International Women’s Day 2021 – The interview with Kirsten Landman, South Africa’s top female Enduro Racer

Kirsten Landman, Dakar 2020

I had the absolute privilege of speaking with Kirsten and was able to ask some questions which she very kindly took the time to answer.

Kirsten is South Africa’s top female enduro racer and has been riding since the age of 8 years old when she started riding dirt bikes for fun with her uncle and cousin round their garden and then her dad started to take her to the track on a Sunday which quickly progressed to both Saturdays and Sundays. Kirsten started riding professionally at the age of 22 and has now truly made a name for herself worldwide in the hard enduro racing scene.

Indeed Kirsten has been the first female rider to finish races such as Redbull Romaniacs silver class, Redbull Sea to Sky, Redbull Megawatt 111, Redbull Braveman & the Roof of Africa. Whilst competing at the top level of her sport all over the world, and most times being the only lady to do do, Kirsten has achieved her South African Springbok colours!

As a tomboy growing up and wanting to keep up with the boys, Kirsten loves the challenge of being a female rider competing against the boys on rough terrain and describes herself as very competitive even off the track – she will race to the front door and even race the dogs to the swimming pool! To say Kirsten excels in her sport is an understatement and the list of achievements is pretty impressive!

2018:

X-Race Namibia, Expert Class : 2nd overall, 1st lady

Redbull Romaniacs, Bronze Class : 15th overall, 1st lady

Sea to Sky, Turkey : 31st overall, only lady competitor in the Gold Class

WildWood Rock : 6th overall, 1st lady

Roof of Africa Gold class Finisher : 25th overall, 1st lady

2017:

IMPI Gold class finisher : 25th overall & highest placed female finisher

Powasol Timberland Extreme Enduro : 14th overall in gold class, first lady finisher

Redbull Romaniacs Silver Class : 45th overall, first lady finisher

South African Overall Silver Class National Champion in a male dominated class

Roof of Africa Gold class : 33rd overall

2016:

King of the Hill : 28th overall in expert class; made history being the first lady to ever finish expert class

FIM Super Enduro World Series, Prague: 4th in world championship

Alfie Cox Redbull Invitational Extreme Enduro:Kirsten was the only female to compete, making it into the semi- final and ranked 15th amongst the best male extreme enduro riders in South Africa

Redbull Romaniacs : 48th overall; the first Female in history to finish the race in silver Class

Redbull Braveman : 2nd in Silver class; only female to finish

Redbull 111 Megawatt Poland : 30th overall out of over 1000 entries, only female to qualify and finish

Redbull Sea to Sky : 24th overall in Gold class, reaching the top of Mount Olympus, bettering her previous years position by over 30 positions

South African National Enduro Championship:Kirsten raced a consistent season finishing on the podium at all rounds, but finished 2nd overall. This is the best Kirsten has done in all her years racing the National Enduros.

Roof Of Africa : This was Kirsten’s first attempt at Gold class, going out on a whim & no expectations, Kirsten made history again and became the first ever woman in the 49 year history of the Roof Of Africa and finished the Gold class, completely unassisted

2015

Redbull Romaniacs : Kirsten attempted silver for the first time but due to complications, she didn’t manage to finish.

Redbull Sea to Sky : 56th overall, becoming the only woman in history to ever finish a gold class at any extreme hard enduro event

Redbull Braveman : 1st overall in silver class (only riding against men)

Roof of Africa : 32nd overall in the silver class, first lady finisher

National Enduro Series : 3rd overall in the mens silver class

2014

Redbull Romaniacs : 47th place in bronze class out of 160 bronze riders and first lady home

Roof of Africa : 23rd in silver class, first placed female finisher unassisted

National Enduro Championship : 4th place in silver class

Kirsten Landman

In 2020 Kirsten competed in the Dakar and finished 55th overall and was the 3rd female finisher. What is the Dakar, I hear you ask?

The Dakar Rally, or “The Dakar” was formerly known as the “Paris–Dakar Rally” and is an annual rally raid organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were staged from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, events from 2009 to 2019 were held in South America. Since 2020, the race has been entirely in Saudi Arabia. The rally is open to amateur and professional entries, amateurs typically making up about eighty percent of the participants.

The rally is an off-road endurance event and the terrain is much tougher than that used in conventional rallying. The vehicles used are typically true off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rather than modified on-road vehicles. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometres per day.

In the Dakar 2021 there were 108 bike entries, only 63 of which finished the event. Just to finish the event is an achievement in its self.

Kirsten was considering taking part in Dakar 2021 but was unsure about doing the Dakar back to back and then due to the Covid pandemic the economy in South Africa took a downturn and Kirsten was unable to get the funding she needed to take part. As it turned out Kirsten may have been unable to take part had she got the funding as whilst training on the bike one session, Kirsten took a nasty fall and dislocated her shoulder which put her out of action for four months.

Kirsten Landman

Kirsten’s next challenge is to compete in the Dakar 2022 in the Malle Moto class. What is that, I hear you say!

Malle Moto, which is French for ‘Trunk Motorbike’, is a category in the Dakar which riders of motorcycles and quads are almost completely unassisted. There are very few riders who take on this added challenge and it is considered to be the toughest category you can possibly compete in.

Competitors are allowed to pack one Malle (trunk) (there are restrictions on the maximum dimensions) which the organisers will transport to each bivouac. The trunk should contain their spare parts, tools, equipment and any necessary personal belongings. The organisers will also transport one spare headlight, one set of wheels and tyres, a tent and a travel bag.

Every day, the riders must prep their bike for the next stage without any outside assistance which may take a few hours, depending on the condition of the bike. They must also prepare their own road books before every stage and there is a common canteen to eat from. This all has to be done by the rider after each stage, which can run for many gruelling hours. After the rider has done all this, they then need to get enough sleep to be ready for the next stage. It is not uncommon for competitors to survive on just two or three hours of sleep everyday, for two weeks!

Kirsten Landman

Although Kirsten can do a lot of her own bike maintenance already, she is unable to take apart an engine and fix it or work on anything electrical so preparation is already underway with Kirsten learning these new skills in preparation for Malle Moto.

Kirsten knows that time management will play an important role in this. I asked if she was worried about taking part in such an arduos event by herself with no assistance – Kirsten is not really worried about doing it by herself as knows the route having taken part in Dakar 2020 and she is really looking forward to the challenge of doing the event by herself. New challenges excite Kirsten, the harder the challenge is, the better it is.

I asked Kirsten who her inspiration was and she said it was Laia Sanz who is known as The Queen of the Desert. Laia is the best female motorcycle rally racer in history, has won the title of best Dakar racer five years in a row and was the only woman to finish the race at all in two separate years. She is also the three-time Women’s World Enduro Champion. WoW!

Surprisingly, well to me anyway, Kirsten does not ride her motorbike on the road, she finds road bikes uncomfortable and feels that riding on the roads local to her to be somewhat dangerous. Kirsten is far more at home on her dirt bike riding through the mud. Although Kirsten lives in a beautiful place, her two most favourite places to ride are Romania, where she has competed five times and went back again just for some casual riding and La Sutu, which is a country within her country with beautiful mountain ranges and extreme riding.

