Misano MotoGP Subscriber Notes: A Wild Championship, Youth Charge, Rossi's Legacy, And How Consistency Counts

It's 2020, and if there's one thing we know about 2020 is that it is utterly unpredictable. If at any point, a certain event, path of action, or result seems set in stone, 2020 finds a way to rip that up and throw it away. The Misano MotoGP race – Misano 1, that is, the round sponsored by the microstate San Marino, as opposed to next week's round, sponsored by the Emilia-Romagna region – was a case in point. The timesheets in free practice were clear: Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales would run away with this race, trailing the rest of the field, led by the Yamahas of Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi, in their wake.

It didn't quite work out that way. Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi led the field for a while, before they went their separate ways, and a couple of young upstarts started to interfere with their plans. The pre-race favorites suffered an ignominious fate, shaking up the championship along the way. While the winner tore away at the front, a fascinating and thrilling battle unfolded for the other podium places over the final few laps. We are left with a championship that is closer than ever, and even more unpredictable than ever.

How weird is the 2020 season? Franco Morbidelli's maiden MotoGP victory turned him into the fourth different first-time winner in the first six MotoGP races of the year. The last time that happened? 1949, the very first year of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. That is not even a fair comparison: after all, everything was a first in the first year of the officially organized FIM Grand Prix World Championship. Six races was the entirety of the 1949 championship, which started on June 17th, finished September 4th, and crammed a triple header in Switzerland, The Netherlands, and Belgium in the middle.

In 2020, winning a race is no guarantee of sustained success, however. The winner of the previous five races were never in contention for the podium in Misano. Fabio Quartararo, who won the first two races at Jerez crashed out of the Misano race, twice. Brad Binder, who won in Brno finished twelfth. Andrea Dovizioso, who won the first race in Austria, crossed the line in seventh. Miguel Oliveira, who won the last time at the Red Bull Ring, finished just in front of Binder in eleventh. Dovizioso's seventh place finish was good enough to see him leading the championship. A championship which is wildly closer than before.

So there is much to talk about in these subscriber notes. Here's a rundown of the topics covered:

  • The crazy numbers behind the 2020 MotoGP championship
  • Franco Morbidelli's maiden victory – an overlooked talent?
  • Pecco Bagnaia stakes a claim to the second factory Ducati seat
  • Joan Mir snatches a podium from Valentino Rossi, but missed out on much more
  • Valentino Rossi wasn't on the podium, but his legacy is burned indelibly into MotoGP
  • Alex Rins comes up just short
  • The Yamahas that failed – where Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo went wrong
  • Why seventh place makes Andrea Dovizioso the championship favorite, even though he doesn't believe it himself

There is a lot to get through. So let's start off with a look at the bizarre numbers which define the state of the 2020 MotoGP championship.

To read the remaining 5337 words of this article, you need to sign up to become a MotoMatters.com site supporter by taking out a subscription. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.


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Comments

And pundits too it seems. As a slogan for a political movement, equality is almost a synonym for bloodbath, historically.(EG. French revolution). And presently too (see USA). David, how well did soviet Russia work out for Kropotkin? He might have liked a little less equality. 

Any how love your work David, and Franco"s too. Look forward to it every day. 

no. I've changed my mind. Much as I don't really want or expect to enjoy a debate around this statement here on a MotoGP site, nor should I just look the other way. The fight for equality doesn't create violence. The denial of that right does. Of course there is granularity and some people find opportunities to do violence regardless of which side they are, just as some elites use protest movements to further their own interests, but to infer an automatic relationship between the two ... no.

And as for 'sticking to sport' - why? What part of being a motorcycle racer, journalist, welder, farmhand etc dis-entitles someone from sharing an opinion, or makes it of lesser value or less valid? Is it that they are not equal to those who should be allowed that right? Politicians are not necessarily intelligent, insightful people and intelligent, insightful people are not necessarily politicians. Let the man speak.

It would be great to see more people of colour racing in MotoGP/Superbikes plus more female riders coming through. We have few female riders in British Superbikes and one I know of on the world stage.

