The year in review: MotoGP™ manufacturers weigh in on 2020
Representatives from each manufacturer talk through the season so far ahead of 2020’s swan song at Portimão
Friday, 20 November 2020
As the final round of the 2020 season gets in gear, representatives from each MotoGP™ manufacturer sat down to review their year in a special Press Conferece. They were Team Suzuki Ecstar Manager Davide Brivio, Ducati Corse Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Principal and Yamaha Motor Racing Director Lin Jarvis, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Mike Leitner, Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig and Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola.
Here are some key quotes:
DAVIDE BRIVIO: “It’s been a great year for us. We started not so good in the first two races in Jerez. In the first race we got zero points with both riders! Then we started slowly to get down, the turning point was Austria where Joan got on the podium, Alex crashed but he was close to the lead. And then we built up some consistency, and here we are. Joan achieved the World Championship last weekend and sill we’re in the running for second with Rins, so this is very positive, we’re very happy and we’re fighting with Ducti for the constructors’, so arriving at the last race we also have some other targets to achieve. It’s good, and what makes us happy and proud is that we were able to have double podiums, four times both riders on the podium, and that’s a great signal how strong the riders are and that the bike is performing well.
“The biggest factor this year? The consistency was very important. There are many different riders winning the races, and Yamaha has won more races than anyone else but we were able to be consistent, 11 times on the podium, both riders. It’s been a strange season and a bit of a different game in my opinion. Many times we had three races in a row and we’re not used to that, but from a technical point of view the double race at one circuit changes the game a bit compared to what we’re used to. When you go the first time you have to quickly adapt the bike, at a second race everyone gets closer so the competition is even harder. That makes this season different compared to normal, but we’re happy we achieved the title!”
PAOLO CIABATTI: “I think I agree with the analysis Davide just made. It’s been an unusual season, we all remember where we were in March where we were supposed to race in Qatar, and then at a certain point there was basically a doubt whether there would be a Championship at all in 2020. So I think first of all, it’s a great achievement having been able to do 14 rounds out of a difficult situation and I think we must be happy and proud to have achieved this. In our case, you might think because of the accident Marc had in the first race and unfortunate effect that he couldn’t return in the season, we could have been one of the candidates to win this championship because in the last three years we were second behind Marc with Dovizioso. But I think for several reasons, the format of the championship, the consecutive races, the difficult adaptation of our bike to the new rear Michelin tyre and the riding style that was familiar with our bike with the previous package wasn’t working so well for some riders, which made it difficult for us. We were competitive and fighting for the podium in almost all races but always with different riders, with the exception of Aragon. We were fighting for the podium with some riders, and we put five riders on the podium, all the five contracted riders to Ducati were on the podium including Zarco on the 2019 bike. This is why we’re tied with Suzuki in the constructors’, although they have more wins so are leading with the same points. It’s disappointing to not be fighting for the riders’ titles, consistency played a great role for Suzuki and Joan Mir, they did a great job so hats off.
“If you look at the result this year, there were riders capable of doing great things in one race and then quite behind in the following race. I think everyone has found some difficult time to adapt depending on the track conditions, in the case of Ducati we struggle when there is low grip. But we learned a lot this year, and I think we have some ideas for next year. Next year we also turn the page because we have new riders joining the factory team and new riders at Pramac, and there are some emotional moments as we say goodbye to Andrea and Danilo. Andrea has been with us for eight years and Danilo six, if we count Pramac. So we must look ahead, and I think we have some ideas to develop for the future and hopefully next year we can be more consistent in all rounds because that’s the only way to fight for the Championship.”
LIN JARVIS: “It’s difficult to make a single judgment on it. It’s been a heavy year for everyone, for all of us here, the manufacturers, for all the riders and staff, to run this season with Covid has been tough in general. I think it’s a credit that by the end of this weekend we’ll have done 14 races in difficult circumstances. We’ve had our ups and down throughout the year. We started on a high at the beginning of the year with a 1-2 in the first races, but whilst we won immediately in Jerez we discovered our Achilles heel, the valve problem we suffered from Round 1. Already in FP1 Maverick had the first problem, Valentino stopped in the race and Franco in Race 2. This has been following us year round and that disturbed the chance for our riders to make better performances sometimes. We had to modify the engine, detune it and we parked a lot of engines. We parked eight engines for virtually the whole year. So, we’ve been running in a strange and difficult situation for our riders above all, and finally that’s taken a toll at the end of the year when we had the resolution in Valencia and got the penalty, which affected the constructor title and teams’ championship and fortunately not the riders. But it’s been a hard year to manage. Covid, it’s been like having a rucksack with many kilos on your back.
