Fabulous Fabio is Back Winning in Barcelona-Catalunya with Rossi/Dovi Crashing Out & Joan Mir Closing in on the Title Race
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Fabulous Fabio is Back Winning in Barcelona-Catalunya with Rossi/Dovi Crashing Out & Joan Mir Closing in on the Title Race

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 29 September 2020

Author: Myanna Wedes

Ducati fans turn away…. Andrea Dovizioso was taken out of the 2020 Barcelona-Catalunya MotoGP race after Johann Zarco crashed into him from a chain reaction where Danilo Petrucci almost crashed. Hearts were breaking out for Ducati fans and in particular Dovi supporters as his title lead vanished within seconds on lap one. It was hard to watch because Dovi went from the back of the grid to the front of the pack very quickly and it was shaping up to be an epic showdown between Fabio Quartararo, Jack Miller, Franco Morbidelli, Valentino Rossi, Joan Mir and Alex Rins. There are former World Champions out there and fans of the sport who will say qualifying at the back of the pack will always leave you in a vulnerable position and one where mistakes can be made or you are the passenger to the mistakes of others.

Credit - Ducati Corse Press (Andrea Dovizioso)

Andrea Dovizioso:"Crashing out at the second corner is always difficult to digest, and I'm sorry for how the race went today. I had focused on making a good start, and at the end of the straight, I managed to recover several positions. Unfortunately, I got involved in an accident on the first lap, which was the result of a normal race dynamic. The Championship is potentially still open but, if we want to challenge for the title, now more than ever, we need to return to the levels of competitiveness to which we are used to".

The Ducati rider went from unemployed to ejected off his machine within seconds and now will have to work very hard in order to try and catch Quartararo and Mir. The silence from Zarco and sitting in his garage moments after the crash was loud enough and the emotions visible on television as he still is yet to be announced for a Ducati rider in 2021 though we were certain he was being picked. Right now, Zarco’s conversion rate of finishing races is started to be tested and could push his confidence right out the window again. In comparison, it was a positive day for Pramac Racing MotoGP Team with 5th and 6th place although Miller’s ride was a recovery style race after his tyres definitely were pushed to their limit and did not hold up like the Yamaha and Suzuki machines.

Credit - Pramac Racing MotoGP Team (Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia)

Jack Miller:“I did a good race but I wasn’t fast enough, I made a mistake in turn 10 during the first lap and I get a bit lift on the rear and I lost time. But anyway I got points, and now I will take some rest and I will focus on Le Mans.”

Pecco Bagnia:“It was a difficult weekend because Friday I was not able to adapt to the situation, and I lost one day. Unfortunately starting so far back does not help, but the pace was fast. If we had started from the front maybe we could have fought for the podium, but it was my mistake and you learn from mistakes, we will try again at Le Mans.”

Credit - Team Suzuki Ecstar (Grid)

As we have mentioned in the past, the dark horse for the title is Joan Mir. Not only is he humble, the young Spanish rider is comfortable riding the Suzuki, is learning when to strike, is hungry for a race win and is utilising all the positive points of his machinery to bring home the results. He is a smooth rider and regardless of the weather scenarios, puts his best foot forward to achieve a result that he can be proud of. His teammate Rins is still not at 100% and is definitely witnessing the growth of Mir and no doubt a rivalry has been created between these two inside the Suzuki box. It is interesting because it is almost like the roles have reversed in a way with 2019 a season of shambles for Mir after a punctured lung and in 2020 a challenge for Rins with a shoulder injury. We have really enjoyed watching these two riders develop whilst bringing the Suzuki name back into where it should be in the sport of two wheels and that is at the top.

Credit - Team Suzuki Ecstar (Mir and Rins)

Joan Mir: “It was quite a tough race, especially starting from the third row. It means you have to push in the early laps and it can be a bit risky. I tried to avoid any trouble and keep my head down whilst also over-taking some riders. When I was behind Miller I knew I needed to stick with him and be ready to take advantage. I got close to the victory today, maybe with a couple more laps it could have been possible, but Fabio was managing everything really well and he did a great race. It’s so nice for Suzuki to have two riders on the podium after a long time and I’m really pleased with today’s work!”

