Valentino Rossi scored an average of 4.7 points per race last season but still loves the challenge of racing, so why should he retire from MotoGP?
Valentino Rossi probably doesn’t want to know this – although he probably already knows it in his gut – but 2020 was his worst season since he joined the grand prix circus in 1996. By a long way.
His 25th year in the world championships was even poorer than his two barren seasons at Ducati and his rookie 125cc grand prix campaign, when he was 16-years-old.
According to Albert Einstein's Special theory of relativity, time slows down as your speed increases. The faster you go, the slower time appears to pass. That would explain why the Covid-compressed 2020 MotoGP season has simultaneously felt like it was taking forever and is over in the blink of an eye. 14 races in 18 weeks was brutal on everyone involved, an intense schedule which had everyone working at light speed yet struggling to keep up. You would have to go back to the 1960s to find a season that was so short. But back then, they were fitting 8 races into 18 weeks, not nearly double that.
At least we had a fitting stage for the season finale. In a season with highs and lows, holding the last MotoGP round of 2020 at the roller-coaster which is the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve was fitting, a metaphor for the year made physical. But did that location give the winner, Miguel Oliveira, an advantage at what was effectively his home race? Was he, like Nicky Hayden at Laguna Seca in 2005, better able to unlock the secrets of the Portimão track because he had ridden here so often?
Apologies to all MotoMatters.com subscribers. Due to a range of factors (not least sheer exhaustion) the subscriber notes for the Portimão round of MotoGP are late. I hope to have them finished on Tuesday. Further updates will follow during the week, as well as a short note on plans for the winter.
Again, my apologies. But it has been the toughest season MotoGP has faced, in terms of work schedule, and it has taken its toll.
The press release from Aprilia on their 2021 MotoGP rider situation appears below:
The 2021 MotoGP grid is finally complete. Or complete-ish, anyway. Aprilia have finally made a decision on their second rider for 2021, and their decision is that they will decide after the winter tests at Sepang and Qatar have finished.
Both Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith have been signed for 2021, to fill the roles of second contracted MotoGP rider alongside Aleix Espargaro, and MotoGP test rider. Smith and Savadori will run through the testing program, including private tests and the scheduled official tests at Sepang and Qatar in February and March, and Aprilia will make their decision based on the outcome of that, Aprilia said in a press release.
MotoGP standings after the final race of the year:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race in Portugal:
Are we in for a fairy-tale ending to the wild ride that has been the 2020 MotoGP season? The odds are very good indeed, if only because qualifying has laid out so many different scenarios for a fitting end to the year. We already have a fairy-tale ending to qualifying, Miguel Oliveira the first Portuguese rider to take pole, at the first MotoGP race to be held at Portimao, the first race in Portugal since 2012.
Could Oliveira convert his maiden pole into a second win? There is plenty of reason to think he might do exactly that. The Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider has pretty good pace – he looked comfortable posting low 1'40s in FP4 – and the riders with better pace are some way back on the grid.
Or maybe it is Franco Morbidelli's opportunity to stamp his authority on the 2020 season, taking a fourth win to clinch second in the championship and demonstrate once again that Yamaha made a mistake in overlooking him for the factory team, and in choosing not to provide him with a 2021-spec M1 for next season.
Dream come true?
Or perhaps it is Jack Miller's turn for victory, to make it ten winners in a season and break the previous record? It would be a fitting reward for the Pramac Ducati squad, after the Australian came so very close to beating Morbidelli at Valencia last week.