Sunday, 15 November 2020
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) put on a spectacular duel in the Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana as a tense race-long chess match turned into a final lap scrap for glory. It was decided by less than a tenth but it’s Morbidelli who comes out on top, gloves off to take his third win of the year and move up to second in the standings. Miller was forced to settle for second in the end, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) once again completing the podium. Slightly further back, Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made dreams a reality as he took seventh place and secured the 2020 MotoGP™ World Championship, with key rivals not able to do enough to stop the Majorcan’s history-making charge.
As the lights went out, Miller put in a characteristically good start to take the holeshot before then heading wide out of Turn 1, leaving Morbidelli in the lead as the Yamaha man kept it clean to take over. Pol Espargaro pounced for third ahead of front-row starter Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), but then some shuffles just behind pulled immediate focus.
First, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) had sliced through from P14 on the grid to seventh after a storming start, but things didn’t go so well for fellow contender Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The Frenchman struggled to get it stopped into Turn 6 on Lap 1 and dropped back – right back – before it went from bad to worse. Sadly, his title hopes were over, ‘El Diablo’ sliding out of the race and contention.
Meanwhile at the front, Morbidelli had the hammer down and Rins was up to fifth – one place gained ‘thanks’ to a crash for Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) as the day sadly came to an early end for the Frenchman after a good start and a battle with the number 42. And Mir? Mir was in eighth, but was getting into the groove and past Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) to set off after Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) ahead of him.
Morbidelli rode on, Miller remained his shadow, and the two men kept edging away to make it a duel. It became a brief duel over third too as Nakagami homed in on Pol Espargaro, the Japanese rider once again showing some stunning pace. But the charge would end with disappointment as just as he struck, Nakagami slid out – leaving the KTM to take back third and now with a small cushion back to fourth.
The man in fourth by then was Rins, and with Suzuki’s late race pace of late, Pol Espargaro couldn’t afford to relax too much. But this weekend it seemed just off the podium was the maximum the Aragon GP winner could manage as he held station, two more KTMs on his tail. Initially the first was Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), but Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder was coming in hot. The South African was also keeping Mir at bay as the number 36 failed to make inroads into the gap, seemingly set to take the crown from seventh.
Back at the front, Morbidelli was steadfast but the Petronas Yamaha SRT rider wasn’t getting away as he had done for his previous wins. Miller was with him and gaining, gaining, until he was within touching distance with two to go. And over the line for the final lap, the Australian struck for the front.
Heading up the inside, the number 43 was past and it was game on – but he also headed wide. Morbidelli reacted to hug the apex and slice back through, the Yamaha back ahead and Miller reloading for another shot. That came not long after at Turn 4 as Miller chucked it up the inside, but Morbidelli snapped straight back to grab P1 again at Turn 5.
Down the back straight they went, the Ducati able to show a wheel but no way through. Miller then set himself up for a dive up the inside at Turn 11, but once again there was no way through as the duo got very close for comfort.
Attention then turned to the final corner, but Miller wasn’t close enough to lunge. Could the number 43 get the power down and use the extra grunt to scream past Morbidelli on the run to the line? It was his final chance at the win, but it wasn’t to be. Morbidelli emerged victorious for the third time this season after a magnificent boxing match, and the Italian now sits second in the Championship. Petronas Yamaha SRT are also the top Independent Team. The gap over the line was just 0.093 seconds, tantalisingly close, but it’s a great third podium of the season for Miller nevertheless. Pol Espargaro goes back-to-back in Valencia for his fifth podium of the year in third, another fantastic effort from the Spaniard in his penultimate race for KTM.
Rins’ comeback ride was impressive from P14, but the Suzuki man ran out of steam and eventually missed out on the podium by six tenths as he was forced to settle for fourth. The Spaniard did, however, help Team Suzuki Ecstar claim the Team Championship after a stunning year that’s seen both riders win and challenge for the crown, Mir ultimately taking it.
Binder got the better of Oliveira to return to the top five for the first time since the Austrian GP, and the South African also strengthened his grip on the Rookie of the Year title as he heads for the finale 20 points clear of Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Oliveira in sixth make it three KTMs in the top six too, and the Portuguese rider arrives on home turf in form.
Just behind the KTM duo, Mir took the chequered flag. Pandemonium raged on the pit wall as Suzuki witnessed their rider come across the line to win the 2020 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship, the young Spaniard joining Barry Sheene, Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Jr. as a Suzuki Champion. An incredible achievement from the sophomore, and the entire Hamamatsu factory, after a stunning season.
