MotoGP 2020 Valencia I

© Bruce Allen November 8, 2020

Mir Self-Actualizes in Valencia as Suzuki reigns

Sunday in Valencia, as my reader often reminds me, was another fine day amongst the yachting class. The chase in Moto3 tightened considerably after a dramatic Lap 2 crash. The chase in Moto2 tightened considerably after a non-dramatic Lap 16 crash. But the chase in MotoGP became more problematic for everyone not named Joan Mir in what was a clambake of historic proportions for Team Suzuki Ecstar. The last time Suzukis finished 1-2 in MotoGP was shortly after the signing of The Treaty of Ghent.

Valencia I 2020 will be remembered, in the premier class, as the nadir of the Yamaha racing program’s recent history. Wet weather on Friday and Saturday, combined with dry weather on Sunday, produced some ugly numbers. Qualifying: P9, P11 and P18, with Vinales coming out of pit lane. Race: P11, P13, P14 and Rossi DNF mechanical. Constructor championship points removed as punishment for unapproved early season changes to the engine. Rossi infected with the Rona. Firing Jorge Lorenzo as test rider. More heads gonna roll. As good as things are at this moment for Suzuki, they are equally bad for Team Yamaha.

Friday

The whole Valencia practice fiasco was the fault of the weather gods, who double-crossed the combatants by bringing rain on Saturday morning, after having spoiled FP1 and messed with FP2 and, unabashedly lying, promised sunshine for Saturday. The consequence was that the only practice session that mattered (by way of separating the Q2 lambs from the Q1 goats) was FP2. As usual, there was a lot of jockeying late in the session but it ended, oddly, with Jack Miller, Aleix Espargaro and Franco Morbidelli topping the combined chart. Left on the outside looking in were names including Maverick Vinales, Cal Crutchlow and Miguel Oliveira, in addition to the usual suspects and the two newbies, both of which were a second faster than the cruising Tito Rabat, blowing kisses to his fans.

Saturday

FP3 in the rain became meaningless, other than assuring that the Yamahas would likely struggle in the wet on Sunday if Sunday woke up wet. Valentino Rossi, dead last, running in the rain, was actually eighth in his FP3 heat. Hmmm. That was not as bad as teammate Maverick Vinales, who had to uncrate a sixth (?) engine for the year and was thus relegated to a delayed pit lane start. Dude is a mess, although most of his woes have more to do with Yamaha than Maverick. (Personally, I think Maverick Vinales is a highly talented head case.) My other reader observes that if he were her boyfriend, she would have broken up with him before now.

FP4, it was clear, would be either wet or dry or some combination of both. I didn’t pay too much attention, distracted as I was by some ongoing family issues ☹ and the announcement of the results of the U.S. presidential election. 😊

Qualifying, both Q1 and Q2, were the usual last-minute chaos, guys racing against the clock rather than each other. Where track records are set. Although track records in MotoGP have gone mostly unchallenged this year, and again this weekend. But it’s still great stuff, seeing these guys getting it on their last flying laps. Miguel Oliveira and Johann Zarco slipped through Q1 into Q2. “Pole” Espargaro topped the Q2 sheet, followed in close order by Alex Rins and Takaa Nakagami, all of whom looked capable of winning in this unpredictable season. Series leader Joan Mir would start, menacingly, from P6.

Sunday

Moto3 was unusual, in that a race leader, Raul Fernandez, avoided some serious trouble just behind him on Lap 2, got away from the pack, and led comfortably to the flag for his first grand prix career win. Running in P2, contender Celestino Viette went unannounced over the handlebars, causing series leader Albert Arenas to check up and Alonso Lopez, suddenly in an untenable position, to rear-end Arenas, putting Lopez out of the race and breaking Arenas’ bike. Arenas, his bike wired back together, watched his 2020 lead shrink from 19 points to 3 to Ai Ogura, but not until after having been black-flagged for inserting himself into a lead group while three laps down, a serious breach of racing etiquette. He may pay a bit of a price next week for giving in to his pique today. For the year, Ogura now trails Arenas by three for the title, while Tony Arbolino now trails Vietti by 3 in the fight for P3, Jaume Masia (one of a number of crashers today) a single point behind Vietti. Sergio Garcia ended up on the second step of the podium today, with Ogura third, having pimped Arbolino at the flag.

