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.
The real reason MotoGP 2020 was so close and unpredictable
Many fans rated last season as the most entertaining in years. But who should they thank for the apparent unpredictability and super-close lap times?
There were two things that got MotoGP commentators and fans particularly excited last season: the unpredictability of the racing and the incredibly close lap times, with the fastest 15 riders often separated by less than a second.
But was the racing really any more unpredictable than it’s been in recent years?
MotoGP 2020 certainly seemed unusually unpredictable because none of the title challengers managed to score consistent results over the 14 rounds. Even world champion Joan Mir stood on the podium at only half the races, while 2020 runner-up Franco Morbidelli only made the top three at five races.
Various theories were offered to explain the situation. Mostly, the Covid-affected calendar, which had races staged in hotter or colder conditions than usual, playing havoc with tyre choice. Or Michelin’s new rear slick, which took many riders and teams a while to get their heads around. Certainly these factors did play a part.
And yet, looking back after the completion of the season, we can see that there was nothing that unusual about the consistency of most of the top riders.
Mir’s 2020 podium hit rate of seven top-threes from 14 races was the same hit rate as Andrea Dovizioso’s in 2019 and 2018, when he finished championship runner-up to Marc Márquez, with nine podiums from 19 races in 2019 and nine from 18 in 2018. And the riders who finished just behind Mir last season had similar podium hit rates as the riders who finished behind Dovizioso in previous seasons.
So the unpredictability of MotoGP was a mirage because the riders and their results were no more inconsistent than usual. With one exception – the only thing that made the racing seem less predictable was the absence of Marc Márquez.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.