“On the positive side, I’d say we saw many victories as well, our bike clearly was a strong bike this year and capable of winning in different circumstances. It’s a bit unusual as well because Petronas won six races and the factory team only won one race so far – there’s this weekend still ahead of us! But obviously the bike had the potential, was competitive and able to win, but we’ve not achieved our goal which was the World Championship. Chapeau to Suzuki because they’ve been very consistent, put together a good campaign, Joan Mir has showed his maturity and they won the Championship. So I’d say it was missed opportunities on our side.
“We’re always struggling with grip, traction and braking. In some circumstances we have two different specs out there. We have three riders on the same spec, the 2020 factory bike, and then Morbidelli on the 2020 A bike, which has a different base. In the second half of the year he’s taken three wins. He’s the man on form and others are struggling. The bike has not been able to deliver, by design, consistent performances at all racetracks. That’s not directly related to the valve problem. That’s another matter of fundamental design.”
MIKE LEITNER: “We are very happy about the season, our fourth season in the sport now in MotoGP and we made a huge step from the third to the fourth season we felt already in the inter test that something had changed with our bike, and we worked very hard, the company pushed hard, the riders and engineers, and then the season was stopped by Covid so we couldn’t show anything. We were the first company back on track for testing, the races started and already in the first race in Jerez Pol was performing well, Brad was also fast, and as long as the season goes on we see clearly that the performance of the bike has made a big step, especially over race distance, and we’ve had some good qualifying. And the two victories, the first for Brad in Brno and then for Miguel in Austria, have been a big highlight for us and we’re very happy about this season, and still working hard to make a better package for the riders and looking forward to the future.
“Pol was a very strong part of the project from the start, and sure we had to change our strategy for the future. And we’re not sad anymore, we wish him well in the future for his new project but we’re getting two very fast riders in the factory team with Miguel and Brad, and in Iker we have a strong young rider in Tech 3 and an experienced rider in Danilo will arrive. We’ll try to get the best out of these riders and push at the maximum.”
ALBERTO PUIG: “To be honest, when you’re used to winning nearly everything in the last few years, winning nothing like we’re going to do this year is not a good result, obviously. We had this problem with Marc at the beginning of the season, things didn’t go the correct way, and then it was really difficult. We understood at some point we wouldn’t have him with a chance to be competitive this year or do some races. On the other hand we had a rookie, Alex, and had to call our test rider to cover Marc’s place. The beginning of the year was really tough for Alex, but suddenly in the middle of the season he made a big step and our test rider from being a test rider three seconds off top riders, suddenly was, let’s say ‘acceptably fast’. So we concentrated on that, of course it’s not what we’re used to but things were like this, and you just have to keep going. Nothing is forever and somehow we tried to make what we could with the bike to understand better for the future, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
“It is the never-ending story with the Honda and the rider, it’s clear we have a super rider and that sometimes puts the bike in a position where people don’t believe, but if you look what Alex did this year with this bike, we’re not so unhappy. Like all manufacturers we have things that are not good, but we are trying to work. The engines for next year will be frozen, but we are happy because we think we have direction for the future, Alex will be more experienced next year, Marc will be back, and we think we’ll be ready to fight. And Pol coming from all these years of experience with KTM, we’re sure he will help us and be strong from Day 1.”
MASSIMO RIVOLA: “2020 started with good expectations, clearly the bike was and is a step from the 2019 and the past, it’s a new bike for us and we need mileage. This year wasn’t the perfect year in terms of Covid etc, but we improved on ourselves and to the competitors by some seconds so it was quite a good step. Obviously when you’re far away, the first part is easier to gain, and now it’s even more difficult. Racing this year is fun. If you see the last race we finished P9 and 15 seconds from P1, last year we finished P9 33 seconds from P1. That’s the average of the season, so racing now is more fun, clearly the show is better, we’re close to the main group and it’s not depressing, it’s actually a boost because we’re close we just need to make that last step.
“Stability is important. Bradley did a good job during the season, he was supposed to be test rider but when he was racing he got closer and closer to Aleix, and now we’re giving an opportunity to Savadori to be a better test rider next year.”