Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP title fight: who will run out of engines first?

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


MotoGP title fight: who will run out of engines first?

Several top MotoGP title contenders are already way past the usual lifespan with their engines, so how will they cope at the last three races?

Three of 14 races remain in the 2020 MotoGP World Championship, Covid permitting. The second wave of the pandemic is racing through Europe as riders prepare for the triple-header finale on the Iberian Peninsula, starting with Sunday’s European GP at Valencia and ending with the Portuguese GP at Portimao on November 22.

Literally no one knows if the championship will go full distance, but the back-to-back races at Valencia – the European and then the Valencia GP – are currently set to go ahead despite a night-time curfew in the region.

Some MotoGP riders will be happier than others if the pandemic does cancel one or more of the races. It doesn’t take a genius to work out who will be happy and who will be sad.

A MotoGP title bonus – paid into your bank account by your motorcycle brand, your helmet supplier, your leathers supplier, your fizzy drink supplier and various other sponsors – is worth several million Euros. Finishing second or third – on the championship podium – also pays handsomely. Anything else, not so much.

The man at the top is Joan Mir, chased by Yamaha trio Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Viñales and Franco Morbidelli, who are 14, 19 and 25 points down on the Suzuki rider.

With 75 points up for grabs the championship could end up in any of their hands (in fact everyone down to Johann Zarco in 14th has a mathematical chance of winning the title) so everything matters at the last three races, including engines.

This year each rider gets five engines for the 14 races, which at about 340 miles per weekend works out at around 950 miles per engine. That’s pretty much the same mileage as in a non-Covid season, when riders get seven engines for 20 races.

Laborious examination of MotoGP’s engine usage documents offers an approximate picture of how many miles each engine has done. This reveals that Mir hasn’t only got the advantage on points over his closest rivals.

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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