MotoGP: Ten Things We Learned in Jerez

© Bruce Allen

The 2020 MotoGP food chain was turned on its head this past weekend in Jerez due to the injuries suffered by Alex Rins, Cal Crutchlow and Marc Marquez. We saw some outstanding performances in gruesome conditions. We found ourselves disappointed, rather than surprised, by results elsewhere. Some teams found bad luck, others good.

The impact of these injuries–especially Marquez–is that the premier class is effectively wide open for the first time since 2013. Imagine a meaningful competition not for third place or second place, but for first place. Those were the days.

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The confluence of events that produced Sunday’s results was auspicious. The heat was oppressive and, inside a helmet, enough to boil an otherwise calm brain. Everything was going swimmingly for Marquez, actually, until the moment on Lap 5 with the save and the trip through the gravel and all. Furious at himself for the careless error, and returning to the race in, like, 16th place, he suddenly had nothing to lose by kicking out the jams and turning up the volume. He then proceeded, methodically, to blow up the field, had Vinales in his sights in second place and time, most likely, to catch Quartararo. The red mist that used to envelope him in his early years was thick in his helmet.

Marquez wanted the win. He could have easily settled for second or third but wasn’t having it on Spanish soil in the season opener in a truncated, compressed calendar allowing no room for error. Were some of the other riders rusty? I can’t remember the last time three riders came out of a race facing surgery. Doesn’t matter. Quartararo, Vinales, Miller, Dovizioso, and probably a few others see an opportunity to steal a championship. For now, the king has left the room. The pretenders to the throne are free to compete for the 2020 crown. For Marquez, Rins and Crutchlow, on the other hand, their chances for a title in 2020 have generally come crashing down around them. During Round One. Hard to find a worse time to get hurt.

Remember back when Lorenzo broke a collarbone at Assen, returned to race at The Sachsenring, crashed and re-broke the same bone? That was hard to watch. I’m not really down with any of the three coming right back and running at 75% strength or whatever if another crash is going to mangle what’s still mending. Marquez has been known to run with a recently dislocated shoulder; nothing is impossible with this guy. I expect to see him, somehow, in Brno. Rins and Crutchlow, too. By then, however, it may be too late.

What else?

  • Fabio Quartararo is the real deal. Starting next year, he and Viñales  are going to make the factory Yamaha team formidable.
  • Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso have visions of Ducati-red sugar plums dancing in their heads.
  • Brad Binder may be a baller.
  • Alex Marquez may be smarter than I give him credit for.
  • I think the tranches are messed up this week. How can any right-thinking analyst put Alex Marquez in Tranche IV? He will probably turn out to be a three. (If enough people get hurt he may be a two.) Perhaps he sees the wisdom of simply finishing, rather than crashing out trying to win something. Maybe he’ll end up being a top ten guy. Too early to say.
  • Pol Espargaro and Franco Morbidelli are upwardly mobile. Espargaro may have already caught his  shooting star; the Italian, other than joining Bagnaia in schooling their master, The Doctor, is still waiting for his.
  • KTM is looking stronger than last year. Having Espargaro leave will, however, hurt them. He’s the best they’ve got.
  • Aprilia, sadly, looks about the same as last year. The business with Iannone has to be a distraction. Bradley Smith is Mr. Any Port in a Storm. Aleix, despite his new two year deal, is up and down. The company has decided to reduce top end in order to gain reliability. Thus, a relatively slow bike appears destined, for now, to becoming slower.
  • Zarco, I believe, is cooked.
  • Suzuki is starting out their year behind the eight ball. 12 rounds of playing catch-up, sounds awesome.

So everyone is hanging out in Jerez or Cadiz, trying to rest up for the weekend-long sauna. Hydrating. Round Two, Jerez II, missing Marc Marquez, promises to be an exciting 45 minutes. We’ll be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in our collective heads.

 

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5 Responses to “MotoGP: Ten Things We Learned in Jerez”

  1. Vrooom Says:

    I don’t know whether Marquez could have caught Quartaro after his miraculous recovery, his fastest lap was around .15 of a second faster than Quartaro, who didn’t have a lot of pressure on him. A broken humerus could have him out the rest of the season. You might be too harsh on Zarco, after all he did beat the younger Marquez and Brad Binder, though I don’t think he’s alien bound. Most of these guys would have been 3-4 places lower however without the wrecks and injuries.

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    • Bruce Allen Says:

      So, say you’re Fabio, Lap 26 at Jerez, with your first premier class win in sight. Suddenly, in your rear view, you see #93 approaching. Would this just tighten your nut straps enough to slow your lap time, to suddenly think ‘inevitable,’ to lose focus? I put nothing beyond #93 unless he’s truly two-months-in-a-cast hurt, in which case OK.

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  2. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t think I agree on Marc having gone full Red Mist. Last time I remember him charging from the back (2015) he was riding through people, including punting Rossi off the track into a crash. Lots of bold moves this time but I don’t remember seeing contact.

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    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Good point. But something was up with his rear tire. It had given him several warnings. 3rd place, after that performance, would have been fine. But, as Matt Oxley points out, you can’t tell a tiger not to hunt.

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  3. Old MOron Says:

    Anyone who watched Brad Binder in Motos 3 and 2 should know that the boy has teeth. Okay, the KTM is a difficult bike, but the way Brad used to ride his Moto 2 bike sideways, he just might be able to deal with the KTM – even better than Pol.

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