He may have been shifted into the shadows by team-mate Fabio Quartararo for much of his tenure at Petronas SRT Yamaha but it is Franco Morbidelli that stands on the cusp of some impressive stats coming into the 2020 MotoGP finale in Portimao.
A third win of the season last time out in Valencia – via a thrilling final lap duel with Jack Miller – saw Morbidelli draw level with Quartararo in terms of victories, which in turn elevates Yamaha’s to seven from 13 races, and moves him up to a provisional runners-up spot in the standings.
A strong result this weekend would thus earn Morbidelli the ‘silver medal’ to Joan Mir’s gold in the standings and – perhaps more significantly – make him the top ranked Yamaha rider in the overall standings. This has all been achieved on a year-old (albeit upgraded) Yamaha M1, which was an effective relegation of sorts for the Italian given he ran spec-machinery in 2019, only to have Quartararo assume that privilege this year.
At a time when both Quartararo and Maverick Vinales have questioned whether last year’s bike is the stronger option over the current-spec model, Morbidelli can ram the emphasis home with a fourth win of the year which would make him the most successful racer of 2020, the first Yamaha rider to win four in a season since Jorge Lorenzo in 2016 and the first satellite rider since Sete Gibernau to do so too.
“I didn’t know those statistics until now, so I will have to think about them later,” he responded when told about the aforementioned stats. “This has been a great season for me, I think I was able to discover a part of myself that I didn’t know, the serious part, the working hard part of myself.
“I liked it because when I went down on track in Malaysia I realised I was feeling better on the bike and able to be more aggressive and feel more of what I was doing, which gave me the chance to work better with my team and more precisely with my crew.
“I would say a wonderful season came out – three wins, a podium in Brno – I am very happy.”