After months of waiting, the 2020 MotoGP World Championship burst into life like it had never been away with a thriller of a race that could have huge implications for the title fight.

But who came away from the Spanish MotoGP with a sense of accomplishment, and who will be desperate to hit the ground running in Jerez again to right the wrongs of the previous weekend?

 

 

Winners

Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo was a winner of more than just Spanish MotoGP. It’s bizarre to think that in just his 20th MotoGP start this felt like a long-awaited victory such has been his omnipresence at the head of the timesheets since he blasted into the premier class to defy all predictions.

Marc Marquez may have been quicker in race trim but – borrowing an old adage – to finish first, first you have to finish of course. Indeed, perhaps the most interesting thing about his win was it was achieved in such a low key way, the Frenchman calling upon that extra experience to not get flustered by a tardy start to work his way into contention and then pull away to the finish line.

Quartararo’s success is a win for MotoGP too, formalising his status as a title contender. For many years Marquez has been the ‘new generation’ ushering in a fresh era, but now a new wave is coming and Quartararo is on the crest of it…

KTM

It wasn’t the manufacturer’s best result in MotoGP, nor was it its most headline grabbing weekend but Pol Espargaro’s run to sixth, just a couple of seconds off the podium, was undoubtedly its most convincing like-for-like performance since entering MotoGP.

Better still, KTM’s future looks to be in good hands too. Debutant Brad Binder was almost a match for Espargaro on pace and was on his team-mate’s tail until he suffered an off and dropped back. Moreover, Miguel Oliveira put in an understated performance on the Tech 3 machine to claim only his and the team’s second top ten finish, while Iker Lecuona was also heading for a strong finish before he fell.

Marc Marquez

Of course we all know how the charge ended, but there is no ignoring the startling disparity in performance Marc Marquez demonstrated in getting himself back into podium contention.

If 2019 was a showcase of Marquez’s ability to control a race from the front, the Spanish MotoGP showed exactly how much he has in reserve over his rivals. While that may have pushed him close – and ultimately over – the limit, his sheer pace when he needed it will still leave rivals feeling a little uneasy even in his absence…

Honourable mentions:

Andrea Dovizioso – Still injured and riding a bike unsuited to the track, but still made it to the podium. Is there a steadier or more reliable pair of hands in MotoGP than Andrea Dovizioso?

Petronas SRT Yamaha – Tech 3 came close but Petronas SRT have taken just one season to become the first non-factory Yamaha outfit to score a win in the four-stroke era

Losers

The zero scorers

Championships won’t be won in the first race, but they can certainly be lost. In the same way Marquez arguably demonstrated his startling raw pace when he needed to, his innate ability to find the limit means on this occasion he pushed it just a little too far. And the implications are very clear…

He wasn’t the only one though. Alex Rins put himself under pressure again with lacklustre qualifying performance, ultimately leading to the crash that could rule him out for more than just a single race.

Moreover, Cal Crutchlow was well placed coming into the race but for a crash right at the end of warm-up ruling him out of contention, while Joan Mir compounded Suzuki’s weekend with an early crash…

Those that will race this weekend do so on the back foot and an awareness that in a such a concentrated season even the most minor or mistakes can have bigger effects.

Valentino Rossi

While the Italian’s ‘will he, won’t he’ contractual discussions have been the source of much conversation heading into the new season, Valentino Rossi descended into the background once track action was underway in Jerez.

As with 2019, Rossi found himself circulating at a similar pace to Franco Morbidelli early in the weekend while Yamaha counterparts Quartararo and Maverick Vinales battled up at the front. However, whereas his countryman showed an upturn in pace in race trim, the multiple world champion was again one step off the front runners.

Difficulties in getting the tyres to work to his liking on the M1 remains the bugbear but at the moment there appears to be no clear answer to his troubles.

Aprilia

Aleix Espargaro said he shed a tear during pre-season because he felt he finally had a bike that could challenge at the sharp end of the field, However, the new RS-GP spent much of the weekend mired in a familiar mid-to-back end of the field position throughout its debut race weekend.

Rumour has it the team turned down the engine in order to preserve it following a blow-out in testing, but on a weekend that saw KTM seemingly take a big step forward it seems Aprilia was standing very still.

 

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