Morbidelli takes his first MotoGP win

Round 5 of the 2020 MotoGP Championship took place on the 11-13 September at the San Marino Circuit, Italy.

Qualifying was dominated by Yamaha who took the first four places on the grid with a second pole position of this season for Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) who was just 0.3 seconds ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) starts the race in 3rd followed by Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) who takes 4th spot on the grid. This is the first time in MotoGP that Yamaha have had a 1-2-3-4 qualifying.

Unfortunately Cal Crutchlow has been declared unfit for the race. Cal has not recovered from his recent operation as well as he would have hoped but does plan to be back on the track at Barcelona.

The starting grid for the race looked like this:

Row 1 : Vinales : Morbidelli : Quartararo   Row 2 : Rossi : Miller : Bagnaia

Row 3 : Rins : Mir : Dovizioso   Row 4 : Zarco : P.Espargaro : Oliveira

Row 5 : A.Espargaro : Nakagami : Petrucci  Row 6 : Binder : Rabat : Lecuona

Row 7 : Bradl : Smith : A.Marquez

With 27 laps of racing, the red lights go out and the racing begins with Rossi getting off to a great start but Morbidelli getting off to an even better start and is first into Turn 1 followed by Rossi, Miller, Vinales and Quartararo.

Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi at the 2020 MotoGP Misano GP. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

By lap 2 Rins and Mir are closing in on Quartararo. Rossi is right on the tail of Morbidelli looking for his chance to slip past and the gap is building between 3rd place Miller and Vinales in 4th.

Bradley Smith crashes out at Turn 14 of lap 4 putting an early end to his race and a long lap penalty is issued to Lecuona who stalled on the grid of the warm up but instead of starting from the back of the grid he took his grid place, hence the penalty.

The pace of the front runners is good with Morbidelli still out in front followed by Rossi and Miller by lap 7. Vinales has passed Quartararo and although Quartararo tried to get the place back, Vinales made the overtake stick and kept the place but at Turn 4 of the following lap, Quartararo goes down and although he manages to pick the bike up and get back on the track, he is now down in last place.

Lap 9 sees Rins make a move on the inside of Vinales followed by Bagnaia who is now up into 5th place. The gap at the front of the grid between Morbidelli and Rossi is 0.3 seconds on lap 10 but two laps later it has increased to 0.7 seconds. Rins is on the back of Miller looking to get past and manages to take the place at the beginning of lap 14. Bagnaia is also having a look to see if he can get past Miller and goes up on the inside to cleanly take the place and is now up to 4th. Miller has lost 2 places in the space of 2 laps.

Lap 15 and the gap between Morbidelli and Rossi is now 1.1 seconds but by the following lap it is 1.7 seconds. Morbidelli seems to have this race under control and is setting a good even pace. Mir is now up into 6th place and although he has a big wobble on lap 17, he manages to hold onto the bike and place.

Bagnaia is right on the heels of Rins and lap 18 sees Mir pass Miller up on the inside into 5th place. Rins and Bagnaia are now hot on the heels of Rossi. Quartararo goes into the pits on lap 19, comes out again on the following lap and goes down at turn 6 – cold tyres perhaps?

Morbidelli has extended his lead to 2.7 seconds by lap 20 and we see Bagnaia go up the inside of Rins into 3rd place and then the following lap straight up the inside of Rossi into 2nd with Rins also having a look to see if he can get past too. Despite a late braking manoeuvre in which it looks like Rins is going to make the move past Rossi, Rossi is not giving up the place and holds onto his place for the moment.

Franco Morbidelli winner at the 2020 Misano MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Turn 9 on lap 24 sees Rabat crash out and although he is walking away he does look to be in some discomfort whilst doing so. Mir is right up with Rins and now Rossi is back up with Bagnaia looking to get his 2nd place back. Bagnaia seems to be having a problem with the bike especially in the corners.

On the final lap Mir makes a move past Rins up into 4th place and now has his sights on Rossi’s 3rd place. Mir is definitely on it and moves on the inside of Rossi to take the last podium spot. Morbidelli comfortably takes the chequered flag for his first win In MotoGP followed by Bagnaia and a closely followed Mir.

What a brilliant end to an action packed race from the San Marino circuit. The action is set to return on the 18-20 September back at the San Marino circuit.

BK

Austria GP

This weekend’s MotoGP action came to us from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.

The track temperature were set to be HOT and indeed they were which resulted in an absolute cracker of a race. Ever since Marc Marquez suffered an injury and is currently recuperating, anyone can win this.

The riders have lined up on the grid ready to go and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) had a good start leading at the first corner.

Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is going back down the field on the first lap and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) is moving up the field.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) has lost 5 places on the first lap and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) has gone down to 3rd place. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had a cracking start to the race .

Andrea Dovizioso at the 2020 Austrian MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Ducati

Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) has been racing well in the first couple of laps and staying up there with everyone.

This circuit has 7 right and 3 left hand corners and although it is a shorter track than most circuits, by the end of the race they will have covered 75 miles.

You can see that the Ducati’s are finding the windy part of the track hard to keep the bikes under control.

Rins is in 12th place now and it is like the Suzuki on rails going around this track , it is an absolute pleasure to watch.

Rossi’s front end went down then but he managed to keep it upright, the Championship leader is dead last right now after making a mistake on Turn 4 so it’s going to be a slow race for him now.

A chaos strewn incident causes a Red Flag

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) were side by on the straight coming down into Turn 3 and as they braked they made contact with each other and both bikes and riders went down.

In what can only be described as an absolutely terrifying few moments, both bikes hurtled towards Turn 4 at a tremendous rate of knots, both hitting the air-fence which slowed them down but then headed straight into the path of Vinales and Rossi with Morbidelli’s bike going through the gap between Vinales and Rossi and Zarco’s bike narrowly missing Vinales.

Thankfully Morbidelli and Zarco both got to their feet and after going to the medical centre for a check-up, both were declared fit.

This is the second red flagged race of the day, the first being in the Moto2 race.

The riders have been in the pits after the red flag whilst the marshals did a great job clearing up the debris and fixing the air-fence. After looking at a replay you can see Rossi’s bike was clipped in the incident.

Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) is getting instructions in the pit and Zarco is now out the race.

Rossi still looks in shock, we thought Rossi had seen everything except a bike coming though the air inches from his face. Now he has to get back on the bike and ride (there’s a song there somewhere).

Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales during the Austrian 2020 Race in which both riders avoided bikes re-entering the track. Image courtesy of Yamaha Motor Racing

All bikes that are in race condition are back out on track ready for a restart. The starting grid was decided on countback to the previous completed lap which meant that Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was on pole.

The Race Restart

Crutchlow starts near the back and it’s been a steady restart, Miller has a good start although he does go wide on the second corner but managed to keep the lead.

Rossi does not look on it right now since the red flag incident but Miller is pulling out a good lead of a second and everyone is behind him picking up the laps.

Dovizioso and Mir are closing in on Miller then Dovizioso carved past Miller into Turn 1 and at Turn 9 later in the lap, Rins followed Dovizioso through. Rins really was on a charge but then his race prematurely ended at Turn 6 when he went down and out. Barring a mistake on the part of Dovizioso, the win was his now.

The top three at at the chequered flag were as follows:

1st Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team)
2nd Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar)
3rd Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)

Great race today, and luckily we don’t have to wait long until the next race which is on the 21st to 24th of August,  back at the Red Bull Ring.

Featured Image courtesy of Ducati

A triple Yamaha Podium at the AndalucÍaGP at Jerez

In the build up to the race everyone is talking about Marc Marquez, and how gutted they are that he’s not racing.  This is the first,  yes first race he’s missed in his MotoGP career.

Fabio Quartararo did an interview before the race saying that in last weeks’ free practice the bike didn’t seem that good, but the progress through qualifying was outstanding. Fabio said last week that if Marc Marquez stays on track he would win the race and without Marquez in the race, it’s not going to be as good.

On the grid Jack Miller says he is looking forward to the race but it’s really hot at the track, probably as hot as Malaysia. Track temperature is 60 degrees and 40 degrees ambient temperature. The Ducati is looking good on the grid though.

Tyres are being talked about and the majority of the grid are going with hard front, soft rear with only Alex Rins going soft front and rear.

Into the first corner. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

The excitement builds during the warm up lap and the grid forms ready for lights out, and we are off! 

Rossi had a good start but we had a skittle effect on the first corner, the riders involved were Oliviera, Smith and Binder. As a result of the crash, Oliviera is out of the race.

At the end of the first lap top 3 is as follows:

Fabio Quartararo : Yamaha
Valentino Rossi : Yamaha
Maverick Vinales : Yamaha

The riders are pushing the limits of these bikes, Rossi has been 0.6 secs behind the leader and you know Rossi , he’s always getting ready to make a move.

Miller left his seat for a second as the bike twitches. Rossi was being pushed by Maverick, who’s getting close to the Doctor.

Cal Crutchlow and Alex Rins are running last places which isn’t hard to understand because of the injuries they are carrying.

Fabio Quartararo hasn’t really been challenged for first place. The only thing that could stop him is his own bike, with the Yamaha’s having issues in the heat.

Iker Lecuona came off with 19 laps to go, he was hoping to have kept the bike going but sadly, he couldn’t.

