Joan Mir & Suzuki
A dream race for Joan Mir and Suzuki saw the young Spaniard put one hand on the title with a perfectly-timed first ever MotoGP victory, while second for team-mate Alex Rins formed Suzuki’s first one-two in the premier-class since 1982.
Rins is now joint second in the championship with Fabio Quartararo but both are 37 points adrift, meaning Mir is now on course to claim the Suzuki’s first MotoGP title since 2000 in next Sunday’s penultimate round, at the same Valencia circuit.
If that wasn’t enough, Suzuki now also leads the constructors’ and teams’ standings, meaning they could well claim a perfect Triple Crown of 2020 titles.
Pole position and a podium was an excellent way for Pol Espargaro to kick off the final three races of his KTM career.
The Spaniard may still be without a victory, but he has been on the rostrum four times this year, much more than any other RC16 rider, and is now threatening the top five of the world championship standings.
Just 1.2s from Mir at the race finish, and with KTM previously making big gains at the second of the back-to-back races, Espargaro can go into next weekend’s event with his sights firmly set on the top step of the podium.
Starting the race already knowing he would need to serve a long lap penalty for an accident with Jack Miller at Aragon, Espargaro’s KTM team-mate Brad Binder nonetheless fought his way from a low of 16th to 7th place, setting the fastest lap of the race for the first time since victory at Brno.
It was also Binder’s best result since Austria, eight races ago, and has given the South African a nine-point lead over Alex Marquez in the MotoGP Rookie of the Year contest.
Not a difficult choice considering how the weekend went from bad to worse for Yamaha.
First there was a points penalty in the Constructors’ and Teams’ standings for an illegal change of valve supplier at the start of the season, although they could count themselves fortunate that the riders were not sanctioned.
But the relief didn’t last long as Maverick Vinales needed to use a 6th engine, which automatically meant a pit lane start for the race.
One of Vinales crew then tested positive for Covid-19, also forcing four other team members to withdraw and go into self-isolation, ruling them out of both Valencia weekends.
Race day began with Quartararo, Vinales and Morbidelli all within 25-points of Mir but Yamaha’s nightmare continued as Quartararo fell on the first lap, Morbidelli struggled as the only rider to choose the hard-rear tyre and Vinales never recovered from his pit lane start.
Oh, and Valentino Rossi‘s bike broke down, on his return to MotoGP action.
The images of a devastated Quartararo, sitting with his head in his hands at the end of the race, summed up Yamaha’s weekend.