MotoGP 2020 Aragon II Results

© Bruce Allen

Franco rules Aragon; communists alarmed

No, not that Franco! Franco Morbidelli, the Italian motorcycle racer, who won today’s MotoGP race in Aragon in front of two Spanish riders on Suzuki machines, Alex Rins and Joan Mir. The title chase in MotoGP, usually over by this time of year, features a legit Top Four—two Suzukis, two Yamahas—separated by a mere 25 points with three rounds left. Moto2, Moto3 and MotoGP are all competitive heading into November. What was once just a weird year has become fascinating.

Practice and Qualifying

Friday

FP1 and FP2 were generally about the Hondas, with three delegates in the top 6, led by Takaa Nakagami, my emotional favorite to become winner #9 in 11 rounds. Cal Crutchlow and his deposer Alex Marquez were quick. Vinales and Quartararo were fast for Yamaha, as expected. The surprise rider of the day was Tech 3 rookie Iker “Hakuna Matata” Lecuona, who joined defector Pol Espargaro in the top 10. Pol’s older brother was in there, too, on the Aprilia; he finished in P7 here last year. There was no joy at Ducati Corse on Friday as all six Ducs were back markers. Different strokes for different folks—no denying the affinity of certain manufacturers for certain tracks. The Ducs and KTMs aren’t big fans of the Motorland.

  1. T Nakagami            Honda
  2. M Vinales               Yamaha
  3. C Crutchlow           Honda
  4. F. Quartararo         Yamaha
  5. J Mir                      Suzuki
  6. A Marquez              Honda
  7. A Rins                    Suzuki
  8. I Lecuona               KTM
  9. A Espargaro           Aprilia
  10. P Espargaro            KTM

Saturday

FP3, the Great Divide between coasting into Q2 and fighting for one’s life in Q1, featured few changes. Miguel Oliveira showed up, and Franco Morbidelli came up with the One Fast Lap he needed. The Espargaro brothers got bumped back into Q1. Joan Mir held on to P10 by the skin of his teeth, Jack Miller and Aleix breathing down his neck. Nakagami laid down a vapor trail early in the session, then sat around his garage waiting for someone, anyone, to beat it. Morbidelli found his acorn after the flag. It’s somewhat of a jolt to see the Hondas, with their top rider on the sidelines, making things look so easy.

HRC announced that Nakagami and Alex will be on full factory equipment starting next year, and Takaa signed a nice new contract, his near future assured. If he were 22 instead of 28 I’d stick a ‘prospective Alien’ label on him. But he could win a few races in the next several years as Honda seems to have upped its game of late. This, of course, puts more pressure on Pol Espargaro to impose his will on the RC213V next year. Career-wise, Espargaro must now keep track of both Nakagami and Marquez in his rear-view mirror.

Pol Espargaro and latecomer Johann Zarco graduated from Q1, with the Frenchman jumping up into P2 well after the flag. There ensued plenty of action in Q2, as the front row was a fluid thing until the bitter end. Takaa Nakagami eventually flogged his 2019 Honda to his first premier class pole, getting the better of Franco Morbidelli and Alex Rins for a unique front row; for Rins, it was only his third front row start in MotoGP ever. (!) The remainder of the first four rows, then, included:

         4 M Vinales

        5  J Zarco

         6 F Quartararo

        7  P Espargaro

          8 C Crutchlow

         9 I Lecuona

          10 M Oliveira

          11 A Marquez

          12 J Mir (yes, the series leader would start from the back of Row 4. Tsk tsk.)

MotoGP Race

It’s a safe bet that Alberto Puig, the Svengali of Honda Racing, entertained visions of having two of his pilots on the podium on Sunday afternoon. LCR pilot Nakagami had been on a tear all weekend, including the morning warm-up, was starting on pole and, according to the announcers, was the bookies’ favorite to win today, becoming the ninth different winner this year, and tying 2012 for the most winners. Rookie Alex Marquez, the younger brother of you-know-who, was coming off his first two career podiums and doing well in practice.

Puig’s fantasy came to an end 20 seconds into the race, when Nakagami, in his excitement at having taken the hole shot, forgot his cold tires weren’t going to hold his speed in Turn 4 and low-sided out of the race, continuing the futility of Japanese riders who haven’t won a premier class race since 2004. But Marquez, the only rider on the grid having chosen a hard front, was one his way up the chart from his P10 start, looking quick, taking advantage of an earlier mishap involving Brad Binder and Jack Miller. On Lap 6 he went through on Vinales into P5. A few laps later he took out the plucky Johann Zarco. By Lap 12, he was running fourth behind the unflappable Franco Morbidelli and the Suzuki tandem of Alex Rins, last week’s winner, and Joan Mir, the series leader.

The air came out of the remaining Honda balloon at Turn 2 of Lap 14, when he skidded out of the race, suddenly realizing that he wasn’t, in fact, his brother Marc. Until today, Nakagami and Marquez had been the only riders on the grid to have finished every race, with the Japanese rider having been in the points every time. Today, the law of averages caught up with both, and most people were disappointed, more, perhaps, by Takaa, less, because of the family name, by Marquez.

