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?