MotoGP San Marino I Results

Franco Morbidelli breaks through; championship tightens

After three rounds in perdition, this was the week Yamaha revived its outlook on life. Hogging the top four spots in Q2. Winning the race while putting three bikes in the top six. Not having any engines blow up on them, although there was that moment before the race. And giving Valentino Rossi an opportunity to earn his 200th premier class podium, with another one looming next week. Just another goofy weekend in a goofy season.

Notes from Friday

Friday, all four Yamahas in top six; all four KTMs in the top nine.

New racing surface seems likely to yield track records. Riders seem to love it.

Top three in FP1 were on different rears.

Lecuona apparently didn’t like the whispers about getting sent back to Moto2, putting in a P4 during FP2. Like water, he later sought his natural level, and would take part in Q1.

Ringing the church bells in Tavullia again this year?  FP3–shades of yesteryear as Valentino, on his last lap before the flag, scorched Misano, rocketing from P15 and Q1 to Q2, dreaming of a front row start. Rossi’s last win, 2017 at Assen, might need an update.

Cal Crutchlow, The Black Knight of Monty Python fame, would not ride on Saturday or Sunday, having recently undergone surgery for arm pump, on top of everything else. Complications. The Universe is on line 4, Cal—take the call.

Notes from Saturday

I recall the last time Yamaha closed out the top four in a MotoGP Q2 session: Never. After two rounds in the outhouse in Austria, Yamaha takes the express to the penthouse in FP3 and Q2 on Saturday, which, as it turned out, was also Bring Your Teammate to Work Day. At the conclusion of Q2, the four Yamaha pilots were seen playing a drunken game of euchre. The Pramac Ducati guys, Jack and Pecco, celebrated P5 and P6 together with an intense game of cornhole. Alex Rins and Joan Mir were having a late dinner and arguing about which was the greatest after taking P7 and P8. Dovizioso and Zarco, suddenly his heir apparent, were forced to have their picture taken together having finished 9th and 10th. And KTM, the luster of Red Bull Ring and its red flags but a memory, had to settle for putting Espargaro and Oliveira in the first four rows. Not a Honda on the lot.

Recall we came up with the snappy slogan at Red Bull Ring—Yamaha Hate Austria. Having sold out of the original bumper stickers, we are now happy to offer Yamaha Love Jerez, Hate Austria But Do Love Some Serene Republic of San Marino appliques, at the same low price. (The added copy has necessitated reducing the font, making the things unreadable from greater than four feet, but you gotta like the idea.)

In winning pole, Maverick broke Jorge Lorenzo’s all-time track record dating back to, like, 2016. Like I said, the riders mostly love the new asphalt, although they mentioned bumps and swirls, caused, presumably, by F1? I heard 90% of the track was smooth and 10% wasn’t which, apparently, is good.

Notes from Sunday

Moto3: John McPhee wins from P17 on the grid. Albert Arenas crashed out of the lead group late in the race, giving up a big chunk of his championship lead. Ai Ogura, who finished second, now trails Arenas for the year by five points. Two Japanese riders finished on the podium for the first time since 2001, Tet Suzuki finishing third. There were more lead changes than you could count in what is perhaps the world’s best racing.

Moto2: What started out as a parade led by Valentino Rossi’s SKY VR46 racing bros, Luca Marini and Marco Bezzechi got tight late, with the two exchanging the lead several times. Enea Bastianini, he of the recent promotion to MotoGP with Ducati for 2021, gave futile chase from 3rd, got a podium, but may have felt he left some out on the track. Xavi Vierge pushed Bastianini for the last few laps but never showed him a wheel. All Italian podium in San Marino. Covid-19 will find some new customers tonight in the bars and bistros of the city.

MotoGP: From the outset, it appeared Franco Morbidelli, Valentino Rossi, Jack Miller, Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins and Joan Mir were going to dominate the conversation at the front. Vinales, however, did another of his disappearing acts, dropping from pole to P7 before finally rallying over the last dozen laps to salvage P6.

Morbidelli took the hole shot, established a bit of a lead in front of Rossi (!) and ran away with the race, Marquez-style. Pretty much everyone watching, myself included, wanted another example of Rossi’s sense of the moment, rooting for him to capture his 200th career premier class podium at Misano, his home away from home. Instead, he was supplanted by one of his proteges, Pecco Bagnaia, who gave a sensational performance, as well as young upstart Joan Mir, who put an aggressive move on Rossi late in the day to steal P3 and deny Rossi another chunk of history. Jack Miller appeared to lose the day-long argument he was having with his injured shoulder, finally surrendering to the pain and a P9.

Fabio Quartararo, looking very human of late, slid out of the race on Lap 8, re-joined, entered the pits on Lap 19, immediately returned to the track, and crashed for a second time on cold tires on his second out lap. Awesome. Gave up his lead in the 2020 championship. We know he can race at Jerez, but it’s been steadily downhill from there.

The two Suzuki pilots, Rins and Mir, put on a show today. Rins spent the second half of the race threatening Vinales, Miller and Rossi, while Bagnaia was doing to him what he was doing to everyone else. Young Pecco went through on Rins on Lap 20 into P3, then took down Rossi on Lap 21 for second place, this mere weeks after breaking his leg on Friday at Brno. If he was having problems with pain or stamina it certainly didn’t show.

Joan Mir on Lap 27 was awesome. Dude is going to be an Alien if he’s not already.

