Franco Morbidelli matches his runner-up spot in the MotoGP World Championship standings with the same position here in’s MotoGP Rider of the Year ranking.

This was a redemptive season for Franco Morbidelli, who having slipped into the shadow of his headline grabbing team-mate Fabio Quartararo in 2019 had rediscovered the initiative by the time 2020 was over.

Expected to lead the challenge of Petronas SRT Yamaha in its inaugural campaign, instead Quartararo emerged as the manufacturer’s leading talisman in his rookie campaign to put the Italian firmly in the shade.

While it looked set to be a similar story in 2020 initially, Morbidelli instead gathered momentum as the year progressed, shrugging off an indifferent start to the year to come on strongly in the final stages with a trio of victories. 

Moreover, they came impressively, his maiden success at Misano proving a dominant success, before he went on to repeat the feat in Aragon (Teruel). His third success in Valencia, however, demonstrated his racing mettle by getting his elbows out to fend off the late attentions of Jack Miller on the final lap.

In a year that saw the form of the Yamaha contingent fluctuate, Morbidelli wasn’t immune either though misfortune also hounded him, from technical issues at the start of the year to the spectacular accident that befell him (and almost also his team-mates) in Austria.

Crediting his upturn in performance to working harder behind the scenes and putting the ‘party’ lifestyle behind him, it’s an attitude he says will inspire him going forward too as he prepares to receive his mentor (or uncle) Valentino Rossi alongside him in the Malaysian-backed outfit and prove to Yamaha it should be he, rather than Quartararo, that leads the manufacturer’s efforts into 2021.

If at times the three three top-spec Yamaha riders seemed to be going backwards by the conclusion of 2020, Morbidelli was certainly the one moving in the right direction.