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If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that it is pointless to try to make sense of 2020. There is neither rhyme nor reason to this year; you just have to let it wash over you like an autumnal rain shower and hope to emerge on the other side, if not unscathed, then at least in some sort of shape to continue. It is impossible to make plans, impossible to predict what might happen next.

So it is in MotoGP too. After Barcelona, we started to believe that a shape was emerging to the 2020 MotoGP championship. That favorites were emerging who would do battle over the title for the remaining six races. Naturally enough, this turned out to be naively optimistic, reckoning without the weirdness which runs like a shimmering thread through this pandemic-blighted year. We really should have known better.

Le Mans confronted us once again with the reality of 2020. A rain shower as the bikes headed out for the sighting lap threw the race into disarray, reshuffling the cards once again. Teams had to gamble on whether the rain would persist, and if so, for how long, and make choices about tires and setup. Once the race started on a very obviously wet track, the rain came and went, ending any thoughts of pitting for slicks, leaving the riders to sink or swim by their tire choice, and how well they managed to preserve their tires to the end.

Even then the race wasn’t that simple. There was chaos at the start, Valentino Rossi crashing out at the chicane, throwing another wildcard into the mid pack melee. Riders were shuffled toward the back, but then came through the field as a result of smart tire management and fortuitous tire choices. And perhaps just with getting lucky with conditions.

Where to begin? Here’s a selection of subjects in these subscriber notes:

  • Jack Miller’s cruel luck
  • how the weather made tire choice both crucial, and a lottery
  • Was this an inline 4 vs V4 race?
  • Maverick Viñales’ decision to skip launch control and do it himself
  • why qualifying matters, and sometimes doesn’t matter
  • a day that was simultaneously very good, very bad, and pretty insignificant for the championship contenders
  • a two-meatball race, something we haven’t seen before
  • Danilo Petrucci and Alex Márquez, an unlikely podium and a chance to take aim at their critics
  • MotoGP’s Mr Regularity

There is a lot to try to make sense of, though this time, that may be hard. But we have to begin with weather, and how the rain, and tire choices made, would have a profound impact on the outcome of the race. Though ironically, not so much on the championship.

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