Rossi fought hard all day, but in the end was taken down by men almost half his age. Yamaha, despite the disappointment around Fabio, finished the day with three bikes in the top six. Ducati landed Bagnaia, Dovizioso and Miller in the top ten. Both Suzukis were top five; I expect they are looking forward to next week. Takaa Nakagami put his LCR Honda in P8, the only Honda in the top ten, while Pol Espargaro put the only KTM machine in the top ten.

For years there has been a debate around MotoGP, whether it’s the rider or the bike that makes the difference. The debate is unresolved, and the answer seems to keep moving around. These days, given the parity between the factories—or at least five of them—I think we have to add another dimension to the chess game, that being the venue. Riders, and now bikes, it seems, have notable preferences. We’ve all become accustomed to the fact that Marc Marquez likes things in Austin and The Sachsenring and would prefer that MotoGP only use those two tracks all season long, back and forth. KTM bikes like the home cooking they get at Red Bull Ring. The Yamahas seem to like Jerez and Misano but loathe Brno and Austria. Ducatis love Mugello and Sepang. And so on. For those of you foolish enough to wager on this sport this year, let me remind you we’ve seen five winners in six premier class races.

MotoGP top ten 2020 after six rounds
Top ten after six rounds 2020

To me, this is what a top ten ranking should look like. 28 points between P1 and P10. Eight out of the ten riders with four years’ premier class experience or less.

In the words of Huey Long, in the words of Randy Newman, “Every man a king.” Well, not a king yet, but certainly harboring legitimate hopes of kingship. Perhaps Dorna should just ban Marc Marquez “for the good of the game.” This is way more fun than most years.

We’ll try to put something together for next weekend, but I’m on vacation this week, so if you want a preview one of you will have to write it yourself.

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The obligatory helicopter shot.

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7 Responses to “”

  1. Starmag Says:

    There was an unbelievable amount of 46 flags here. I’m sure Mir was the target of a lot of curses and hand gestures. Possibly pins and Voodoo dolls for him tonight. Yellow fans at home seem like they can be a bit rabid.

    Baggy Eyes from well back in the grid gets redemption for the 2nd he was robbed of previously by engine failure, and possibly sewed up Dovi’s seat. With a crutch no less. Kudos.

    Morbo on rails reminded me of the old El Gato. A bit anti-climactic, but well done.

    Could this be the youngest Motogp podium ever? Too lazy to look it up.

    Like

  2. Mad4TheCrest Says:

    I am becoming increasingly pissed at Vinales. How can he continue to show such speed in practice but not on race day? Rather than move the old man out of the factory team, maybe they consider moving Vinny.

    I like Mir for the future and Rins is always good competition, but I’d root for Suzuki a little harder if they’d only update their street GSXRs and get back in WSBK. (I know, too much to ask)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Did anybody else want to pick up Vinales and throw him out of the way, for the half the race he was holding up the three riders behind him? Things might have been much hotter for Frankie in front had Bagnaia and co been able to gain ground half a dozen laps earlier than they did. Not taking anything away from Frankie though, who I have a lot of time for, and was I stoked to see him get his first win today … especially after getting a beating the last couple of rounds.

    Bagnaia’s ride was spectacular. For someone who was a placeholder last year, he’s certainly found another gear this one. And Mir’s takedown of Rossi on the last lap was a stud move.

    Dovi in front in the points.For all that it’s a strange year, I’m rooting for him to go out on top. Bring on next weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Old MOron Says:

      Yes, it would be awesome for Dovi to show Ducati two fingers, then with the championship. I hope Ducati learn something after the way they turned their back on Casey, Jorge, Petrux and Dovi. Don’t know where Dovi might end up next year, but I would love it if Petrux finished ahead of Ducati. That’ll be very tough to to if Ducati take care of BaggyEyes.

      Like

  4. Old MOron Says:

    Bruce, I think this is your best race review. Really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because the race was so good. Even with Frankie leading the entire race, some how that was okay. Perhaps because he’s such a sweetheart. I guess my feeling was, “Good, get the win Frankie. The rest of you guys, show me the knife fight in a phone booth.”

    And they did. Lots of passing as the laps wore down. I would’ve loved to have seen Valley on the podium with his two proteges, but Mir earned that bronze medal. I’d been watching Valley take a wider line through that corner over and over. No doubt Mir saw it, too.

    I guess I forgive Quarty for overcooking the turn after he’d been stuck behind Vinny for so long. But he shouldn’t have been back there to begin with. I guess that’s what he gets for fluffing the start. WTF was Vinny doing for most of the race? That guy is all show on Saturday and no go on Sunday.

    Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Now that I’m, ahem, self-employed I find it easier to just take notes on the three days and share them. No longer locked into the format I developed over the years with MO. Thanks for always being in my corner–usually-and I agree that Maverick is all hat and no cattle. Maybe he’s just in it for the Beamer.

      Like

  5. Vrooom Says:

    I was optimistic, Rossi stayed on Morbidelli’s butt for half the race, but never showed him a wheel, then Morbidelli checked out. Though his pace dramatically dropped the last 3 laps. All 3 riders on the podium are the future of MotoGP. Rossi gets another chance next weekend. Vinales was probably the biggest disappointment, Quartaro is young and going to do stuff like that, but neither had Rossi’s speed. Disappointed to see Miller drop back at the end, but injuries are what they are. How on earth was KTM so far off the pace!? Petrucci is apparently taking his demotion from the factory team hard, he was out of the points for god’s sake.

    Like

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