE) finds himself down the order in the title fight after a 0 first time out, but was only just off the podium in Andalucia as he bounced back. The Sammarinese rider is on home turf and was on pole last year at the track, so he has some serious speed. And a wealth of experience, in MotoE and everywhere!
FIM Enel MotoE World Cup Standings
|7||Mike DI MEGLIO||15|
|11||Alex DE ANGELIS||13|
Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini Schedule
2020 MotoGP Calendar
|7||13 September||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli|
|8||20 September||Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli|
|9||27 September||Barcelona – Catalunya|
|10||11 October||Le Mans|
|11||18 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|12||25 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|13||08 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|14||15 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|15||22 November||Autodromo Internacional do Algarve|