MotoGP 2020 Valencia II Results

© Bruce Allen  November 15, 2020

Championship in Valencia a M1R Formality

Suzuki #1 Joan Mir, Mallorca’s new favorite son, clinched the 2020 MotoGP championship with a smart, low-risk P7 in Valencia, giving him a 29-point lead over challenger Franco Morbidelli heading to Portimao. Frankie and Jack Miller conducted a breathtaking duel over the final eight laps today, but the Italian, the only one of four Yamaha pilots able to get anything out of the M-1, held off the ‘plucky’ Australian for his third win of the season. Moto3 and Moto2 offered plenty of reasons to watch racing today, too. But, in the premier class, Joan Mir is the new New Kid in Town.

In both of the undercards today, the outcome was not assured until the final fractions of a second. And in both undercards, the season winner has not yet been determined, although it’s partially visible in Moto3 and pretty damned obvious in Moto2. The most hackneyed expression in sports—“On any given weekend, anything can happen”—applies here. Always happy to go against the grain, we’ll suggest that Albert Arenas and Enea Bastiannini will earn some new hardware next week.

MotoGP Practice and Qualifying

11/14/20

Friday was Friday, similar in feel to Valencia I, Miller on top of the combined sheets along with Nakagami, the Yamahas generally suffering. Zarco and “Pole” Espargaro nosing around. Saturday morning was a little strange—I missed some of it, the early part of Moto3 FP3, missed the beginning of MotoGP FP3. All I can say for certain is that it was raining at the end of the Moto3 FP3, then guys were assaulting the track record late in the MotoGP session. Must have been your basic passing shower. Quick-drying track, something.

Anyway, three riders made saving moves towards the end, as always happens, to skate their way directly into Q2, including championship leader Joan Mir, who had been dawdling in P12, KTM rising star Miguel Oliviera, P17 on Friday, and wiley old Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia. These promotions came at the expense of the under-motivated pair of exiting veterans, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, and, surprisingly, Alex Rins, sitting in P2 for the year, unable to climb into Q2. Odd. As was the performance of fabulous Fabio, who got close but no cigar and found himself in Q1 for the first time in 2020.

[Here’s my free-form take on Aleix at Valencia. The track is one on which the riders spend almost no time in 6th gear. I think the Aprilia can run with most of the contenders in the first five. At the long tracks they get hammered by everyone, but at the tight little buggers like Valencia they have a puncher’s chance of a podium. After the gruesome year Aleix has had, a podium in Spain late in the year would improve his mood for the whole winter. I will also remind readers that the last bike I owned was an 80cc Yamaha built some time in the early 1960’s. My opinions are mostly hallucinatory. They come to me early in the morning when most of you are just going to bed. They have no basis beyond simple observation. They invite criticism. Thankfully, most of you don’t take the time.]

The dreadfully-named silly season continues unabated, as Aprilia, very late in the game, finds themselves in need of a #2 rider for 2021 after Andrea Iannone got hammered flat by The Powers That Be, career over. The leading candidate, Marco Bezzecchi, would find life at once better and worse. The lifestyle of a factory MotoGP rider is presumably full of BDE whether one slogs for Aprilia or flies for Ducati. Going from competing for titles in Moto3 and Moto2 to gunning for top tens will take some getting used to, especially for the aggressive Italian. It would also reunite him with Jorge Martin, the rivalry continuing to grow, Aprilia vs. Ducati this time. Avintia goes young with Luca Marini and Enea Bastiannini. Aprilia grooming Bezzecchi to take over #1 when Aleix calls it a career or has it called for him. Too bad Aprilia let Gigi get away; they could have been a force.

Anyway, Brad Binder and Quartararo survived Q1 but entered Q2 with but a single soft rear each, which they rode for the entire session, a light rain coming down the entire time. Franco Morbidelli, the only one of the four Yamaha pilots with anything going on, secured pole late in the session after everyone except Mir had occupied P1 at some point during the session. He was joined by the ever-present Jack Miller and Suddenly Takaa Nakagami on the front row. Mir was unable to take advantage of teammate Rins’ face plant in Q1 into P14, as he ended Q2 in P12. Mir’s unconditional magic number is currently 14; if he finishes Sunday on the podium he will become the 2020 MotoGP world champion, regardless of what Rins or Quartararo does or doesn’t do. Mir’s poor showing in Q2 is, I suspect, a reflection of the fact that he had way more to lose than to gain by chasing a largely meaningless higher spot on the starting grid in less-than-ideal conditions.

