Franco Morbidelli has won the independent riders title after claiming his fifth MotoGP podium finish of the season.
In a season of two halves, Franco Morbidelli emerged as the 2020 Independent rider champion after claiming three victories and five podium finishes.
The Italian’s second season with the Petronas Yamaha SRT squad delivered his best season to date, finishing second in the world, ultimately finishing just 13 points off world champion Joan Mir.
The delayed 2020 season didn’t get off to the best of starts for Morbidelli, who had to wait until round three to claim his maiden Grand Prix podium after a fifth and a retirement at the Jerez double-headers.
From there, a retirement in Austria after the horrifying collision with Johann Zarco was followed by a 15th place – another doubleheader to forget for the half Italian-Brazilian rider.
As the season entered its second half, Morbidelli hit reset, heading to his home Grand Prix in Misano full of confidence. A dominating performance gifted the 25-year-old his maiden Grand Prix win, beating compatriot Francesco Bagnaia by over two seconds. Morbidelli’s form blipped again for the second visit to Misano, collecting valuable points with a ninth-place finish before returning to the top five in Catalunya.
Another difficult race in Aragon saw the Yamaha rider finish in sixth, and also saw Mir move into the championship lead. However, Morbidelli responded, keeping himself in the title chase with a brilliant win in Teruel before backing up his performance in Valencia with another stunning win over Jack Miller in the second Valencian race.
The VR46 academy rider lost out on the title in Valencia, but a strong race in Portimao saw him secure second in the riders championship and aid him in becoming the 2020 independent rider champion.
“I’m happy that we finished the championship second; to be Vice MotoGP World Champion is something great,” began Morbidelli. “Of course, my dream is something more than this, but I will remember today forever. I want to say a huge thanks to my team for helping me achieve this. I will work now to improve myself and see what next season brings.“
Speaking about the race in Portimao, the Italian said: “I enjoyed today’s race quite a lot, and this track is amazing, it’s so difficult but so nice to ride. We got the tyre choice right, and I was impressed with the pace that we were able to maintain. Miguel [Oliveira] had something extra today, and we weren’t able to follow him, so I just gave everything I had to try to pull away from the pack, although Jack [Miller] stayed with me.” Morbidelli lost out to Miller on the final lap, resulting in a third-place finish.
“He was able to attack at the end, and I couldn’t retaliate, so massive congratulations to both him and Miguel today,” Morbidelli concluded.
Featured image: Petronas SRT