The 2020 MotoGP World Championship enters its decisive phase with a season-ending triple header, starting at Valencia this weekend.
The Suzuki rider is still in search of a first MotoGP victory, but while nearest rivals Quartararo and Maverick Vinales (-19 points) have been unable to string together consecutive podiums since Jerez, Mir has stood on the rostrum six times in the past eight rounds:
On paper, there is little reason for Mir’s podium form to end at Valencia, meaning the Yamahas of Quartararo, Vinales and fourth in the standings Franco Morbidelli (-25 point) will need to be fighting at the front if they are to close in on the #36.
After winning his second race of the season, Morbidelli is now the dark horse in the title chase, the Italian and his A-spec M1 surprisingly outperforming the Factory-spec bikes of Vinales and Quartararo by over 14-seconds at Aragon.
If the A-Spec, working in harmony with the latest Ohlins rear shock, continues to offer an advantage over the Factory machines in Valencia, Morbidelli may yet arrive at the Portimao finale as Yamaha’s top title hope.
By contrast, a poor performance for Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati at Aragon means the Italian has now slipped to fifth in the standings, 28 points from the top.
With 75 still up for grabs, Dovizioso’s title hopes are far from over. But having been off the podium since his Austrian victory – eight races ago – the #4 admits he simply doesn’t have the speed to challenge for the championship at present.
Wet weather could yet throw Dovi a lifeline, but the chances of Dovi and the Desmosedici suddenly gelling with the 2020 spec Michelin rear tyre seem remote.
Top scorer at Aragon was Alex Rins, who took Suzuki’s first win of the season on the way to raking in 45 out of a possible 50 points. The Spaniard is still 32 points adrift of team-mate Mir for sixth place in the standings, but – like Morbidelli – has the speed to mount a surprise title attack.
Starting from pole position, Nakagami looked set to battle for a debut podium and perhaps even victory, but threw it all away when he fell from the lead on the opening lap.
Rookie Marquez had his sight set on a third podium in a row, but also overdid it.
Nakagami and Marquez join the likes of Mir, KTM’s Pol Espargaro and Pramac pairing Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia as contenders for a record-equalling ninth different race winner of the season at Valencia, which will host a second grand prix next weekend, followed directly by the Portimao finale.