MotoGP is in a strangely good place after the Emilia Romagna GP, with each class’ championship lead being five points or less. Here are some things you may have missed from the weekend.
Moto3 was a fairly subdued affair, with none of the usual axe-murdering going on. The only thing close to it was Jeremy Alcoba receiving a penalty for moving sharply across the track on the straight, this and running wide a few times meaning he ended up 13th. Carlos Tatay and Davide Pizzoli ruined their races by jumping the start, and the punishment for this is the long lap penalty twice, so any hopes of points were dashed instantly. Stefano Nepa continued his good steps to bring home the final point in 15th and is improving each race aboard the Aspar machine. Raul Fernandez did his usual no-fuss job to come home 6th, but he must be getting sick of not winning from pole position by now. Deniz Oncu scored his best-ever finish with 7th, and he was joined in the points by teammate Ayumu Sasaki who got 14th, Tech 3 look to have pulled a good move securing both riders for 2021 in the same colours. Gabri Rodrigo showed his new side by finishing the race once again in 12th, but it could have been so much better for the Argentine had he not hit Vietti and lost touch with the lead group, however, he must be encouraged with his finishes, something he never had in the locker previously.
First of all, one rider who deserves a shout out is Polish CEV rider Piotr Biesiekirski, who was thrown in at the deepest end possible on his world championship debut aboard the NTS replacing the still unwell Jesko Raffin, and he improved hugely over the weekend, which was a very encouraging ride for the man who had most to learn coming into this weekend, although he did not finish after crashing out two laps from the end. Another replacement rider was the evergreen Mattia Pasini, who hopped aboard the Red Bull KTM Ajo machine vacated by Jorge Martin, who suffered from a positive Covid-19 test and was unable to race. Pasini would finish only 0.2 seconds off getting a point, but he was beaten to the line by Stefano Manzi. Both Pasini and Biesiekirski had nightmare conditions to deal with coming in and they held their own well. Just in front of Manzi was reigning Moto3 champion Lorenzo Dalla Porta, who is now starting to look like the real deal aboard the Moto2 machine, and is slowly silencing the doubters. Both Factory Speed Up boys finally put it together on race day, with Jorge Navarro coming home 7th and the ‘phoenix’ adorned Fabio Di Giannantonio following him home in 8th. Navarro needed a finish after crashing out of 5 races so far in 2020. Augusto Fernandez’ nightmare continues, ending up 18th and out of the points, completely unacceptable for the Marc VDS squad, as it is possibly THE most coveted seat in Moto2. Fernandez has serious work to do, but not as much as Lorenzo Baldassarri, who came home stone dead last after destroying his soft tyre after the restart, and has surely lost his ride aboard the Pons machine for 2021, and possibly his Moto2 career with it.
MotoGP had some big drama and only 13 finishers, as we all saw Pecco Bagnaia threw away a win, what was not found out until later was that he allegedly crashed on a visor tear-off. Pramac must hate tear-offs at the minute, with one getting into Jack Miller’s air filter and causing his machine to fail. Bagnaia surely has secured the Factory Ducati seat despite not finishing, as his contender for the seat in Johann Zarco ended up 13th. Bradley Smith was the final man across the line, but getting 3 points and extremely valuable data for Aprilia by finishing a race when his teammate Aleix Espargaro didn’t even finish the first lap must feel like a job done from the Englishman, fulfilling what is expected of him as a last-minute Andrea Iannone replacement. Alex Rins just could not do a thing with his Suzuki and ended up a very disappointing 12th, it must hurt him, even more, seeing his less experienced teammate Joan Mir contending for the title. Rins needs to find something soon or he risks being left behind massively. Franco Morbidelli got 9th after winning last weekend, but he had a fairly good excuse in that he was so sick, Petronas team manager Johan Stigefelt said he should have been ‘in bed’ and not aboard a bike. There were visible tears of elation from Morbidelli in the garage, he did an excellent job. Danilo Petrucci’s sad end to his Ducati career continues, after showing strongly early in the race he faded to 10th and just did not look like he could get anywhere fast. Of the crashers, Valentino Rossi’s will have hurt the Italian fans the most, as will Bagnaia’s, but a thought should be spared for Iker Lecuona. The youngest man in the field was well on his way to a 6th place finish, which would have been his best-ever finish in the class and cemented the fact he deserves a seat aboard the Tech 3 KTM, but he crashed out with only 3 laps to go. But the Spaniard is showing massive potential, he will have his day very soon. Nut the standout ride in the circumstances with surely Alex Marquez, the lone Repsol Honda man coming home a very impressive 7th aboard a Honda he cannot qualify on, the reigning Moto2 champion is showing why Honda have signed him in his own right, not just because he carries the name ‘Marquez’.
We now go to Barcelona with each championship finely balanced on a knife-edge. Can anyone take control as we leave the Catalan soil, or is this going to continue until we arrive in Portugal?
Featured image- www.motogp.com