In a reversion to form, Sam Lowes, winner of the last two Moto2 races, running second, slid unassisted out of the race on Lap 16, giving up P1 for the 2020 season to Enea Bastianini. Marco Bezzechi led from Lap 3 and was never seriously challenged. His rival from Moto3, Jorge Martin, claimed second, with Aussie Remy Gardner landing on the third step of the podium. Contender Luca Marini was nowhere early, but mounted a late rally to finish in P6. American Joe Roberts, who qualified in P2, led Lap 1 briefly before crashing out. He has also lost his seat with Tennor American Racing to Cameron Beaubier, getting booted up from a successful stint in WSBK.

The MotoGP race today was, for everyone associated with the Suzuki MotoGP Project, a wet dream come true. Sophomore sensation Joan Mir topped teammate Alex Rins for his first career win in MotoGP, giving him a 37 point lead in the season series with two rounds left, and leaving teammate Rins holding P2 for the year. As they say down in the holler, “It just don’t get any better than this, do it?” Suzuki only returned to grand prix racing in 2015 and was a pretty sorry outfit at the time. Five years later they are poised to claim the top two slots in the 2020 championship. “Pole” Espargaro tailed the Zooks all day to finish a plucky P3 after starting from pole. Words cannot express how badly Espargaro wants a KTM win before defecting to Honda for next season. Those of us who hoped today was the day can hope for next Sunday, same time, same place. Mir, displacing Fabio Quartararo as The New New Kid in Town, became the ninth winner in 12 rounds in a brilliant MotoGP season.

Here and There

In Moto2, an unlucky Jake Dixon fractured his wrist and is likely done for the year.

It’s official—Luca Marini will replace Tito Rabat next year on the Esponsorama Ducati faction. He will team up with Enea Bastiannini for a very young, very Italian team with elevated prospects for the foreseeable future. The former Avintia group may not find many podiums next year, but they’ll surely get their ashes hauled more than any other single team.

This is why Suzuki needs a second team. Ducati has now scooped up three of the top riders in Moto2 in one fell swoop, so to speak. Some of these are likely development projects, but that’s fine. They have room on their teams to develop young riders. And, once you’ve learned to ride the Desmo, you can probably ride anything.

Garrett Gerloff

Yamaha tagged American WSBK rider Garrett Gerloff as Valentino Rossi’s replacement for the MotoGP European Grand Prix, after The Doctor failed several recent COVID-19 tests. Gerloff – a former MotoAmerica Superbike rider – held his WSBK coming out party this year with the GRT Yamaha squad and scored three podiums, at Catalunya and Estoril. [Imagine Garrett’s surprise when the cadre of guys in expensive suits and Italian loafers show up for a sit-down to discuss, broadly, his perspective around a prospective, um, temporary promotion to a factory M-1 for the MotoGP knees-up in Valencia.] Anyway, his weekend ended on Friday as Rossi cleared the Rona and returned for Saturday. Not young, approaching 26, Mr. Gerloff nonetheless made a lot of positive impressions and was fast, on Rossi’s bike, on a track he had maybe visited once before. Even getting to Moto3 would be a solid for an aging American with fire in the belly.

BTW, Gerloff was not the only virgin at the European GP, as Aprilia, having finally shown Brit Bradley Smith the door, anointed Italian stud/test rider Lorenzo Savadori to pilot the struggling RS-GP for the final three rounds of 2020. I hope Aprilia corporate is doing well because their MotoGP program needs oxygen. [As things turned out, Rossi retired with a mechanical on Lap 5, and Savadori left the premises on Lap 26, to the surprise of no one.]

Yamaha Fires Test Rider Lorenzo After He Mouths Off, etc.

