Moto2: Match Point in Final Round at New Venue of Portimao
For the second time in Moto2, the Title will be decided in the Final Round of the Championship, with four riders within a chance of lifting the crown.
The championship leader heading into Portimao is Italtrans Racings Enea Bastianini. Before 2020, Enea had some good results in both Moto3 and Moto 2, with achieving three wins and 21 further podiums in Moto 3 with a highest finish of second in the championship, and in his rookie Moto2 season last year, he managed a third-place finish at Brno finishing tenth in the championship.
Enea was not one of the main favourites for the championship heading into 2020, but that changed when he won took his maiden victory in Moto2 in convincing fashion at the Andalusian Grand Prix. The Italian from Rimini then went on to win a further two races in Brno and Emilia Romagna, as well as four further podiums in Qatar, Misano and both Aragon rounds. Enea currently leads the championship by 14 points over Britain’s Sam Lowes and should Sam win the race, Enea would need a finish of fourth place or better to lift the title.
He leads SKY VR46’s Luca Marini by 18 points and should Luca take his fourth victory of the season, Enea would need to finish in eighth place. And should Luca’s team-mate Marco Bezzecchi win the race, Enea would have to finish in 13th place. So Enea looks to be in good shape to win his maiden World Championship, but he’s not going to have it easy.
Second place in the championship is Marc VDS’, Sam Lowes. Sam had come off three really tough seasons, having not scored a finish higher than fifth since Valencia 2016. Sam’s arrival into the Marc VDS’s team was one that surprised many people, given the success that the Marc VDS’s team have with three Moto 2 championships, and Sam struggling to achieve a top-five finish, and the season didn’t start brilliantly for Sam, injuring his shoulder during testing at Qatar, forcing him to miss out on the opening round of Qatar. However, when the championship restarted in July at Jerez, Sam showed some of his old form qualifying on the front row in both rounds and securing a double fourth-place finish.
It then went better achieving his first podium at Brno with a second-place finish, this being his first podium finish since his win in Aragon in 2016. The Brit then hit a rough patch during the two Austrian rounds and the Misano Grand Prix, but was able to bounce back and returned to the podium in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and then went step-by-step challenging Luca Marini for the win in Catalunya, ultimately finishing in second, then finally won a race at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans.
Sam then went on a winning streak taking a hat-trick of wins between Le Mans and both Aragon races, taking the championship lead heading into Valencia, but crashed out in the European Grand Prix and injured his right hand in the Valencian Grand Prix and now sits 14 points behind Enea Bastianini in the championship heading into the final round. Sam will still be suffering from that injured hand and will need to block the pain and score a podium finish the stand any chance of lifting his first World Championship since his World Supersport Title in 2013.
Luca Marini was one of the main title favourites heading into the 2020 season after claiming two wins near the end of the 2019 season and looked in good form during testing. It has taken a few seasons for Luca to be fully in his strive as he joined the championship in 2016 with the Forward Racing Team and showed some promise in some races during his time with the team between 2016 and 2017, but the results weren’t amazing. But he joined his half-brother Valentino Rossi’s SKY VR46 team in 2018 and he then started to show his potential taking his first front-row in Assen, his first podium at Sachsenring and his first win in Sepang.
In 2019, he struggled with the Dunlop rear tyre as the Moto 2 class had changed from the 600cc 4-cylinder Honda engine to the 765cc 3-cylinder Triumph engine. The Italian from Urbino did get over his troubles winning in Thailand and Japan and looked strong heading into 2020. The first round at Qatar was looking very good for Luca, matching Joe Robert’s pole time and leading for most of the race, unfortunately, he chose the wrong rear tyre and suffered badly at the end of the race, ultimately colliding with Jake Dixon at the final corner of the race and crashing out of the race.
Luca bounced back though, winning in flawless style in the Spanish Grand Prix, and took second in the Andalusian Grand Prix. Luca took the championship lead at the Austrian Grand Prix after Enea Bastianini crashed out at turn one and Luca finished in a strong second place. Luca then was the strongest rider between the Misano and Catalunya rounds, scoring two wins in Misano and Catalunya, but was plagued by a red flag in Emilia Romagna and finished in fourth place after another incorrect tyre choice. The season then hit a sudden slump for Luca crashing at the opening corner of Free Practice One in Le Mans and suffering a monstrous highside at turn five, injuring his ankle, and scored zero points in the race.
It got worse at Aragon, crashing out on lap three and losing his championship lead which he had held for six rounds. The Teruel Grand Prix showed a slight improvement with an eleventh place finish, but in Valencia Luca regained some confidence and managed to beat Sam Lowes and Enea Bastianini in both races with a sixth and fifth-place finish to now have an 18 point deficit to his fellow Italian Enea Bastianini. It’s unlikely for Luca to claim his maiden World Championship before he heads to MotoGP next year with the Esponsorma SKY VR46 Ducati Team. Will Luca be able to pull it off?
Marco Bezzecchi had a terrible rookie season in 2019, only scoring 17 points over the 19 rounds, having only taken two top-ten finishes and finishing the season overall in 23rd position. Bezzecchi had come off from a heroic 2018 in Moto3, coming out of nowhere to take three wins and six further podiums and finishing third overall in the championship. Marco had struggled like many with the KTM Moto2 chassis, but a change to the SKY VR46 Team and Kalex chassis transformed Bezzecchi into a championship contender, looking to take his maiden Moto2 podium in Jerez but crashed out of third place at turn ten.
However, he bounced back and secured a podium in the next race of Andalusia, with celebrations not going to plan with his team-mate Luca Marini as both bikes tangled together causing them to both crashes at slow speeds. The Italian from Rimini took his maiden victory in the class at the Styrian Grand Prix, inheriting first place after a track limits infringement by Jorge Martin at turn eight on the final lap.
Marco then went on to take two-second place finishes in both Misano rounds, closing down the gap to his fellow Italians in the championship, he had a bit of trouble in Catalunya, finishing in seventh, but climbed back on the podium in Le Mans. In Aragon, Marco looked set to take his second victory of the season as well as the championship lead but crashed at turn two on the penultimate lap of the race as well as crashing out in the Teruel Grand Prix, setting him back in the championship with a 48 points deficit to Sam Lowes. Marco then bounced back in style, winning in Valencia and taking third place in the last round to now be 23 points behind Enea Bastianini.
Marco is the least likely of the four contenders to win the championship, but should Bastianini have troubles and score less than three points, should both Lowes and Marini be off the podium, that would be enough for Marco to win his first World Title, it’s unlikely, but anything can happen.
With the final round approaching, only one rider will emerge as Moto2 champion. Will it be one the Italians to win their first championship, or will Sam Lowes overcome his injury and use his experience from his championship win in World Supersport in 2013 to his advantage.
The final race of the season takes place at 12:20 (GMT+0), who will be Moto2 champion?
Featured Image: motogp.com