2020 Valencia MotoGP Race Result: Big Party In An Empty Club

The sun turned up to the premier class party to heat up not only track surface but also the simmering title battle and the only thing that shined more than Franco Morbidelli’s 2019 spec Yamaha was Joan Mir’s golden helmet, celebrating Suzuki’s first riders’ world title in 20 years, very fittingly on the factory’s 100th anniversary. The newly crowned champion might not have had a home crowd to celebrate with but that didn’t seem to make the cava any less sweet. The Spaniard did have to share the limelight in parc ferme with Morbidelli and Jack Miller, who fought tooth and nail until the checkered flag, a battle decided in the Italian’s favour. Morbidelli grabbed a third victory of the season, sharing the podium with some familiar faces in Miller and Pol Espargaro, the Spaniard scoring his 50th podium in Grand Prix racing.

The start of the race set the scene for the rest of proceedings, Miller perfecting his holeshot technique to lead into turn one, but his Ducati went wide straight away and allowed poleman Morbidelli back past. The Yamaha man was closely followed by Miller, Pol Espargaro and Takaaki Nakagami, while Miguel Oliveira was immediately up to fifth, having started on the fourth row. Also starting from the fourth row, Fabio Quartararo had a much more difficult start, running well wide at turn 2, as things got busy in the middle of the pack, and dropped to the back of the field. Mir managed to join the top 10 by the end of lap 1, with teammate Rins making a more impressive start, up to 7th from 14th on the grid.

Morbidelli was untroubled at the front, with Miller and Pol Espargaro close behind him, and Nakagami leading a sizeable group another seven tenths back. That group also included Oliveira, Johann Zarco, Rins, Brad Binder, Aleix Espargaro and Mir, with Andrea Dovizioso leading a third group, one second back and ahead of Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi. However, the chasing group lost Zarco at turn 1 on lap 6, making Rins’ mission a little easier as he inherited 6th place.

Morbidelli continued to be untouchable for the next laps, keeping the gap to Miller to about half a second, only Pol Espargaro keeping close to the leaders, while Nakagami dropped over two seconds back after running wide at turn 1 and then got a track limits warning on lap 8. In worse news, the LCR man soon had Rins on his tail, as well as Oliveira and Binder. Mir was losing touch with the chasing pack, over a second down and under attack from Dovizioso but the Spaniard was biding his time and his title mission was soon made easier by Quartararo. Having to find his way from the back of the pack, the Frenchman was in rush to recover positions but made some mistakes in his frantic recovery, which saw him get a track limits warning and promptly crash out on at turn 6, putting an end to his title aspirations on lap 9.

Back at the front, teammate Morbidelli had impeccably consistent pace and his gap got over the one second mark with 16 laps remaining, while Miller was fending off Pol Espargaro in the podium battle. Nakagami reduced his gap to the leaders to one second and he seemed to pick up the pace as the race entered its final half, but Rins could not keep up and was left to contend with the KTMs of Oliveira and Binder. Meanwhile, Mir was leading a small group two seconds down the road, where Dovizioso was struggling to get past Aleix Espargaro to attack the championship leader.

As the race entered the final 11 laps, Miller starting pushing to catch up with Morbidelli and got the gap down to six tenths of a second, but the Italian replied brilliantly and brought it back up to eight tenths. Rather than getting involved in the victory battle, Pol Espargaro was dropping into the clutches of Nakagami in the battle for third. Rins was still out of that battle, over two seconds behind, but the Spaniard got promoted one position after Nakagami rushed an overtake on Pol with 8 laps remaining and threw it away at turn 14, almost wiping out the KTM in the process. Espargaro did well to keep running but it allowed Rins to close to one second from his third place.

Closing at a much faster rate was Miller, the Australian less than half a second behind Morbidelli with 7 laps remaining, the two posting nearly identical lap times at the front. The duo got some more breathing room after Nakagami’s crash, which left Pol Espargaro almost three seconds behind the victory battle. The Spaniard’s third place did not look particularly secure either, with Rins posting personal best sectors behind him and Binder keen to attack too. Meanwhile, Mir and Dovizioso had almost caught up with Oliveira but Mir wasn’t exactly looking for a battle for sixth place.

Miller continued to put pressure on Morbidelli but the Italian was always just far enough ahead to avoid an attack – that is until the final lap, when Miller used the Ducatis’ power to attack going into turn 1 but ran wide and Morbidelli got the inside into turn 2. Miller had another look into turn 4 but Morbidelli found the gap at turn 5 once more. Miller then tried his best until the checkered flag but Morbidelli crossed the finish line nine hundredths of a second ahead of the Pramac rider. Pol Espargaro secured the final podium position, although Rins came within six tenths of a second of challenging him, with Binder back in the top five, ahead of colleague Oliveira.

However, it was Mir who got all the attention as he put the golden helmet on, after taking the checkered flag in seventh place. The Spaniard’s result sealed both the riders and teams’ titles and Suzuki continue on course to claim the triple crown heading into the season finale in Portugal.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 41'22.478
2 43 Jack Miller Ducati +0.093
3 44 Pol Espargaro KTM +3.006
4 42 Alex Rins Suzuki +3.697
5 33 Brad Binder KTM +4.127
6 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM +7.272
7 36 Joan Mir Suzuki +8.703
8 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +8.729
9 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia +15.512
10 12 Maverick Viñales Yamaha +19.043
11 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati +19.456
12 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +19.717
13 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda +23.802
14 6 Stefan Bradl Honda +27.430
15 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati +30.570
16 73 Alex Marquez Honda +30.619
17 53 Tito Rabat Ducati +42.365
18 32 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia +46.472
Not Classified
  30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 9 Laps
  20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 19 Laps
  5 Johann Zarco Ducati 22 Laps
Round Number: 
14
2020
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Comments

... Paddock Podcast where Yamaha both wins the race and is the biggest loser of the weekend? Franco and Co. making a mockery of the 2020 bikes while the factory doesn't seem to have any real answers for what to do in '21.