If I only rooted for racers because of their performance on track during the race, I'd be a huge Marquez, Doohan, Senna, Schumacher etc. fan but I'm not, nor have ever been. As far as I'm concerned they all can do things on a track that I could only dream of and it's the mind behind the steely eyes that's just as interesting & maybe more important to my fandom. As I think I've said here before, the more Franco talks, the closer he gets to becoming my new favorite rider on the grid. :)

And cheers to that.  I'll add that I don't understand why even the word "equality" would be considered controversial.  It's not suggesting superiority.  Merely parity, and parity isn't scary.   Bravo to Frankie for a brilliant ride and an elegant show of support for compassion. 

And cheers to that.  I'll add that I don't understand why even the word "equality" would be considered controversial.  It's not suggesting superiority.  Merely parity, and parity isn't scary.   Bravo to Frankie for a brilliant ride and an elegant show of support for compassion. 

And cheers to that.  I'll add that I don't understand why even the word "equality" would be considered controversial.  It's not suggesting superiority.  Merely parity, and parity isn't scary.   Bravo to Frankie for a brilliant ride and an elegant show of support for compassion. 

  1. The fight for equality always ends in violence. Due in part to the frustration of chasing the impossible quest of equality. When the 'feels-good' placards and appeals fail the guillotines start falling to impose the equality.
  2. Franco, has earned the right to talk about motorcycles and can talk otherwise talk about anything he wants. However this is how movements start, good and bad. Popular people having a large platform, spruiking unchallanged feels-good nonsense.
  3. I would like to see anyone who merits a ride, in motogp. The problem would come is when meritocracy gives way to favouritism (ie. Forced equality) and someone is chosen because of sex/race etc. Then the guillotine falls on the career of the one who merited the ride so we can all 'feels-good'. And Franco's comments are another plank in the scaffold of this nonsense rearing its head in Motogp.

Normally your comments are verbose ie. a wall of text, entertaining and very much on point, Motoshrink, and you do add a great deal to this site. Dialectic is your strong point except for when it's not. Case in point. Behind what? Ignored by whom? 

Imo you are far behind the modern, intelligent world. You were being ignored by all who see your comment as bullshit. I am one who disagrees with your comment. Every word of it. And I'm not going to ignore you and allow your nonsense to go uncontested. Equality - I do not think that word means what you think it means. Many people are held back because they were born brown or gay or short or tall or blond or ginger or any of a hundred other traits. This is wrong. Period. What you are doing, and I'm certain you cannot realize it, is whining about your loss of privilege. No one likes a whiner. Especially a whiner who wants to keep others 'in their place'

I don't say I'm right, I don't say you're wrong- History does (and USA presently); emphatically. But here is something less violent & dyscivilisational to think about. We love motogp and the observable and quantifiable fact is that embracing SJW's and their causes, will see a decline in the sport that we love. The future of a woke MotoGP is Nascar, down 50% viewership from its peak. The future is NFL- down 20% in a year. Let's talk about bikes, racing, glory, determination, grit, speed, danger, heroes and legends. Let the other stuff, the social justice, find its own stage which it easily can these days. Let it ruin NASCAR and NFL. 

You have to be careful when drawing on history – the first question to ask is, who’s written this? It can be surprising how much it differs according to who tells it. Anyway, what history definitely shows is that mankind has a tendency to beat the crap out of each other as a means of solving arguments, but more especially as a means of keeping certain sections of the population, or whole populations, in their place. Neither of which have ever worked terribly well. But nor does ignoring the issue.

Meritocracy is as idealistic as socialism or communism. Impossible to achieve, probably. Worth reaching for, definitely. We certainly won’t get there by chance, nor is it a switch that can be flicked. We have to navigate a way through from here to there, recognising that ‘here’ hasn’t happened by accident and that part of the construct is a kaleidoscope of parts of the population having more at the expense of others. The fact that life can be a bit of a struggle for most of us makes that harder to see clearly or deal with, but it is what it is.

I think what is making it all so uncomfortable at the moment is that we are starting to peel away at the inner layers of the inequality onion and see things that make even us nice folk feel a little ashamed or embarrassed, or at least a little twitchy. Look at the new track construction business happening right now over in Indonesia. It doesn’t look nice, or right. But I know I kind of looked the other way while they built Qatar, which was probably worse.