Kirsten’s best feeling about being on a motorbike is the feeling of accomplishment, knowing that she has achieved the end of the race and got to the finish line. It is the sense of adventure she loves, the fact that she is outdoors, loving the nature around her and being lucky to have such great roads to ride on and travelled the world in the process. Kirsten has made some very passionate lifelong friends through her love of riding with that unspoken rule that as you ride a motorbike, you just get along, the people are just so cool.

Kirsten Landman

So Kirsten, what is the one thing people would never know about you just by looking at you? Baking. Kirsten loves to bake cakes, muffins and cooking in general, she is a big foodie and finds that when she is baking she can switch off from her riding and relax. I, myself can totally relate to that but unfortunately I like to eat my baking too!

Kirsten’s most embarrassing moment on a motorbike came when she was competing in an event and was absolutely desperate for a wee so she pulled over, popped the bike on the stand and walked round to a bush. Just as she was mid flow, another competitor stopped to see if she was okay and walked round and caught her peeing! Ooops!!!

As a youngster Kirsten was a tomboy and used to live in a big smallholding which had a massive garden. When she was around 8 or 9 years she was running around the garden with a friend pretending they were characters from the Jungle Book, they got hold of some matches and decided to make a fire like their characters. When they finished playing they thought they had put the fire out but during the night the wind caught up and the whole garden ended up on fire nearly spreading to the next door property. The fire brigade came and put the fire out thankfully but that is probably the worst thing Kirsten’s mum caught her doing as a kid!

I asked Kirsten if she has a lucky thing/ritual before the start of a race as it seems a lot of racers do. Kirsten is no exception, she always puts her left knee brace on first and then her right one and then puts her right boot on first and then her left one. Kirsten will then sit on the bike, put her head on the handlebars and say a prayer.

Kirsten Landman

The first motorbike Kirsten owned was a Yamaha PW80 which was a limited edition bike. Unfortunately the bike was sold many years ago and has now become a collectors item. Kirsten has been looking for one for a while now with the idea of restoring it and then putting it in her house on display. I definitely like that idea, how cool would that be to have your bike on display in your house.

If Kirsten hadn’t been a racer, she would have liked to become a vet. Kirsten is an animal lover and has five rescue dogs that live with her and has re-homed so many more animals. Kirsten is part of the Saving Animals Movement (SAM) and raises money to help animals who are malnourished, overbred or in dire need of help and helps provide them with medical assistance and finding them new forever homes.

Would Kirsten ride pillion? Even if Valentino Rossi offered to take her out pillion on the road, she would say no! She is absolutely terrified of going out on the road! Now if you were to offer Kirsten a pillion ride on the track, she would happily go with you as long as you were an experienced rider on track.

I asked Kirsten what her friends and family would assume she had done if she got arrested and there was no hesitation in saying that it would be because she had got into an argument with someone over an animal. If Kirsten sees an animal being treated unfairly, she does get very emotional which may have led to one or two arguments in the past ……..

Kirsten Landman

You can check out Kirsten’s website at Kirsten Landman and follow her progress with her preparations for the Malle Moto 2021. You can also follow Kirsten on Facebook and Instagram at : Kirsten Landman.

Thank you Kirsten for taking the time to speak with me, I really appreciate it and wish you good luck for the Dakar next year.

BK

Moto3 – the Season Preview so far …… by Si Boyle

With Sky Racing Team VR46 and Estrella Galicia leaving Moto3 to focus their resources on MotoGP and Moto2 projects, the lightweight class grid will look a little different in 2021. The top five riders in last season’s standings have all moved up to Moto2 also. So with a full breakdown of the teams and riders at the bottom of this page, I’m going to first give you my six to watch in 2021.

John McPhee

Now the elder

Tony Arbolino, Romano Fenati and John McPhee. Moto3 2019: Round Eleven – Red Bull Ring, Austria. Image courtesy of Hondanews.eu

statesman of Moto3, it had looked likely that the Brit would move to Moto2 with MV Augusta in 2021 but he has re-signed for a third season with Petronas Sprinta to race the Honda for another shot at the title. John has three wins under his belt, including Misano last year but to date has lacked the consistency and luck for a sustained challenge for the crown with his best overall being fifth in 2019. Can this be his year at last?

Darryn Binder

McPhee’s new teammate could be another title challenger in South African Brad Binder’s younger brother, Darryn. The 22-year-old has been in Moto3 since 2015 and took his maiden win in Catalunya last year. The first race of the 2021 will be his 100th in the class but also his first on a Honda after previously riding Mahindra and KTM machinery. So far in his career, Darryn has certainly been a Sunday rider, often coming through the pack in exciting fashion after qualifying poorly the day before. If he can start higher up the grid in 2021 it could make a huge difference to his season.

Into the first corner, of the 2020 Jerez Moto3 GP. Image courtesy of Polarity Photo/KTM

Jaume Masia

The young Spaniard is surely one of the favourites for the 2021 title. Of the riders staying in Moto3 from last season he finished the highest in sixth place, taking two wins in the double-header at Aragon. This is his fourth full season in the class and a move to one of the best teams on the grid, Red Bull KTM Ajo is his best shot at the title yet. The challenge for Masia may come from one rider I haven’t included in this sextet, his own teammate Pedro Acosta who won the Red Bull Rookies Cup last season.

Tatsuki Suzuki

The relationship between the likeable Japanese rider and the popular SIC58 Squadra Corse team continues for a fifth season in 2021. After seven races of 2020, the 23-year-old was a title contender with victory at Jerez in round three and a podium at Misano. Tatsuki appears to have formed a strong bond with Paolo Simoncelli over the years and it would be great to see the pair back on the podium in 2021.

Dennis Foggia

The former VR46 Academy rider starts his fourth season in Moto3 with perhaps more expectation than any previous year. H

Dennis Foggia, Moto3 race,,Aragon MotoGP 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

e remains with the competitive Leopard team and has a rookie for a teammate in Spaniard Xavier Artegas which should help the team focus on his title bid. The 20-year-old Italian also took his maiden win last season at Brno and was second at the final race of the year in Portugal.

Jeremy Alcoba

The rookie of the year in 2020 took his first podium at the final round in Portugal. The 19-year-old also finished in the top ten in eight of the fifteen races and showed great consistency across the season (only one finish outside the points and two retirements). Of the riders yet to win a race in Moto3, Jeremy is my tip for one in 2021.