Dovizioso almost sprung a late surprise as he crossed the line just 0.026 behind Mir and could have possibly gone for a lunge, but he was the second Ducati home and took some solid points. Aleix Espargaro crossed the line in a solid P9 to grab his second top 10 of the season, the Aprilia man taking the flag one place ahead of Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) after a tougher one for the number 12.
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) finished P11 and three tenths ahead of Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), as Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) completed the points.
And so, Valencia plays host to yet another Championship-deciding MotoGP™ race – and an amazing last lap duel. Suzuki now head to Portimao with the triple crown in sight, although the Japanese marque are equal on points with Ducati in the fight to become Constructor Champions. Whichever bike crosses the line first will win the Championship. See you in less than a week’s time for another stunning MotoGP™ showdown!
MARVELLOUS MIR AND TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR CONQUER 2020 CROWN
Team Suzuki Press Office – November 15.
After a long wait of 20 years since the last title with Kenny Roberts Jr. in 2000, Joan Mir has brought the MotoGP World Championship title back to Suzuki in emphatic fashion.
The young Spaniard, in only his second season in the top class, put together an incredible campaign with Team Suzuki Ecstar in what has been an extraordinary and highly-demanding 2020 season. He takes the much coveted crown one round ahead of the closing race, due to the 29 point advantage that he has over his closest competitors after the GP of Valencia.
This Grand Prix weekend at Ricardo Tormo circuit sees Team Suzuki Ecstar reap the rewards of a superb 2020 season, in which the results obtained by Mir and Alex Rins has put Suzuki on the path to the ‘Triple Crown’: The Riders’ Championship, Teams’ Championship, and Constructors’ Championship.
The 2020 World Championship has seen Suzuki come full circle, celebrating success in what has been an important year in the company’s history:
• It is the 100th Anniversary of Suzuki Motor Company.
• It is 60 years since Suzuki began racing.
• It is 20 years since the last World Championship title in the premier class.
The 2020 Riders’ World Championship is the 16th title for Suzuki and the 2nd for Joan Mir, after his crown in the Moto3 class in 2017. Mir is the 10th rider in history to win a title with Suzuki considering all categories, and the 7th in the 500cc/ MotoGP class.
It is also a historical and momentous day for Team Suzuki Ecstar, as it becomes the first Team in Suzuki history to win the Teams’ World Championship.
Mr. Toshihiro Suzuki – President of Suzuki Motor Corporation:
“I would like to congratulate and express my gratitude to Team Suzuki Ecstar and Joan Mir for winning the MotoGP World Championship in such an unprecedented and tough season due to the COVID-19 situation in 2020. Also to Alex Rins, who has put together an extraordinary championship, being still in the fight for second place.
“This is Suzuki’s 100th anniversary and in this memorable year, we won the MotoGP championship, which is the world’s highest series of motorcycle racing. And motorcycle business to us is one of the key sectors our seniors started and have built up over many years.
“I would like to thank all the customers, fans and dealers who always encouraged and supported Suzuki, and all the suppliers and sponsors who supported us. Our team staff members, riders, and furthermore all the staff who backed this activity by Miyakoda and Ryuyo, Japan.
“Since returning to the MotoGP, I am very proud of the team that has overcome various hardships, made steady progress year by year, and finally became the champion.”
More information and contents, including rider and manager quotes, will follow soon…
2020 MotoGP World Championship Classification:
1 Joan MIR Suzuki SPA 171
2 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha ITA 142
3 Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 138
4 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 127
5 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha FRA 125
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 125
7 Pol ESPARGARO KTM SPA 122
8 Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 112
9 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda JPN 105
10 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM POR 100
11 Brad BINDER KTM RSA 87
12 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 78
13 Johann ZARCO Ducati FRA 71
14 Alex MARQUEZ Honda SPA 67
15 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 62
16 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati ITA 47
17 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia SPA 34
18 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 29
19 Iker LECUONA KTM SPA 27
20 Stefan BRADL Honda GER 18
21 Bradley SMITH Aprilia GBR 12
22 Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 10
23 Michele PIRRO Ducati ITA 4
24 Lorenzo SAVADORI Aprilia ITA
CLEVER APPROACH SEES MIR CROWNED CHAMPION AS RINS GOES 4TH
Team Suzuki Press Office – November 15.