It’s important that we do talk, that we do leave space for people to air views we may not like. Otherwise where do we go? I’m an eternal optimist in this regard and think there are very few people in the world whose position is unchangeable, especially if the discourse is kept ‘safe’. Over the years I’ve had a couple of interactions/connections with the truth & reconciliation process that took place in South Africa post-apartheid. If people with that history can find a way through conflicting views (and unspeakable cruelty from all sides) so can anyone.

Imo you are far behind the modern, intelligent world. You were being ignored by all who see your comment as bullshit. I am one who disagrees with your comment. Every word of it. And I'm not going to ignore you and allow your nonsense to go uncontested. Equality - I do not think that word means what you think it means. Many people are held back because they were born brown or gay or short or tall or blond or ginger or any of a hundred other traits. This is wrong. Period. What you are doing, and I'm certain you cannot realize it, is whining about your loss of privilege. No one likes a whiner. Especially a whiner who wants to keep others 'in their place'

It's simple. It doesn't involve politics, it only involves human nature. This is a comments section and as history has proven on 'amazing' platforms like twi(a)tter....discusions of this nature rapidly move themselves into arguments from which nothing useful or positive emerges. I think arguments on subjects such as this are fantastic if people enter into them with open minds...however...big however....the main however....this happy place is about bike racing, an utterly childish pursuit.

I know this is a reply but it's not aimed at anybody in paticular.

Edit: or is it religion and politics...don't know, don't care

Sorry guys, I'm just copying and pasting what I wrote before because it was directed at dudes like this and I refuse to spend more than the 10 additional seconds this takes...

***

Social issues in Motorsport.... it's usually the dudes with no "skin" in the game and very little life experience that oppose being confronted with the issues.  Anyone who has been to Brazil will understand one major facet of where Franco's perspective comes from, and the world of Motorsport and its treatment of Hamilton and those around him has literally created his activism. People who have ventured outside their lilly social comfort zone have some perspective, are usually quietly facing the issues within themselves,  and definitely don't complain about social activism.  Cudos to David for being an actual journalist and simply reporting on the news without interjecting whatever his perspectives might be. 

 

 

You have a valid point Mr. Kelly.

I believe the equality that Morbidelli is pointing to is the feel-good sensation of the heart that arises when it recognizes itself in another, or when it reveals itself for no apparent reason whatsoever. The way I see it, that warm feeling that a few have mentioned by listening to his carefully worded message is the equality he is speaking of. He talked about giving a hug to the world. And this feeling of the heart arises when one respects another regardless of the conditions even though the mind may have it's own opinions about what's happening. I hope that Morbidelli's "doing the right thing" is not taking the position as the equalizer, but sending the message of treating each one, anyone, with simple and equal human respect. And sometimes, simple and equal human respect is allowing whatever is happening to be.

I agree that forced equality just perpetuates the dynamics of opposition and controversy. The social justice warrior is an archetype of the mind along the same vein of the healer and the fixer. Another similar and common character of the mind in this current era is the white savior - a white person or entrepreneur that provides help to non-white people. It's a way to release existential guilt and feel good about oneself, when actually there may be no answer for the human condition. Except, possibly, recognizing the heart.

Morbidelli himself labeled another rider as a half-assassin in a heated, emotional outburst recently. But his carefully worded response a few days later revealed a truer character. And by listening to his words, one can perceive the equality that is present. It is the mind that reacts instantly. But, if one pauses long enough, the mind will subside into the heart and allow the heart to soften the words. 

A crowd rallies behind the feels-good message; the mob ensues when it becomes patently obvious that the world, the culture or whoever, won't comply. It never ends well. I personally like the message- who wouldn't? I like Franco, but it may very well that we have witnessed Peak-MotoGP and Franco's amiable personality and noble comments were the inflexion point. We'll have to wait and see, but if we see MotoGP adopt a pro-SJW stance I predict that the decline of MotoGP has begun in earnest and within 2 years there will be a 20% decline in viewers. In 10 years it will be 50%. Anyhow, enough from me. Thanks everyone for keeping the discourse on a sensitive subject reasonably courteous. Long live MotoGP. Long Live Motomatters. 

The only prediction I will make is that the social justice warrior stance opens the door to more divisiveness. When Morbidelli made a formal statement after speaking with the race stewards concerning the collision with Zarco at Austria, he said something of the nature that it was now out of his hands. He gave his perspective and now it was up to the stewards to mull it over. As far as he was concerned it was over. I hope that Morbidelli treats his message of equality with the same repose. 