Race Day

11/15/20

Today’s Moto3 race evolved in much the same way they all do, a group of X riders fighting at the front, any of whom could win on any given Sunday. Today X=3, as Raul Fernandez, Sergio Garcia and Tony Arbolino got up close and personal for most of the last half of the race. Fernandez, who had led early, came back to the two challengers mid-way through, and a merry chase through the Spanish countryside ensued. On Lap 22, Arbolino made a nifty move, going through on both of his rivals into the lead. All three riders jockeyed for position on the last lap, with Garcia, all of 17 years old, looking like he might pull it off. At the flag, though, it was 20-year old Italian Arbolino holding on for the win.

Combined with Albert Arenas’ P4 and Ai Ogura’s P8, the three combatants head to Portugal next week with Arenas at 170, Ogura at 162, and Arbolino at 159. I say we get rid of the other 30 or 40 Moto3 riders next week and just have a match race with these three. As we’ve said around here for years, “Let Portimao Decide.” Arenas (P4 today) is the rider under the most pressure, skeezing out at the prospect of kicking the championship away on the last day of the season.

Moto2 offered the best race of the day, measured in drama per lap over the last two laps. Under extreme pressure from #2 Jorge Martin, race leader Fabio di Giannantonio folded at Turn 6 on the last lap, turning what looked like a sure maiden win to ashes, from the penthouse to the outhouse in a split second. Martin, who missed two rounds due to Covid and is heading to MotoGP next year, seized the lead after looking tired mid-race (he was probably just saving his tires) and being pronounced Out Of It by Steve and Matt.

Mathematically, Portimao will decide Moto2 too. But Enea Bastiannini, his ticket to MotoGP next year already punched, takes a 14 point lead to Portugal, trailed by a seriously wounded Sam Lowes, who, his right hand looking like a boxing glove, managed P14 today, no doubt the most painful two points of his racing career. With the shaken, not stirred Lowes at 180, Luca Marini sits at 176 and Marco Bezzecchi, who lost nine points on the last lap today, fading from first to third, sports 171. Bastiannini need only finish P4 or better next week to guarantee his 2020 Moto2 title. He and Marini will team up on the Avintia Ducati team next year for a white-hot duo on the same bike Dovizioso, Petrucci and Miller have been riding this year. We won’t have Avintia Ducati to kick around much longer.

Alas, Portimao will not decide the MotoGP championship, as Suzuki NKIT Joan Mir did enough today to clinch on points, leading Yamaha’s Morbidelli by 29 points after today’s action. Morbidelli won a great eight-lap battle with Jack Miller to take the win, tying him with his teammate for most wins in 2020. Fabio Quartararo, the aforementioned teammate, crashed out on Lap 9, desperately chasing a title which appeared to be his for the taking early in the year. But the second half of the season has been miserable for Fabio, and he looks lost on the M-1. The fighting in Portugal next week in the premier class will be for second place, with Morbidelli holding a four-point advantage over Suzuki #2 (lol) Alex Rins. Maverick Vinales, Quartararo, Andrea Dovizioso and Pol Espargaro will slug it out for fourth, the four riders currently separated by only five points.

One Down, Two to Go

And so 2020 draws to a close next week at a track with which few of the riders are familiar. Good—levels the playing field. Mir’s title this year will always bear an asterisk, due to Marc Marquez missing the entire year due to injury. But next year promises to be exciting, with Marquez, Rins, Morbidelli, Miller, Rins, Quartararo and possibly one or two more keeping things tight at the top. I suspect the salad days for Marc Marquez are over, that the field has gained a step on him in his absence. We will say goodbye to 2020 next week after I scour World Literature for the ideal pithy quote to summarize what has been a great season of racing.

