MotoGP Misano I Preview

© Bruce Allen    September 10, 2020

I wasn’t going to do this but have been libel-shamed into giving you, the motorcycle intelligentsia who occasionally find my friends David and Jensen tiresome, something this week in the way of a preview of the next round. 1200 words, letter-perfect, pungent and spicy and seeking cheap laughs, often at the expense of riders who are world-class athletes. Occasionally, we observe reminders, as we did in Austria, that these guys go out on the track during every practice and every race not 100% certain they will make it back to the pits in one piece. Maverick and Rossi are both lucky; a split second, a 2% change in trajectory of the used bikes, and it’s a different season.

Stoner comes out this week and says out loud what a number of people have not been saying—that 2020 cannot go down in the books as a “season.” I guess I disagree. It will be an outlier. Kind of the way 2006 was an outlier, allowing Hayden to win a world championship with the fewest wins (2) of any other. Or 2015, the other year Marc Marquez didn’t win a title. In my mind, there is no question MotoGP is sustainable under the previous pre-Covid world order, nor that, within a few years, the sport can return to big crowds and ‘normalcy.’ The question is whether the teams and the venues, and thus the sport, can survive many years like this one, without the fan revenue they’ve been counting on.

Whatever. Misano, home of the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, where everyone’s Italian. One of the best stops on the MotoGP calendar, one I would sell my bicuspids for the chance to attend. Mountains and beaches, the Adriatic right there. A great layout. The weather is usually beautiful. What more can one ask for?

The are a number of reasons few riders are setting lap records this year. One of these, IMO, is the riders miss that little bit of extra juice that comes with lathered-up fans yelling their lungs out. These guys are dealing with hundredths of a second—two here, three here, before long you’ve got a tenth—and, despite the seriousness of the sessions, especially on Saturday and Sunday, the absence of fans lowers adrenaline levels and heart rates sufficiently to cost a couple of hundredths per lap or section of a lap. For everyone. It gives it a practice feel. As a recovering marketing director I can assure readers this could be solved quickly and easily by bringing back the brolly girls, with naughty, color-coordinated masks. These guys with arm hair holding the umbrellas on these hot summer days is, for me, a turnoff.

What Do the Tranches Look Like?

At this moment, nothing. I haven’t done any serious tranching for awhile. Heading into Misano, where most of the bikes seem to do well, here’s my sense of the relative trajectory of the relevant riders. We are approaching the halfway point of the season. Not having Marquez out there running circles around everyone else makes it a revealing season. I’ve been banging the drum about the changing of the guard in MotoGP. Other than Andrea Dovizioso who, at age 34, wants to jam one on Ducati, the hypothesis is generally holding together. That and Bagnaia’s broken leg, from which he should return this week.

Tranche I:    Quartararo, Vinales, Dovizioso, Miller

Tranche II:   P Espargaro, Rossi, Mir, Nakagami

Tranche III:  Oliveira, Morbidelli, Zarco, Binder, Rins

Tranche IV:  Crutchlow, Petrucci, Bagnaia, A Marquez, A Espargaro

Tranche V:   Smith, Rabat, Lecuona, Bradl

Sunday Riders Who’ve Won Here Previously, and More

Dovizioso and Rossi in MotoGP

Bagnaia, Zarco and Pol Espargaro in Moto2

Alex Rins in Moto3

*#93 has won in all three weight classes—Moto3 in 2010.

Perhaps we’ve stumbled over an important consideration when trying to predict/wager on particular riders at specific tracks. The theory being that once a rider has won a big race, he runs the tape in his head for months. When he leaves pit lane the following year, he is likely to recall the feeling from a year earlier, and this gives his confidence a boost. Could this possibly be Rossi’s Last Stand?

**In the case of the missing Marquez, he has won everywhere and so many times that the GPS coordinates for braking points at every track on the calendar have become encoded in his DNA. Ergo, according to the above, one might consider avoiding a wager on him at any new track, like Portimao or Kymi Ring, assuming the paddock ever gets to Finland. This notion, then, is blown to smithereens by the fact that he won the first two races in Thailand in 2018 and ’19. Fair and balanced around here is what we are. And we believe it is fully OK to talk to yourself until you start saying, “Huh?”

So, What Do We Know Heading into Sunday?

Not much. The field, minus Marquez, is vastly more interesting. Yamaha is once again playing catch-up. KTM has arrived. Quartararo’s lead is paper thin in the face of a seriously motivated Andrea Dovizioso. Six points separate Brad Binder in P4 from Miguel Oliveira in P9. Takaa Nakagami on the LCR Honda appears to have some game. Both Suzuki riders, Rins and Mir, are underperforming due to Rin’s injury and Mir’s inconsistency. When the young Spaniard wasn’t busy crashing out at Jerez and Brno he recorded a P5, a P4 and  P2. Cal Crutchlow is facing either unemployment, a crappy MotoGP ride, or something else, a return to BSB? I dunno. As we’ve pointed out before, Cal has a lot of miles on him, needs to go chillax with mommy and daughter at his compound on the Isle of Man. Get a 150cc scooter, tool around scaring hell out of the locals. And stay away from the TT.

