The intermediate class enjoyed their first extended outing around the Algarve Circuit and while the likes of Augusto Fernandez and Remy Gardner spent the most time at the top of the timesheets, it was Marcos Ramirez who took the most advantage of the late time attack. The Spaniard finished the morning one hundredth of a second ahead of Fabio Di Giannantonio and compatriot Luca Marini, who was also within a tenth of the lead.
Joan Mir wrapped up the MotoGP title with a round to go. But the junior classes will go right to the wire after two dramatic encounters at the Valencian Grand Prix. Moto2 produced its best race of the year, Moto3 its biggest winning margin of the year. Here, we look at last weekend’s big talking points in the junior classes.
Chaos reigns in vintage finale
As fun and open as Moto2 has been this year, a race wasn’t decided on the final lap (Jorge Martin’s controversial penalty at the Styrian GP aside) from round 1 to round 13. Here, it would have been hard to conjure up more drama if events had been penned by a Hollywood scriptwriter.
Once European GP winner Marco Bezzecchi hit the front on lap five, it was hard to see a way back from his pursuers. But by Sunday lunchtime the wind had picked up considerably from the morning, making the Moto2 machines nervous and twitchy. “With the wind, I really struggled,” said Bezzecchi. “The bike was very nervous, I had little grip.” This surely played a major part in the nature of the top five: just 0.8s covered first to fifth after 25 laps.
As did Di Giannantonio. He and Bezzecchi had more than a second in hand over the pursuers with five laps remaining. But the Speed Up man’s two moves pushed them wide, allowing the rest back into play. It was a finale to remember.
And so a strange and unexpected season draws to a close. Fifteen rounds of Grand Prix motorcycle racing – fourteen rounds of MotoGP, after the premier class were forced to skip the opening race at Qatar at the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic – were far, far more than we expected in the early months of the year. It is a credit to Dorna, the manufacturers, and to the teams that we have made it this far. It hasn't been easy, and it meant squeezing a punishing schedule into a very brief period of time, and limiting the number of tracks and countries MotoGP visited, but in the end, we got our money's worth.
So it is fitting that we end the 2020 MotoGP season at a brand new venue MotoGP has never visited before, the first new track since Buriram joined the calendar in 2018. The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve at Portimao (more correctly spelled Portimão, but like most English speakers, searching for diacritics on my keyboard is so foreign that I cheat by skipping straight to the Anglicized version of the name) is set just inland from the Algarve, Portugal's southern coast, amid a vast swathe of golfing resorts.
Results and summary of the Moto2 race in Valencia:
Moto2 standings after the penultimate round at Valencia:
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class in Valencia:
The rain scare from earlier today was completely gone by the time the intermediate class took to the track and it showed, with Friday’s benchmark quickly improved by several riders but most notably Marco Bezzecchi, the Italian keeping top spot until the checkered flag. Early leader Marcos Ramirez looked like his main rival throughout, but Hector Garzo snuck in between the two to grab second on the timesheets on his final flying lap and with a deluxe tow from championship leader Enea Bastianini.
The intermediate class closed the Friday show in Valencia but didn’t make that much of an impression on the combined timesheets, with the FP1 benchmark not being challenged. However, the gaps throughout the field on their second outing were minuscule, with Fabio Di Giannantonio claiming the top of the standings for the final time attack by less than a tenth of a second. Behind the Italian, the championship contenders kept in close proximity, Sam Lowes finishing second and only two hundredths of a second ahead of rival Enea Bastianini.
The intermediate class returned to the Ricardo Tormo Circuit and brought their best form with them, quickly posting laptimes faster than anything they achieved one week ago. Nice and dry conditions greatly contributed to Jorge Navarro’s top time in the high 1:34s, while Luca Marini looked to have recovered some form as the Italian jumped into second position, only two hundredths of a second slower than the leader. Compatriot Fabio Di Giannantonio made it an extremely tight top three, only covered by eight hundredths of a second.