We’re now eight rounds deep into what is a unique 2020 MotoGP World Championship season, and what a season it’s been.
Who would have thought back in March when the opening round of the premier class title race was cancelled, that by October we would have had: eight races, six different winners, four first-time winners, 12 podium finishers and three first-time podium finishers, but despite all that, only two riders have led the 2020 standings.
When MotoGP got back underway at a sweltering Jerez circuit, everyone expected another season of the Marc Marquez show, but as we know, Marquez made a costly error whilst recovering from an early mistake, crashing violently at turn three, breaking his right arm, thus blowing the season wide open.
It was Fabio Quartararo who took the early lead, a lead that was expected given his stand-out rookie season in 2019. Maverick Viñales and Andrea Dovizioso both had strong starts to their season, banking podiums in the opening round. Viñales backed up his round one podium with another in round two, this time leading home team-mate Valentino Rossi, who proved he wasn’t finished just yet. Although, Yamaha’s fairytale start wasn’t all as it seemed. Both Rossi and Morbidelli encountered engine failures, while Viñales and Quartararo had used near-enough all of their allowance in two rounds.
After a short break, the series flew to the Czech Republic, for an epic Czech Grand Prix. Just as you thought the MotoGP championship couldn’t get any stranger, in steps Brad Binder and his Red Bull Factory KTM. The MotoGP rookie stormed to his maiden race win, a win that was well deserved, passing and gapping Franco Morbidelli, who also claimed his maiden premier class podium. Johann Zarco took out Pol Espargaro, pulled off the most heroic long lap penalty you will ever see, and finished third in front of Quartararo. Meanwhile, the bright starting Viñales started his downfall, finishing in a lowly 14th, with team-mate Rossi in fifth.
Little did the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP duo know, their next two races was a shocker, in more ways that one. After a bright start to the Austrian GP, the factory duo was running in sixth and seventh, before a clash behind from Zarco and Morbidelli changed their race. Both Viñales and Rossi were millimetres from being collected at over one hundred miles per hour as Zarco’s Esponsorama GP19 Ducati and Morbidelli’s 2019 YZR-M1 cartwheeled their way over the Yamaha’s pairs heads, narrowly escaping what could have been an accident with tragic consequences. Thankfully, no one was injured and the race got back underway and it was Dovizioso who came out of the Austrian clash on top, with Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro joining him on the rostrum.
But that wasn’t it, the second visit to Austria gave MotoGP another new race winner, with Miguel Oliveira capitalising on Jack Miller’s last corner lunge on Pol Espargaro, sending the pair wide allowing Oliveira to sneak through to take his and Tech 3’s maiden premier class victory.
MotoGP then arrived on the Adriatic coast, with Andrea Dovizioso, somehow, on top of the MotoGP championship. Francesco Bagnaia returned following his leg-breaking crash in Brno and was determined to stamp his authority on the 2021 factory Ducati seat. Valentino Rossi was on for his 200th premier class podium and Franco Morbidelli gave the Italians something to appear about as the Grand Prix series welcomed fans back trackside.
However, their cheers were short-lived after an on form Joan Mir stole the podium position from Rossi on the final lap. Mir went on to back up that performance seven days later, finishing second to Maverick Viñales, who suddenly re-found his form and took the win after Bagnaia’s maiden victory slipped away from him at turn six.
Jack Miller retired due to his GP20 sucking a tear-off from Quartararo, and Rossi broke more Italian hearts, crashing out of the Emilia Romagna GP on the second lap.
MotoGP completed its third triple-header in Barcelona and it was Quartararo’s time to shine once again. The Frenchman skated his way to victory but had his work cut out throughout the Catalan Grand Prix. Team-mates to be, Morbidelli and Rossi were hot on the heels of the Frenchman but Morbidelli ran wide at turn one and Rossi’s chance at victory tumbled out of his hands, crashing out for the second race in a row.
Andrea Dovizioso’s championship charge took a minor blow, being taken out by Johann Zarco on the first lap.
The race win for Quartararo put him back on top of the MotoGP World Championship, with the top ten covered by 50 points.
The MotoGP championship returns in two week’s time for a cold French Grand Prix, what other thrills and spills await us as we approach the end of the season?
Featured image: MotoGP.com