Alex Rins is making this ride count as he’s slowly coming up the grid,  he’s now in 15th and in the points with 18 laps to go.

Alex Marquez is riding in 14th with 17 laps to go, Jack Miller has been under attack from a bunch of riders and sadly lost a couple of places. Unfortunately, he came off on turn 9 of lap 11 which was gutting as he’s a great rider and looked promising in this race.

Rossi is now 6 seconds behind leader, Fabio Quartararo, and other then the tyres falling off, I don’t think he will be caught.

Bagnaia has overtaken Rossi for second place,  let’s see if he can catch the leader.

With 13 laps to go, the bikes look to be struggling with grip on the front end but pushing these bikes is what these riders do.

Brad Binder has just taken a spill as the bike kicked back going round a corner, the bike said I am not having any of this, and flipped the rider. It looked like a painful exit to the race.

Alex Marquez is building momentum on his bike but he’s in the shadows of his brother’s reputation.

The Yamaha’s have been having problems all weekend and indeed Morbidelli’s has just given up sounding like a bag of nails and has now retired from the race.

Crutchlow has entered the pit lane and has an issue but decided that with the amount of riders on the track to go back out as he can score points.

Seven laps remain and only 14 riders out on the track so everyone can get a point.

Rossi is still keeping Vinales at bay in 3rd place and the last 3 laps seem to be as good as the previous laps as everyone on track is battling for places. Maverick is now up Rossi’s exhaust, they are that close!

Rossi is teasing Maverick but the Spaniard makes it stick and now the Doctor is chasing Vinales but he is pulling away.

LAST LAP

Everyone on track is pushing so hard, Maverick just had a little wobble but was okay; Fabio Quartararo wins for the second time this season followed by Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi.

It’s an all Yamaha podium which seemed unlikely at the start of this race.

Featured Image courtesy of Yamaha racing

MotoGP Qualifying

After FP4 Marc Marquez looked like he was favouring his right arm by taking right hand corners in two movements, he was hesitant on left hand corners and not going as low as usual.

Qualifying 1

As all the bikes were going out on the track, Marc Marquez only managed an out lap which he did not finish, he went straight down the pit lane, got off the bike and walked to his trailer indicating that his surgically repaired arm isn’t feeling good from that, you could say.

Cal Cruchlow was banging out good times and didn’t seem to have an issue with his wrist as he got to 3rd in Q1. Alex Marquez came off the track in Q1 but he did put a time in of 1’38.648

The top 3 in Q1 were:

1 : Miguel Oliveira : Red Bull KTM Tech 3 : 1’37.355

2 : Franco Mobidelli : Petrona Yamaha SRT : 1’37.512

3 : Cal Crutchlow : LCR Honda Castrol : 1’37.644

After qualifying these are the results for the top 12 riders:

1 Fabio Quartararo FRA Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1) 1’37.007s
2 Maverick Viñales SPA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) +0.095s
3 Francesco Bagnaia ITA Pramac Ducati (GP20) +0.169s
4 Valentino Rossi ITA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) +0.335s
5 Miguel Oliveira POR Red Bull KTM Tech3 (RC16) +0.337s
6 Franco Morbidelli ITA Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1) +0.405s
7 Jack Miller AUS Pramac Ducati (GP20) +0.416s
8 Takaaki Nakagami JPN LCR Honda (RC213V) +0.457s
9 Brad Binder RSA Red Bull KTM (RC16)* +0.589s
10 Joan Mir SPA Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) +0.593s
11 Danilo Petrucci ITA Ducati Team (GP20) +0.899s
12 Pol Espargaro SPA Red Bull KTM (RC16) +3.270s
Fabio Quartararo at Andalucia MotoGP 2020. Image courtesy of Yamaha-racing

The Repsol Honda Team have confirmed that Marc Marquez will not be taking part in the race on Sunday.

Fabio Quartararo starts from pole. After he finished his timed lap he was going into turn one but the back end didn’t want to stay behind him, but he kept control and showed his skills. This is going to be a good race tomorrow.

Valentino Rossi finished 4th in Qualifying which means the Doctor has a great chance here if he doesn’t have engine issues like last week.

Maverick Viñales had a great performance again in qualifying.

Alex Rins didn’t look comfortable with his shoulder injury, it was looking like it was giving him some issues but on the track tomorrow it could change everything.

Andrea Dovizioso had a slow start at one point being down in 13th but by the end of Q1 he had made it up 4th.

It promises to be an interesting race tomorrow.