Once Alex went walky, the race became a procession. The Ducati contingent, aside from Zarco, suffered again. Andrea Dovizioso, standing fifth in the championship, has no business in the title conversation, finishing in P13, sitting fifth for the year, and heading for two races at Valencia, another track where the Ducatis suck. Aleix Espargaro endured another rather predictable Aprilia mechanical on Lap 20, removing him from P9 at the time. KTM’s Miguel Oliveira and Zarco had a bit of a joust over the last few laps, with Zarco pimping the Portuguese rider at the flag. Almost overlooked, by me, was Pol Espargaro, who flogged his own KTM to a quiet P4 finish, missing out, by a mile, on his fourth podium of the year.

The late-season fade being experienced by Yamaha pilots Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo, at least at Aragon, deserves mention. Vinales has now failed to podium in eight of his last nine outings. Quartararo has amassed 15 points in the last three rounds and lost more ground again today, trailing the ascendent Joan Mir and his Suzuki by 14 points. He led the Spanish rider by eight after Catalunya. Mir, on the other hand, has podiumed the last three times out, and is a threat to become the first rider in any class to win a title without having won a race since 1999 in the 125cc class. A really good MotoGP writer would go look up the name. Here, if you feel a need to know, you can look it up!

And so, with three rounds remaining, the top four premier class riders are separated by 25 points. Quartararo, sitting on his M-1 in P2, should enjoy Valencia, but his star has been waning of late. Mir, leading, and Rins in P3, on their quick and nimble GSX-RR machines, figure to be muy confident heading into the next two rounds. And Morbidelli now sits in P4 after residing in P11 as recently as Red Bull II. It appears, for the not-so-young Italian, that Jupiter may have finally aligned with Mars.

Errata

I will post Moto2 and Moto3 stuff on, say, Tuesday. I watched the races—Moto3 was its usual chaotic self, while Moto2 offered the rare parade that put Sam Lowes, of all people, in the lead for the year. Reluctant as I am to give many props to Sam, who for years has struck me as all hat and no cattle, I credit the inestimable Estrella Galicia team for making him a success this year. Those guys produce winners, even out of re-treads like Sam. I think it unlikely that Lowes will get another shot in MotoGP even if he titles in Moto2. Or perhaps he’s just vastly improved and I will have to eat these words.

Screenshot (153)

Typical scene from Moto3–20 bike lead group.

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore, Toto

Screenshot (159)Screenshot (158)

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20 Responses to “MotoGP 2020 Aragon II Results”

  1. Starmag Says:

    Morbo is pleased.
    https://www.startpage.com/av/proxy-image?piurl=https%3A%2F%2Fimages-wixmp-ed30a86b8c4ca887773594c2.wixmp.com%2Ff%2F851f3cac-b926-4d72-ada8-545e7b783783%2Fd2ghane-8289cb60-903e-445d-b19c-f063842f256d.png%3Ftoken%3DeyJ0eXAiOiJKV1QiLCJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiJ9.eyJzdWIiOiJ1cm46YXBwOiIsImlzcyI6InVybjphcHA6Iiwib2JqIjpbW3sicGF0aCI6IlwvZlwvODUxZjNjYWMtYjkyNi00ZDcyLWFkYTgtNTQ1ZTdiNzgzNzgzXC9kMmdoYW5lLTgyODljYjYwLTkwM2UtNDQ1ZC1iMTljLWYwNjM4NDJmMjU2ZC5wbmcifV1dLCJhdWQiOlsidXJuOnNlcnZpY2U6ZmlsZS5kb3dubG9hZCJdfQ.yOs7c-IfWfLh0NYLJJ9Sh2sisipUgY6_DNX-R14ciA8&sp=1603642454T219846cd25b654518f3599afbf16cb44e00be316b9200570e4dc3292ea5a37b3

    Rins/Mir podium duo two weeks straight, my how times have changed. Same track though. We’ll see about the next race. Go Suzuki.
    https://www.startpage.com/av/proxy-image?piurl=https%3A%2F%2Fimages2.suzuki-racing.com%2Fimages_temp%2F1%2F99228%2F43681.7144907407%2F1280%2F0%2FFFFFFF%2F0%2Fmgp10joan-mirr1.jpg&sp=1603643747Tc04f5cecfaf22217ad1e542607af431555b1dac44e046e5223c386e8b0fab864

    A real shame about the Hondas, I like both those guys.

    Like

    • Dale Mensch Says:

      Starmag- those two links only take me to a startpage.com home page?

      Like

      • Starmag Says:

        You’ve never been more right. I checked them by clicking after I posted them and they worked fine, Now 5 hours later you are right. They were just a pic of Morbo from Futurama and a pic of Mir with an umbrella girl. Tasteful and fun I thought but maybe copyright infringed, which I’ve never had a problem with before.