Kudo's to Frankie for nailing it both on track and off. Racism and prejudice is real even though many simply look the other way and try and turn down the volume on the POC-pov.

... and am so tired of denialist statements that only perpetuate the inequalities that are factually, statistically true beyond argument.

I live in the now-infamous Powderhorn Park neighborhood, blocks from the site of George's Floyd's murder. It is encouraging to see Franco (who himself would likely be considered a person-of-color in many communities around the world) speak out in support of the battle against injustice, but it's not enough. I honestly expect much more from MotoGP in this regard.

In fact while Dorna's at it, there should be outreach to include people of color in professional roadracing to expand the sport. I would looove to see a person of African descent competing in WC roadracing - and that's coming from a white male.

Except that it does. Whether I realize it or not. Whether I admit it or not. Politics, in part, denied me COTA and if things keep going the way they are now, I won't be surprised to see it stricken from the calendar. We're all interested in politics when it affects us directly; maybe it's time to be interested before that happens (if it hasn't already).

 

Team Marlboro. Smokin Joe Camel. Mission Willow. If you are looking to motogp to escape the real world, your powers of denial are far better than mine.

Dying of lung cancer is not the dramatic event that dying at the hand of the police is, but the victim is just as dead. And it disproportionately affects lower income and citizens of developing countries.

Go Frankie!

....can we PLEASE not mix sports and politics. I watch 'sports' for the purity of getting AWAY from it all! I'm talking to the world here! OK, now to the race....

1) Without Marc, it's a hel'eva year of racing. Is there any question that if he were racing, this year would be like last year! As Oliveria said a few weeks ago....when Marc was ruled OUT, 10+ riders thought, 'Holy S**T...I can be World Champ'! What is a major connundrum, is the up/down side of this year. As you pointed out, race winner from one week is bottom of the pack the next. Interesting, and frustrating....for the racers/teams.

2) Love him, Hate him, or neutral, you have to totally RESPECT Rossi for what he has done for MGP! He has taken personal responsibility for making his passion GROW! Instead of talking about all the problems/issues/etc, he has 'actively' changed the enviroment for the future. Many folks, around the world, could learn a BIG lesson from him (sorry....I mixed politics and racing). I was really rooting for him to be on the podium, but..... it shows how much this man LOVES racing by his happiness at his VR46 academy 'students'.

3) Yamaha: seems like the satellite team needs to be the factory team and.....you know, swap seats.

4) WTF is going on at Ducati? I won't elaborate, you all know what I'm talking about.  David, anyway you could...pontificate on this issue?   

 

 

 

Seems like the satellite teams at Yamaha and Ducati are more consistent their factory equivalents!

Totally agree about VR comments - his legacy is the VR46 academy. Wish we had something as effective in the UK. Crutchlow will disappear from Motogp into WSBK and there is no Brit to replace him. Sorry....cant see Redding back in Motogp anytime soon.

By what logic should sporting persuits be seperated from politics and social concience commentary? Franco comes from a mixed cultural background, lives in a country that has its own challenges with race relations and has lost his father in tragic circumstances. He has every right to leverage his hard earned personal profile to do social good as he sees fit. Are you expecting that his voice and that of David commenting on Franco's voice be silenced because they challenge the complacency of your personal outlook?

Nice review, this season is insane. Btw, did it become clear what the issue with Fabio’s hand/fingers was when he went through the gravel in FP? 

it was that the seam on one of the glove's fingers had come undone, so I think that had distracted him and was overall just an oddity and unexpected (thus his repeated looking at it).  I think Matt and Steve made a really quick comment to that effect in the lead-up to the race.

Frankies' elequence in explaining his helmet design motivations in the Saturday press conference was a thing of subtle beauty. No shouted polemics, just a plea for all to find their humanity from within. Most uplifting. 

 

Interesting statistical overview of the 2020 season David. My take-out is that the current Michelin offerings are the key element in 2020's unpredictable nature. With Marc throwing himself into rehab in such a grand fashion we will never truly know but using Dovi's comparitive performance 2019 to 2020 we see that consistancy is damn tough to achieve. Would Marc in 2020 manage to approch the consistancy of 2019 in 2020? I think not. I think it it is time to wonder what Michelin were trying to achieve with this new rear tyre and if Dorna's hand is written all over the new but worse than last years tyres from Michelin.  