I read this somewhere and believe it to be true. An article in GPOne described Lorenzo criticizing, mildly, Andrea Dovizioso’s failure to take advantage of Marc Marquez’s absence in 2020 to win the title. Yamaha Corporate, probably sick and tired of Jorge’s incessant complaining, promptly fired the three-time world MotoGP champion and opened discussions with Dovizioso to return as a test rider in 2021. The Japanese have always been good at the smiling, nodding coup de grace, after which one can find oneself unemployed. Or impaled.

∞∞∞∞∞

We’re back again next week to try this again. Lots going on these days à chèz Allen, so please bear with me.

Local Color

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Valencia from the air


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Valencia oranges, I’m guessing.

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21 Responses to “MotoGP 2020 Valencia I”

  1. Buzz Says:

    In other news. The 2021 provisional calendar has been released. Also, I met a couple at the NHRA drags last week in Las Vegas. They are friends with Cameron Bobier (?). Apparently he has secured a Moto 2 ride for next season.

    I need to start planning. Perhaps a return to Misano for the Rossi farewell.

    Like

  2. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Ooh! Must watch tonight when some nice Thai person posts the race on YouToob, but had to read this first. Can’t wait!

    Just had to say that re Joe Roberts – he’s racing for Italtrans next season, which is why Cam Beaubier got kicked up. Which is awesome, BTW. I”m very disappointed that we didn’t get to see Gerloff race – I don’t think he would have disgraced himself (certainly not in terms of what the rest of the team did anyway, lol).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Starmag Says:

    Congrats to the Suzuki team for the adMIRable job. Given his consistency, I can’t see him failing to win the championship. Classy, focused and calm he will have earned it. It’s shame for him that this 14 race season will always have a covid asterisk.

    It’s not of the riders doing, but Dorna not penalizing the Yamaha riders for the valve scamming sets a really bad precedent for the other teams. No one will remember the constructors points a year from now, so it’s hardly a penalty. Read Dave Emmet for more.

    I thought I knew some history, but had to look up The Treaty of Ghent. I propose death cage matches in the future for just the politicians of countries and leave everyone else out of it. The pay for view would be huge. It would also take care of term limits and corruption.

    “My other reader observes that if he were her boyfriend, she would have broken up with him before now.” lol. Sadly El Diablo seems to be taking lessons from Pop Gun, although he’s got a happier demeanor.

    Like

  4. Old MOron Says:

    Fun weekend. Happy for everyone at Suzuki. Well done!
    No need to deduct rider points for Yamaha’s engine violations, the riders are killing themselves already. With two races left, I’d like to see Nakagami and BaggyEyes get wins. Well, no. Make that BaggyEyes and Miller or Zarco. I’ll have a good laugh if Honda go winless.

    Like

  5. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Well, that was a fun weekend.

    Moto3 – Tatsu eating gravel again for what, the third week in a row? Ugh. And Albert Arenas throwing a fit of Fenati proportions – it’s sometimes easy to forget these guys are kids and hotheads, but those shenanigans are going to earn him a pit lane start next week, I suspect. It’s one thing to have your title hopes scuttled in a racing incident, and quite another to blow them with an epic tantrum.

    Moto2 – that must have been a fun podium for Marco Bezecchi and Jorge Martin, after their little stoush last week. Smile for the camera, boys 🙂 Marco’s at the pointy end of the title race too, which makes me happy. I like him. He reminds me of Marco Simoncelli and I bet he’d party about as hard.

    MotoGP – well, you can’t say Mir hasn’t arrived now. At the start of the season if you’d picked two Suzukis, a KTM, and a Honda without Marc Marquez on it to be scoring the points, people would ask what you’d been smoking. Horror weekend for both Yamaha and Ducati, yet again – when Zarco is consistently the best Duc rider on a satellite, it’s a head scratcher. And he finished ahead of ALL the Yamahas …

    And good to see that even in retirement, George is a reliable douchebag. I’d love to know what’s been going on there .I don’t think Yamaha was super impressed when he said he wasn’t going to wildcard this year, he really just wanted to roll up and spin some laps in between sitting in the Spanish sun and trolling for chicks in his hypercars. At least if Yamaha signs Dovi, they’ll be getting a professional. And judging from this weekend, do they ever need one.

