Can MotoGP™ reach cloud nine at MotorLand?2020-10-21 00:20
After eight different riders on the top step so far, 2020 is on the verge of equalling an all-time record. So who's in line to keep it rolling in Teruel?
Eight winners in eight races, and eight so far, is quite a stat. So as the paddock returns to MotorLand Aragon for the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel, there's one obvious question: can 2020 equal the record of nine? Set in 2016, it's the most premier class winners we've ever had... and now we're one away, with a few candidates still waiting in the wings to take to the top step.
The first must be Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The number 36 is now the Championship leader despite not yet winning, having shown incredible consistency to take podium after podium. He wasn't quite able to replicate the late pace of teammate Alex Rins in the Aragon GP - with Rins becoming the eighth different winner after a stunner on Sunday from tenth on the grid - but it would be hard to bet against the Mayorcan moving forward second time around at MotorLand. That would bring him even closer to the top step. It would be easy to say he'll balance risk vs reward too, but he's said for some time the target is to win a race before it's to focus on the title. Rins will likely be hard to beat once again, though, so could the Teruel GP come down to a Suzuki duel? And can Mir come out on top this time around?
The man who came closest to denying the number 42 last time out was Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), however. The rookie is on an absolute roll taking two second places in a row, and he cut his gap from the winner from just over a second in the wet at Le Mans to just 0.263 at Aragon - in the dry. In a Jaws music-accompanied bit of news for his rivals too, Alex Marquez has been a key improver from one race weekend at the same track to the second. With the deficit he had on Sunday sitting at less than three tenths... can Marquez bring Honda's winless streak to an end and take his first premier class victory?
Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) is another man who's come close to winning in 2020 but hasn't done it yet, but MotorLand has been a tougher venue for Ducati so far this season. Austrian GP winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was the top Borgo Panigale factory rider on race day last time out and edged out Miller and another man who has known the top step but not in 2020 yet - Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) - but plenty has turned on a dime this season. And what about Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu)? The Japanese rider is fifth overall, only 29 points off Mir, and is the only rider to score in every race. He's also been in the top ten in every race, but has knocked on the door to the podium a few times.
A new winner isn't guaranteed though. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) only just missed out on pole and was incredibly close to beating Mir to the podium in the Aragon GP, and he can't be counted out. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) had some solid pace but will want to move forward... and then there's his teammate, Fabio Quartararo...
Despite a crash in FP3 at the Aragon GP that left him a little bruised, Quartararo snatched pole from Viñales on Saturday and, initially, was up there in the fight. But a tyre pressure problem is what the Frenchman cited as the reason he then went back through the order down to P18 - his worst result yet and outside the points. That gave his three key contenders an open goal and Mir's podium saw him take the lead, Viñales' fourth saw him gain and Dovizioso once again stole back some of the ground he'd lost with his early crash in Barcelona. What can Quartararo do back at full power in the Teruel GP? He's the true unknown quantity on the grid, but we're about to find out.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will also want to move forward into that top ten battle and beyond, with the Austrian factory having a tougher time of it in the Aragon GP to take P11 with rookie Brad Binder as their top finish. His teammate, Pol Espargaro, was right behind him too. The number 44 will want to get back ahead, and Binder will want a lot more points this time around - he's now tied on 67 with Alex Marquez in the fight for Rookie of the Year. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini's Aleix Espargaro was close behind the two top KTMs too - and he'll want to try and flip that in Teruel as it's a venue he's had some good form at.
Another week, another MotoGP™ race... and we already know it'll be another stunner. Will we get that record-equalling winner number nine? Or can the likes of Quartararo, Viñales and Rins reign again? Find out on Sunday at the earlier time of 13:00 (GMT +1).
MotoGP™ Championship Standings
1 Joan Mir - Team Suzuki Ecstar - Suzuki - 121
2 Fabio Quartararo* - Petronas Yamaha SRT - Yamaha - 115
3 Maverick Viñales - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP - Yamaha - 109
4 Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team - Ducati - 106
5 Takaaki Nakagami* - LCR Honda Idemitsu - Honda - 92
*Independent Team riders
Take 2 in Teruel: Can Bastianini and Lowes extend their advantage?
Moto2™ returns to MotorLand for the Teruel GP, with the Championship landscape looking a little different...
This time last week it was a question, now it's a fact: MotorLand still very much suits Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The Brit is now just two points off the top of the Championship after taking back-to-back wins for the first time, the latter also his second victory at this track. Now it's take two for the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel, will it still hold true?
Lowes already pinpointed a few places he thinks he can improve, and said there were a few issues in the race he'd not come across in practice, so the signs are good for the Brit to make another step in the Teruel GP. If he can and takes a third win in a row, he'll be the first Brit to do so in the intermediate class since 1971...