So far I'm saying this is the greatest season ever. First we fans have a tight championship. I think the title will go down to the last race. 

Fantastic for fans. Nail-biter for the teams.

Great analysis as usual. Relating the behind the scenes stuff us fans never see is wonderful. That reporting really rounds out the characters we see on Sunday. I am so very impressed with what Valentino has accomplished with his career and even more so with his VR46 Academy. These young riders are coming into the top of the sport not just as fast motorcycle racers, but as well spoken and thoughtful young men of the world. I find it refreshing and promising. 

Thank you for the clarity and insight you provide to all of us fans.

As for politics in sport? As long as there is society there will be political aspects we must not ignore, reflected in sport and art and our everyday lives. To ignore that is to live in a fantasy world. 

 

Sports involves mind. I agree with Mr. Emmett's speculation concerning the struggles of Viñales. My theory is that Viñales is an example of an athlete whose mindset may very well be interfering with the extraction of his maximum potential. One needs to be clear about when the time is right for decisiveness and when circumstances require an open-mindeness.

Mind also plays a big role in both politics and religion. It is impossible to separate sports from politics and religion because they are intermixed within the mind. Trying to be politically correct in today's orld, or at any time really, is impossible because the subconscious mind has a way of playing tricks with our thoughts and words. Racism also plays a role in the GP paddock. Here is the link to an article on this subject by Mat Oxley: 

https://motomatters.com/blog/2015/01/21/guest_blog_mat_oxley_racism_in_t...

One reason we only want to read or view that which aligns with our belief system is because the algorithms that track our clicks and our viewing history create suggestions based on what we like. Even if what we like is a distortion of the truth. This is done for extreme wealth while we enjoy the "free stuff" on the interwebs. Those that design these somewhat nefarious algorithms have all studied basic human psychology and understand the human mind's vulnerbilities and how to manipulate it. It is postulated that what we are fed online is helping to create greater isolation, polarities and divisiveness. As computing power increases exponentially, the cards are increasingly stacked against our psychologically stressed minds. For more on this subject matter look at "The Social Dilemma".

In my opinion, the equality that Morbidelli points to is not mind. It is the innate goodness, the sameness within and without everyone and everything in our world. It is the matrix of all matter. No words can explain it and no forms created in the physical world can duplicate it. But, it is the very essence of our being. The only true teaching of this equality, which is our natural state, is silence, gentle awareness and attention, and acceptance. Or in another word - love. 

....I needed to be more specific. I wasn't referring to Frankie's comments, which I had no problem/issue with and were very well put. My complaint, and again, I needed to be more specific, was that it seems ALL sporting events has to have some comment on 'issues'.  

And I agree with the comment above:  Team Ducati and Pramac need to swap riders.  Its.....comical.

Vinales: baffling! Comments above may be totally correct....he's mind f***ing himself.  There is no way, other then a major mechanical issue, you can be fastest all weekend/pole and go straight backwards during the race.  And he's been doing this for a few years. 

To be honest I felt the same, not about Franki sharing his thoughts (after all, he was asked for them) but about the first posters response. I don't want to do politics here, it's too depressing and I'm way past my evangelistic best. I'd rather read 3000 word essays on frame construction (yawn)!

Back to the racing then... shame Vale didn't get the podium, that would have been a magic moment. But still beating Mav. And moving to the real factory team. The worrying thing is Quarty is also starting to look like a flash in the pan and no-one else seems able to string two or three podiums together. Can the real deal step forward please. Marquez must be sat there thinking, nothing to worry about here. It'd be funny if Vale bagged that 10th title out of all this. It could happen!
 

Franco's explanation of that one off helmet, the intent, was so light, and careful, that I'm surprised to read the Debbie Downer comments concerning it here.  I was suprised at how diplomatic he was about it all.  Knowing the film (saw it opening night in 1989 as She's Gotta Have It got us interested in the director) by the back of my hand, the character and his words  "CHILL!".  It was done awfully well.  Griping about it reads a little like "shut up and dribble".

Morbidelli's carefully worded message was due to speaking from the heart and not the mind or a result of difficulties with the english language.

