Jerez MotoGP Things I Missed: Numb Hands, A Possible Second Place, And The Support Classes

An awful lot happened at Jerez on Sunday, when the 2020 MotoGP season resumed/started. So much so that it didn't all fit into the subscriber notes published in the very, very wee hours of Monday morning. You can go back there to read about the delicate balance between risk and reward which riders face in 2020, Marc Márquez' astonishing ride and terrible fall, wrecking his upper arm and his title defense, how Márquez' crash exposes Honda's precarious situation without the reigning champion, Fabio Quartararo's fantastic win, and how Yamaha have turned around their MotoGP project since the nadir of 2018, Dovizioso's first MotoGP podium at Jerez and the strength of the Ducati, how the championship has been blown wide open, as well as how the KTM is now a genuinely competitive racing motorcycle. But here are a few more things to think about.

First, an update on Marc Márquez. After a preliminary examination in hospital, with the swelling of the initial trauma surrounding Márquez' broken humerus starting to reduce, doctors are optimistic that Márquez has not suffered damage to the radial nerve in his right arm. That would greatly improve his chances of a speedy recovery, a pin or plate enough to hold the bone in his upper arm together. Dr Mir, overseeing Márquez' care, told the media that Márquez could be ready to race in Brno.

That would mean missing just a single race, the Grand Prix of Andalusia, to be held on Sunday at Jerez once again. But it would also leave Márquez a long way behind in the championship in an extremely shortened season. Defending his title would not be impossible, but would take an even more exceptional performance than last year, where he only finished either first or second.

In the worst case scenario, where there is some kind of nerve damage, Márquez would be out for a three or four more weeks, which would mean skipping Brno and both races in Austria. That would mean losing five races out of thirteen, leaving just eight remaining. Coming back to win a title after that would be pretty much out of the question.

Slow hand Jack

So to the things I didn't get round to mentioning on Sunday night. Obviously, much was rightly made of Andrea Dovizioso's podium at Jerez, his first in the MotoGP class, and how it affects his negotiating position with Ducati. But we shouldn't overlook the fact that Dovizioso was the first of four Ducatis in the top nine. Jack Miller crossed the line in fourth, while his Pramac Ducati teammate Pecco Bagnaia finished seventh. Danilo Petrucci, still suffering the consequences of a big off at Turn 11 during Wednesday's test, still managed to take ninth place.

Miller seemed slightly disappointed on Sunday after narrowly missing out on a podium. "It could have been better, but this was a really good race for me," the Australian told us. "If you compare to last year at Jerez, these conditions and such a long time without racing fourth was good. The most important thing for me today was finishing the race."

That proved more difficult than expected, with a recurrence of an occasional numbness in his right hand. Miller put that down to an issue with the compulsory brake protector fitted at the end of his handlebar. "The biggest problem I had was some numbness in the hand from halfway through the race. We need to work on my position on the handlebars for this because from this point I was a sitting duck. The bike felt great, the tires felt great but I lost the feeling of the grip and couldn't be as smooth on the throttle."

Hang off

Miller's theory is the fact that he spends so much time hanging a long way off the right-hand side of the bike at Jerez, with its many long, fast right corners. "I had the same problem here last year, and I think it's because you're sitting outside the bike so much," the Pramac Ducati rider explained. "Sitting in the garage with the boys and thumbing through what it could have been, we're hanging off the bike so much, with half the hand off the outside grip on the bars, that I felt some tenderness in my hand from when I put my hand back on the bars. We're going to try something different with the brake protectors for it. Marc hangs half his hands off and I do the same but I don't think it's arm pump, I think it's to do with how I hang on to the handlebars through right handers because it's not an issue through left handers." The brake protectors are only compulsory on the right handlebar, protecting the front brake.

The heat was absolutely punishing, Miller told us. "It was physical with riders in a group and my body was absolutely cooking out there because it was so hot. With the other bikes I was getting baked and my hands and feet were boiling." The Australian was pleased with how his fitness had held up. "It was physically and mentally draining but I never felt out of breath on the bike. It shows that you don't need to posting photos of you training with no shirt on every second day to prove you can ride a bike."

Thirteenth, but much better

As with Ducati, where Andrea Dovizioso took the spotlight in a remarkably strong performance, Pol Espargaro's outstanding ride with the KTM also overshadowed the result of his rookie teammate. Brad Binder crossed the line in 13th, nearly 30 seconds behind the winner, Fabio Quartararo, one place behind Alex Márquez, as last rookie and the last of the factory riders.

That does not sound impressive. But Binder's finishing time was marred by a long excursion through the gravel after a mistake at Turn 5, the right hander leading on to the back straight. "When I grabbed the front brake I locked up the front wheel a bit and when I put the angle to keep the bike turning I lost the front," the South African said. "I just managed to pick it up and took a trip through the gravel, which messed up my race obviously and left me 26 seconds down."

