Is the MotoGP championship fight over? Mir’s exquisite win in Valencia would indicate so

An outstanding first win in the highest class of motorbike racing for Suzuki rider Joan Mir, who now has a 37 points lead ahead of teammate Alex Rins before the upcoming last two races of the 2020 MotoGP season. 

By Daphne Seberich

Who would’ve thought before the start of the 2020 MotoGP campaign that a guy, who never won a race in the sport, would be at the top of the drivers’ championship list? 

Joan Mir proved the odds wrong, coming into the European GP, held at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, in first place with a 17 points lead. It turned out to be a magical weekend for the Spaniard: achieving his first win in the elite racing class and consolidating the top spot of the championship. Now it gets tough for the other contenders to bounce back and fight for the trophy.

After a complicated wet qualifying session, everyone was hoping for better conditions ahead of the race. Drivers and teams were concerned about their tire strategy. Most bikers chose the safe bet of the medium compound at the front and the soft at the back, just Franco Morbidelli took a risk mounting hard tires onto his Yamaha. 

What a crazy first lap. Poleman Pol Espargaro has a good start, keeping the lead of the race ahead of Rins. Championship contender Quartararo, who had a disappointing weekend overall, incredibly falls at the race start, together with Aleix Espargaro. There was no contact between the two, but the championship suddenly slipped away from the Frenchman’s hands. 

Alex Rins showed to have great pace right from the get-go and overtakes a struggling Espargaro in the second lap of the race for the lead. His teammate soon followed to surpass the KTM, securing a one-two lead for Suzuki. The gaps between the drivers soon became too substantial for overtakes, leading to an underwhelming race. 

Rossi’s zero-points-streak continued in Valencia too, having to abandon the track due to an engine issue of his Yamaha, after having to miss two races by being tested positive for Covid-19, and crashing at the two previous races in Barcelona and Le Mans. Many drivers had to retire, either for motorbike-related issues or crashes. 

Lap 11 defined the race: Rins incredibly goes wide at turn 11, providing an easy overtake for Mir. The Spaniard immediately showed to have great pace and formed a significant gap between him and his teammate. Lap times were abnormally quick for the race leader, flying over the tarmac to set 1:31.9 at every round. 

Mir, Rins and Espargaro: three Spaniards on the podium at the European GP. Yamahas now have the task to prove their underachieving weekend wrong (Morbidelli 11th, Viñales 14th and Quartararo 15th) for there to be a challenge against the Suzukis next week in Ricardo Tormo. Is the championship already over?


Pol Espargaro secures pole position at a wet qualifying in Valencia

An incredible fast lap awards the Spaniard Pol Espargaro the pole position of the European GP held in Valencia. Yamahas far off the top.

By Daphne Seberich

A wet Ricardo Tormo circuit defined the polesitter of the 2020 MotoGP European Grand Prix. Difficult conditions challenged the drivers to be brave on the brakes and gentle with the throttle to maximize lap times and squeeze everything out of their motorcycles for one flying lap that would assure them the front grid spot. Many frontrunners were outlined from the previous free practice sessions, in particular Miller, Oliveira and Zarco.

Viñales, due to an engine swap, will start from the pit lane tomorrow, 5 seconds after the last driver crossing the line. Nevertheless, Maverick crashed in FP4 and proved not to be at the peak of his shape, falling far behind the top two drivers and his teammate Valentino Rossi, who’s finally back after testing positive for Covid-19. 

Oliveira proved right away to have a great qualifying pace on the Ricardo Tormo circuit. Lap after lap he would better his time by half a second during his five attempts. Zarco, Bagnaia and Alex Marquez all tried to steal the top spot from the KTM biker, but their attempts couldn’t push the Portuguese off the throne. The battle to second got messy with Bradl securing his place to access the next qualifying round for most of Q1, but crashing on the last attempt, permitting Avintia driver, Johann Zarco, to beat the German’s time, after a brilliant last sector, where he regained one-tenth of a second on his opponent, to enter Q2. 

Morbidelli, Rins and Quartararo challenged each other right away at the start of the second qualifying round, but a surprising Nakagami swept provisional pole. Pramac biker Miller chose to get on track just at the last minutes available, to try and have a drier tarmac for his attempts. His strategy paid off as he secured second place behind the Japanese, even though he almost fell off his Ducati. Unexpectedly, an outstanding lap by KTM driver Pol Espargaro settled the fight for the grid and assured him the front spot for the race. Rins and Nakagami follow in the qualifying ranking to complete the top three. 

Who will win the race? Only time will tell, but Suzuki and KTM drivers, including Johann Zarco to the list with his Avintia, are the favorites to take the crown. Yamahas see a tough race ahead with all their drivers at the back of the grid.

This is a crucial race for the championship contenders Mir, Quartararo and Viñales. 

Will the Suzuki driver further his lead or can the Yamahas catch up with the Spaniard? 

We’ll find out…

Source: Motociclismo