 

FULL LIST OF TEAMS AND RIDERS

Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda

17 – John McPhee (GBR) – 26yo – 151 races, 3 wins – 7th overall in 2020

40 – Darryn Binder (RSA) – 22yo – 99 races, 1 win – 8th overall in 2020

Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM

5 – Jaume Masia (SPA) – 20yo – 53 races, 3 wins – 6th overall in 2020

37 – Pedro Acosta (SPA) – 16yo – Rookie – 2020 Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion, 3rd in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Red Bull KTM Tech3 – KTM

53 – Deniz Oncu (TUR) – 17yo – 15 races, 0 wins – 17th overall in 2020

71 – Ayumu Sasaki (JAP) – 20yo – 70 races, 0 wins – 16th overall in 2020

Aspar Team Moto3 – GasGas

11 – Sergio Garcia (SPA) – 17yo – 32 races, 1 win – 9th overall in 2020

28 – Izan Guevara (SPA) – 16yo – Rookie – 2020 FIM CEV Moto3 Champion, 9th in Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2020

Leopard Racing – Honda

7 – Dennis Foggia (ITA) – 20yo – 54 races, 1 win – 10th overall in 2020

43 – Xavier Artigas (SPA) – 17yo – Rookie – Runner-up in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Team Gresini Moto3 – Honda

52 – Jeremy Alcoba (SPA) – 19yo – 20 races, 0 wins – 11th overall in 2020

2 – Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG) – 24yo – 103 races, 0 wins – 13th overall in 2020

SIC58 Squadra Corse – Honda

24 – Tatsuki Suzuki (JAP) – 23yo – 103 races, 2 wins – 12th overall in 2020

20 – Lorenzo Fellon (FRA) – 16yo – Rookie – 11th in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Sterilgarda Max Racing Team – Husqvarna

55 – Romano Fenati (ITA) – 24yo – 128 races, 12 wins – 14th overall in 2020

31 – Adrian Fernandez (SPA) – 16yo – 1 races, 0 wins – 7th in FIM CEV Moto3 in 2020

Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda

16 – Andrea Migno (ITA) – 24yo – 115 races, 1 win – 15th overall in 2020

12 – Filip Salac (CZE) – 19yo – 33 races, 0 wins – 21st overall in 2020

CIP Green Power – KTM

27 – Kaito Toba (JAP) – 20yo – 69 races, 1 win – 18th overall in 2020

73 – Maximilian Kofler (AUT) – 20you – 19 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

Reale Avintia Moto3 – KTM

23 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) – 24yo – 147 races, 4 wins – 19th overall in 2020

99 – Carlos Tatay (SPA) – 17yo – 17 races, 0 wins – 22nd overall in 2020

BOE Skull Rider Facile.energy – KTM

82 – Stefano Nepa (ITA) – 19yo – 40 races, 0 wins – 20th overall in 2020

54 – Riccardo Rossi (ITA) – 18yo – 33 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

CarXpert Prustel GP – KTM

6 – Ryusei Yamanaka (JAP) – 19yo – 19 races, 0 races – 24th overall in 2020

50 – Jason Dupasquier (SUI) – 19yo – 15 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

Honda Team Asia – Honda

92 – Yuki Kunii (JAP) – 16yo – 15 races, 0 wins – No points in 2020

19 – Andi Farid Izdihar (INA) – 23yo – Rookie in Moto3 – 16 Moto2 races in 2020 with no points

Steve ‘Stavros’ Parrish – Motorcycle Racer, Truck Racer, Commentator and Master Prankster

So I know the burning question on your lips is the same as mine – ‘Why is Steve Parrish known as Stavros?’ The answer is that back in his motorcycle racing days when he was teammates with Barry Sheene, Barry nicknamed him Stavros after a character in the TV show ‘Kojak’ as both had a mop of black curly hair. The name Stavros has stuck since then!

Steve began racing at the age of 19 after he ‘got too wild for the roads’ and in 1975 Steve was the Best Young Rider winning the Grovewood Award. The following year, at the age of 22, he started professional motorbike racing and won the British Solo Championship that same year.

Joining Suzuki in 1977 with Barry Sheene as his teammate, Steve finished 5th overall in the 500cc World Championship and returned to British based riding in 1978 where he became the 500cc ACU Gold Star Champion followed by the 500cc Shellsport Motorcycle Champion in 1979 and 1980. Steve went on to become the British Superbike Champion in 1981,

I think it’s safe to say Steve is well known in the paddock and indeed, out of the paddock, as a practical joker. With his infectious smile, mischief seems to follow Steve.

During one qualifying session, Sheene, turned up … um….shall we say, hungover and so Steve donned his teammate’s overalls and helmet and qualified on his behalf on the RG500 Suzuki. Back in the pits, Steve then put his own overalls and helmet on and went out and did his own qualifying lap, annoyingly finishing further down the grid than the qualifying lap he put in for Sheene! Can you imagine something like that happening these days?

Setting off firecrackers outside a brothel where a few of his fellow riders were being, I’m not quite sure how to put this, serviced, saw Steve being banned from Macau and then there was the incident in Finland where the toilet block burnt down …..

Then there was the time Steve posed as a medical doctor in Japan to enable John Hopkins to fly to the Australian GP. I am willing to bet that Steve could make a book out of his antics!

In 1986 Steve retired from motorcycle racing to start a five year stint as the team manager for the Yamaha factory team for whom he used to ride where he led the team to victory winning three British Championship titles.

Alongside managing the Yamaha team, Steve began a fifteen year career as a truck racer becoming the most successful truck racer ever. In 1987 he won the British Open Truck Racing Championship, came 2nd in the series in 1989 and went on to win the European and British Truck Racing Championship in 1990 followed by the 1991 British Championship.

Steve then went on to win the European title for the next three years, coming 2nd in 1995 and then taking the title again in 1996. Steve continued to compete in truck racing until he retired in 2002.

Talking about racing motorbikes and trucks, Steve says there is quite an affinity between the two sports explaining that a motorbike doesn’t want to change direction quickly and has to be coaxed into corners which is much like a 5 tonne truck, it doesn’t want to shift around corners either and there is an awful lot more weight to shift than a motorbike!

In 1985 Steve started commentating for BBC radio before moving to Sky alongside Barry Nutley. From 1990 he started commentating for the BBC on the British 125 championship before moving onto MotoGP coverage with Charlie Cox where the pair also commentated on British Touring Cars, British Superbikes and World Superbikes.

As a qualified pilot, commentating on the Red Bull Air Race series is a perfect transition for Steve also.

Alongside former racer James Whitham, the pair commentate on the Isle of Man TT.

I think we can safely say that whatever Steve turns his hand to, he makes a success out of it. Indeed, Steve has even managed to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for, and I quote, ‘The Fastest Speed Achieved in Reverse’! In a Caterham!! I didn’t even know that was a ‘thing’. Sure sounds like fun though ……

Steve is an expert witness for motor racing incidents and can regularly be seen testing various vehicles and racing machines. Steve’s own personal vehicle collection includes a hearse, an ambulance and a fire engine!

You can imagine the antics Steve and his vehicles manage to get themselves into – apparently for example, driving the hearse very slowly until there is a long trail of cars behind and then tearing off up the road leaving the queue behind!

Or when Steve visits the bank in his ambulance – he pulls up outside the bank and parks on the yellow lines, leaves the rear doors open and then pops into the bank to do his banking!

Or the time Steve pulled up outside his friend’s pub on a Sunday afternoon in his fire engine and hosed down the inside of the packed pub!