- Amazing rides by both Franco and Miller. 

- Taka is getting his racecraft all wrong repeatedly.

- Mir has earned the crown and then some!

I was watching the BT Sport feed and both Rossi/Mav were invisible - dont think Rossi got a mention all race - he seems to be more newsworthy for his Covid tests than his races!

I didn't think Jack Miller could do it, but what an amazing last couple of laps. Congrats to both him and Franco Morbidelli for a scintillating race!

So gutted for TN30!

And yes, Joan Mir is a well-deserved World Champion! Congratulations to him. Once again, fast and didn't put a foot wrong.

What a champion! The last 2 races have been perfection. Pressure? Pressure is having to win on inferior machinery as a preteen because there's no other money. An impressive young man and a worthy champion.

That was a good race.

Thanks for the report Zara.

Congratulations to Franky, Jack, Pol and new champion Joan Mir.

Congratulations Suzuki! Big love for one of the smaller manufacturers in MotoGp.

Last lap lunges added some excitement at the end. Thankfully not too much.

Portimão should be awesome. Championship decided, straight out racing.

Best of luck to local boy made good Miguel Oliveira.

Listened to the BT Sport interview with Frankie, and as always, there isn't a problem with HIS Yamaha!? In fact his eloquence doesn't even entertain that line of questioning? Is it the wizard Forcada, or the fact it's the lesser spec of the quartet, now that we know a 2019 bike has been asked for in some quarters for 2021 (that is definitely not the Japanese way)? Yes if my auntie has kahoonas she'd be my uncle but Frankie has had 3 DNFs, but has won as convincingly as anybody. Discounting Rossi, who's had a year to forget, Mac & Fab are at a complete loss with a machine that #21 can pummel the opposition with, WTF? Well done to Mir, that is absolutely how you win a championship and thanks Jackass for bringing it, though is he now getting nervous about stepping on another factory bike that doesn't seem to work like a 2019 variety does-unless there's just pure mutiny with AD04 and DP9 (who I for one is very much looking forward to seeing on a KTM-3 in today's top 6 😃)? Stick Chas Davies on the second Aprilia, and let's see. Second teams for both them and Suzuki and I'm already looking forward to 2022!!

Will surely be solved by plonking the Coventry Crashfest on top of the M1.

At least he's prepared well, by getting test rider points in his final season.

He won't crash it like he (and many others) did the 'widowmaker'. It was clear with the Yamaha riders it's a popular choice, so long as Yamaha can adapt to his very direct evaluation-something they really need at present. Three wins (HOWEVER they came) for the only Brit rider since Barry Sheene is what I'd prefer to remember, especially as I was trackside when Sheene was king 👑 

^ Agreed. He has BEEN a solid Tester. And he will run it in with intensity, race or no. I think Crutchlow deserves VERY little of the criticism lobbed his way. Either that, or he and I deserve more and I am complaining. 

Wait until you hear A) how much he loves the feel of riding the Yamaha, and B) when it improves (as of course it will from here) there is appreciation of his work. C) And he will ride Suzuka 24hrs with the top Yamaha team, and D) get praise from the brass. E) is he going to Japan after Portugal, or is the Euro Test team a go during Covid? Them having him there is great if they can get the rest of it going. F) ingers crossed. For a Wildcard too. I like the wild eyed monster. 

... speculate regarding Yamaha's tumult of highs and lows - though Franco and the '19 bike have clearly ended the season more consistent than the '20 package. I've wondered; how much of a factor does the 2020 rear Michelin play into this? Watching Franco this year and it looks like the '19 M1 with this years tire may make the best run-and-hide bike on the grid? Also curious if the same tire has affected Fabio negatively, and his perception of his M1...

A new front coming next year will likely shift things again.

Is it the 2019 bike or is it Franky? Seems to me that he's really improved and is riding well. MV12 and FQ20 were the wonderkids, and Franky was the other guy. So often were the races theirs to lose . . . and they did, whereas Franky just gets in there and does the job. Franky deserves more credit, and to get the same level of support. And how good was Jack!!! Well done mate (yes I'm a fan).

Congrates to JM36. This has been and is a fantastic season, and its so good seing different riders and bikes atthe pointy end.

 

Great to see riders that have followed different paths have success. After being outstanding in Moto3 Mir was only one year in Moto2 with no wins, Morbidelli came to Moto2 from racing modified road bikes and Miller is not european which makes it much harder and he missed Moto2 completely and controversially.

As an Australian I am pleased to see Miller becoming a serious package. I spent the last half of the race waiting for the tyre fade induced slowing or the front end loss. What we saw instead was a proper racer who nearly got the win, but Frankie was just a bit better in the battle. Miller also seems to becoming an interview of choice for the english speaking press and is offering a far more considered interview without losing his character and interest.