Intermediate class fans are getting an unbelievable 2020, undoubtedly a vintage year for the middleweight class, with talent oozing out of each of the top teams.
Records are being broken left and right, and not only outright lap records, race/qualifying records are being included in this too. The racing at the top has been close, though not as close as 2010 and 2019 but that can be chalked up to new setup wilderness, 2019 in particular after the tyre profile changes dramatically changed the face of the racing.
If we look the rider calibre in 2020, the talent pool has never been higher. Luca Marini is the standout performer so far, the level of performance he is achieving lap after lap is close to perfection in some races to grab the championship by the scruff of it’s neck after the Catalunya round, winning in Montmelo with masterful race craft to conserve tyres. Other riders have dominated the Moto2 class sure, but that was on 600cc machines where the line choice was very one-dimensional. Since the 765cc formula came in, riders have more freedom of line choice, as well as setup choice due to the more sophisticated electronics and gearbox (although there do seem to be false neutral problems, but that’s another story). Nobody has yet looked anywhere near the level Marini has set while on the new formula, even last year where nobody really shone, though he has been chased at various points by riders of perhaps equal quality, if not consistency.
Therein lies the reason behind the level being so high. If you slack even 1%, there are now a possible 8-10 riders who will be there to pounce and punish you for it. Moto2 has never had that, the gulf between the top teams was always there even in a control class. So you have to keep your level as close to 100% for as long as possible, or you risk getting swallowed in the bear pit. Past champions like Tito Rabat and Johann Zarco realistically only had one or two contenders to their throne, and although they were deserving champions they could afford races where perhaps they didn’t need to push 100% and could still win comfortably. 2020’s contenders do not have that. A good example is Enea Bastianini at Catalunya. He came into the weekend with a realistic chance of taking the championship lead with a win, as he was only 5 points from Marini. He qualified 11th, came home 6th and now is 20 points off the lead. Off days cannot be tolerated any more, as the gap will widen with each passing lap.
The level step can only be good for the sport in general, as the riders who are proving themselves to be worthy of a seat in the MotoGP class will have less issue adapting due to increased speeds and electronic experience, making Moto2 truly feel like the gap between the junior riders and the big boys, instead of the necessary but possibly detached class it once was, due to the basic nature of the bikes. Long may it continue.
Featured image – www.motogp.com