I think if you see Steve coming, you should certainly have your wits about you as you really just don’t know what mayhem is to come.

A truly talented motorcycle racer, truck racer, commentator and master prankster, I believe that makes Steve a legend in my book.

The Kawasaki and Jonathan Rea partnership

As we know Jonathan Rea has won six consecutive World Titles in World Superbikes and must wait until the 2021 season to achieve his 100th career World Superbike race win after crashing in the final event of the 2020 season.

Jonathan Rea Estoril WSBK. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

That is a pretty impressive achievement in any sport but in order to achieve this any driver or rider cannot achieve this on their own, they need to be part of a team that that works together as one with the drive and ambition that they will win races and they will win driver’s and constructor’s championships and of course you have to have a combination of the right team and the right bike in order to achieve any of this.

Did you know that not only has Jonathan Rea won six consecutive rider’s World Titles in World Superbikes but that Kawasaki have won six consecutive constructors World Titles in World Superbikes too?

To me, this says that both Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki have worked together and together they have achieved these amazing achievements but what is Kawasaki’s history in bike racing?

Kawasaki have a long history of motorbike racing which goes back to 1961 when they entered an All Japan Motocross race on a racing bike based on the Kawasaki B7, they started competing the following year and at the first race meeting of the MFJ Hyogo Prefectural Motocross Race in 1963, the top six positions were filled by Kawasaki B8 riders.

Jonathan Rea the Estoril 2020 Press conference Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

The famous Kawasaki racing colour of lime green was developed in 1968, previous to this Kawasaki race bikes had been painted red. At the Daytona 200 in 1969 all the A7RS and A1RAS factory race bikes were in the official lime green colour and have been to this day.

In 1973 the KX was born. The KX was the result of the formation of a new development department set up in 1972 charged with creating a motocross racer. Sales started in 1973 and the development of the KX series continues to this day.

1973 also saw Gary Nixon take the AMA Superbike title in the AMA Road Racing Championship having won three races on a H2R which was a two-stroke three-cylinder bike which was given the nickname “Green Meanie” by it’s racing rivals.

From 1978 to 1982 GP250 and GP350 World Grand Prix racing was pretty much dominated by Kawasaki on KR250’s and KR350’s which were ridden by Kork Ballington and Anton Mang. Between the two classes the riders took an impressive eight world championships and Kawasaki won the manufacturers title in the GP250 class four years in a row. A truly impressive achievement.

Success continued in the AMA Superbike championship when back to back titles were won in 1981 and 1982 with Eddie Lawson on the KZ1000J and KZ1000S1 respectively and the following year on the new GPZ750 after a change in the regulations, which was ridden by Wayne Rainey. The Kawasaki was the dominant bike and earned Kawasaki it’s third consecutive title.

During the same period Kawasaki also dominated the Endurance World Championship with their KR1000 endurance racer with the French endurance team, Kawasaki France Performance. In 1981 and 1982 the Kawasaki riders took all the top positions and 1983 saw Kawasaki sweep the podium at the Le Mans 24 hours. Kawasaki had won the manufacturers title for three years running and were beginning to make a habit of winning consecutive titles!

Jeff Ward, former AMA Motocross 125 and AMA Motocross and Supercross 250 champion, took back to back class titles on a KX500 thus becoming the first rider in AMA history to win four different crowns.

Kawasaki stopped participating in works entries from 1983 to 1988 but they entered the Endurance World Championship in 1988 and came back with a bang dominating the field for three consecutive years winning the title on the ZXR-7 which was the new TT-F1 racing machine in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Kawasaki also entered the Suzuka 8 Hours race in 1993 with Scott Russell and Aaron Slight giving Kawasaki their first win in this race.

The AMA Superbike Championship was won again in 1992 by Kawasaki with Scott Russell riding a ZXR750 which had been prepped by Rob Muzzy and the following year saw the pair take the Superbike World Championship by storm on a ZXR750R and take their first World Superbike victory when they won the title in their first year of competing.

Kawasaki were certainly taking the bike racing world by storm showing that when they entered whichever realm of championship, they were the team to beat.

Kawasaki Motocross picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

The first World Motocross title came for Kawasaki in 1995 when Stefan Everts on a KX250 dominated the championship with five victories. The following year saw Sebastien Tortelli, on a KX125, win the class championship stepping up the following year to the 250 class and taking the world title on the KX250.

In 2001 Kawasaki took it’s first world title in the AMA Supersport Championship with Andrew Pitt riding the green machine. In the same year Kawasaki cleaned up in Motocross with James Stewart on a KX450F taking the Supercross title; Ryan Villopoto took the Supercross Lites West title and Ben Townsley the Supercross Lites East title on the KX250F. WoW!

Ryan Villopoto, a multi-time Supercross Lites and Motocross Lites champion on KX250F’s, stepped up to the 450 class in 2009. After a couple of seasons perfecting the bike, success came in 2011 with the first of four back-to-back Supercross titles. Ryan Villopoto truly was in a class of his own in the motocross world aboard the green Kawasaki.

After a 20 year absence from the World Grand Prix road racing scene, Kawasaki returned in 2002 on Ninja ZX-RR machines competing in the MotoGP class and started to make steady progress in it’s classes over the next few years.

In the Superbike World Championship series upon a Ninja ZX-10R in 2012, Tom Sykes just missed out on the title by a small margin but completely made up for it the following year when he took the World Superbike title with 9 race victories and 18 podium finishes giving Kawasaki it’s first world championship in Superbikes in 20 years.

The 2012 Supersport World Championship was won by Kenan Sofuoglu on a Ninja ZX-6R and in 2015 he took five wins this season to take the title again followed by a successive title in 2016 with six wins. The world was taking notice of Kawasaki and the true potential the ZX-6R machines held.

Ana Carrasco (DS Kawasaki Junior Team) Is on the verge of creating history

In 2017 the Supersport 300 World Championship was established. In the 2018 season history was again made when Ana Carrasco became the first female rider to win a race on a Ninja 400 and then made history again later in the season when she took the title and became the first female rider to win a title in the history of the FIM world championship racing.

A truly outstanding achievement by both Ana and Kawasaki with Kawasaki once again paving the way forward in the motorbike racing world.

2019 saw Kawasaki claim it’s second consecutive title in this class with Manuel Gonzales at the helm when he became the youngest ever FIM Road Racing Champion. A fabulous achievement in what is considered an ultra-competitive class.

For the first time since 1993, Kawasaki Racing Team won the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race in 2019 on Ninja ZX-10RR’s in what was a closely fought battle with the top three teams all completing 216 laps. Alongside, Team SRC Kawasaki France finished in 12th place taking the title in the 2018-2019 Endurance World Championship. Kawasaki was showing the world their bikes were not only made for road racing but for long distance racing too.

Back in the Motocross scene, Eli Tomac took back to back titles in the 2017 and 2018 AMA Motocross Championships on a KX450F and the following year upon the new KX450 he took the title again with 11 wins and 19 podium finishes. Another third successive title for Kawasaki.

