The MotoGP™ rollercoaster reaches the Riviera di Rimini
The paddock is en route to Misano, with only one thing guaranteed: unpredictable, electrifying, history-making racing… again!
Monday, 07 September 2020
The saying goes that there are only two things one can’t avoid in life: death and taxes. But the 2020 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship season is doing its best to add a third as unpredictability remains the name of the game in what has so far proven a true history maker of a season. Electrifying racing, four different winners from three factories, battles to the line; history has been made across the board for man, machine, team and nation… you couldn’t ask for more. But we’ll get more, because it’s time to get back in the saddle to take on the stunning Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
A splash of multi-coloured kerbs and run-offs glistening next to the clear blue waters of the Adriatic, Misano is a glorious homecoming for many and could be welcome respite for some. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) will be banking on the latter as we head into round six, with the Frenchman starting the year with double wins and then watching that record-breaking pace fade over the tougher rounds of Brno and Austria. But cast your thoughts back 12 months to a rookie taking the reigning Champion to the wire and remember where ‘El Diablo’ belongs… the question is though, can he get back there? For Yamaha it should be a more suited track, and no one should count out the only man to have so far won twice this season.
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) will also be eyeing Misano with optimism as it’s a better layout for the Iwata marque, but also a chance for him to put to bed some truly awful luck at the Red Bull Ring. Narrowly avoiding one huge crash only to get hit by technical trouble, and then playing protagonist in another huge incident a week later due to… technical trouble, it hasn’t been an easy ride for ‘Top Gun’ lately. But he’s been quick, taken podiums and been on pole, and he knows – as we all do – that the unpredictability and ever-shuffling pack this season means one thing: no one is out of it yet.
That goes for his teammate, too. The “Most Wins” stat at Misano is shared three ways, but only one of the riders on the list will be lining up in 2020: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). The ‘Doctor’ has three wins at the venue to equal Jorge Lorenzo and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), who remains sidelined, but it’s the number 46’s backyard. He also arrives with some deceptively solid consistency in 2020. His protegee of sorts, Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), will also be optimistic on the way in. Robbed of what looked like a first podium earlier in the year, the number 21 has taken a key step forward this season. On very familiar turf, what can he do?
The man second overall, however, is a different Italian. Veteran Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) hasn’t had a perfect run of form in 2020, but he’s wrung the most out of it on the day including that searing ride to victory in the Austrian GP. After the up and down form of so many and the drama we’ve seen in 2020, the wily Italian is now the man doing the daunting as he homes in on Quartararo’s lead. It’s just three points now, and Dovizioso has won at the venue before. He and Rossi will also have some fans cheering them on, giving that little extra twist of hometown glory to the mix.
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), meanwhile, is another to watch. 11 points off Dovizioso and therefore just 14 off Quartararo’s lead, he’s very much in touch after some impressive rides to the podium at the Red Bull Ring. Riding Ducati machinery as well, there’s plenty at stake for Miller and the Australian is seriously on song. His teammate Francesco Bagnaia will be back from injury too, and what can Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) do on home turf after a tougher 2020 so far?
A run through of the likely Borgo Panigale factory frontrunners would no longer be complete without a shoutout to Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing), however. Since that searing Long Lap Penalty – yes, we’re going to keep bringing it up – the Frenchman has been on quite the rollercoaster, but he managed to take two points last time out despite a broken scaphoid and a pitlane start. More time to heal and no penalties on the horizon at Misano make Zarco an interesting prospect, as ever.
And then, of course, there’s KTM. Brno was a milestone and Styria another, as Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) added to Brad Binder’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) glory, as well as making some history for Tech 3 with their first premier class win. So do KTM lose concessions? They do. Does it look like they need them? You be the judge. The Austrian factory are the steamrolling success story of 2020 so far, and are now third in the constructors’ standings… by just six points. And that’s to the top held by Yamaha. Ducati? They’re only one point ahead of the orange armada! Binder, Oliveira and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) will all be out for glory, and Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) will be looking to build on some much-improved solid finishes in Austria.