Absolutely. Not really a fan of Hamilton's with-us-or-against-us style of activism, so Morbidelli's gesture just seemed warm and comforting.

Cool picture of Bagnaia the Bullet hanging way off his Duc. Enjoying him a bunch. 

Re Maverick, he is trying too hard. Oversharpening the blade. If he can bring his mental intensity down just a tad but retain drive and feel he would benefit. His single laps are AMAZING. On Sunday he could use a bit more weight on the flywheel of his mind. Drop down into familiar good bodily sensations. Perhaps enjoyment of riding. 

I don't think Quarty flashed in the pan. We get to see soon enough. But the Yam engines have to last so...? 

Everyone that hasn't, I rec watching the Moto2 lead battle. Good stuff! No waiting for our next dose. 

... of all the other comments here, I've got to say that Morbidelli's comments in park ferme and in the After the Flag interviews were undoubtedly the most composed, thoughtful, informative, and articulate I've ever heard after any race anywhere. Big kudos to the guy, and best wishes for future success.

Some very beautiful comments here, this is one of the many things that makes Motomatters so special and unique (I still have to stop myself from writing MotoGPMatters 😄).

Approaching a contentious and polarizing issue from a perspective that is polarizing in itself, such as right and wrong, victim and and villain, judgement and a culprit, will not provide any meaningful solution. One is still dealing with opposition and the world of opposites, or in a more general sense - the mind. It is the egoic mind that is always flip-flopping from one extreme to another.

Sometimes, through tragedy and deep suffering one is led within a deep, dark forest where nothing makes sense. Then, without knowing how it happened, one realizes the heart where peace, inner joy and the self resides. After reading up on Franco Morbidelli's history it all starts to make sense. Not trying to make this laid-back and chilled-out guy out to be any more or less special than anyone else in this world. And yet, his path has led him to a position where his eloquence points to that which is true. And for that I am grateful.

I do not see Franco Morbidelli as one trying to make waves, but as one who is riding the wave and enjoying himself and life when he can as he goes forward. It was great to see him backtrack on his emotionally charged comments about the Zarco incident at Austria with clear and concise words. And it's a pleasure to witness his words after winning a Motogp race. Ciao. 

I saw so many intriguing things, but the one that stood out the most for me, David only briefly alluded to it.

Pecco has demonstrated an uncanny ability to get the Duc slowed down, "hook-turned" at the most crucial phase of the corner, and then immediately stood up to roll on the throttle. In some corners, you could visibly see him turn more than the Yamaha and the Suzuki without losing time and then standing it up like Pedrosa to use the grunt of the Duc to gain his time. Go back and watch both Jerez2 and this race when he is following others. It is magical to see and NOBODY else in the Duc camp can do this. "The bike can't turn!" In these last 2 of his races, he has not only been the lead Duc, he has literally destroyed them all at "non-Ducati" tracks.
 

Will be interesting if he can keep this "hook turn" thing up...and I guarantee you the other Duc guys are wearing out his data. 

Few other quick points...

I wrote it before the first race... "Maverick = Enigma" 

Contrast Maverick with Fabio's analysis of his race...Fabio was very analytical and mature and you could literally see his description of his race unfolding turn by turn, and ironically it was Maverick that set off the whole sequence. 

Social issues in Motorsport.... it's usually the dudes with no "skin" in the game and very little life experience that oppose being confronted with the issues.  Anyone who has been to Brazil will understand one major facet of where Franco's perspective comes from, and the world of Motorsport and its treatment of Hamilton and those around him has literally created his activism. People who have ventured outside their lilly social comfort zone have some perspective, are usually quietly facing the issues within themselves,  and definitely don't complain about social activism.  Cudos to David for being an actual journalist and simply reporting on the news without interjecting whatever his perspectives might be. 

Rererewatching. 

I stare at this finish. Morbidelli, Bagnaia and Mir!?! Satellites and new kids. And the start, two HRC bikes on the back row. 

Next weekend we will see some changes. Ducati may get some progress pouring over data. KTM perhaps not so much. Quartararo will be back. Maverick will choose a better tire. 