Jonathan Rea at Portamao 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

We then come to the Jonathan Rea era of motorbike racing. Jonathan joined the Kawasaki Racing Team in 2015 competing in the World Superbike Championship and took the motorbike racing world by storm by winning the title in his first year with Kawasaki with 14 race wins and 23 podiums.

 

 

In 2016 Jonathan took his and Kawasaki’s successive World Title with 9 wins and 23 podiums; the triple world title was claimed in 2017 with 16 wins and 24 podiums and then in 2018 a fourth consecutive title was claimed by Jonathan and Kawasaki with 17 wins and 22 podiums.

Jonathan Rea Estoril WSBK 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Kawasaki and Jonathan had not finished re-writing history when in 2019 they had a record five consecutive rider’s and manufacturer’s titles and in 2020 history was re-written once again when an incredible sixth consecutive rider’s and manufacturer’s title was claimed by Kawasaki and Jonathan. Jonathan has continued to re-write history with most wins in a season, most points in a season and most podiums in a season.

A truly impressive achievement by both Kawasaki and Jonathan Rea.

Karen Bristow

 

 

 

Jonathan Rea’s Six Consecutive World Titles

Jonathan Rea at Portamao 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Having been born with racing in his blood with his father, Johnny a former Road Racing Champion and Isle of Man Junior TT winner, his grandfather sponsoring Joey Dunlop and his great-grandfather being a regular competitor on the Ulster Grand Prix circuit, it was little wonder that Jonathan Rea went on to be one of the greatest road racers that we have seen. An amazing achievement from someone who wasn’t even sure if he wanted to go into road racing!!!

Having been riding for his entire road racing career for Honda Racing and for six of those years in World Superbikes, Jonathan Rea made the switch to Kawasaki Racing Team in 2015 and took the racing world by storm.

In the 2015 World Superbikes Championship season there were 26 races of which Jonathan won the first race at Philip Island and there started an incredible run for the Irishman of 23 podiums, 14 of them of which were on the top step and 7 on the 2nd step. Jonathan amassed an incredible 548 points this season, just a few short of the all time record and he bagged his first World Superbike Championship three rounds early at Jerez in Spain. A very impressive start with the Kawasaki team.

Jonathan Rea Misano WSBK. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

In 2016 there were 26 races of which Jonathan won 9 of them with 9 second place finishes and 5 third places, a total of 23 podiums and at the end of the season which went down to the wire and was decided in the last race of the season at Qata, he was crowned World Champion again and now joined a select group of double World Champions: Carl Fogarty, Troy Baylis, Max Biaggi, James Toseland, Troy Corser, Colin Edwards, Doug Polen and Fred Merkel.

Jonathan is now one of only four World Champions who have had back to back championships, he joins this illustrious group of riders alongside Fred Merkel, Doug Polen and Carl Fogarty.

Again in 2017 there were 26 races of which Jonathan won an impressive 16 of them with an incredible 24 podiums in total. During this year Jonathan had the largest points finish in the history of the championship breaking Colin Edwards 2002 record and was crowned triple world champion. Jonathan was now in a very select group of triple World Champions alongside Carl Fogarty and Troy Baylis. Jonathan being the only rider to have had three consecutive world titles.

Jonathan Rea celebrating at the Estoril GP WSBK 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

2018 sees the World Superbikes series hold 25 races, an incredible 17 of which were won by Jonathan equalling the most number of wins in a season previously set by Doug Pollen in 1992. Having been on the podium 22 times this season, Jonathan earned his fourth world title. The only other person in World Superbike history to have won four titles is Carl Fogarty. A truly incredible achievement for both riders. Jonathan, again, being the only rider to have had four consecutive world titles.

Jonathan wasn’t finished yet. In 2019 there was a record 37 races that season. Having got off to a slow season points wise due to the arrival of Ducati’s new rider, Alvaro Bautista, who dominated the first four rounds of the season, Jonathan went on to win 17 races this season and was on the podium an incredible 34 times with 16 second place finishes and one third place. A truly outstanding achievement and one which earned him his fifth World Championship by the time they got to Magny Cours.

Jonathan is the only rider in the history of the Championship to have achieved five world titles and indeed five consecutive world titles, and he was now truly in a class of his own.

Jonathan Rea Estoril WSBK. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

During this year, Jonathan also took part in the Suzuka 8 Hour event for Kawasaki with teammates Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu.

In a dramatic ending to the race, Jonathan, who was riding the final leg of the race, slid off after another bike had deposited fluid on the track with just two minutes of time left in the event and the race was red flagged. As the Kawasaki team did not make it back to the paddock within the stipulated five minute window, it lead to Yamaha’s team of Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga being declared winners.

Kawasaki appealed the decision as official data showed Jonathan’s team were leading by 18.720 seconds from Yamaha. The appeal was upheld and the trio were finally declared the winners.

Jonathan Rea Estoril WSBK 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Yet still there was more to come from the Northern Irish rider. Although 2020 has been a somewhat unprecedented year for all motorsport, having started the season at Philip Island at the beginning of March where we saw Jonathan crash out of Race 1 and win Race 2, there was then a long break before racing finally got underway again in Spain at the end of July/beginning of August.

In the remaining 23 races of the season, Jonathan won 10 of those with a total of 17 podiums and rode straight into the record books with his sixth consecutive World Championship at the season ending Estoril with two races to spare. Again the only rider in the history of the Championship to have achieved this. A truly awe inspiring achievement.

Jonathan has also set all time records for race wins, points, podiums and fastest laps. In 2018 Jonathan took his 60th career win at Brno surpassing the record of Carl Fogarty.

Jonathan Rea Celebrating his six WSBK titles. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Having crashed in the final race of the 2020 season, Jonathan will have to wait until the 2021 season to achieve his 100th career World Superbike win.

Jonathan is arguably one of the most talented young racers in any class of competition today.

Karen Bristow

A little bit of Jonathan Rea history

Jonathan Rea at the 2020 Philip Island Test. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Jonathan Rea, it seems, was born with racing in his blood. His father, Johnny is a former Road Racing Champion and Isle of Man Junior TT winner, his grandfather sponsored Joey Dunlop and his great-grandfather was a regular competitor on the Ulster Grand Prix circuit. It was little wonder then that Jonathan was only 2 ½ years old when he first sat on a bike barely able to reach the handlebars!

By the time he was six, Jonathan was racing in motocross and was runner up in 1997 in the British 60cc Motocross before moving up the classes, very successfully too.

So why did Jonathan make the switch to road racing in 1997 then?

Well during a tea break one day with his mechanic, they spotted an ad in a magazine asking for a young rider for the 125 class with Red Bull. Far from being enthusiastic about the idea himself, it was Jonathan’s mechanic who persuaded him to apply insisting that he would be really good at road racing. Jonathan put a few words and a resume together and sent it off.

Still not a hundred per cent sure that he wanted to go into road racing, Jonathan went to Ron Haslam’s Race School at Donington Park where he rode a CB500 in effort to start to understand a road bike and ascertain whether or not road racing was for him.

