The Teruel MotoGP may not have been the most significant in the sense we aren’t too much closer to finding out who will be 2020 MotoGP champion, but it did potentially throw a new name into the mix.
While we’ve been touting a four-way battle for a couple of races now, Franco Morbidelli’s win in Aragon changes the playing field somewhat and a performance he demonstrated on Sunday – faultless from lap one to the chequered flag – is the type of title-winning demonstration we haven’t really seen this year.
For now Joan Mir still leads over Fabio Quartararo by 14 points with Maverick Vinales ticking things over in third, 19 points behind. Morbidelli, however, is now only 25 points shy, or rather, within a race win.
He was a big winner this weekend in more than one sense of the word, but who else rose and who flopped – this is Crash.net’s Teruel MotoGP Winners & Losers.
2020 Teruel MotoGP – Winners & Losers
When Franco Morbidelli qualified on the front row for the Teruel MotoGP, the familiar trope of Yamaha race weekends looked as though it would play out like it occasionally does at a circuit such as Motorland Aragon.
That means a strong qualifying from a machine that handles sweetly enough to bag a rapid lap before finding itself playing the rear guard action as its top speed limitations make it all too easy to be overtaken in a straight line.
That’s what happened to Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo, but Morbidelli – after taking the lead on lap one – was unbeatable, his flawlessness and focus that adding, say 30%, supplement the 10% the Yamaha generally loses on race days.
It also makes him an increasingly interesting title contender, not just this year, but beyond too. He may have been down and out versus Quartararo in 2019, but Morbidelli’s fight back with interest in 2020 is all the more credit to him…
What a woeful couple of weekends it would have been for Ducati if it wasn’t for Johann Zarco flying the flag on his Avintia Racing bike.
While the Frenchman has been a touch inconsistent of late, breaking past the Ducati’s apparent limitations at Aragon and landing another top five finish shows just how good Zarco can be when he’s operating in his optimum zone
More than that, he demonstrated some stellar fighting spirit in his tussle with Miguel Oliveira, as his Ducati counterparts fumbled in the mid-field. Ironically, the GP19 package probably gave him the shot of a better result than the GP20 could, but while Ducati will be pleased to see a positive result as a company, it is going to be feeling rather humbled by the fact it was an Avintia bike again getting the job done.
It’s no exaggeration to say Pramac may have landed itself a gem for 2021 if he can carry this form onto the 2021 Desmosedici package he clearly deserves.
It could actually happen… Joan Mir could become 2020 MotoGP World Champion, a statement that is remarkable on several levels.
For one, he is in only his second season of MotoGP, only his fifth season of grand prix racing total and it’d be Suzuki’s first premier class title since Kenny Roberts in 2000, as well as only its fifth total riders’ crown.
But can he really do it without winning a single race? It’s a fact that clearly bothers him – even if it impresses everyone else – and Mir flat refuses to consider himself even a title contender without stepping on top of the podium.
He has a point, if Mir wins the title without winning a race it rather casts a questioning light on his rivals who failed to capitalise on their more headline-grabbing successes, but it shouldn’t serve to diminish the route Mir is taking towards this title fight, whether he intended to or not.
For one, his consistency is impressive for any rider in only their second season of MotoGP, while his ride on Sunday – 12th to 3rd – shows Mir has the qualities to tough it out when he needs to. Qualifying is still an ongoing bugbear, but demonstrates that Mir is leading this year’s title race with evidently so much more still to come from the Spaniard.
Winner & Loser
It’s very hard to really describe Takaaki Nakagami as a ‘loser’, so in a break with tradition we brand him as our ‘winner and loser’…
We say ‘loser’ – or perhaps ‘the rider who lost out the most’ – merely to reflect the crushing disappointment that came from his abrupt and unfamiliar error that ended his hopes of what could have been a crowning moment for the Japanese favourite.
The stars couldn’t have been aligning more pertinently for Nakagami; Unshakable consistency this season thus far, growing confidence strengthened by confirmation of a multi-year deal with Honda and a Marquez-like dependency in his fast lap times during each session leading to his maiden pole position.
But it was all over 30secs into the race. A shocking moment on its own, but when you consider Nakagami has been unshakable in his consistency in 2020, you could almost hear the collective ‘ooooh’ around the globe as he skated face first into the gravel trap. His disappointment was palpable even across the TV screens.
However, in many ways Nakagami is still a winner here. A rider who many put down to being there at Honda’s discretion has flourished into a genuinely exciting young racer. Whereas many youngsters come to MotoGP showing speed but perhaps not reliability week-in, week-out, whereas Nakagami has conquered the foundation of consistency and is now breaking through with some scintillating speed.
And don’t forget, that is a 2019-spec Honda he is doing it on.
We featured Ducati here last weekend but we can’t help but call it out again on a weekend that appeared to suggest the team actually went backwards in competitiveness.
With it falling to Johann Zarco and Avintia Racing to spare some blushes, Ducati was mired outside of the top ten for much of the weekend, not least in FP2 when five of its bikes filled all five positions at the bottom of the timesheets.
A clearly despondent Andrea Dovizioso looks dejected by his struggles and while he it is a shared responsibility between himself and Ducati, you cannot help but feel their fractious relationship is playing a part in ruining both of their chances.
When you look at KTM who made huge gains week-on-week after analysing and correcting last weekend’s issues
On the other hand, Ducati appears to have resorted to something Honda have done by making a bike that is potentially very quick in the right circumstances.
Except while Honda has developed a bike that works seamlessly with Marc Marquez, its approach of ‘team knows best’ – something Dovizioso and even Casey Stoner have complained about in the past – has left it with a machine that doesn’t suit any of its riders needs.
With Dovizioso 28 points adrift now, while we won’t count it out just yet, you have to wonder whether it has squandered just too many opportunities to get back into the mix now.