For most of the 2020 Grand Prix season, nobody has wanted to win a championship. Every time someone has taken a lead at one race, they have found ever more creative ways to throw it away at the next. Fabio Quartararo got off to a lightning start, winning the first two races of the season. Then he let his lead slip away, Andrea Dovizioso making inroads into the Petronas Yamaha rider’s advantage.
Behind the leaders, Maverick Viñales made a strong charge, then faded away, then came back again with a win at Misano 2. Jack Miller started off strong, had a DNF, then a run of good results and another DNF and has been up and down (literally, in a couple of cases) ever since. Takaaki Nakagami closed in relentlessly by finishing inside the top ten every race, until he crashed out of the lead at Aragon 2.
It was hard to see who was in the driving seat of the championship. Quartararo took back the lead at Barcelona, but hasn’t finished any better than eighth since then. Dovizioso has slowly slipped further out of reach, while Maverick Viñales has barely stayed in touch with the top of the championship. Franco Morbidelli has won two races to close the gap, but had some poor finishes and a DNF as well.
Throwing it away
Much the same is true in the support classes as well. In the Moto2 championship, Luca Marini looked to have an iron grip on the title before injuring himself in Le Mans and passing the baton to Sam Lowes. In Moto3, the championship lead has seesawed between Albert Arenas and Ai Ogura, with neither managing to seize the advantage.
That pattern looked set to continue at the European Grand Prix, the first round of the two to be held at the Valencia circuit. An insane Moto3 race saw Albert Arenas black-flagged, Celestino Vietti highside himself out of third in the opening laps, John McPhee crash out, and Ai Ogura close the gap to Arenas again. In Moto2, Sam Lowes threw away his championship lead by crashing out, while Enea Bastianini couldn’t capitalize after finishing in fourth.
After all this chaos – indeed, a whole season’s worth in all three classes – the MotoGP race restored some sense of stability. In what was a race exemplary of what Valencia has to offer – the riders close enough to keep up the tension, but passing opportunities few and far between – Joan Mir repeated what he has been doing for most of the season: finish on the podium, score points, extend his lead.
This time, he did it with conviction, winning the race convincingly and ending the threat of repeating Emilio Alzamora’s feat of winning a championship without taking a single victory. And he did it by beating his teammate Alex Rins while his main rivals struggled. With two races to go, it looks at last as if there is someone who wants to win the 2020 title after all. And there will be no asterisks or question marks over the legitimacy of his victory either.
A lot happened this weekend, but most of it has already been covered. So in these subscriber notes:
- How Joan Mir finally triumphed
- Did he win, or was he let through?
- The importance of a good base setting
- The advantage of private testing
- The strength of the KTMs
- Binder’s astonishing race
- Nakagami’s fatal flaw
- Why things aren’t as bleak as they look for Yamaha
- The incredible statistics of the 2020 season
But first, back to how Joan Mir won the European Grand Prix, where his victory leads the championship, and what he needs to do to wrap up the title.
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