Jonathan Rea Estoril 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

Incredibly, out of hundreds of applications, Jonathan was one of only 20 picked and he spent the day at Rockingham. Five were then selected, Jonathan being one of them, for another try out at Cartagena in Spain where Jonathan was successful and joined Red Bull Rookies along with two other riders.

It wasn’t long before it could be seen that making the switch to road racing was a good move by Jonathan. A British Superbike ride on a factory Honda Fireblade was set up by Red Bull in 2005 in which Jonathan took pole and despite missing two races, finished 16th in the series. The following year Jonathan finished 4th in the BSB Championship in what was only his second year of road racing.

In 2007 Jonathan rode for the Harris factory team where he had his first podium victory at Mondello Park and finished 2nd in the BSB Championship. Jonathan’s motocross mechanic was definitely right to persuade Jonathan to send off that application, he obviously saw something in him.

Also during 2007, Jonathan competed in and won with his teammate, Ryuichi Kiyonari, a three hour endurance race and the pair were subsequently entered into the Suzuka 8 hour race on a Honda factory bike.

Later in 2007 Jonathan signed a three year deal with Ten Kate Honda riding in the Supersport World Championship for the 2008 season and then progressing onto the Superbike World Championship in 2009 and 2010 having turned down a ride with the factory Xerox Ducati WSBK team and the option of riding for HM Plant Honda and Rizla Suzuki in the British Superbike Championship.

It wasn’t long before Jonathan had his first win in WSSP which came at Brno followed by two further wins at Brands Hatch and Vallelunga. Of the twelve races he competed in during this year, Jonathan had six podium finishes, three wins, one second place and two thirds.

At the end of the 2008 season Jonathan switched to the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda WSBK team therefore making his WSBK debut at Portimao in the final round of the 2008 Championship.

In 2009 Jonathan had two third place podiums before his first WSBK win at Misano. A further win in Germany and then one second place and five third place finishes meant that Jonathan finished fifth overall in the Championship, second best rookie of the season behind Ben Spies (who won the WSBK Championship).

Jonathan Rea at Aragon 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

The 2010 season ended slightly better with Jonathan finishing fourth overall having had ten podium finishes, four of which were wins, five second place finishes and one third.

Of 18 races in the 2011 season, Jonathan only managed a podium five times, two of which were wins and three second place finishes and ended the season down in 9th overall but the following season he finished fifth overall with six podiums. The 2013 season was not good again when he finished in 9th overall again with only one win during the season but two second places and one third.

In what would be his final year with Ten Kate Racing in 2014, Jonathan was on the podium nine times having had four wins, one second place and four third places finishes and finished 3rd overall – his best result in WSBK to date.

Jonathan made a brief appearance in MotoGP when in 2012 he had his debut for the Repsol Honda Team replacing an injured Casey Stoner in two races at San Marino where he finished 8th and Aragon where he finished 7th.

Having been riding a Honda for his entire road racing career, in what would turn out to be a career changing move, Jonathan moved to the Kawasaki Racing Team in 2015 with Tom Sykes as his teammate. In his first year with the Kawasaki team, we saw Jonathan dominate the season with an impressive twenty-three podiums, fourteen of which were wins, seven second place and two third place and his first WSBK Championship. WoW!

Jonathan Rea 2020. Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK

The rest, as they say, is history – Jonathan went on to win the WSBK Championships in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The first person to have won six consecutive WSBK Championships.

Jonathan has gone on to break records in WSBK with most wins in a season, most points in a season and most podiums in a season.

A truly awe inspiring achievement from someone who wasn’t sure if he even wanted to go into road racing!!!

Karen Bristow

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) takes the last win of the season

The last round of the 2020 MotoGP Championship took place on the 21-22 November at Portimao.

In the last race of the season, saw  the 7th new polesitter of the year as Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) beating Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) by 0.044 seconds with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completing the line up for the front row. World Champion, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), had a disastrous qualifying and starts from 20th position. Will we see a 10th new winner of the season? Let’s find out.

The starting grid for the race looked like this:

Row 1 : Oliveira : Morbidelli : Miller Row 2 : Crutchlow : Quartararo : Bradl

Row 3 : Zarco : Vinales : P.Espargaro Row 4 : Rins : Nakagami : Dovisiozo

Row 5 : Binder : A.Espargaro Bagnaia Row 6 : A.Marquez : Rossi : Petrucci

Row 7 : Savadori : Mir : Rabat

The start of the 2020 MotoGP Portugal race. Image courtesy of Polarity Photo/KTM

With 25 laps of racing, the last race of the season gets under way with Oliveira getting off to a great start and going first into Turn 1 followed by Morbidelli, Miller, Crutchlow, P.Espargaro and Rins. Miller takes Morbidelli into 2nd but two turns later Morbidelli takes the place back. Mir has an incident with Bagnaia where there seemed to be touching of the wheels on lap 2 and loses a lot of time and drops right back.

By lap 3 Oliveira has pulled out a 1.3 second lead and Binder crashes at Turn 1 putting a very early end to his race. The battle for 7th place is with Zarco, Quartararo and Vinales and all three riders are on it. Nakagami takes Rins and moves up to 10th place.

Lap 5 and Oliveira has now a 2.4 second lead, Miller is staying hot on the heels of Morbidelli biding his time for his opportunity to get past. By the following lap the World Champion has moved up to 16th place with Rossi in 15th, A.Espargaro in 14th, Vinales in 13th and A.Marquez in 12th.

P.Espargaro takes Crutchlow into 4th place on lap 7 but Crutchlow, Bradl and Zarco all have eyes on that 4th place and they are all on it with good clean racing taking place. On lap 9 Crutchlow takes 4th but a few turns later loses it again to P.Espargaro.

Nakagami takes Quartararo into 9th place on lap 10, Quartararo fights back and gets the place back but then Nakagami goes underneath and past, this time he manages to keep the place.

Lap 11 and Oliveira has a comfortable 3.7 lead over Morbidelli and Miller. Dovizioso takes A.Marquez and Quartararo and goes into 9th place and the following lap A.Marquez passes Quartararo pushing him down to 12th. P.Espargaro has a huge moment allowing Crutchlow to slide past but two turns later he gains the place back.

By Lap 14 Mir is still in 16th place and is a second a lap off the pace of the front runners. Nakagami takes Rins on the following lap and the battle for 13th place between Quartararo, Vinales and Rossi is hotting up with all three riders absolutely on it.

With a 4 second lead, can Oliveira keep up this pace for the remaining 10 laps of the race? Mir slows on the track and heads into the pits and retires from the race with what looks like mechanical issues. Zarco passes Crutchlow into 5th place.

On the start/finish straight on lap 19 Vinales gets a wobble on the bike but he manages to hold it and his 12th place.

Lap 21 sees Crutchlow run really wide allowing Dovizioso, Nakagami, Zarco and Bradl to pass and he is now down in 9th. Miller is hunting down Morbidelli, can he catch him and make a pass in the remaining 4 laps?

A.Espargaro passes Crutchlow into 9th on lap 22 and the following lap Nakagami passes Dovizioso up into 5th place. Turn 4 Savadori crashes out of the race.