He followed it up with the usual PR-friendly apologies to his team. "I need to say sorry to my team because today we could have done a good job and taken a good result." When riders say that, it is usually more the eternal optimism which every top athlete has to have to keep their self belief. But in Binder's case, he was not kidding.

What if?

How good a result did Binder miss out on as a result of running through the gravel? If you take out his worst two laps – the first lap, including the start, and lap 7, the lap in which he ran wide – then he completed the other 23 laps in 38:01.508. By comparison, if you do the same for race winner Fabio Quartararo, his fastest 23 laps took 37:58.105, 3.4 seconds faster than Binder on the KTM. Compare that with Maverick Viñales' best 23 laps, and Viñales' time of 38:03.625 is 2.1 seconds SLOWER than Binder.

If you repeat the exercise, but just take out the time lost in the crash – by replacing his time in lap 7 when he ran wide with an average of the times set in laps 6 and 8, then Binder's overall race time would have been 41:27.207. That is 3.4 seconds slower than Quartararo's winning race time of 41:23.796, and 1.2 seconds FASTER than the 41:28.399 race time of Maverick Viñales, who finished in second place.

There are a lot of things wrong with this kind of speculation. For a start, it takes no account of the fact that Viñales spent a good deal of the race having to worry about Andrea Dovizioso and Jack Miller, while Binder had clear track ahead of him, and could just focus on riding. But the fact that Binder had the pace for second place on his debut is a remarkable achievement, and one which risks going unnoticed in the excitement of the opening round.

What could have been

Marc Márquez finished third in his first MotoGP race. Jorge Lorenzo finished second. Though we have no way of knowing how the race would have played out if Binder had not run wide on lap 7, he could have found himself in elevated company indeed.

Binder had surprised even himself with his speed. "I knew I could be there in the group, with the guys," he said. "I didn’t know I would be able to sit there quite comfortably. That was a bit of a shock for sure. I expected to be absolutely on the edge from lap one to the end and it turns out MotoGP is quite a lot similar to racing any other bike! It’s still a motorbike, and it’s the average time over 25 laps that gets the job done. The big difference I saw today is that anyone can do these super-quick laps in qualifying. All in all it was great to up there with these guys. I also got an amazing start and I felt good. Unfortunately after the big mistake I just settled into my rhythm and tried to get to the end and it turns out that my pace was really competitive. I look forward to giving it a try next week."

While the opening weekend was a success for Yamaha, Ducati, and KTM, it was nothing short of a disaster for Suzuki. Alex Rins crashed in qualifying, fracturing his right arm and forced to sit out the race. Joan Mir made a mistake while trying to pass Bradley Smith and crashed out. During preseason, the test, and much of practice, the Suzukis had proved to be highly competitive. But all that went for naught on Sunday.

"Really disappointed," Mir said after the race. "At the end I’m not happy. We made a bad start. Then I lost a couple of positions. I need to work a little more on the starts. It’s difficult to maintain our position. Then when all the bikes were more or less in line I started to overtake some riders. I was behind Smith who made a super good start. In turn 9 he slowed down a lot and I tried to overtake him in that point and I lost the front."

New normal for Moto2

While MotoGP were getting their first taste of action in 2020, it was a restart for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes at Jerez. That had been somewhat peculiar affair for the smaller classes, especially for Moto2, given that they found themselves racing just after sunset, with much better grip conditions, instead of in the heat of the day, as had originally been scheduled before the MotoGP race had been canceled.

The radically different grip at Jerez shook out a couple of the surprise runners at Qatar. Joe Roberts had been a star in the opening round in the desert, but on track rendered greasy by the Andalusian heat, Roberts struggled, finishing outside the points. Bo Bendsneyder, another surprise package in Qatar, had exactly the same problem.

Tetsuta Nagashima, on the other hand, proved his victory in Qatar was no anomaly. The Japanese rider couldn't match the pace of Sky VR46' Luca Marini, but the Red Bull KTM rider finished second, and now has a comfortable lead in the championship. Marini and Jorge Martin had both struggled with front tire choice at Qatar, but both riders came good in Jerez, Marini taking victory while Martin crossed the line in third. Sam Lowes finished fourth, a strong result after missing the race in Qatar with a shoulder injury.

Some semblance of normality appears to have returned to the Moto2 championship. The real surprise is Aron Canet, who finished fifth in Jerez, improving on his eighth place in his Moto2 debut at Qatar. The Aspar rider has adapted to Moto2 with impressive speed.

Asia rising

The Moto3 class nearly saw a repeat of the podium at Qatar, but John McPhee tried a little too hard into the final corner, putting himself on the outside on the exit of Turn 13, where he was nudged off track and into the gravel. Albert Arenas and Ai Ogura did return to the podium, Arenas taking his second win in a row, and now with a clear lead in the championship. Arenas is looking exceptionally solid in 2020, managing the Jerez race methodically and cleverly.