Deep down I have a hope for Valentino. And it isn't a stretch. Most impressed by all of our podium folks, for different reasons. Mir's finish was STRONG and he seems to be coming into his own. Bagnaia, he just got his Factory seat, and the monster has awakened. Hats off to our friend Morbidelli. They will get a challenge from a few riders on Sunday. We may have ANOTHER fresh face on the top step. There are three I have in heart and mind.

Vinales and his woes: it seems to be mostly due to his mind but perhaps for this particular race there was also a technical aspect. He was the only one with the hard rear tire. Rossi had the same tire and changed it at the very last (he could have been stronger in those crucial fast laps had he fitted a soft rear?). About the mental aspect, Francesco Guidotti (Pramac) said he was very surprised to see Vinales celebrate his pole like he'd won the world championship; for Guidotti, this is the mark of a rider not entirely capable of judging what's at stake, where his priorities are etc (I'm paraphrasing and perhaps reading too much in what he said, but his observation stands).

Switching Ducati Pramac riders for the factory team: people seem to agree on this and the results of the last races are obviously supporting this narrative but maybe we are all forgetting how important is the environment around the riders. That's something that was discussed at length yesterday between Luca Cadalora (former 125 and 250 world champion, excellent rider of the 500 GPs in the Rainey era, and for 3 years rider coach to Valentino) and Giulio Bernardelle (engineer, worked in the motogp paddock for Aprilia and Honda HRC, now he's a very insightful commentator for DopoGP, check it out on Youtube). Listen to what Guidotti, Meregalli (Yamaha) or Brivio (Suzuki) say about their riders; then Tardozzi -- always extremely critical and dismissive of Dovi (not to mention Petrux). We see Domenicali and Dall'Igna spend more time talking to Miller or Pecco than with the factory riders; they over-celebrate the results of the Pramac riders.

Dovi has made his admirable decision to leave Ducati without a backup plan and concentrate on this year, but the whole Ducati team should support their riders not just with data and fuel and mechanics but making them feel important and creating a supportive environment. Dovi may be strong mentally, perhaps one of the strongest with Marc, but there is so much a rider can do if he feels like he's alone. He's first in the championship now thanks to a silly but understandable error of Fabio, they should now capitalize on that, but I fear the team is not supportive enough.

So next year Pecco goes to the factory team with his crew chief Gabarrini; that's a start, and I hope verything goes well for him, but what he should have is also somebody like Guidotti with him instead of Tardozzi. We have seen (and other people have commented) how history repeats itself, let's remember how Ducati and Stoner parted ways; I don't want to see Pecco's career damaged by the way Ducati treat his factory riders (but I also think that Pecco is much stronger than that and at the least for the next future he won't even notice these aspects).

About the environment, something very interesting that was related by Cadalora was also the joy and the pure passion for racing that Rossi transmits to everybody around him, and that is also reflected in how the VR46 riders approach races (compare it to the tension that is palbable in Dovi's pit -- source: Undaunted movie by Red Bull).

One last comment for Morbidelli. Everybody has already elected Quartararo as the only one capable of stopping Marquez's dominance. Everybody has also forgotten the way Frankie does his things. He's always been like this, growing steadily and confident, not caring about what everybody else is doing ("I don't care" he said in the press conf, when asked about Vinales and Quart). He has now won his first race, and it won't be the last. He's a moto2 world champ, people seem to dismiss this like it's nothing. Next year's Petronas team can well be a dominant force with Morbidelli and Rossi (who may be pushed to greater heights by his protege going so strong... Rossi is still capable of beating Frankie at the ranch!), much more than the factory Yamaha team.

Last time, it was the inappropriate calipers, this week it was the "wrong" tyre.  

This from a guy who thinks he should lead development of the M1.

He can't be doing himself any favours with Yamaha management, either, by constantly saying the tires are fine, he's fine, so the problem must be the bike.

I have to stand up a little bit for Maverick, feel for him, absolute lightning fast guy struggling for a long time now to carry that speed through to the race. He's not a one lap wonder. His race pace, prior to the race itself, usually places him amongst the race days favorites. Unfortunately, predictably, it all goes wrong as soon as the lights go out. He finished only 5 seconds off the lead in 6th place which is far from a disaster, it's just that his weekend(s) prior to the race seemed to predict so much more. If he seems less analytical in his debrief it's because he has seen, thought and explained it all before way too many times. Must be massively frustrating...massively. Mav's a missile, seems like a really nice guy, i'd like to see things go better for him.

