Europe Moto2 & Moto3 Review - Neil Morrison On Arenas' Temper, Bezzecchi's Return, Gardner Keeping His Cool, And A Lacklustre Luthi

MotoGP may have moved definitively toward one contender taking the crown. But a three-way title fight in Moto2 became four thanks to a surprise crash for leader Sam Lowes. And Any feeling 2020 was inching decisively in favour of Moto3 challenger Albert Arenas took just two laps to come apart. Here are a number of the big stories from the junior classes at the European Grand Prix.

Arenas loses his cool

Perhaps with the passing of time the Moto3 contest will be remembered for Raul Fernandez’s long-awaited first grand prix win. But it was Albert Arenas’ all-action showing that really caught the eye. Unfortunate in the extreme to get hit from behind when avoiding Celestino Vietti’s stricken KTM, the championship leader was forced into the pits with a snapped footrest bracket.

That should have been the end of his morning. But Arenas wasn’t finished. “I went into the garage pissed off, but the team tried to calm me,” he said. The team succeeded in mending the machine, but failed to defuse the rider. Rejoining in 30th place and three laps down, the Spaniard let the leading men by when shown the blue flags. But then came the madness. The 23-year old inexplicably started passing the riders in the fight for the second, including a ludicrous lunge on title rival Ai Ogura at the final turn – enough for Race Direction to show him the black flag.

There were protests afterward. “At all times I have followed the instructions,” Arenas protested. “I couldn't do anything else. There will be people who will understand that, who will appreciate the fact that we have fought to the end and who will appreciate what it takes to fight for a title.”

Well, not quite. It’s common racing etiquette to understand not to get involved in the leading positions when one lap down, never mind three. Whether a rider is faster or not is irrelevant, he cannot disrupt the flow of the race when three laps down. The fact he saved his most aggressive move for Ogura -now just three points back in the title fight – wasn’t a good look. The black flag was timely and fully warranted.

But a little perspective: any rider in this situation would be hot under the collar. Arenas is in the midst of a championship fight, was well positioned here before Vietti’s fall, and had the right to feel hard done by. Plus he had the speed. Despite rear brake damage, the fastest lap he posted on lap seven was 0.6s faster than anything any other rider managed in the entire race. In this case, Arenas’ judgement wasn’t sound but calls for further recriminations were too much. A championship challenger had just seen his victory chances evaporate through no fault of his own. I think we can all excuse Arenas’ judgement being clouded soon after.

Bezzecchi back from the brink

There have been a few tough moments in Marco Bezzecchi’s career. But the outcome of the Aragon double header was right among them. From being on course to take control of the Moto2 championship with two laps remaining in the Aragon GP, to somehow leaving both weekends with no points was, as the 21-year old put it, “a disaster.”

That made his victory in the European Grand Prix – his first clear win in Moto2 – all the more sweeter. And all the more impressive. Bezzecchi is showing himself to have the requisite mental fortitude to bounce back from real lows in fantastic fashion. Aside from leading 24 of the 25 laps, ‘Bez’ held on to his lead late on despite a transmission issue that caused him to speak to his bike.

“The second weekend in Aragon was a disaster,” he said on Sunday. “This win was even (sweeter) because of this. We did an incredible job, even if the bike was not perfect because we had no time ride in the dry. I was very concentrated.

“With three laps to go I had a problem on the bike, like I had on Friday in FP2. It was like something which didn’t cut the power completely when you downshifted into second gear, but it didn’t change clearly. Third gear was OK, but most of this track is in second gear! In that lap I saw 1.3 seconds on the pit board and said, ‘No, please, not now!’ I started to speak to the bike to calm her down. I started to put third gear earlier than normal. Fortunately, she arrived until the end.”

The result brings Bezzecchi into late contention, 29 points back with 50 to play. But he still sees a clear favourite: “For me Sam (Lowes) is a little bit stronger than me, Luca [Marini], Bestia [Enea Bastianini], everyone,” he said. “He made a mistake but today was very difficult. The track still had some wet patches. We never tried on the dry. It was very easy to make a mistake. He can come back strong.”

Gardner ‘dialing it back in’

At times it’s been a rocky road. But as his fifth season in Moto2 draws to a close, Remy Gardner is finally showing the consistency needed to fight for championships. Since that monster 160mph highside in the warmup of the San Marino GP, which fractured three bones in his left foot and required surgery to plate a broken thumb with six screws, the 22-year old has been a fixture of the top five.