Ogura's second-place finish at Jerez, coming on top of third at Qatar, is illustrative of the strong cohort of Japanese riders currently in the lower classes. Ogura, Tatsuki Suzuki, Ayumi Sasaki, and Yuki Kunii all emerged through the Asia Talent Cup, the Dorna-backed series created as a pathway into Grand Prix racing for riders from Asia. With Ogura comfortably second in the Moto3 standings, it seems fair to say that has succeeded.


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Comments

I recall a race during the last third of the 2019 season where Binder still had a shot at the title. On the grid, the look in his eyes said it all - he was going to do whatever it took to win the race. Which he did. He wasn't crouching next to his bike with shades on doing some kind of meditation, or nodding away to some jamming music on his iPod while hiding his eyes. He was just staring at the end of the start/finish straight with a clear expression for any and all to see. Easily discernible. Plus he's humble. Until the helmet goes on.

Even when it comes to shoulder injuries, Marquez steals the spotlight over Rins. Lots of conclusions being made about how Marc is out of the championship. Some forget the strength of his will. Even if it is aligned with ego. Will have to wait and see how his recovery pans out. Remember the old saying, "never count out the doctor?" Just substitute a different goat. Marquez loves a challenge.

Marini's comments in parc ferme about winning the race on Friday were very interesting. Intelligent and experienced crew behind him.

Another great writeup, Mr. Emmett. Thanks.

Thanks David! You have been a busy bee indeed. Wow.

Addendum?
Future scenario for Marc re injury, we can't forget that here and now we seem to have a focus on the upper arm break. It was pushing on nerve(s), but assessed to mot have nerve damage. He will get some tackle pinning/plating tomorrow. Ok, so far so good. But he took a BEATING. I see more assessment and dianosis needed before outlining his prognosis. SO FAR based on the upper arm break, out for round 2 and we need to wait and see. He is often strategically minimizing how hurt he is. They can't know the status of his functioning yet, no way have they explored the right shoulder while he has a broken humerus in a sling, full of pain meds, swollen like a balloon. Not out of the woods yet. Hoping for the best.

Binder, great analysis. In comparison to Jorge and Marc, doing it on this KTM is significant of course. First go. Amazing! Watch your tail Pol. Then Binder's tail? Watch your tail Suzuki, if you had a rearview mirror it would be full of Orange. "Objects are closer than they appear."

Good Moto2/3 notes. Enjoy some rest.

He has taken some nasty beatings over the years and never shows anyone know how much pain he is in. Hopefully he doesn't try to fool himself into thinking he is less hurt than he may let on. 

Really excited to see BB33 line up next week now that he will be on the track for a second time. Seems as though he disn't let himself het psyched out over the enormiry of his first race - just another motorbike. Hardly! I need to go back and watch the race that Peterday mentions. No glasses, no music is a great mental image. 
 

Excellent follow up report David!

The Binder situation reminds me of what happened to Quartararo at Round 1 in Qatar last year, a rookie mistake which ignited a fire and removed the pressure to allow him to ride unencumbered. Eerily similar echoes.

On another note. Is there any substance to the rumours that Valentino parked the bike? I have heard that those privvy to the onboard footage stated no such engine warning information was displayed? Perhaps he struggled with the heat? I hate to be a part of conspiracies however maybe it was a big middle finger to Yamaha for the 2021 demotion? Issues with heat, frustration from a poor tyre choice, resentment at the demotion or Yamaha not delivering a bike to meet his needs. Perhaps he just parked it to make a statement. Yamaha have been unusually coy about what would normally be a major issue, mechanical failure.

Jack's comments on being burnt from excessive temperatures has reignited previous ponderings I have had in relation to when (if ever) it would be too hot to safely conduct a race?

Interested in your thoughts.

The onboard footage of Rossi is on the MotoGP Instagram page...

Clicks up a couple of gears coming out of the corner, clicks the next one and it drops to idle and shuts off. Where the heck people come up with these kinds of things..

Rossi didn't park the bike. You can see that the bike shuts off on its own on the onboard footage. Yamaha suspect an exhaust temperature sensor, as Viñales also had an issue with it last week, and have requested permission from the MSMA to unseal the engines to replace them.

From memory the career ending injury for Doohan was from a practice crash in the same corner as Marquez crashed in on Sunday. Also from memory Doohan was forced into retirement due to damage to the radial nerve from his right humerus bone fracture in that crash. Here to the hope that history does not repeat for Repsol HRC and more importantly Marquez. 