Valentino Rossi’s last ride for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

On the start/finish straight going into the final lap, A.Marquez and Zarco are battling for 9th and are side by side, A.Marquez just manages to out brake Zarco and grab the place. Miller is still trying to get past Morbidelli and on Turn 13 he goes underneath and past into 2nd place but Morbidelli comes straight back and snatches the place back but Miller pulls back past and starts to ease away.

Oliveira takes the chequered flag with a comfortable win and his second of the season with Miller taking 2nd and just behind is Morbidelli in 3rd.

An absolutely nail biting last race of the season with some incredible racing taking place. Huge congratulations to KTM and Oliveira on a brilliant win and to Ducati for taking the Manufacturers Championship.

Karen Bristow

Featured image courtesy of Polarity Photo/KTM

Moto2 Pre-race Briefing by Triumph Motorcycles

Moto2 Pre-race Briefing 
2020 Round 15AlgarvePortugal20-22 November
 

A look back to the last race – Valencia Grand Prix

  • Jorge Martin took his second Moto2 victory of the season (and his second ever using Triumph power) last weekend in the closest race of the season, decided by just 0.07 seconds 
  • With erstwhile series leader Sam Lowes crashing early in the weekend and rescuing just two points, Enea Bastianini extended his title lead to 14 points with only 25 remaining 
  • Further demonstrating the closeness of competition, during the race four riders set exactly the same fastest top speed of 279.5km/h 

Winner: JMartin #88 Pole position: 1m 34.418SManzi #62 

Fastest lap: 1m 35.291, H. Garzo #40 Top speed: 279.5km/h, M. Ramirez (Race) 

Race lap record1m 34.820, T. Luthi (2019) Circuit best: 1m 34.418SManzi (2020) 

 

Enea Bastianini, Moto2 race, Valencia MotoGP, 15 November 2020. Picture courtesy of Triumph

A look to this coming race – Grand Prix of Portugal 

  • The final round of the 2020 championship will be the first ever Moto2 grand prix powered by Triumph to be held at the Algarve International Circuit, also known as Portimao 
  • With a lack of previous data, the final race could throw some surprises up, not least because mathematically the top four riders all have a chance of sealing the title 
  • The 4.6km circuit features a 969m straight which is the third longest of the season and drops downhill into turn one, and with the long sweeping final corner could we see another 300+ km/h top speed? The current record starts at 301.8km/h, set at Australia’s Phillip Island in 2019 

Triumph Triple Trophy #PoweredbyTriumph 

  • Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) is the first winner of the Triumph Triple Trophy! 
  • He’s scored points at nine races this season, including the doubles of top speed and pole in Jerez and top speed and fastest lap in Austria 
  • On Thursday in Portugal, he will be presented with his prize of a custom Triumph Triple Trophy-liveried Street Triple RS, which boasts the 765cc triple from which the Moto2 engine is derived 

About the Triumph Triple Trophy #PoweredbyTriumph 

  • The Triumph Triple Trophy #PoweredbyTriumph runs alongside the Moto2 World Championship in 2020recognising that there are more stories of success from a GP than simply the race win, and will award one rider with a Street Triple RS at the end of the season 
  • Points will be awarded to the one rider at the top of each of these categories (or multiple riders in the case of a tie): fastest top speed of the weekend, pole position, and fastest race lap 
  • Fastest top speed: 7 points for the fastest rider / riders in case of a tie
  • Pole position: 6 points for the rider on pole
  • Fastest race lap: 5 points for the fastest rider / riders in case of a tie 

The Triumph Moto2™ 765cc race engine is a development of the class-leading Street Triple RS 765cc road motorcycle and produces more than 140PS and the same visceral soundtrack.

Jorge Martin, Moto2 race, Valencia MotoGP, 15 November 2020. Picture courtesy of Triumph

2020 Moto2 World Championship top ten: 

Pos  Race #  Rider  Chassis  Engine  Nation  Points 
1  33  E. Bastianini  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  ITA  194 
2  22  S. Lowes  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  GBR  180 
3  10  L. Marini  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  ITA  176 
4  72  M. Bezzecchi  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  ITA  171 
5  88  J. Martin  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  SPA  150 
6  87  R. Gardner  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  AUS  110 
7  45  T. Nagashima  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  JPN  89 
8  16  J. Roberts  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  USA  85 
9  23  MSchrotter  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  GER  77 
10  97  X. Vierge  Kalex  Triumph 765cc  SPA  73 

 

2020 standings – Triumph Triple Trophy #PoweredbyTriumph: 

Pos  Race #  Rider  Nation  Points  Team 
 1  72   M. Bezzecchi  ITA  74   Sky Racing Team VR46 
 2  10   L. Marini  ITA  30   Sky Racing Team VR46 
 3  22   S. Lowes  GBR  27   EG 0,0 Marc VDS 
 4  33   E. Bastianini  ITA  24   Italtrans Racing Team 
 5  88   J. Martin  SPA  23   Red Bull KTM Ajo 
 6  42   M. Ramirez  SPA  21   American Racing 
 7  16   J. Roberts  USA  18   American Racing 
 8  12   T. Luthi  SWI  14   Liqui Moly Intact GP 
 –  99   K. Daniel  MAL  14   Onexox TKKR SAG Team 
 10  97   X. Vierge  SPA  13   PETRONAS Sprinta Racing 
 –  62   S. Manzi  ITA  13   MV Agusta Forward Racing 
 12  87   R. Gardner  AUS  12   Onexox TKKR SAG 
 13  45   T. Nagashima  JPN  10   Red Bull KTM Ajo 
 –  40   H. Garzo  SPA  10   Flexbox HP40 
 15  23   M. Schrotter  GER  7   Liqui Moly Intact GP 

Joan Mir takes the 2020 MotoGP Championship

Round 13 of the 2020 MotoGP Championship took place on the 14-15 November at the Ricardo Circuit, Spain.

This race could see a new World Champion – Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has a 45 point lead in the Championship ahead of joint second place riders Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team).

Qualifying was action packed including a huge highside by A.Marquez but thankfully he was able to walk away. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was fastest once again and took pole position followed by Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) making up the front row.

The starting grid for the race looked like this:

Row 1 : Morbidelli : Miller : Nakagami Row 2 : Zarco : P.Espargaro : Vinales

Row 3 : A.Espargaro: Bagnaia : Binder Row 4 : Oliveria : Quartararo : Mir

Row 5 : Crutchlow : Rins : Petrucci Row 6 : Rossi : Dovisiozo : Bradl

Row 7 : Rabat : A.Marquez : Rabat

With 27 laps of racing ahead, the penultimate race of the season got under way with Miller off to a great start and is first into Turn 1 but then runs wide allowing

Franco Morbidelli taking an early lead at the 2020 Valencia GP MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Yamaha Corporation

and P.Espargaro to sweep past knocking him back to 3rd position. Turn 2 sees Quartararo nearly coming together with Vinales causing Quartararo to run really wide off the track and he re joins at the back of the grid. The Championship leader, Mir, has made up two places and is in 10th position and Miller has passed P.Espargaro into 2nd place.