MotoGP: Its Jerez to be back

Its July and after four months of delay, MotoGP roared into life and finally held its first race of the 2020 Championship in the sunny climes of Jerez with its spaceship start/finish. Four subjects became clear as the weekend went on and one of which we have known for a while: Marc Marquez, Alex Marquez/Pol Espargaro, Dovizioso/Ducati  and Quartararo/Rossi/Yamaha.

Q1 saw Rins and Pol Espargaro taking the the top two slots to forward themselves into Q2 and Binder lost out by .128s.

Q2 saw a new fastest lap, set by Fabio Quartararo, which saw Marc Marquez not being able to match the two Yamaha machines. Quartararo had a dominate session with him initially setting a time of 1:37.064 and his second run saw a time of 1:36.993. It took Vinales several attempts to beat that time, and put in a lap of 1:36.844. In the dying minutes Quartararo, went faster with a new track record of 1:36.705. The #93’s best saw him fall away to Quartararo’s time in the last two sectors.

Start of the 2020 MotoGp season, at Jerez round One.
Image courtesy of Box Repsol/Honda

That set up a front three of Quartararo, Vinales, and M.Marqeuz. Vinales made the holeshot, with Quartararo bogging down and in the first few meters and going 2nd, with Vinales grabbing  the lead. Backwards Quartararo went, because by the 6th corner, Miller undercuts him at the apex. By the second lap at turn one he was down to p5, with Quartararo going wide.

Whilst Quartararo, was busying himself going backwards, Vinales wanted to create a big enough gap from the man behind. Marc Marquez is not only is a great pole setter and race leader but he can hunt you down. Lap after lap, just waiting to pounce like a panther. Vinales’s gap making approach had a huge blow with a double wobble into turn 8, and MM93, was on the back of his wheel.

Lap 2 saw the gap between MM93 and Miller equalized, Quartararo’s backwards movement down the pack finally ended at Lorenzo’s corner. Miller crashes – a short race for him. Lap 3 was the time for Marc to pounce, with a shortened calendar season, he cannot afford to wait or to make mistakes. Actually none of the front runners can. Corner 5 where the Honda propelled Marc Marquez pounced, realizing that Vinales had gone slightly wide, undercutting at the apex, but Marc brakes and goes wide himself, Vinales retaking the lead as quickly as he gave it away but Marc continued to hound Vinales right up into the Pedrosa corner retaking the lead again. Vinales doesn’t give and tries again at Lorenzo’s corner. A.Espargaro crashes at the end of lap three.

Lap four saw a .5s gap between MM93 and MV12 but there were  signs that the Honda and Marc were at the limit, twitching and sliding wide (not by much but still visible). Lap 5 was an eventful yet expected result of the instability of the Honda, Marc motor-crossed through the kitty litter at turn four. Replays showed, Marc, sliding along and saving a near crash. Ending up back on track at p18, swiftly advancing to p16. How many more saves before a crash. That left the top three as Vinales, Miller and Quartararo. Quartararo, quickly started sniffing around the rear of Miller’s Ducati.

Vinales now had a 0.6s lead from Miller. But Miller had a problem in the shape of the Petronas Yahama coming towards him like a bullet and into Lorenzo’s corner, Miller goes wide and Quartararo nabs second. Meanwhile by the end of lap six, Marc was p14. Lap 8 saw Brad Binder crash but returning to the track and Marc climbing to twelveth place. Lap nine saw the top three compressed with Quartararo being the fall guy; Miller and Quartararo were ready for any mistakes. Vinales was making mistakes, and into Lorenzo’s corner he went wide allowing both Quartararo and Miller to slide past him. Both Yamaha’s where on softs, and at this stage with Rossi in an invisible eighth, it was seemly a great toss of the dice which now looks bad.

Andrea Dovizioso at Jerez 2020 MotoGP. Image courtesy of Ducati

The next couple of laps saw, the top five, of Quartararo, Miller, Vinales, Bagnaia and Dovizioso all staying together with little attempts to overtake. Meanwhile by lap thirteen, Marc was ninth, quickly taking Oliveira then Rossi  for eighth. Into Lorenzo corner saw PEspargaro taking Doviizioso and lap fourteen was ready and so was the Ducati that was powering Dovizioso, which with its grunt, allowed him to retake fifth place. P.Espargaro goes wide himself and allows Morbidelli to take p6, with Marc hunting them both down.

Lorenzo’s corner sees some more action with Dovizioso sliding past Bagnaia. Most of lap 16 saw Marc in eigth place who was watching in front of him two packs of Dovizioso, P.Espargaro, Bagnaia and Morbidelli scrapping. Lap seventeen saw Marc outbreak Morbidelli into Pedrosa corner. By turn eight, Marc passed Bagnaia. Into Lap 19 and we saw Marc around the back of PEspargaro’s bike ready to snaffle fifth place with fourth shortly after. Before that displacement was to occur, Rossi’s non descript race, came to a sad end with engine failure. By Lorenzo’s corner Marquez had just done the job on Doviziozo.