Looks to me like something's going on behind the scenes. Petronas clearly aren't that keen on having Vale, Yamaha think he's a spent force; it feels like he is being squeezed out of the paddock. Maybe scores are being settled, or powerful people don't like the amount of power he has (or had), and with a crop of competitors able to liven up the championship and keep it healthy, Vale has become dispensable. This feels more like politics than racing, and I won't be in the least surprised if Vale doesn't actually go to Petronas for next year. Cue Jorge.

I agree. There's rumours circulating that his bike was fine.  Maybe he couldn't handle the heat/ conditions? I think Lecuona retired for a physical reasons.  Valentino certainly wouldn't want to do that.  There be cries he's too old and think of what impression that would give to Petronas! So park the bike,  also doubles up as a big middle finger to Yamaha for the demotion/ failing to give him a bike he thinks he can compete on.  Yamaha can't say a thing,  his throng of fans would back him to the hilt.  Strange that there's been very little reported on the matter from Yamaha.  I mean... when was the last time a factory bike retired from mechanical reasons? Marquez at Silverstone 3 or so years ago? The Yamaha's at Mugello also around 3 years ago (which I might add Yamaha very quickly reported what the issue was). Perhaps they've wound the thing up a little too high in an attempt to eek more horsepower out of it? Time will tell. 

Again...go look at the onboard footage...I've not seen any rumours other than what you've posted here about...twice

This Covid pandemic messed everything up, Rossi the most imo. If he had dismal results at the start of the season, being the season was a normal one, he'd retire. If the Petronas deal blows up, won't be Jorge who turns 34 next yr imo. Probably Marini if he continues being very fast in M2. Think Dorna wants Rossi back for one last swan song with a full(er) season and fans get to return.

And if (just if) Rossi doesn't want to ride a satellite bike after all ? What if Petronas make a great decision and signs Zarco to fill the spot ? Until the KTM sh*t fest he was doing wonders on the Tech3 Yamaha: rookie of the year, 5 poles and 6 podiums in 2 years, twice 6th in the championship...

Will this similar to Rossi accident during 2010 MotoGP ?, where he broke his leg so badly and took many months to recover.

As usual I was up early to catch all of Sunday's action live. Moto 3 as is often the case was the race of the day. John McPhee just gets better and better in spite of the last turn outcome. Arenas, Ogura, Arbelino, Suzuki et al, there is a whole bunch of talent in M3 and a pleasure to watch. Then we have Moto 3's Sunday man, the other Binder (Daryn). Potential race winner so many times, it is annoying seeing him bin it last lap, second last lap over and over, year in and year out. I reckon he would be way better in Moto 2 even if on inferior kit. He's physically too big for the M3 bike. Which brings  me The Doctor 'edition 2'. Luca Marini was as surgical as you like and if you enjoyed The Doctor 'edition 1' in his heyday, you may have noticed edition 2 has a remarkably similar metronomic style like edition 1's nemesis had and maybe still does....a certain JL99. Tetsu is the real deal. Japan deserve a big title winner for the record books. Jorge Martin remains however my pick of the class, win lose or draw to make waves in MotoGP premier class when he moves up, not if. So whose going to do the 'Wall street shuffle' at Ducati? Dovi has so many options after Sunday's race, its just not funny. He's bloody good on a Honda, a Yamaha, a Ducati, has a deplorable consistency of destroying team mates over a seasons length in spite of their respective trophy cabinets. Maybe he should take that sabatical and freelance for all manufacturer's....your rider gets banged up, I will stand in and my fee is X$ per hour plus incentives. Right now, I reckon Petronas would rather have him than Rossi.

Thanks for the hard work David and all at motomatters. Look forward to the next podcast.

Was wondering if Petronas was dragging their heels on the Rossi signing, waiting to see how the Ducati/Dovi standoff pans out. Plus, Rossi's results post 2015 have been progessively more underwhelming year by year. Yesterday's race shines the spotlight on his age. Nobody escapes time. It's been reported somewhere that Dovi has already renegotiated 2020 with Ducati. It's 2021 and beyond that is the sticky point. Only snafu is the synergy Dovi has with his crewchief, Pigia. This is probably normal in racing, but...A lot is revealed in the TechnoDovi series on utube. 

But then again, maybe Petronas is looking at Marini instead. That would be a middle-age crisis faceplant for Rossi - to be usurped by forces beyond one's control, and nowhere to go but retirement. To be replaced by Dovi would sting, but to have your only spot on the motogp grid taken by your younger brother - THAT would be humbling.  

Hello  this Dr Mir,

Hi its HRC can fit Marc and Calmin for surgery this week?

Dr Mir: I'm all booked up.

HRC: Can you rearrange your Tuesday morning appointments?

Dr Mir: I already have some very special clients booked in.

HRC: We need the operation on Tuesday at any price!

Dr Mir: Tuesday is yours for the price of €X000

 

How much is special surgical apointment withDr Mir? Do HRC have an account? Do they get discount for bulk bookings?