GRAN PREMIO MOTUL DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA
Alex Rins: 4th (+ 3.697)
Joan Mir: 7th (+ 8.703)
The penultimate race of the year, the Valencia GP, was a tense affair for Team Suzuki Ecstar as Joan Mir faced the first match point of the season. However, the young Mallorcan rode an extremely measured and intelligent race, doing enough to take the 2020 MotoGP World Championship crown in style with a round to spare.
Starting the 27 lap race from 12th and 14th on the grid, Mir and Alex Rins knew it would be tough to repeat the 1-2 result they achieved a week earlier at Ricardo Tormo. However, both riders made solid starts to gain useful places in the early laps.
While Rins began to chase down the lead group, Mir played it safe and ensured he had enough heat into his hard front tyre before lining up those ahead of him.
Rins worked his way into a decent fifth place by Lap 11, and Mir moved up into eighth one lap later.
With just a handful of laps left, Rins had settled into a strong rhythm and he was keeping his rivals at bay. He took a strong fourth place finish to keep himself in the hunt for second in the Championship, simultaneously helping Team Suzuki Ecstar to secure the 2020 Teams’ Championship.
Aware of what needed to be done to take the much coveted crown, Mir took a calm and clever approach to the race, keeping his cool in the high pressure situation and avoiding unnecessary risk. He finished the Valencia GP in seventh place, but crucially has a gap of 29 points in the standings, meaning he is confirmed as the 2020 MotoGP World Champion, an incredible achievement in only his second season in the class, and a momentous day for Suzuki who win their first title for 20 years whilst also celebrating their centenary year and 60 years in racing.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“First of all, I have to say a big congratulations to Joan! This season has been very difficult, not only because of the strength of all the competitors but also because of the global situation with Covid-19. Alex has also had a good day and helped us to get the Teams’ Championship, another great achievement! Thank you to everyone who has been fighting with us to make this season a special one, especially to all our staff, sponsors, and fans. I’m very happy, finally we’ve achieved our biggest dream.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, we could not have hoped for more! To win the title this year, when it’s Suzuki’s 100th anniversary and the 60th year in racing, and also 20 years since the last title – in my wildest dreams I couldn’t imagine something as good as this, it’s truly great. Huge congratulations must go to Joan, he was so consistent and professional throughout. Alex also did a really good job today to get decent points and 4th place. Finally I must thank all the staff – whether at home, in Japan, or here at the circuit – they’ve all worked incredibly hard for this. Thank you so much for everything.”
“World Champion? It sounds amazing! It’s really hard to find the words at the moment, but I must say thank you to so many people; to Suzuki for this opportunity, I’m so happy to give them a title! To be the person who brings them another crown after 20 years is an unbelievable feeling and a true honour. The entire team did an incredible job, and I’m just so overjoyed with this championship win. I’ve come a long way since being a child with hardly any money to go racing, and my family are to thank for this. I worked very hard to get to the top and this reward is amazing. Today’s race wasn’t easy, but I got the result I needed and I hope to have a great end in Portimao. It’s time to celebrate but we must do it responsibly.”
“In the end, I wasn’t able to get the title, but I’m so happy for Joan and all of Team Suzuki! It’s incredible that he won the championship in only his second year, and the entire team have worked so hard to achieve this. So the feeling is amazing, even for me. Today Franco had a very strong pace and the best I could do was 4th, but I’m still fighting to get second place in the standings, so I’m happy with the result. I’m hoping to finish the season on a high when we go to Portimao!”