The 20th lap around Lorenzo corner saw the bunched up threesome of Vinales, Miller and Marquez, play undercutting with Marc Marquez taking 3rd away from Miller. But if Marquez thought that he could just ride on to take Vinales, he was mistaken as Miller in the next corner retook third but he went wide after passing so Marquez got his third position.

By Lap 22 Marquez was on the heals of number two; Vinales and it seemed inevitable that he would be quickly consumed by the Spaniard. But it was that same corner where Marquez had motor crossed earlier which punted him to eighteenth. Turn four decided to take a second helping of Marc’s position. This time the bike did not slide but high sides him onto the tarmac and rolling and bouncing him in the kitty litter. Marc initially managed to walk off to behind the railings and was looked at by the medical staff but was taken back via a stretcher. A later update confirmed that he had broken his right arm. He is due to have surgery on the 21st of July. With a shortened championship this could be enough to finish of any chances of retaining his championship.

With a 4.7s gap, Fabio Quartararo was on course to win the race, but behind him second and third were up for grabs. Morbideli came like a missile up to Miller’s bike down the back straight, causing Morbideli to wobble and nearly loosing it causing him to drop to sixth. Fabio Quartararo’s win is an important win for both him and his team and also for the French. Johan Zarco had been a great Moto2 Champion but now smeemingly lost in MotoGP due to both the bike and and his attitude, the French needed a new man to cheer. Hopefully things will change for Zarco. For Fabio it’s important because your debut win is always special and you have chosen the right team and after so many near misses last year its even more special.

Round one of the 2020 MotoGP. Maverick Viñales, Fabio Quartararo and Andrea Dovizioso at the podium celebrations. Image courtesy of Yamaha racing

Yamaha have improved their bike for the 2020 season, and with no Marc Marquez for at least another Grand Prix, it’s all for Yamaha to grab points to win the Championship, but which rider (and Yamaha), Vinales or Quartararo? Only time will tell, even with 3 or 4 races out and currently with zero points Marc can come back. Rossi is not on the pace to either Vinales or Quartararo, that has been amplified by this race. The result could be that Pertronas Yamaha SRT may not take his services for 2021.

Pol Espargaro, has signed for Honda for the 2021 season with Alex moving team and with the Jerez result it initally seems a good bet by the team. If Rossi is all at sea, Dovizioso could also be in the same boat. After being second in the championship for three years running there’s only so much in your tank!

Pos. Points Num. Rider Team Time/Gap
1 25 20 Fabio QUARTARARO Petronas Yamaha SRT 41’23.796
2 20 12 Maverick VIÑALES Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 4.603
3 16 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 5.946
4 13 43 Jack MILLER Pramac Racing 6.668
5 11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Petronas Yamaha SRT 6.844
6 10 44 Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 6.938
7 9 63 Francesco BAGNAIA Pramac Racing 13.027
8 8 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 13.441
9 7 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati Team 19.651
10 6 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU 21.553
11 5 5 Johann ZARCO Hublot Reale Avintia Racing 25.1
12 4 73 Alex MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 27.35
13 3 33 Brad BINDER Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 29.64
14 2 53 Tito RABAT Hublot Reale Avintia Racing 32.898
15 1 38 Bradley SMITH Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 39.682
Not Classified
93 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 4 Laps
27 Iker LECUONA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 6 Laps
46 Valentino ROSSI Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 7 Laps
41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 23 Laps
36 Joan MIR Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 24 Laps

Race results derived from Motogp

The Jerez Injury update; Marc, Cal and Alex Rins

The first race of the delayed 2020 MotoGP season ended up with three major riders with injuries with two requiring surgery.

Alex rins suffered a crash during Q2 on Saturday at turn 11 which caused a dislocation-fracture to his right shoulder, he was declared unfit to ride in the race.

Cal Crutchlow’s race day didn’t really start because he got injured during the warm up  and was taken to a local medical facility in Spain. Crutchlow who races for LCR HONDA  had surgery on his wrist and had two screws inserted into his wrist, he’s quoted as saying he will give it a go Friday and see how his wrist feels.

Meanwhile at HRC Honda, Marc Marquez also had issues in the first race of the season as he came off the track twice in the race,  the second time he crashed and end up with a fracture on his upper arm.  He as since had surgery to insert a steel plate in his arm on Tuesday and is resting but he wants to race this weekend. On Thursday afternoon he was declared fit to ride by the medical staff .