Gardner didn’t have anything for Bezzecchi or Martin here. But his third place – a third podium of 2020 – follows a second place in France and a fifth and fourth at Aragon 1 and 2 – tracks that rarely suited his aggressive riding style in the past. When asked how he has achieved this consistency of late, the Australian was typically up front: “I’m taking it more step-by-step and not just going out and trying to smash everything all the time,” he said.

But the terrifying Misano crash may have had an effect. “I definitely learnt my lesson last year after so many mistakes in critical times,” Gardner said here. “Then I think the last few races I probably dialled it back a bit because of the injury to the hand in Misano. Maybe that changed it. I don’t know! But I’m definitely not crashing as much.”

That cooler mindset is very much apparent in the way Remy has carried himself this year. Once in Aki Ajo’s Red Bull backed set up, one would expect results to continue in this vein.

Thomas Luthi, where are you?

Of the established names struggling in Moto2, the case of Thomas Luthi is the most curious. Leaving a preseason test at Jerez in late February, I was convinced the Swiss rider would be at the very least one of the men to beat this campaign.

But it’s been desperate. Luthi qualified 26th for the Teruel Grand Prix. Here he finished 19th dropping him to ninth in the championship, a whopping 112 points off the top. So what the hell has happened?

“A strange year for the results,” he said at the European GP. “I felt really good in the Jerez tests. But then we started to lose performance in big steps. It started in Qatar. We got more problems and the struggle was bigger throughout the season. We tried to find a good set-up so I could feel confident. But I didn’t find one spot where I could say, ‘This is it. This is the way to go.’ Then we were lost. In Brno I started 26th. I was really trying in qualifying and said to the guys, ‘This is not possible!’ I don’t really have an explanation. The only thing which is new is this front tyre but I can’t put everything on that. I had in my career many tyre changes. I cannot really explain it at the moment.

“In many race weekends it’s felt like we’ve found a set-up, I felt better and could push to the limit, but the others were faster. I was pushing on the limit but the guys were minimum half a second – sometimes one second – faster. It was making me crazy! I didn’t have the answer where to grab on.”

He may have just one world title to his name. But some of Luthi’s numbers suggest he isn’t given enough acclaim. He will make his 300th Grand Prix start at the Valencia GP (only three riders in history have more) and only one man (Tony Mang) scored more podiums in the intermediate class. That’s more than Max Biaggi, Sito Pons, Dani Pedrosa and a host of other greats from the class. He’ll hope a change of scenery in the Onexox SAG team for 2021 can help him recover his form.

Ogura’s cold blues

Those were a concerning few weeks for Ai Ogura. The Japanese teenage sensation finished no lower than fourth in the first eight races, including six podiums. He even left Barcelona in September with the championship lead. But that was the beginning of a four-race lull that saw him score two ninths, an eleventh and a 14th. Aside from the Aragon GP, where he went against his teams wishes and selected the hard rear tyre, no one could quite put their finger on what exactly was going wrong.

“We had a really difficult time,” he admitted after finishing third in the European GP. “There were a few races when I was finishing at the back and I didn’t have a good feeling on the bike. They weren’t easy days. But the team pushed me to come back to here. In the last three or four races I was mentally… something strange. I don’t know myself (what it was). But I was slow so there was something wrong!”

One factor was the colder weather in recent weeks. Ogura couldn’t find a comfortable setting for the cold conditions in Barcelona, Le Mans or Aragon. And that, he said, caused him some difficulties. “The temperature has been quite cold since Barcelona. I could not adjust to this very well. And when I cannot go fast, mentally I go down and go down. Automatically I got slow!”

He was back to the Ogura of old here this weekend, though. With just three points separating Arenas and him, the championship is back within reach.


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year: 
2020
round_number: 
13

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Comments

David, i love ya, but come on.

Filing a race report 5 days after the race (1 day before they're on track again) is unacceptable to a paying customer. 

I used to have to wait just about the same amount of time for cycle news. I thought those days were over.

I like milling about the kitchen while things cook. 

Hey Brian, don't we have a bet mate? I am ready to concede and get your shipping address to my email.

Hey Motoshrink, the season has gone well for me but you needn't ship anything physically to me. I have no video player anyway. The satisfaction is enough lol. And my favorite looks set to wrap up the title. I've loved Mir since '17 when he looked as an alien among men. Been a good year, and I'm really looking forward to Portimao. Cheers!