        Like

  2. Dale Mensch Says:

    http://letmegooglethat.com/?q=1999+125cc+world+champion

    Like

  3. Dale Mensch Says:

    Very disappointed for Taka and Alex. Also, they killed my Suzuki/Honda 1-2-3-4 prediction.

    The strange season continues. I think everyone has commented on satellites beating factories, but now it’s gotten to the point where satellite riders on LAST YEAR’s bikes are beating the current factory bikes (Taka, Johan, Franko- did I miss any?).

    At first I thought people were insulting AMarquez by calling him a diesel (slow to start, fine once underway) until I read that he said that himself 🙂

    Like

    • Starmag Says:

      People are fond of saying that the Honda is built for Antman, The thing is he came to the open class and won the championship as a ROOKIE on the bike supposedly built for Stoner.

      Ant Brother is doing fine for a rookie except in comparison to his brother. The pressure from expectations must be huge.

      2020 is weird all around. Some would say sucky. Thankfully, MotoGp isn’t.

      Like

  4. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Ugh, my heart broke for Taka Nakagami. You’ve never seen more disappointment in someone’s body language than when he was riding back to the pits. Poor guy … too much adrenaline and not enough grip. Pretty much the whole internet was like “awww shucks” for the dude too.

    Frankie rode a great race from the front. Makes you wonder what the hell’s going on with Mav and Fabio going backwards, when Frankie’s out in front kicking ass on last year’s wheels.

    Marquez Minor was charging again before he came off, had he managed to get past Zarco that would have made Mir’s day a little more interesting. I laughed for a whole minute when someone on Crash referred to Mir as “a hamster” (your mother smelled pf elderberries, snort!)

    Tatsu crashed and burned in Moto3 after being at the pointy end all weekend, boo hiss. And I have no idea what went on between my two Moto2 boys, but Jorge Martin and Marco Bezzecchi looked like they were ready to punch each other out in qualifying … what the hell, was that about? It looked like someone was getting ready to pull a Fenati, if not throw a stick in someone’s wheel. That should make things spicy for the next three rounds. Twists and turns in every level of racing this year, so much fun!

    Good weekend, topped off by watching the baggers race from MotoAmerica, Half the bikes blew up, LOL!

    Like

    • Dale Mensch Says:

      Agreed on the King of the Baggers race- hilarious! As my father-in-law says “everyone else’s hobbies are stupid”

      Like

  5. Mad4TheCrest Says:

    Great wrap up, Bruce, and a good GP. My only disappointments were that Binder bowed out so early on a day where KTMs seemed improved, and Joe Roberts couldn’t advance further up than 10th.

    Like

  6. Buzz Says:

    A crazy season for sure. I wonder if Vale will return for the next race?

    If things are remotely normal in 2021 I will be planning to attend a race across the pond. Aragon is not on the list. We’ve got plenty of high desert here in California.

    Like

    • Allison Sullivan Says:

      Given that next year will likely be Vale’s farewell tour, I’m planning on Valencia (assuming that the calendar reverts to normal). Assen would be my pick for a a GP weekend – that place always looks like it’s going off, and the racing is usually brilliant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Old MOron Says:

        Been to Assen for the GP three times. It’s fantastic. Everything is well organized. Transportation is very convenient. In fact I prefer to stay in Groningen – very charming and you get some peace and quiet.

        Like

  7. Vrooom Says:

    Oh man I had high hopes for Nakagami. That was sad, the first lap lost 3 riders, 2 of which had potential though Miller would likely have ended up with the other Ducatis. I’d like to see Aleix on a competitive bike, I suspect he’s quite a bit faster than he appears on the Aprilia. Put him on a Suzuki and let’s find out. Not gonna happen.

    Like

  8. Old MOron Says:

    I can’t wait for A.Rins and A.Marq to get into a battle.
    If I recall the story correctly, in 2014 they were teammates in Moto3. Rins was the more competitive rider, but Honda propped Marquez up. Basically, they chose Marquez to be champion, and they made it so. A.Rins still feels aggrieved and A.Marq is getting too big for his britches. I can’t wait.

    Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Back in the day, I read that Alex M was considered faster than Marc, and Rins was faster than Alex. The families have some history, and there is no love lost. The thing is, I just enjoy watching all of the riders fighting out there, even if it’s The Battle for Fourteenth. When Marc returns, I expect he will put both Alexes in their respective places. Oh, BTW, I went back to a recent MO article that your boy Rockhead used to shit on me, and gave him a little back. What a dick he is. The only way he seems to be able to feel good about himself is by making other people feel worse. I suspect he had a crappy childhood.

      Like

      • Starmag Says:

        +1 Your rocky evaluation is spot on. Evans banned him again for his comments and got 10 upvotes, (one from me), for doing so. I actually feel sorry for the guy and his sad cry for help, but one cannot appease the self hate. That just enables more of it.

        Agreed that neither Alex has shown any ability to do the things Antman is consistently capable of. They are not in the same league anymore, even if they once were.

        Like

      • Old MOron Says:

        Give him all the rebuke he deserves.

        Like

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