Featured image courtesy of Box Repsol/Honda Racing

Rebooting MotoGP 2020 – we start at “home” – Jerez

After the aborted start at Qatar (ok the Moto2/3 guys whipped around the moonlit track), for the MotoGP fraternity, the 2020 MotoGP season reboots and hits “home” at Jerez from the 17th to 19th of July.

Any of the Spanish circuits could be classed as “home” but Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto giving its full titles, usually provides some great racing with some brilliant passes.

The tower and the spaceship building over the start-finish line provide some great scenery yet also gives the riders some great reference points during the race.

Jerez is a 4.4km, 2.75 mile circult, with Marc Marqez winning last years MotoGp event and also holding the fastest lap of 1:38.051. The MotoGP race consists of 25 laps, Moto2, 23 laps and Moto3 22 laps.

You can watch a lap onboard from 2018 here:

MotoGP

Ever since Marc Marquez sat on the Repsol Honda, one saying started to come out “Only Marquez can stop Marquez”, typically that meant him to crash. But that now is in the form of his Brother; Alex. Jorge Lorezno left his contract early, after a horrendous year at the Honda works team, which ended up with him injured and he is now the Yamaha test rider. It will only be a matter of time before we see Lorenzo racing – body permitting.

Repsol Honda, with the Marquez brothers, have a family feel to it but that can quickly turn into a family feud as Alex has the ability to match his brother. Of course we have to mention the RC213V, will that still be as extreme as it was in 2019 which nearly became the Bronco Billy of 2019.

Yamaha SRT had a brilliant first year beating the Yamaha works team. Fabio Quartararo’s first year was equally outstanding, with six poles and five second places, which resulted in being fifth in the championship last year. The bike, whilst being kinder to the tyres than the works team, still has the issues that the works team has – lack of power. Franco Morbidelli, whilst being a star in the Moto2 championships, hasn’t set his debut year in MotoGP on fire. He can justifiably say that the combination of the bike, and having Quartararo as a team mate, may have been worth saying. Excuses wear thin, though.

Yamaha Racing, the works team, do not want a second year of embarrassment, especially with it being Valentino Rossi’s last year with the team. Maverick Viñales will be hoping that the lack of straight line speed will be less of an issue this year. Rossi will be hoping for the same, along with tyre wear, not to be a consistent issue with his front starts leaving him 7th or 8th by the end of the race in 2019.

Andrea Dovizioso, at thJerez 2020 July test. Image courtesy of Ducati

Ducati, Andrea Dovizioso having been runner up in the championship for the last three years running, must feel frustrated and yet happy that his form has been consistent. From 6 wins in 2017 down to only 2 last year, but collecting 8 more points (2017: 261 points; 2019: 269 points) has been the weak point for the team. So Dovizioso will be hoping that 2020 will be one of less frustration, and also winning his first MotoGP championship. Danilo Petrucci will be wanting to increase on his 2019 haul of one win and two 3rd places.

KTM, having mixed fortunes in 2019 in all 3 classes, they have finally made the decision to dump Moto2. Probably the right thing long term, as they have under performed since coming to MotoGP. Hopefully in doing so, Pol Espargaro will have a chance to fight for race wins.

Rest of the bunch.

Álex Rins will be wanting further wins this year. Team Suzuki Ecstar, have shown they can produce the goods, but the consistency isn’t there yet. Zarco is another one to watch – in the Moto2 class, he trailblazed but once in MotoGP, that came to a sudden halt. Jack Miller is in exactly the same boat. Of course, you can never rule out anyone in MotoGP in winning a race. One person missing is Cal Crutchlow. The LCR Honda, was not to his liking in 2019, after coming back from an injury which hindered his progress in 2019.

Moto2

Both the Moto2 and Moto3 classes completed one round at Qatar back in march with Tetsuta Nagashima wining round one. Both the top two riders from 2019 have moved to MotoGP: Marquez and Brad Binder. The loss of the 2019 top two will not result in any loss of quality. Far from it. Lüthi, Baldassarri, Navarro, Marcel Schrötter, Jorge Martín, Fabio Di Giannantonio and of course Marco Bezzecchi will all be fighting for the championship. To suggest a favourite for the championship would be crazy at this point.

Moto3

Albert Arenas, won Qatar Moto3, with John Mcphee 0.053 seconds behind. That sets up a great 2020 season with Mcphee, Masia, Foggia, Fernandez, Arbolino, Toba and of course Romano Fenati racing for the title. Fenati will want the racing to do the talking and not his explosive emotions.