Is Misano the place the Yamahas return to their early-season form? Can KTM continue its assault on respectability by winning at Misano? (We know they’re good at Red Bull Ring. What about elsewhere?) Isn’t it weak when journos ask questions instead of answering a few? Honda’s best current hope is Nakagami? The bleeding continues. Why is there suddenly gossip around Bagnaia’s 2021-22 contract with the factory Ducati team alongside Jack Miller? I thought that was, as our favorite Brits like to say, done and dusted. If Bagnaia fails to ascend to the factory team, it leaves Jorge Martin stuck in Moto2, rather than moving, as planned, to Pramac Racing for 2021.

Having given this some thought, the Ducati solution now seems clear. Put Zarco, having a strong season on a year old bike, on the factory seat alongside Miller. Keep Bagnaia on Pramac#1 with Martin coming up from Moto2. Backfill on the Avintia team, alongside Rabat for 2021, with someone in Moto2, perhaps Bastianini or Marini.

KTM is full for 2021 up unless they decide to send Lecuona back to Moto2 for a year and sign a Crutchlow, or go young with a Tet Nagashima, who could also be a candidate. It would be Binder and Oliveira on the factory team with Petrucci and Lecuona on the Tech 3 effort.

Whatever. There will plenty to talk about after the races on Sunday.

Here’s a little stolen eye candy for you.

IMG-3921IMG-3922IMG-3923IMG-3924IMG-3925IMG-3926IMG-3927

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11 Responses to “MotoGP Misano I Preview”

  1. Vrooom Says:

    I think you put Aleix on a competitive bike and he moves up a tranche or two. Lecuona might be better than tranche 5, but I’m not sure yet. I kinda feel bad for Cal, it’s hard to picture him in BSB, and I’m not sure there’s a WSB ride for him. He could announce some races I suppose.

    Like

  2. Old MOron Says:

    Holy smokes! I’m beginning to think there is nothing that brolly girls won’t fix.

    So the M1 tends to go very well at Misano. Last year the Yamahas took P2 – P5, behind only Marquez. To think that after all the trouble they’ve been having, they could take P1 – P4 this year… Well, no. Probably not. It seems like Suzuki have build a better M1 this year. I expect both Rins and Mir to be fighting for the podium.

    And KTM have already won at two very different tracks, Brno and Austria. They seem legit. Go, Brad!

    Ducati are such figli di puttane. I laughed when Lorenzo won races for them after he’d signed with Honda. I laughed when Dovi won after showing himself the door. I will really, really laugh if they somehow lose BaggyEyes or Zarco.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dale Mensch Says:

    I counted 1210 words. I disagree with thoughts that this championship is somehow diminished for MMarquez’s absence: lots of other guys were skilled/clever enough not to fall off so often and that’s also part of the racing challenge. Tranching is difficult when riders wander all over the finishing order during a season, but I can’t argue with much of your list. Brolly girls? There are a LOT of pictures of attractive women all over the internet, so meh. Any thoughts on the rumor of Rossi hanging it up and Dovi on a satellite Yamaha? Seems unlikely and the team deny it, but maybe there’s been one too many near death experience this year?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Starmag Says:

    I think Stoner said that it couldn’t be considered a ” World ” championship, not season. I have to agree with the Stoney One. A European Championship, yes, but not world. Either way, it will always have an asterisk*, so it doesn’t matter. Whoever wins the shortened season will have earned it, even with the dominating champ out. That’s the way injuries work for everyone. For myself, I don’t believe anyone could have taken on a healthy Antman this season after his humiliation of the field last year. 150 points up on Desmo in second, never placed below 2nd, and the undisputed point total record. What he did last year was unbelievable. Dovi, Top Gun, and El Diablo are not consistent enough. Antman haterz, live it up while you can.

    *Covid!, Covid!, Covid!

    Like

  5. Old MOron Says:

    Here’s an interesting situation. It seems that all of the teams have tested the new asphalt at Misano – except Yamaha (and perhaps Honda).

    The question came up during today’s press conference.
    What the hell is Jorge Lorenzo doing for Yamaha?
    He’s an official test rider, but he hasn’t done any testing.
    https://www.motogp.com/en/videos/2020/09/10/rossi-quartararo-left-baffled-by-lorenzo-s-testing-absence/342149

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Old MOron Says:

    Wow, I just heard that Jorge Martin has tested positive for COVID-19. He’ll be out of action for a while. Bummer!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Old MOron Says:

    Well, I’ve tried. I’ve really tried. I’ve spend all day trying to pick a favorite among the brolly beauties above. Can’t do it.

    Like

  8. Old MOron Says:

    Wow, Yamaha lock out the top spots on the grid. Very impressive.
    But based on FP4 lots of guys have good race pace. Can’t wait for the race tomorrow.

    Click to access Analysis.pdf

    Like

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