Intent on a celebratory bit sent your way, important for me that bets are honored. Shifting from DVDs to a shirt or something. Can you please email me your address Brian? Thanks! Will edit this off after I get it.

SteveEnglishInASpeedo@refunds.com

v DadRat, the kitchen smells are crystal ball of Yamaha getting to run their different valves next year just fine without more repurcussions even though the spec is a touch different, betting it is a bygone. Interesting "workaround." An Italian Moto2 kid or Lorenzo is about to be announced as the 2nd Aprilia rider, rather hoping for the latter.

Valentino is about to distance himself from Yamaha overtly, and bring focus to Ducati as he finishes up at Petronas. Quartararo has asked if he can run the 2019 chassis next year, and that is damn near mutiny. I am letting go of ever seeing a second Suzuki Team as a watched pot never boils. But the third Duc/VR46 venture will prove to be VERY interesting. The rider pipeline in particular. Duc scores, Yamaha loses. Lots to come.

Binder and KTM will join the front group this weekend. He will get rookie of the year. Honda will have lots of crashes the next two weekends. Marquez will return blisteringly fast and the shoulder will be ok, just weak muscles, and will prefer this chassis/suspension to the old. That will dovetail with Honda signing a fresh Test rider, and their bike is about to prove. The new front tire will help them balance the bike out. Marc's bike is going to move around under him visibly less. Fewer crashes. Even a bit less pushing to saves in FP's. This will make him hard to beat. He had a watershed moment with the humorus break and forced time off and will settle a notch. 

Mir? Trophy. And will take that notch proffered by Marquez, continuing a growth spurned on by competition. Rins in tow, but bested. 

Portugal will be fantastic! The rider's will be refreshed and happy, but a few will balk. Oliveira will florish. The guys and balls "rider's track" folks will be most enjoyable. 

We are entering a new era. Or, if you were being literal, seared dry-rubbed inch thick chuck eye steaks. I put a plastic shower cap over the fire alarm, and wind tunnel fan the kitchen. Big red wine. Mixed vegetables, garlic bread, and Revolver/Rubber Soul sing along. Building a big awning off the front of the shop for more space, ran a skillsaw through me hand. The Buell 1125R beast is finishing a makeover before selling in Spring. 675R is apart getting lighter/de-ABS'd, and fresh look. Eager for Sunday and Mir.

How about you over there?

:)

So then, since you seem to milll about, what's cooking? 

Might be entitled to a quicker posting, which I sorry if have doubts about, I feel it is always a good thing to curb that kind of feeling. Graciousness and patience are much better attitudes to try to articulate and cultivate. It might be a little later, but it is a new addition to the services on this site, still informative timing wise and adds quality content. I feel if anything it is a little short and light, and not as in depth as the moto gp articles, but hey, better than nothing. 😁😁

Moto2 and Moto3 reports are free. If you want to read those, you don't have to pay, they are free to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. So if it was the Moto2 and Moto3 reports you were after, there was no need for you to take out a subscription.

If anyone is unhappy with what they are getting, then I will be happy to offer them a refund.

This season has been insanely intense for everyone involved, and everyone I know is hanging on by the skin of their teeth. I have tried to focus on quality rather than speed. I asked Neil to write about Moto2 and Moto3 because he has a unique insight, and is probably one of the best-placed people to write about the support classes. I would argue that there is no better English-language coverage of Moto2 and Moto3 available.

Anyone in the field (be it motorcycle racing or any other scheduled activity changing locations frequently this year) is risking their health (and life) and that of the people around them to do what they do. In this case, they're doing it for the rest of us while we're in front of our screens.

This subscription is an exceptional bargain: I find more typos in the daily New York Times, and no one else is providing anything remotely close to what we get, here. 

I've been a subscriber since you first offered it.

Love the coverage, special mention for Neil's work both here and calling the races on motogp.com.

My only issue was it coming out the day before the next weeks practice starts. Seems a long time in the age of the intra-web.

That ia all.

Point taken and conceded. That is one reason why the article is free, rather than for subscribers only (despite the fact that I pay Neil for the content).

However, it is hard to overstate just how intense this season has been for those of us who have had to work through it. It is physically and mentally draining, and everyone I know is short many, many hours of sleep. We are doing our best, but that is something very different to what you might expect in a normal season.

Over the years, I have tried to shift the focus of the site from timeliness to analysis. I am never first with something. But I hope that when I write about it, (or any of the people who write for the site), I add value in terms of knowledge, analysis, explaining the why and the how, rather than just the what, when and where.