Featured image courtesy of Box Repol

MotoGP: Quartararo Takes Sixth Pole in Final 2019 MotoGP Qualifying

The nineteenth and final qualifying session of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship took place in relatively cold conditions. The contrast between this nineteenth round and round eighteen two weeks ago in Sepang has been drastic, a polar opposite in terms of temperature especially, but it was nonetheless the usual trio of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who were looking to be the favourites.

Q1 was first, though, before the pole position shootout, and it was one rider short with Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) missing out after a bizarre FP3 crash at the end of pit lane courtesy of the cold weather draining the temperature from the carbon brakes of his satellite Ducati Desmosedici GP18. The Italian, whilst coming out of the pits braked, unleashing the power of the front carbon brakes, causing his tyre to come to a halt instantly. The end result was to cause Bagnia to face plant the track.   A lack of memory courtesy of the face plant as well as a wrist injury, saw him declared unfit aftert a trip to the hospital.

Of the riders who did compete in Q1, it was Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who advanced through to Q2.

Marc Marquez looking back at his retiring team mate, Jorge Lorenzo at Valencia, 2019 . Motogp, Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

The final pole position of 2019 went to Fabio Quartararo, quite fittingly, as the qualifying master of the season, the one who was usually able to find the most with a fresh soft rear tyre, was able to come out on top of Marquez in their penultimate scrap of the season. Marquez will start alongside the Frenchman, returning the front row after his eleventh-place qualifying in Sepang, while Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) completes the front row.

Row two is headed up by Maverick Vinales, who is joined by Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and – more worryingly for the Spaniard, as well as Quartararo – Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) who could cause problems for Vinales tomorrow should he get past the #12 in the opening stages tomorrow. It is not easy to pass a Ducati, nor is it easy to pass in Valencia. Additionally, for the Yamaha riders they know that they need to pass early in the lap so they have a chance to build a gap before the main straight because they cannot live with the horsepower of the Ducati. This was Rossi’s problem in Sepang, but as in Motegi it could be the problem of Vinales, and possible also Quartararo now in Valencia with Miller and Dovizioso having the potential to cause frustrations.
Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) enjoyed a positive final qualifying of his rookie season, taking seventh on the grid ahead of teammate Alex Rins, who will have work to do tomorrow from eighth with his strong race pace, and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) who completes the third row.

Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) heads up the fourth row ahead of Pol Espargaro who was briefly sixth despite qualifying in Q2 on a hard rear tyre. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) disappointingly was the slowest rider in Q2 and qualified twelfth, his fastest time being the first lap of his first tyre and three tenths of a second slower than his FP3 time in the freezing conditions of Saturday morning.

Johann Zarco (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) was the fastest rider to miss out on Q2, qualifying thirteenth in what might be his final ride for LCR Honda, maybe his final ride for Honda and maybe his final ride in MotoGP but it also might not be some of those- it might not be any of them. Joining the Frenchman on row five will be Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro (Ducati Team) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who crashed three times on Saturday before qualifying.
Row six will see Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) start from sixteenth on his final MotoGP appearance ahead of Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) who may also be competing his final MotoGP race this weekend. The sixth row is completed by Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing).

Jorge Lorenzo at Valencia 2019 for his last Motogp race. Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol

MotoGP first-timer Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) made an impressive first qualifying appearance in the premier class, qualifying nineteenth, ahead of Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing), who join him on the seventh row, as well as Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), his teammate on the satellite RC16 for this weekend, the Malaysian also making his final appearance in MotoGP.

Featured  image courtesy of Yamaha Racing.

Moto3: Migno Scores First Pole for 100th GP Start

Qualifying for the nineteenth and final round of the 2019 Moto3 World Championship in Valencia took place in conditions similar to the rest of the weekend, with track temperatures remarkably low.

In Q1, Tatsuki Suzuki’s (SIC 58 Squadra Corse) first lap was enough to move through to Q2 with the fastest Q1 time. Wildcard Carlos Tatay (Fundacion Andreas Perez 77), Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) joined the Japanese in advancing to the second qualifying session for the lightweight class.

Q2 saw Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) score his first career pole position, putting him in the best place possible at the start of what will be his 100th Grand Prix start tomorrow. Jaume Masia ensured a Mugen Race double front row, scoring his first top-three qualifying since Argentina, a race he went on to win. Between the two teammates on the front row for the final race of the season is the in-form qualifier of the junior category, Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) who was denied a third-straight pole by Migno. The front row is important for Ramirez, who is looking to overhaul Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) for third in the championship.

Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) qualified fourth ahead of rookie and emerging star of the fly away races, Canet’s replacement for this season in Estrella Galicia 0,0 Sergio Garcia, and one of the outstanding riders of this weekend, Filip Salac (Redox PruestelGP) who completes the second row.
Row three sees World Champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) starting ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki and Darryn Binder; while Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) and his teammate Tony Arbolino – who suffered a big high side early in the Q2 session which hampered his chances – were split by the wildcard Carlos Tatay who qualified eleventh in his second ever GP.