A year ago, maybe more, i was pondering the differences between Marquez and most the other riders in their apporach to Fridays and Saturdays (I was pondering the spec inertial units and Marc's crashing on Fridays, Saturdays but not Sundays). Marc always on the long runs, always crashing...it's like rain in the UK, not if but when. Turn on the free practices, Rins this, Miller that, Maverick flying and ahhh Marquez being an absolute nut job with his machine as usual and keeping the same tyres for the entire session.

Think about that. Interupted long runs. Definately not race simulations though, no tyre saving going on in the way he attacks Fridays. Drops the front turn 'a', drops the front turn 'b' and samples gravel at turns 'c' and 'd', you do all know that there is no point flying anywhere to sit in a hotel room...you have to get out and visit a place properly.

I have no idea what Marquez and Hernandez are actually planning but one result of this is a huge amount of data on everything that can possibly go wrong when you put Marquez on a bike. The crashes, the near crashes and that poor bike groaning for mercy.

Now if you took that data as your list of problems that need solving for the day, not from the perspective of ultimate speed but from the perspective of 'save our souls', attempt to help the bike cope or attempt to mitigate the issues which would appear to cause crashes (saved or not) leaving Marquez to do his thing on the bike, learning and saving as he does...blah blah in other words...

...Let Marquez loose and adapt the bike, with electronics mostly, to aid and stop Marquez crashing. At the same time of course, Marc is adapting to the changing bike also. The result being a convergence, rider and bike both adapting to live in Marcs special place.

Obviously, outright performance counts, the safest setup for Marc on a bike is the one without the engine. Think of it as another star in the sky to navigate from, just change the weight of individual stars.

The way Marc attacks and rides, the results will be fast enough...enough...over a single lap to get into Q2 and the result might also be a well rounded approach to a track, not so much a fine razors edge but a good average (i'm talking cricket). Jumping forward to Sunday, dunlop rubber and all, who is best practiced and best prepared for the new conditions ?

Your stat on new winners is odd/slightly misleading. In fact the record for new winners in a season is 4 (confirmed by Dr Martin Raines) so limiting it to the first 6 races is strange.

The record was also equalled in 2016 with Cal, Miller, Iannone and Vinales getting first time wins. There's a very good chance we will beat it this season with Mir looking good, as well as Bagnaia and Pol with a solid chance.
 

PS the paragraph on Rossi "I always suffer in qualifying" is messed up

about the Rossi paragraph being messed up? Is this a criticism or correcting of David's work, as your other two comments seem to be? If so I'm sorry you feel the need amidst all this superbly diverse and intelligent comment on the work of one of the best journalists of MotoGP I've ever read on a long term and consistent basis.

I occasionally write and have stuff published on the subject, it's difficult, and with the right mindset and intent, cracks can be forced and found in anything. But when the quality is almost always at the highest level, it can make the unearthing of such dirt amongst the diamonds a pointless and somewhat depressing exercise. All starts again Friday, my spellchecking device will be lost in the excitement of it all 😃

You wrote a whole essay extolling the virtues of David's writing instead of taking 10 seconds to go back and read the part I referred to?

It was a simple friendly correction - that paragraph appears to have a copy-paste error or something. No biggie but I thought David would want to fix it.

If you paid attention you'll see I also love David's writing enough to pay to support it.

Cautiously optimistic: Nakagami, Dovizioso and maybe Zarco (joie de vivre finesse interfering with gut instinct here). So-so and not expressing confidence: Pol and Quartararo. Hinting at the limitations of injuries during back-to-back-to-back races: Rins and Bagnaia. Pessimism: Viñales and Miller. Stealth mode and possibly next sunday's dark horse: Mir. Steely determination and conviction: Binder. Intelligent: Oliveira. Politically correct: A. Marquez and Smith.

This is a tasty meal. Awaiting with hunger and abated breath. Can the weekend come soon enough? As soon as one draws conclusions, reality destroys them (the conclusions). Maybe this season will go down to the last corner of the last lap of the last race with more than two riders in with a chance. Has that ever happened before?

 

Maybe we are reading too much into Franco's helmet and rethorics. Maybe he was just referring that all the MotoGP riders should be on equal factory bikes :)