Moto3 will bring with it some real drama, while Moto2 will be sporting the synthetic variety. MotoGP will be a bit pro forma, but the fights for second and fourth places are significant in this sport. Perhaps this week we’ll take a shot at some tranching.

Another bit of weirdness brought about by the pandemic will be the absence of testing immediately upon the close of the season. Historically, after Valencia, the riders move to their new teams for the following season and enjoy a few days of ‘get acquainted’ time with their new teams and machines. Now, the next time the riders will get together won’t be until February. There will be a healthy number of rookies and transfer students made nervous by this cost-cutting measure, not knowing until well into 2021 whether they and their new million-dollar girlfriends get along. Definitely a first world problem.

Local Color

Screenshot (198)

Welcome to Joan Mir’s playground.

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We saw a lot of this towards the end of the MotoGP tilt.

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Whatever this is–local color of something.

Screenshot (204)Screenshot (202)

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Mir and a greatly relieved Davide Brivio, team boss for Suzuki since 2015.

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Random bird, cleared for takeoff.

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28 Responses to “MotoGP 2020 Valencia II Results”

  1. Buzz Says:

    Who the hell knows what 2021 will bring? Let’s hope the vaccine is effective and we can stop locking down.

    I’m booked for Austin next year and I just booked another trip to Italy for Rossi’s retirement race in Misano. The weekend prior I’ll attend the Moto-Guzzi 100th shindig up on the lake.

    Thanks for all the wrap-ups Bruce. Your summaries make more sense than what I find on the official MotoGP site which is mainly exclamation points and videos.

    “I try to poosh, but I didn’t have the greep.”

    Like

    • Starmag Says:

      “I just booked another trip to Italy for Rossi’s retirement race in Misano. The weekend prior I’ll attend the Moto-Guzzi 100th shindig up on the lake.”

      Just when I thought I was doing well with my jealousy. lol.

      My plan at this point is waiting until the last minute to make plans for Austin to see what pans out.

      Like

      • Buzz W Says:

        I hope you make it. Some of us MoFos have had a quick hello at the track in the past.

        I went to Misano last year and was going to select a different race but with the Moto-Guzzi thing (I own a California 1400) and methuselah’s retirement occurring on consecutive weekends, I decided it would be Italy again.

        Interesting no Czech race on the schedule for 2021. I have some friends who were going to back to back the Czech and Austria races in 2020 but we know what happened to that plan.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Starmag Says:

          It would be my pleasure to meet you and any of the MOrons, especially the select race-knowledgeable ones here. I hope that works out. I’ve got my fingers crossed. For me it’s likely also that next year may be Methuselah’s last. One of my wife’s clients I’ve just met (and are great people), well, he works for Eneos Oil, one of Yamaha’s big sponsors and are promising pit passes and a possible meet and greet with the ol’ GOAT. Ha! now it’s your turn for jealousy. I’m counting my eggs before they’re hatched though.

          Cali 1400’s and Lake Como/MG factory are both boss.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Bruce Allen Says:

          I worry about the economics of MotoGP the longer the virus goes and the longer it takes to get some kind of vaccine out there. I worry that it will become an annual thing, but worse, like the flu on steroids for some people. I’m old and my wife and I are both immuno-compromised. A vaccine that may be up to 90% effective will not be enough for me to consort with large un-masked crowds. The absence of fan income, the absence of the spectacle aspect in front of 100,000 enthused nationalists, the fact that you can watch the race much more effectively by watching the videocast–these could all combine into a different business model. It could become a true parlor sport, with PPV for the masses and exorbitant royal treatment for the lucky few attendees. Or it might kill the sport altogether. Be afraid.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Starmag Says:

            Spot on. The economics are on the track promoters right now, but renegotiated contracts with Dorna must be in the offing. I haven’t see any reports of it anywhere though. Emmett will probably have the first mention of that. No way they can honor the old contracts with no fans, vendors, etc. 2020 is no doubt the year of fear. I hesitate to say, so far anyway. Tiring.

            Like

            • Buzz W Says:

              It’s going to change all sports beyond racing. This 40 million dollar a season NBA contracts will go the way of the Dinosaur without fans.