You do exactly that, Mr. Emmett, and I imagine anyone reading this site would agree. Me, I'd be happy to pay double the subscription fee you charge now for the content you provide.

Point taken and conceded on my side as well.

Have always been, and will always be a subscriber for reasons outlined above.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the subscribers to MotoMatters.com. The site runs almost entirely on subscriptions, which allows me to remain independent and seek out interesting voices to write about MotoGP. Subscribers make that possible.

wink

But if I could ask a slight favor, David? Please post the Thursday Round Ups on Wednesdays from now on. It would really give me a leg up on the weekend. Thanks, mate. Cheers.

This a initial report on moto 2/3 Filed by David 11/12

Again, as stated, I love the work done by all MM contributors. Its just that it shouldn't take longer for me to get a race report than it used to when I waited by my mailbox for some folded paper.

First, since Neil's Moto3/2 review, hardly a "race report" (they come from Zara & Jared) as you put it but rather a lower class summary, has been a new feature at MM for the 2020 season and has always been published here on Thursday (correct me if I'm wrong), why has it taken you so long to air your grievance? 

Second, I've been racking my brain to think of how not having the info within said review 3 days earlier could adversly affect your life. Only thing I can think of is perhaps you're a gambler and need to have your wagers in by the Wednesday before any race???

You guys act like I'm asking for something extraordinary or unreasonable.  I'm simply asking that a service, that I'm paying for, be delivered faster than paper copy I used to get 25 years ago.

Unreasonable?

This looks like the first comment on this post about the action on track last weekend. From my couch, what Arenas did on track look ugly.

Yeah, that was the sort of thing you might expect from one of the younger riders. I can definitely understand wanting to be out and keeping pace with the riders who are 3 laps in front of you, but carving them up and interfering with their chances at scoring points/positions is not so cool.

just give it up, we still love ya! Zara (as the boss said) provides the 'report' soon after every session or race; the Moto 2/3 round up is almost a magazine review, well written with a sprinkling of perspective hindsight. So if you're lucky to have a TV feed we get every session live, a TV review programme same day, all the MM reports Sun/Mon, us lot debating it Mon/Tue/Wed along with David's superb subscriber notes-often in 2 parts, always a big effort. Wednesday is usually the podcast with 1-2 other rivals supplying theirs also, then the new Moto 2/3 round up before the build up to a GP if it's in consecutive weekends. I'm old enough to remember hit or miss highlights with commentary that sounded like it was from a bad line in a telephone box and we marvelled at that! If you're stuck for a Christmas present this year ask a loved one for some perspective; if Covid taught me anything (seven foreign trips cancelled including 3 GPs) it was to expect 'nowt.
Thanks David and all the team 😊

I quite like the timing of Niel Morrison's Moto2/3 reviews - it spans the week nicely, especially if there's an 'off' weekend (rare this year).  My attention is usually on digesting the MotoGP events and it's only later in the week my interest has turned to the smaller classes.  So I quite like it and would like to say the content has been a real bonus this year and I hope it continues.

Hear, hear. Agree totally. I love the smaller engine classes but I read about the big boys first. Later in the week I get around to the up and comers so this schedule gives me something new every day. A far cry from Dave Despain giving us highlights on Motorweek. Golden age is now for sure in no small part due to David and Motomatters. 

With the extra bit of spare time I have this year I've been watching all the Moto 2 and 3 races so I appreciate the insight that Neil brings to those races, and (as a paying subscriber foir years) I'm fine waiting a few days to get it. Quality is what's in the masthead LAH. You find this anywhere else on the interweb.

And I have to say, the Moto 3 races are the best races of every weekend by far. The Moto GP races have been boring as shit in comparison!

If you would like these reports earlier just move to Hawaii. You'll read them about half a day prior to David publishing them!

Oh lordy. Just abandoned a first listen to "BrotoGP" with nothing but embarrassment for what an American can sound like to everyone else. Holy shite, unbearable. 

Ok - so we have all this above stuff ironed out and everyone is square. Plus David has offered refunds to anyone for any vague sense of disappointment, clearly a wise business move. 

SO...we have Joan Mir on a Suzuki about to clinch a Championship Title. Onward, shall we? Then, we get rollercoaster del Portugal which will proffer many delights. Then, a certain Marc Marquez returns likely in form but with a weak side to compensate for. Then....

;)

Enjoy!!