MotoGP

Valencia MotoGP Subscriber Notes, Part 1: The Meaning Of Joan Mir's Championship

So it turns out somebody does want to win this thing after all. After a wild, wild ride through the 2020 MotoGP season – scratch that, through all of 2020 – Joan Mir has finally been crowned champion. And he did it in the most Joan Mir way possible: not with an extravagant flourish, or with all-out aggression risking everything, but by understanding what was needed, riding to the limits on the day, and seizing the prize when it was offered. This was a title won with the head, with generous measure of guts and heart thrown into the mix.

There's an old cliche about swans, gliding gracefully and calmly across the water while paddling like fury below it. That was how the Suzuki rider came into the second weekend at Valencia, the race where he had the title within reach. Outwardly projecting calm, he had the turmoil of nerves to deal with underneath. Try as he might, Mir could not prevent that tension from breaking through to the surface.

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Valencia MotoGP Saturday Round Up: The Pressure Of The Championship Is Starting To Count

It was supposed to be a steady, stable weekend with consistent weather for all three days of the Valencia MotoGP round. But it's 2020, so of course, that didn't happen. After a solid day of dry weather on Friday, conditions turned on Saturday. Not by a lot, but just enough to render chasing a quick time in practice and qualifying a treacherous business, with light rain coming and going throughout.

After the track dried in FP3, it never really rained hard enough to need wet tires. But there was just enough rain at times to make grip supremely treacherous, and to force riders to take bigger risks than they might have wanted. Alex Márquez paid the heaviest price, pushing hard in Q1 after rain had started to fall, the rear coming round on him and snapping back to highside him to what looked like low earth orbit.

It turned out to be a lucky escape for Márquez, the Repsol Honda rider escaping with a painful tailbone and a badly bruised bone in his left hand. His injuries were severe enough that his participation in the race tomorrow is to be assessed during warm up on Sunday morning.

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2020 Valencia MotoGP FP4 Result: Rins Rises To The Occasion

Despite some drizzle threatening the final practice session for the premier class, it never turned into a serious threat and riders managed to put some solid work into their race pace. None more so than Alex Rins, the Spaniard quickly climbing up the timesheets and taking over top spot in the final five minutes with the first 1:30 time of the session. Takaaki Nakagami was one of a handful or riders tempted by the hard front tyre and the LCR man made it work for him as he climbed into second position, one tenth down on top spot and with just as impressive pace.

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2020 Valencia MotoGP FP3 Result: Morbidelli Rides A Rocket

After a rain shower shortened track time for the lightweight class, sun greeted the premier class but with track conditions still requiring rain tyres there were few takers early on. With the likes of Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo out of the provisional top 10, they were particularly keen to see the conditions improved and the Frenchman was the first to be tempted by slick tyres 15 minutes into the session, quickly followed by the Spaniard.

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Valencia MotoGP Friday Round Up: Nerves Fray As The Title Chase Gets Closer, And KTM Work On A Shapeshifter

"Well, for sure I think we are not the fastest, but it's only Friday." A common enough refrain after FP2, with another day of practice and qualifying to go before the race on Sunday. But when it is championship leader Joan Mir saying it, on the weekend he could wrap up the title, is it a sign of trouble?

So far, Mir has been remarkably calm and composed under pressure. He has impressed even nine-time world champion and MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi. "Nobody bet on Mir at the beginning of the season, but already in the last races of last season he did a big improvement and also in the winter test he was strong," Rossi told us on Friday evening. "For me he's very mature, it's like he has more experience considering he is a very young rider and it's just the second year in MotoGP and also he did just one season in Moto2. So he's an unbelievable talent, I think. Nobody expected that he can win the championship this year. But I think that if he will win he deserves it 100% because he was the more constant, that this year is very important."

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2020 Valencia MotoGP FP2 Result: Miller Time Again

Much like their Moto3 colleagues before them, the premier class were in no rush to improve their FP1 times, while nearly inseparable within the top ten. Takaaki Nakagami was the first rider to surpass his own FP1 benchmark as the Japanese rider anticipated the time attack. However, Jack Miller reclaimed his title of Friday King of Valencia, although in much improved conditions this time, going nearly a tenth of a second faster than Nakagami in the final minute of the session. Pecco Bagnaia surprised as he joined the top three as second Ducati.

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