              Moderna just announced their vaccine this morning. Vaccines and herd immunity and maybe the rona will be just a bad memory.

              Like

              • Starmag Says:

                Those who are counting on a vaccine for salvation should know a few things, namely that:

                (1) There has never been a vaccine for a coronavirus
                (2) The vaccine for the flu was 30% effective last year
                (3)This is the first-ever RNA vaccine
                (4) It has been developed in the space of months
                (5) The vaccine makers have been given immunity from responsibility for side effects.
                (6) Pharmaceutical companies have been caught lying for financial gain in the past.

                I’ll be waiting to see how this plays out on the guinea pigs, oops, I mean early adopters first. Be careful.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Starmag Says:

    M1R! Suzuki! Brivio! I dig all three. Hard earned and well deserved. Such a shame that there were no fans there for all concerned to celebrate with. The asterisk will likely be there for the shortened covid 14 race season more than for Antman’s absence. I’d like to see Rinscycle win at the last race for 2nd in the championship and the triple crown for Suzuki.

    The race was so-so until that great last lap by The Thrilla and Morbo. Morbo wins again on the 2019 M1, which Pop Gun now claims as superior, despite the fact that he demanded the 2020 version at the beginning of the season. Allison was wise to break up with him, which he now no doubt blames someone else for.

    A shame that Taka Naka still has the willies about the pressure of being near/at the front. The Japanese have earned and deserve a national champ.

    The High-Side Honda claims another victim in Ant Brother. Good to see him walk away.

    El Diablo should think about changing his nickname, although this season HAS been hellish for him. Hero to zero. Antman must be ashamed at this point for allowing him to rattle the champ enough to engage in that insecure stuff he did in qualifying last year.

    Antman’s unbelievable consistency last year and M1R’s this year probably has set a tone amongst the flash-in-the-panners for next year.

    Great job again Bruce for kicking out these quality reports so fast, especially under the circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      If there is a spring season in MotoGP, I expect the field to give Marquez a harder time than he’s been used to of late. The early rounds, even Austin, could be surprising. If, in fact, there is a season. Thanks for the strokes.

      Like

      • Starmag Says:

        Antman does unbelievable things no one has ever done before and for me, is the most entertaining rider for that reason. Really happy for class act M1r, but he’s not as fun to watch. Nothing official yet, but a third surgery seems to be in the offing, taking marrow from his pelvis, or some such to aid his arm’s healing. Probably one of the worse bones to break for a rider because of braking stresses. They called it a “fracture”, but I saw the X-ray on his IG feed and it looked like it was snapped clean though. Agree with MFTC, I really hope his career isn’t over despite the fact I haven’t bought any of his 93 swag.

        Like

  3. Dale Mensch Says:

    Quote for 2020: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

    Hoping Nakagami can gather it back up and win next week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Orange buell guy Says:

    That last lap had me on the edge of my seat. I really wanted Jack to be winner #10. Franky’s won enough this year lol. Speaking of Jack, his speech. I’ve never listened to the after race interviews much and dang his accent throws me for a loop. The guy sounds more spaniard than ozzy.

    I’m happy to see m1r as the winner and I’m really hoping rins gets #2, that’d be the trifecta of awesome for Suzuki.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      I heard him at a presser in Sepang in 2014 when he was in Moto3 and he sounded Australian back then. But it’s a Spanish sport; he probably speaks the language by now. Anyway, welcome to the conversation.

      Like

  5. Mad4TheCrest Says:

    Another thorough review, Bruce. I hope you are happy with Mir, since I recall you were an early fervent supporter (or was it Rins?)

    Its been an exciting season and also a tough one to watch in some respects. Rossi’s poor year has been sad to watch, and Maverick Vinales has been irritating. The entire Yamaha factory squad needs a revamp. Fabio’s implosion has been gut-wrenching.

    I will also admit to missing Marc. He may have over-dominated the scene for a long time, but watching him ride on a good day is pure joy.

    Onwards 2021. Let’s see what we can do about getting MO to feature your thoughts once again.

    Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Thank you for the kind words and yes, I’m happy for Joan Mir, having to go through life with a girl’s name and all. It’s a shame guys like Rossi just can’t quit at the top, especially when he will be a formidable team owner in the not-too-distant future; he’s not going to be bagging groceries in Tavullia. He should abort his contract for next year; avoid the increasing possibility he could get hurt out there. No blowing kisses to the crowds from P13, please.

      Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      To get me back to MO all you gotta do is increase sales in the North American motorcycle market by 50% ASAP. Otherwise, I’m screwed. Besides, I seem to enjoy the work a little less when I’m not on some kind of deadline. Many fewer deadlines this year. It gets a little existential around here sometimes.

      Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Actually, I was pounding the table about Rins before Mir. Rins hasn’t quite arrived, but I still expect he will.

      Like

    • Starmag Says:

      +1

      Like

  6. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Only got to watch the YouTube highlights this week, due to owing my weightlifting coach about a thousand sets of squats and therefore having to go to the gym today.

    Miller went everywhere but up Frankie’s exhaust pipes on that last lap. It would actually have been nice to see him win one, and give us ten different winners for the year, but all credit to Frankie for some top notch defensive racing. It will be interesting to see how close he finishes to Mir in points after next weekend, and whether he’ll be left wondering what if he and Zarco hadn’t had that crash in Austria …

    Looks like we owe you a pint for picking Mir way back when, Bruce. I have to say I didn’t see it, certainly not last season, but he’s definitely delivered the goods this one. I have to say that at least Mir seems like an articulate young man whose mama raised him right. And all credit to Suzuki for putting the bike that everyone wants to be on, into hands that can turn it into results. It would be fitting for them to take the triple next weekend.

    Props to KTM – three bikes in the top 6? Nice work.

    Speaking of breaking up with Maverick, I may have to break up with Tatsuki Suzuki soon. Four DNF’s on the trot, bro? I don’t care that you’re cute and your dog is cuter, I need some results. Jorge and Marco had another ding dong in Moto2. Rumour has it that Marco has the inside line on the last open premier class seat for next year. You have to feel for Sam Lowes, as much as Bruce makes fun of him. Those couple of points that he gutted out today may yet make a difference …

    I really hope this covid thing turns the corner soon. I’d like to make plans to get to EICMA and Valencia next season, given that I had to cancel on this one. Buzz’s idea of Moto Guzzi and Misano sounds like a great time too. I highly doubt that Austin will happen for me, but I hope it happens fullstop, along with the rest of the flyaway rounds.

    On to Portimao! Hoping for a great end to what’s been an unexpectedly great season.

    Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      You are among a growing group of readers who could easily write this column better than I can. I’m going to start stealing your stuff and just forget any semblance of research or actual writing. I’ll be sure to give at least veiled attribution. Also I heard the guys yesterday mention Chaz Davies?

      Like

  7. Bryan Townsend Says:

    Didn’t know that you didn’t ride, figured you were a lifer Bruce. Miller and Morbidelli were incredible on the last few laps. Can’t say Miller didn’t give it everything he had, thought he might manage to get around Morbid on that last straight. Either the ’19 Yamaha is way faster than the ’20, or Morbidelli is that much faster than Vinales, Quartaro and Rossi, or a little of both. I’m going with the latter, however the new Yamaha’s looked slooow. I’d love to see Aleix on a faster bike!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Old MOron Says:

    Aw crap, that was a great season. And it’s been great to spend it with Brucie and the Brucists. Congrats to Mir and Suzuki. Well deserved. I wish it could’ve been Frankie, though. A satellite champion is the best thing I can imagine.

    Two of my favorite moments from the weekend took place during MotoGP’s second qualifying session. First Cal Crutchlow taking the piss out of the commenters (Steve Day and Matt Birt), then the commenters taking the piss out of the US elections. If if you have a MotoGP.com account, follow this link and advance the video to 8:15 for Cal’s comedy, then 10:05 for the political yuks.

    https://www.motogp.com/en/videos/spoiler+free/2020/VAL/MotoGP/Q2/356629

    Liked by 1 person

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