After the meandering twists and turns of the last few races, the 2020 Catalunya MotoGP seemed - dare we say it - a return to some familiarity as Fabio Quartararo became the first repeat winner since his own double success at Jerez back in July.

Even Andrea Dovizioso had some history repeating, albeit being taken out on the opening lap for the second year in succession.

With the overall standings now finally demonstrating some order, who came away from the Catalunya MotoGP smiling and who is making a hasty exit?

 

 


Winners

Petronas SRT Yamaha

When it was confirmed back in January that Valentino Rossi would be on his way out of the works Yamaha team, it took a bit of imagination to consider what he’d look like on a Yamaha that was neither blue nor factory.

Yet, as Fabio Quartararo reeled off his third MotoGP win of the year in Spain and Franco Morbidelli fell just two laps short of it being a 1-2 race result from 1-2 on the grid, it’s increasingly difficult to see at the moment which the manufacturer team is.

Of course, no-one is surprised when Petronas SRT Yamaha tops a timesheet anymore, but taking a step back for a moment, this is still a team that is less than two years old but (with a healthy amount of budget, it must be said) has been almost faultless from day one. 

While the riders get their share of time in the limelight, it’s a huge credit to Razlan Razali - a passionate figure the sport needs more of - Johan Stigefelt and Wilco Zeelenberg among everyone else who have destroyed the notion of ‘satellite team’ and made other manufacturers step up to the extent we have almost an entire grid of potential race winners.

As Lin Jarvis said, he prefers to see them as a ‘Factory Supported Team’, but you have to wonder who needs to support whom…

Suzuki 

Suzuki has never quite had two riders firing on all cylinders at the same time since it returned to MotoGP in 2015. It came close in 2018 as Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins took nine podiums between them but you need to go back to 2007 for the last time Suzuki’s blue hues were seen on two podium spots at the same time.

That minor but telling ‘duck’ was broken in Barcelona as Joan Mir and Alex Rins came good in tandem to finish second and third. It was a familiar tale for the pair - starting in modest grid positions, drifting off the pace of the leader at the start before reeling their rivals in to pounce as they weakened in the final laps - but executed perfectly.

Indeed, if the Suzuki looks frustratingly slow early on, no other bike can come close to the pace it has in the final laps at the moment.

A podium from Mir - his fourth in five races now - is now becoming anticipated, but a return to the rostrum for Alex Rins -  intended to be the title-contending team leader this year - is a welcome bounce back to form. It means 13 of the 20 full-time riders have stepped on the rostrum in only eight races this year.

Cal Crutchlow

If there were awards handed out for the resilience of riders in MotoGP, Cal Crutchlow would be as dominant as Marc Marquez. Indeed, it’s any wonder he has any teeth left, the amount of times he’s had to grit them to carry on.

Coming into the weekend you almost couldn’t make up the latest incident to befall him… slipping just after he’d taken his COVID-19 test and spraining his ankle. Having literally just been given the green light to race from his arm injury, that’s some great slapstick comedy right there… except it actually happened.

Still, while Crutchlow isn’t short of a few words about anything, the Briton has remained stoic and upbeat about the various injuries that over the years have left him battered and bruised.

His run to tenth in Catalunya isn’t a headline grabber per se, but it is his first meaningful points on the board this year, so credit to Cal for cracking on.

Loser

Andrea Dovizioso

Andrea Dovizioso’s Catalunya MotoGP was a disaster even before his race lasted no more than 200m when he was - for the second year in succession - wiped out on the opening lap through no fault of his own.

After all the in-fighting and politics that have led to Dovizioso’s split with Ducati right in the midst of his title battle, this was possibly ‘the’ most Ducati incident to happen ever after Danilo Petrucci first wobbled, spooked Johann Zarco behind him, who then slid into the path of a hapless Dovizioso.

A year after Jorge Lorenzo’s convincing and destructive impression of a bowling ball dashed his title aspirations, this incident - though blameless this time - will be probably be felt harder.

Indeed, having seen a 1 point lead transformed into a 24 point deficit to Quartararo, with Dovizioso fearing Ducati had been on borrowed time anyway as his consistency disguises a lack of outright performance, he won’t be able to rely on this going forward.

As such, he will need to win from the front… and based on this weekend, the bike looks nowhere near capable of that in his hands.

Any other year Dovi, any other year….

Pol Espargaro

Given he grew up so close to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya he’d pine for racing in the classroom because he’d hear them going round, Pol Espargaro has never quite shone on soil that could barely be any more home than if he was born on it.

Unfortunately, Espargaro’s hopes of continuing KTM’s trend of being competitive as circuits it hasn’t been in the past didn’t occur this time, even if he attempted to make a good fist of it as he battled for sixth.

However, crashing is becoming something of a worrying occurrence for Espargaro, who had in previous years carved out a reputation as the steady and consistent talisman needed to develop the bike. 

With a competitive KTM  underneath him now though, Espargaro’s crash tally has risen sharply and while he certainly isn’t the only KTM rider to have found the gravel a lot this year, for him it has greater consequences as team leader.

However, with the notoriously tricky to handle Honda on the horizon for him in 2021, something may need to change...
 

 

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