Going into lap 2 the top six are Morbidelli; Miller; P.Espargaro; Nakagami; Oliveria and Zarco. By lap 3 Quartararo has made up five places and is now in 17th.

Oliveria passes Nakagami on lap 5 and moves up to 4th place with Zarco now hot on the heels of Nakagami looking for an opportunity to get past which he finds on Turn 1 on the following lap and he goes on the inside to take the place but then goes down and slides into the gravel having been narrowly missed by Nakagami on his slide!

By lap 7 Morbidelli has a 0.7 second lead over Miller and lap 9 Nakagami receives a track limits warning for going onto the green on the track too often! Quartararo goes down at Turn 6 into the gravel along with his Championship hopes.

Nakagami took his place back from Oliveria on the last turn coming into lap 11 quickly followed by Rins pushing Oliveria down to 6th. On the last turn coming into lap 12 Mir passes A.Espargaro and moves up to 8th. Morbidelli has a 1 second lead over Miller but Nakagami puts in the fastest lap and is chasing in on P.Espargaro.

It looks like Miller has found some extra race pace on lap 17 and closes the gap on Morbidelli by 0.3 seconds. Into Lap 19, Nakagami has also closed the gap on P.Espargaro and goes for the inside coming into Turn 14 but he has a wobble, loses it, goes down and slides into the gravel and out of the race with P.Espargaro narrowly missing him.

Franco Morbidelli and Jack Miller fighting for first place at the 2020 MotoGP Valencia GP race. Image courtesy of Yamaha corporation

By lap 22 Miller has reduced the gap on Morbidelli to just 0.4 seconds, Miller is on it, but can he get past the leader in the next 5 laps?

The Championship leader, Mir, is keeping it steady down in 7th place and just has to keep doing what he’s doing to win the title.

By the penultimate lap the gap between Miller and Morbidelli is just 0.2 seconds – can Morbidelli hold the lead for the next two laps??

On the last lap at Turn 1 Miller takes the lead, by Turn 2 Morbidelli has taken it back, Turn 3 Miller goes back past but by the next turn he’s back in second. The two riders are absolutely on it, at every opportunity Miller is looking to get past and coming out of the last turn down to the start finish line it is a horsepower race to the chequered flag. Morbidelli just manages to hold off Miller and take the win. P.Espargaro, Rins, Binder and Oliveria complete the top six.

Absolutely fantastic racing, nail biting to the very end.

Mir passes the chequered flag in 7th place and seals the 2020 MotoGP Championship. Absolutely fantastic result for both Joan Mir and Suzuki (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – the first time in 20 years Suzuki has taken the driver’s Championship, the last winner being Kenny Roberts Jnr.

The last race of the season takes place next weekend, 21-22 November, in Portimao – don’t forget to set your alarms – it’s going to be a great weekend of racing.

Karen Bristow

Featured Image courtesy of Suzuki Racin

Joan Mir takes his first MotoGP Win at the European GP

Round 13 of the 2020 MotoGP Championship took place on the 7-8 November at the Ricardo Circuit, Spain.

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took his 2nd pole position of 2020 in what can only be described as wet conditions just 0.041 seconds ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) followed by Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in a truly thrilling qualifying shoot out.

The starting grid for the race looked like this:

Row 1 : P.Espargaro : Rins : Nakagami Row 2 : Zarco : Mir : A.Espargaro

Row 3 : Miller : Oliveira : Morbidelli Row 4 : Binder : Quartararo : Dovizioso

Row 5 : Bradl : A.Marquez : Crutchlow Row 6 : Bagnaia : Rossi : Petrucci

Row 7 : Savadori : Rabat :

Maverick Vinales started from the pit lane as a result of penalties issued to Yamaha for engine valve issues.

With 27 laps of racing, the red lights go out and the racing begins with the pole sitter, P.Espargaro getting off to a great start going first into Turn 1 followed by Rins and Nakagami. By Turn 3 Mir has taken Nakagami into 3rd place and at Turn 8 A.Espargaro and Quartararo both have a synchronised crash into the gravel. Quartararo manages to re-join the race but A.Espargaro was not so lucky.

Alex Rins, Pol Espargaró and Joan Mir, in the European GP 2020 MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Suzuki Racing

Oliveira passes Nakagami on lap 2 pushing him up to 4th place and Rins took P.Espargaro on the inside in a smooth pass taking the lead. Mir is having a sneaky peak too but was not able to make a pass. Savadori crashes on Turn 14 on the following lap but manages to re-join the track.

Lap 4 and we see Mir pass P.Espargaro on the inside into 2nd place with Suzuki now in first and second place. The following lap Rossi comes to a stop on the track with what looks like engine issues and an early end to his return after being absent for the last two races (due to testing positive for Covid-19).

By lap 6 Vinales is up into 16th place from his pit lane start, Bagnaia goes down at Turn 2 and then Crutchlow at Turn 8, not a good season for either of them so far. A.Marquez takes Dovizioso into 9th place on lap 7 and Mir is right on the heels of Rins – can the Championship leader win his first race of the season today?

By lap 11 the gap between P.Espargaro and Mir is just 0.4 seconds, the KTM rider is not letting Mir out of his clutches. Morbidelli passes Dovizioso on the following lap into 9th place and now has his sights set on 8th place A.Marquez.

On lap 14 Vinales is now up into 14th place and Rabat heads into the pits and retires from the race. Nakagami has passed Olivieria into 4th place and is starting to close the gap on P.Espargaro.

Lap 17 sees Rins goes wide and Mir take full advantage of this and passes him on the inside taking the lead and by the following lap the gap between the two is 0.3 seconds.

Miller passes Zarco on lap 20 into 6th position. Mir is now pulling out a lead ahead of Rins of 0.6 seconds by the following lap and Nakagami has closed the gap on P.Espargaro to 1.8 seconds.

Andrea Dovizioso and Franco Morbidelli at the 2020 European GP, MotoGP race.. Image courtesy of Ducati

By lap 23 P.Espargaro is closing the gap on Rins and Dovizioso is all over A.Marquez looking to pass and on the start/finish straight on lap 24, Dovizioso makes the pass going into Turn 1 but leaves nowhere for A.Marquez to go except into a wet patch on the track and he goes down slides off into the gravel.

Mir now has a 1.3 second lead over Rins and Nakagami is closing the gap on P.Espargaro but with only two laps to go can he close the gap enough to make a pass? Dovizioso has moved up into 7th place having taken Zarco and Vinales has moved up to 13th place.

By the last lap Mir has a comfortable lead over Rins and takes his first MotoGP win ahead of Rins in 2nd place, P.Espargaro in 3rd and Nakagami in 4th place.

Mir now has a 37 point lead in the Championship ahead of Dovizioso followed by Rins in 3rd place and Vinales in 4th. There are 50 points up for grabs at the next two races – can Mir secure the Championship next weekend at Valencia or will it go down to the wire in Portimao the following weekend?????

Featured Image Courtesy of Suzuki Racing