John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had a disappointing final qualifying of the season and will line up thirteenth tomorrow, ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC 58 Squadra Corse) and Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0); while row six sees Raul Fernandez (Valresa Angel Nieto Team) line up ahead of wildcard Xavier Argtigas (Leopard Impala Junior Team) and Riccardo Rossi (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) who crashed before setting a time in Q2.
Jeremy Alcoba (Kommerling Gresini Moto3) lines up at the head of the seventh row after narrowly missing out on Q2 with his final lap as he replaces Gabriel Rodrigo. Thailand winner Albert Arenas (Valresa Angle Nieto Team) and Qatar victor Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) join the newly crowned CEV Moto3 Junior World Champion on row seven.

Can Oncu, Valencia Moto3 2019. Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

On row eight, Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) starts ahead of the injured Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Stefano Nepa (Reale Avintia Arizona 77); whilst Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) starts ahead of Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) and last year’s Valencian GP winner Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in what looks like the Turk’s final race in Moto3 and in grand prix racing for the foreseeable future.

Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) takes the worst qualifying of his rookie season in the final race of the year with twenty-eighth – Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP) and Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) join the Italian on row ten.

An early crash for Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) ended the Japanese’s chances of a good qualifying in what seems to be his final race in Moto3 – the former Red Bull Rookies champion will start from last.

Featured Image courtesy of Gold and Goose/KTM

MotoGP: Win or Bust in the Last Race of the Season

This weekend the 2019 MotoGP World Championship arrives in Valencia for the final round of the season.

Twelve months ago it was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) who triumphed in torrential conditions, bringing Ducati their third victory at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo after Troy Bayliss in 2006 and Casey Stoner in 2010. Repeating such a result in dry conditions would be tough for Dovizioso, the tight and twisty layout of Valencia, which offers little chance to open up the bike and use the power, working against the characteristics of the Desmosedici.

In comparison, for World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) Valencia can work quite well. The compactness of the track means that agility is key, and Marquez’ upper-body strength combined with the RC213V’s compact design means this combination can be deadly at Valencia. Previously we have seen front tyre troubles impact Honda’s performance in this final race, but simultaneously seen Marquez overcome them. For example in 2016 when he chased down Jorge Lorenzo in the latter parts of the race after choosing to save his tyre in the first part of the GP. However, Marquez has not won in Valencia since 2014 in the mixed conditions, his only premier class victory at the track, so dominance akin to what we saw at the last Spanish round in Aragon would be a surprise.

And the surprises at this weekend’s Valencian Grand Prix have already started, with Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) announcing his retirement from grand prix racing at the end of this weekend. ‘Surprise’ might not be the correct word, but it was perhaps unexpected for the five-times World Champion to announce his withdrawal from the World Championship this weekend. It will likely not be a fitting end to Lorenzo’s illustrious career – the Spaniard is without a top ten since last August and his retirement comes as a result of poor performances at least in part injury induced, that Lorenzo does not see a resolution to.

Valentino Rossi at the 2019 Malaysian MotoGP race. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Lorenzo’s retirement means that Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) will be the last remaining ‘Alien’ – the quartet of Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Rossi and Stoner who were the men to beat in MotoGP at the end of the last decade and in the beginning of this one – to race in MotoGP, the last one to stop. It is easy to forget that it has been already seven years since Stoner retired at the end of 2012, and Lorenzo’s announcement also highlights Rossi’s longevity in motorcycle racing. Having raced his 400th Grand Prix in Phillip Island, Rossi is about to enter his twenty-fifth season of GPs, but his time too is closing and in twelve months time it could well be the Italian who we are saying ‘goodbye’ to.

Rossi is still without a podium since Texas, having been unable to successfully pass Dovizioso for third last time out in Sepang, and so the end of 2019 will be a welcome relief for the nine-times champion who will be eager get on with testing next Tuesday as much as anything else.

On the other side of the factory Yamaha garage, though, Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) will be wishing there were a race in December and another in January because the Spaniard has finally found what he needs to regularly fight for wins. His Sepang victory came off the back of a disastrous end to the Australian GP one week before. The could temperatures of a Valencian November could be helpful for Yamaha and Vinales, as they look to end this season with back-to-back wins.

Elsewhere, but remaining with Yamaha, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) is looking to finish as second Yamaha for the season by beating Valentino Rossi in the championship overall. There are six points separating the rookie from the veteran, so the odds are in Quartararo’s favour. Primarily, though, Quartararo will look to end his first season as a winner in the MotoGP class.

Featured Image courtesy of Jaime Olivares/Box Repsol