    I hope things are doing OK on the home front, Mr Bruce. I’m sure you enjoyed the election results.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dale Mensch Says:

    Always an excellent read (including comments!).

    Another first-time winner (or two!) would be a nice 2020 finish

    100% agreed that Vinales is a highly talented head case 😮

    Tiny tweak: Cameron Baubier is getting booted up from a successful stint in MotoAmerica.

    Like

    • The orange buell guy Says:

      I wouldn’t say successful stint. The dude was 2019 MM level dominant this year even with attack being brand new to the factory game

      Like

  7. Vrooom Says:

    Shame for Gerloff, that would have been a hell of a nice weekend for him. Is moto3 really a promotion from WSBK? I suppose from an exposure perspective it is. Those Suzuki’s are killing it. Yamaha has to be frustrated.

    Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Good question. I assume grand prix points at any level are more, um, pointy than WSBK points. Just me, I suppose. Hope all is well with you and yours.

      Like

      • Starmag Says:

        You mentioned that you are having family issues again, sending good vibes. Love your stuff, I hope it resolves so you can continue your writing, which is great.

        Like

        • Bruce Allen Says:

          The music seems to be starting up for the last dance. I’ve appreciated your kind thoughts and words over the years. Late-Braking MotoGP will continue.

          Like

          • Starmag Says:

            Wow, that’s really sad. Strength to you.

            Like

          • Old MOron Says:

            Late-Braking MotoGP? That’s a catchy title, but I feel more at home with MotoGP for Dummies. This isn’t an ideal forum (if there is one) for conveying support. We will remain your loyal readers, Brucey. I don’t know what kind of music you like, but if it’s the last dance, I hope the band plays a good tune for you.

            PS: Since you will carry on with the MotoGP coverage, I came here to talk about the Maniac Joe. He’s banned for four years. I wonder who Aprilia will put in his seat? There was talk of Yamaha firing Jorge from his test rider role and putting Dovi in his place. But I wonder how Dovi would fancy a ride on the Priller.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Allison Sullivan Says:

              He apparently doesn’t. Dovi on sabbatical for 2021, there’s a big release over at MotoGP.com. And no Marc for the last two races (not a stupid move on his part).

              I know that a lot of people get popped for unintentional cross contamination and the like in drug tests, but it’s really hard to see how Iannone managed to front with a drug that’s so expensive and so hard to source, that there’ s no way your average Thai farmer is going to be feeding it to anything. Also a drug that’s known in bodybuilding circles for being an excellent cutter – great for maintaining strength and muscle mass while shedding weight. My personal take is that he cycled off, but got so dehydrated that it got pulled out of his tissues and into his test. That, or he just messed up his cycle time … “minute amount” = “dammit, one more day and I’d have come up clean”. Either way, doesn’t matter. That’s the end of his career. Better hope that cologne sells well.

              (Six year competitive bodybuilder, three year competitive weightlifter. I’ve seen a few PED’s in my time …)

              Liked by 1 person

              • Bruce Allen Says:

                I gotta meet you one day, Allison. Biker, lifter, social critic, humorist. I suppose you’re beautiful, too. Living in one of my favorite parts of the world. I don’t suppose you’re also a musician–that would be too much. Cheers.

                Like

            • Dale Mensch Says:

              Condolences Bruce. Good luck and stay strong.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Bruce Allen Says:

              I’ll try to collect some thoughts about Iannone in addition to my initial thought that he’s getting hosed. Again thanks to all for the support. My wife’s name is Nancy Gillespie for those of you inclined to prayer.

              Like

              • Starmag Says:

                Consider it done for both of you.

                I just found and read “The Ties that Bind”. Well done.

                This is my fav book on a difficult subject. Feel free to ignore it, but I find it fascinating and comforting.

                Liked by 1 person

  8. Starmag Says:

    I already liked Mir, but read this interview. I really hope he pulls it off the world needs more with attitudes like this. Dig the comments:
    https://www.crash.net/motogp/news/947962/1/joan-mir-real-pressure-people-trying-pay-rent-buy-food

    Liked by 1 person

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