For Team Suzuki Ecstar, meanwhile, the points don’t really tell the story. The Hamamatsu factory are very fast, and Alex Rins and Joan Mir have now both run at the front despite injury struggles for the former and still ever-growing experience for the latter. But some bad luck and crashes – and the Red Flag in Styria seemingly snatching victory from the hands of Mir – mean they’re not quite where they should be in terms of results on paper. Nevertheless, they remain two extremely fast riders on one extremely quality motorcycle, and the reset of Misano will see them aiming for the top again.
The Red Flag that seemed to dent Mir’s hopes of a perfect Sunday last time out was a similar story for Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). A fourth in Jerez is his best so far, but the Japanese rider was on the front row in Styria for the first time and stayed as calm and collected as if he’d been there every week. He’s not been out the top ten so far this season, and he’s fought far up within it. Will Misano see that form rollover to the next events? And what can Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) do for Honda? The Red Bull Ring ended up being a tougher double, and the rookie will want to score – Binder’s Czechia victory and frontrunning form puts him well ahead in the fight for Rookie of the Year.
For Aprilia, as well as Ducati and the Italian riders, Misano is also the first home race of the year. What can Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) do? He’s scored a good chunk of points in the last three races, and he’ll want more – as will teammate Bradley Smith, a few places behind in the standings.
Misano. It’s a modern classic that’s staged some serious memorable showdowns, and now we’re on the verge of enjoying two races at the track. First it’s the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini as we return after a short break. Have you caught your breath yet? Get ready for more on Sunday the 13th of September at 14:00 (GMT +2).
MotoGP™ Championship Standings
1 Fabio Quartararo* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – 70
2 Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team – Ducati – 67
3 Jack Miller* – Pramac Racing – Ducati – 56
4 Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – KTM – 49
5 Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – 48
*Independent Team riders
Hometown heroes: Moto2™ heads for Misano
It’s an Italian armada vs Red Bull KTM Ajo at the top in the title fight – and we’re on the leader’s turf on the Riviera di Rimini
It seems the blink of an eye since the flag flew to mark the finish line of the Styrian GP, but the Moto2™ grid will soon be back in the saddle again fighting it out for another 25 precious points. This time it’s the stunning Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli as the classic track hosts the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, and a good few riders at the top are racing on home turf.
Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) is the man in charge of the standings heading in, and the Italian has been consistent ever since an issue near the end of the Qatar GP dampened his hopes in the season opener. A winner, a podium finisher or a solid points scorer so far in 2020, he’ll be aiming high at home… but so will the man he took over from in P1, who is only eight points behind.
That’s Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), although it’s been a rougher two rounds for the Italian since he won two in a row at Jerez – his first intermediate class wins. A crash – an a memorable one at that – in the first race in Spielberg was followed by a more muted outing in the second to dent his momentum somewhat, but he, like Marini and many of the home heroes on the grid, will be expecting to make the most of Misano. And it’s where he took his first ever Grand Prix win back in Moto3™ in 2015.
The man in third, meanwhile, will feel he has a score to settle. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) may not be Italian, but he’s on his own mission after crossing the line first in the Styrian GP and then getting demoted to second by a penalty. They were solid points to cement him third overall, but he feels denied a second Moto2™ win in a row after his first intermediate class victory a week before… and to make it even worse, the man he lost out to was fellow sophomore and old Moto3™ rival Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46). Martin will be on a mission, but then so will that same Bezzecchi…
It was a rough rookie Moto2™ season for the number 12, but he’s had an emotional comeback to the front of late and was the only man able to live with Martin’s pace last time out. Add that to another podium earlier in the year and it’s far from a flash in the pan. He’ll be on home turf too and joins Martin and Bastianini as a first time winner in the class this season – so he’ll be flush with confidence to add to that proven speed.