GRAN PREMIO MOTUL DE LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA – Race Classification:
1. F. MORBIDELLI – Petronas Yamaha SRT – 41:22.478
2. J. MILLER – Pramac Racing – +00.093
3. P. ESPARGARO – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – +03.006
4. A. RINS – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – +03.697
5. B. BINDER – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – +04.127
6. M. OLIVEIRA – Red Bull KTM Tech 3 – +07.272
7. J. MIR – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – +08.703
8. A. DOVIZIOSO – Ducati Team – +08.729
9. A. ESPARGARO – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – +15.512
10. M. VIÑALES – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – +19.043
11. F. BAGNAIA – Pramac Racing – +19.456
12. V. ROSSI – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – +19.717
13. C. CRUTCHLOW – LCR Honda CASTROL – +23.802
14. S. BRADL – Repsol Honda Team – +27.430
15. D. PETRUCCI – Ducati Team – +30.570
16. A. MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – +30.619
17. T. RABAT – Esponsorama Racing – +42.365
18. L. SAVADORI – Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – +46.472
T. NAKAGAMI – LCR Honda IDEMITSU – 27:36.724 – 19 laps
F. QUARTARARO – Petronas Yamaha SRT – 12:29.735 – 9 laps
J. ZARCO – Esponsorama Racing – 07:45.771 – 5 laps
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales had to make up a lot of ground after a difficult opening lap at the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. The Spaniard put his head down and cruised to a top-10 finish. Valentino Rossi got a taste for battling on track for race positions again. Thanks to a strong start and a mid-race head-to-head with Cal Crutchlow, he secured 12th place today.
Viñales had a tough start, dropping from a sixth-place starting position to 13th crossing the finish line for the first time, but he soon recomposed himself. Setting his fastest race lap on lap 4, the Spaniard settled into his position on track, with his team-mate in pursuit of him for a while.
However, after eight laps the Valencia GP became a lonely ride for Top Gun. With an over-3s gap to the rider in front of him and a 1s gap to the rider behind him, the Yamaha man focused on his rhythm. With multiple riders crashing out or running wide throughout the course of the race, Viñales ended in tenth place, 19.043s from first.
Rossi was keen on getting in 27 race laps around the Valencia track, even if he had to battle in the busy mid-pack. He had a good start from 16th on the grid and skilfully manoeuvred his way through the chaos of the opening stages. Using his experience, he avoided all on-track drama and made up two places on the first lap in the process.
He now found himself in 14th, chasing his team-mate. The duo together gained two more positions due to mistakes from other riders who got caught out by the slippery Ricardo Tormo track. With 19 laps to go, The Doctor lost some positions, but he wasn‘t going to let it slide. Though Francesco Bagnaia, who was one of the riders who slipped past, was out of his reach, Rossi was up for a sparring match with Cal Crutchlow. On lap 16, the Yamaha rider took over 13th place and soon created a gap. The remainder of the race was uneventful for the Italian. With one more rider crashing ahead of him, he crossed the finish line in 12th place, 19.717s from the front.
The 2020 Rider MotoGP Title was decided after today’s race, so for the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team-mates there now only remains the fight for their final rankings. Viñales stays in fourth with 127 points, 44 from the top. Rossi remains in 15th place, with a 109-point gap to first. Yamaha is third in the constructor standings, and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP is in fifth position in the team classification.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team extend their congratulations to Joan Mir for winning the Championship Title.
For the final race of the season, the team will now travel to the Algarve International Circuit in Portimão, where next week’s Grandé Premio de Portugal will be held from 20-22 November.
Valencia this year has been a very difficult venue for us, more than ever before. During these last three days we spent some time trying different set-ups, also thinking about the future. Especially Maverick was quite comfortable on the bike on Friday and Saturday, but he didn’t have that same feeling during the race. Even though we improved in the braking areas, we weren’t able to find the rear grip needed to challenge out in front. We already knew this race would be difficult, but we still expected a bit more from today. In one week‘s time we have a final possibility to finish this season on a high note, like how we started the season. The riders already spent one day at the Portimão track on their YZF-R1s, so let’s see what we will be able to do.
The start was difficult, but I tried to concentrate, get the rhythm, and be better. Somehow I never really got that feeling that I had some races ago. But I did the maximum I could in the race, and now all we can do as a team is to try to understand what we can improve for the final round. The next race we ride in Portimão, which is a track I like, and we will try to go fast. We hope to have a bit more grip there so we can get a better result.
I want to say congratulations to Joan. He is a deserving winner of this year’s title.
At this level, coming back strong is something you have to do step-by-step. I needed this race, because last week I did just four laps. I had six consecutive zero-point results because of mistakes, a problem with the bike, and Covid-19. We know that here it’s difficult for me, because this is my worst track in my whole career. We tried everything. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of grip, but in the end we finished the race. I wasn’t fast enough, but I was consistent all the way to the end, and also physically I feel good. This is important. Now we hope we can feel better with the bike and the tyres in Portimão next week. We will try to be more competitive.
I think Mir deserves this championship. He is mature for his age and doesn’t make mistakes in crucial moments, so congratulations to him.