Lorenzo Baldassarri has had a nightmare 2020. Going from title contender and podium man at Qatar to regularly finishing outside the points, it has all gone wrong for the Pons man.
Forward Racing owner Giovanni Curzari has offered him a lifeline for 2021 however, effectively performing a swap with current rider Stefano Manzi to bring Baldassarri back to the team, albeit on an MV Agusta chassis, not the Kalex chassis when he was first with the squad. This swap should bring benefits for both riders, with Manzi effectively getting a deserved promotion and Baldassarri given a reset button.
It seems the front tyre that has written off a championship charge of many a rider has bitten Baldassarri, though he is not alone with other quality riders also feeling the pain of Dunlop’s decision to bring in a tyre that is 15mm wider than the tyre the season was started on. By the time the behaviour of the tyre was figured out, Pons had already replaced him.
It is worth noting that although the tyre is a cause of the problems, the rear of the bike is not behaving either, leaving him with what is basically an unrideable machine each week and in the doldrums of 20th place downwards, a position that is far too low for a rider of his quality. The 2020 Kalex chassis and tyre combination is obviously one that does not work for him, and it is possible the fresh start with the trellis frame that MV have experience with could be the key to getting him back to the front in 2021.
Having already ridden for Forward Racing in the past, and getting his first podium with the squad in 2016 at Mugello which was followed by the first win in the class at Misano, he was strong when they were combined. His best finish with the squad was 7th place in 2016, although he has since bested that with a 5th in 2018 aboard the Pons bike.
Baldassarri aboard the Forward Racing Kalex, Silverstone 2016.
Baldassarri currently sits in 14th place at the time of writing (in between Aragon back-to-back races) with 47 points, it is an awful record for someone considered a title contender and someone who just a year go was still in with a shot at the Moto2 world title, a sign of just how far he has fallen in the cut throat world of Moto2. New riders are coming to the fore after team changes, and you cannot afford to be left behind. The Forward Racing move is surely last chance saloon for the 23 year old, with many riders now ahead of him in the MotoGP team thoughts, he simply has to perform to put himself in the shop window, or the paddock may say bye to him entirely.
Featured image – www.motogp.com