It’s unlikely, on such well known ground, that we’ll see a four horse race, however. Tetsuta Nagashima (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is seemingly ironing out some inconsistency since his win in Qatar and could be a force to be reckoned with, Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) was on pole and the podium in the last two races, impressive rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) has been on a roll until a blip in Styria… and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing Team) can’t be counted out. Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and teammate Marcel Schrötter are turning it around from a rougher few races earlier in the year too… there are plenty of names in the fight for the podium, top five or top ten.
One man who would expect to be in that battle but likely won’t be, however, is Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The Brit was given a pitlane start for his next Moto2™ race for causing a crash during the Styrian GP – so he’ll be pushing to try and move as far forward as possible, but sidelined from the fight he’d rather be in.
Home heroes, first time winners, consistent performers or sudden turns of pace… Moto2™ at Misano will have it all! Tune in at 12:20 (GMT +2) on Sunday the 13th of September for another stunning intermediate class race – it’s the 900th in the class, too!
Moto2™ Championship Standings
1 Luca Marini – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex – 87
2 Enea Bastianini – Italtrans Racing Team – Kalex – 79
3 Jorge Martin – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – 79
4 Tetsuta Nagashima – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – 68
5 Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex – 65
Moto3™: gloves off for a round on the riviera
Our particular brand of lightweight class, glorious chaos descends on Misano – with the grid aiming to reel in leader Arenas once again
Austria gave us two more barnstormers in the lightweight class, and we wouldn’t expect anything less. Now the Moto3™ grid are ready to get back in action for the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, and we can be sure it’ll be another incredible show as the grid attempt to gang up on Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) once again. The Spaniard remains firmly in charge of the standings on the way in though, and probably still the pre-race favourite courtesy of his stunning 2020 form so far.
Last time out however, Arenas didn’t get it all his own way and couldn’t quite get on the podium. The man closest behind him in the points did though, and Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) will be aiming for a rinse and repeat on the Riviera di Rimini as he attempt to claw back that gap. Consistent in the truest meaning of the word, the Japanese rider hasn’t put a foot – or wheel – wrong for a long, long time, and keeps racking up those podiums. A first win has evaded him as yet, but it can surely only be a matter of time – but he’ll have to balance scoring and beating Arenas with that last-lap instinct to win at any cost…
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), in third overall, has a balancing act of his own too. There are plenty points left in play in 2020 despite the condensed season, but the Brit will be aiming for a return to the top and to iron out the kind of error that saw him hit the deck in the Styrian GP. He’s done in before though, and is both a proven veteran and winner, so he can’t be counted out.
The Italian contingent will be eager for some home glory in Misano though, and their ranks are led by the top two in the Styrian GP: first time Moto3™ winner Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) and runner up Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team). Vietti has been a podium contender since his debut – quite literally – and a win felt like a matter of time, but it will be a solid shot of confidence for the impressive Italian. And so will the podium for Arbolino as he gains some traction in 2020…
Last year’s winner can probably be expected as a frontrunner too: Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse). It was an emotional first win for rider and team at the aptly-named track last year, and that will boost his confidence after a couple of tougher races following his Andalucian GP win. But Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) and his teammate Dennis Foggia, another first time winner in 2020, will be aiming to fight it out with them in the upper echelons – along with the now-consistent frontrunner and race day threat Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power). And what about the likes of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), veterans both and the latter a winner at the track? Can they pull out all the stops on home turf?
Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s pace could be one to watch too, as both Ayumu Sasaki and Deniz Öncü played big roles in the Moto3™ freight trains in Austria and Styria… before some awful luck in the latter saw Öncü collect his teammate and both crash out. Misano is two more chances to get up there in the battle.
Tune in for what’s pretty much guaranteed to be another awesome Moto3™ melee at Misano, with the lights going out on Sunday the 13th of September at 11:00 (GMT +2).
Moto3™ Championship Standings
1 Albert Arenas – Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3 – KTM – 106
2 Ai Ogura – Honda Team Asia – Honda – 81
3 John McPhee – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda – 67
4 Celestino Vietti – Sky Racing Team VR46 – KTM – 66
5 Tony Arbolino – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda – 60