It will be far from easy though. The two riders who crashed ahead of him on Sunday - Fabio Di Giannantonio (Lightech Speed Up) and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) - will be back and aiming to make amends, also having been fast all weekend, and the two who joined Lowes on the podium will be aiming to make a step forward too, given a whole extra weekend of data ahead of Teruel. In third place, one of them was Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and he'll want to get further forward in the fight on home turf. The other, just beating Martin, was the new Championship leader: Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team).
After qualifying 12th, the 'Beast' hadn't had the illustrious weekend he would have wanted by the end of play on Saturday, but he sliced through the field and got into the fight for the podium before defeating Martin on the last lap. That was enough, behind Lowes on the top step, to ensure he heads into the Teruel GP with the Championship lead, but it's two just points ahead of the Brit. To extend it will remain a tightly-contested challenge this time around...
For Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), meanwhile, Teruel will be about finding a little redemption - and a key haul of points. The former Championship leader lost that mantle as he crashed out of the Aragon GP, meaning it's two in a row where he's now failed to score. Can he regain his form from before his Le Mans highside? Marini is third overall now but only five points off the top, so there's plenty yet to run in the title fight.
Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) will want to take a step forward after taking his best ever Moto2™ result in fourth, and announcing he's staying put for 2021, and those just behind him will too: Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) won the battle for fifth and was closely followed by Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing Team) and Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40), two more riders who took best results, and Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing Team) followed them home. For some it will be about confirming that speed and moving forward, and Roberts will want to stamp a little authority back on the inter-team battle too. There's also Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up), who has podium form at MotorLand, and after he crashed early last time out he'll want to bounce back quickly...
Three riders in five points is how the Moto2™ Championship arrives back into Teruel - and Bezzecchi in fourth is only 25 off the top, as well as having led for much of the Aragon GP. Will the momentum stay with Bastianini and Lowes? Or can those on the chase fight back on take two? Find out at the later time of 14:30 (GMT +1) on Sunday.
Moto2™ Championship Standings
1 Enea Bastianini - Italtrans Racing Team - Kalex - 155
2 Sam Lowes - EG0,0 Marc VDS - Kalex - 153
3 Luca Marini - Sky Racing Team VR46 - Kalex - 150
4 Marco Bezzecchi - Sky Racing Team VR46 - Kalex - 130
5 Jorge Martin - Red Bull KTM Ajo - Kalex - 95
Advantage Arenas as Moto3™ return to MotorLand
The Championship leader arrives with a slightly bigger lead as the pressure shifts to his rivals
A couple of months ago, seventh place would have felt like a tougher race for Championship leader Albert Arenas (Solunion Aspar Team Moto3). But it was enough in the Aragon GP to see the Spaniard extend his lead at the top fairly significantly as his key rivals faltered, and he now has 144 points to Ai Ogura’s (Honda Team Asia) 131. Arenas also fought it out for the podium and took a front row start, so he has speed at the venue he’ll be hoping to use to extend that gap at the top.
So can he? Ogura’s run of tougher races continues, and Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) struggled on Sunday. The Italian did, however, only miss out on pole by half a tenth – so he’ll be aiming to rediscover that speed in the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel. And what about John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing)? The Brit has his 2021 plans wrapped up and arrives with less to lose, in fifth overall, and he took an impressive fifth place in the Aragon GP despite serving a Long Lap penalty early in the race.
The others in that front group that Arenas ultimately lost out to will arrive confident in their form as well. Winner Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) played it to perfection for the win, Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) was only a tenth down. What can they do? Masia moved up from P17 on the grid to win and bridged the gap to the front along with McPhee, and Darryn Binder also had to play catch me if you can. If they’re further up from the off, it could be ominous.
Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took his first Grand Prix podium too, and his Friday, Saturday and Sunday speed also looks a little ominous. With the Spaniard finally having converted a quick weekend into some silverware, he’ll be one to watch. Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) had an impressive race to take sixth as well, and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) – who has already won at MotorLand, in 2015 – was once again a key presence at the front. Can the likes of Vietti, Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) and Ogura bridge the gap if the frontrunners stay ahead? And can Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) take that step to stay quick over the whole race distance?
And then there’s Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team). The Italian was forced to miss the Aragon GP due to mandatory self-isolation despite testing negative for Covid-19, and he’ll be raring to get back to action as soon as possible. He’ll have less track time under his belt but some serious motivation – and he remains only 29 points off the top. Can he pick up where he left off? We’re about to find out…
Tune in for the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel Moto3™ race at the slightly later time of 11:20 (GMT +1) on Sunday!
Moto3™ Championship Standings
1 Albert Arenas - Solunion Aspar Team Moto3 - KTM - 144
2 Ai Ogura - Honda Team Asia - Honda - 131
3 Celestino Vietti - Sky Racing Team VR46 - KTM - 126
4 Tony Arbolino - Rivacold Snipers Team - Honda - 115
5 John McPhee - Petronas Sprinta Racing - Honda - 109
Source: Dorna Sports
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