Alex Rins: “I’ve been struggling a lot in the last weeks, and to take a podium here today at my home race feels fantastic. Since my shoulder injury in Jerez things haven’t been easy, and I have found it hard to be physically strong enough to compete at the very front. But I’ve worked hard off the bike and the team have worked super hard and have supported me a lot, so I want to thank them. I also want to thank the fans for their support and for standing by me in this tricky season. I’m so happy.”

The goal now for Mir in particular will be consistency and momentum. He cannot afford to make a single mistake, end up injured or buy into the psychological games of his fellow teammate because Rins is good at this when at his best. The hat trick achievement is massive for the manufacturer and Mir is the first to bring that honour to the team. As we know in sport, the more you succeed, the more you want, so balancing the desires to win will be a true character challenge and we know Mir has it because he is so humble in victory and defeat.

Credit - PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (Fabio Quartararo)

As we turn to the race winner, it was tears of joy and a complete sense of relief with the race victory. Quartararo has put himself under immense pressure and the scrutiny from others at the start of this weekend was quite full on. On one side of the garage you had Marc Marquez disappointed, then you had Yamaha questioning Quartararo’s focus, fans wondering what was wrong and journalists being extremely critical of his World Championship management skills. By digging deep and working hard, Quartararo worked for the win and showcased to his rivals that when he is 100% on the ball, he is extremely fast and hard to beat. His own personal race was exceptional. The French rider did not buy into any pressure, kept his lap times in check and even pushed his teammate to the limit.

Credit - PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (Fabio Quartararo)

Fabio Quartararo:“This is the best moment that I have had in a long time! We have had some tough times since Jerez, so this actually feels better than those wins. I was not expecting to be so fast in the opening laps, but those two guys [Joan Mir and Alex Rins] were so fast at the end of the race. We need to look at why we are struggling at the end of the race. We know that our bike is better in qualifying, so we need to balance this a bit better, but at the end of the day the race result is the most important thing and we won. It feels so good though to be back on the top step of the podium. I am also so happy that I am able to race at my home GP next, because there are not many races in this season. My thanks to the team because this victory is well deserved.”

Credit - PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (Quartararo, Mir, Rins, Morbidelli, Miller, Bagnaia)

In terms of MotoGP, it was a negative weekend for the VR46 box and fellow academy rider Morbidelli. As we watched the race unfold, we heard a bike crash out and the engine cut out. Our first immediate thought was the race leader and then ‘The Doctor’ appeared in the gravel trap jumping to his feet and covering his face in disbelief. It was a fast and harsh crash though Rossi is fit and able to ride at the next event. With that said, it is two mistakes and now at least 50 points behind the leader. Rossi could see a 10th World Championship and at the present moment it is slipping away. Plus, he had just announced his deal signing with PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team. With that said, it was sad news announced with two of his all-time crew not being able to go across with him and with no space at Yamaha for 2021. For those who know Alex Briggs and Brent Stephens, the loss is major and a real blow for Australian and New Zealand fans. It will be the first time next year that Briggs doesn’t suit up into his mechanic gear for the first time in 28 years. It is sad and he is one of the nicest guys in the paddock, so we feel the loss of not being able to hear his banter and read the tweets he puts out every race weekend. We will miss you Briggsy and also Brent who is a classic guy as well. We are not sure how Rossi will go with a new crew and putting his trust in their abilities after losing two key mechanics who have been by his side through a rollercoaster of success stories and disaster seasons. If you are on twitter, give Briggs a shoutout by sending messages of support. His twitter handle is @Alex__Briggs.

Credit - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team (Valentino Rossi)

Valentino Rossi: “It’s a great shame, two mistakes in a row. This was a very different crash from last week’s. In Misano we did something different on the bike, and technically I was not very strong. I didn’t feel very good, and also on Saturday and Sunday I was not 100% me. I didn’t feel very well. This weekend was very different, because I was always competitive. I was good on the bike, I rode well, and I also improved practice by practice. This is very good. Today I was at the limit, because I was behind Fabio and I didn’t want to lose a lot, I wanted to stay with him. On the left is always dangerous, especially with a low temperature, and I lost the front. It’s a great shame because I think I could have fought for the victory and for sure for the podium, that was our target. This year my speed is not too bad, but as for the results I have to do better. We still have a lot of races until the end of the season, so our target is to be competitive again starting from Le Mans, work well in the garage with the team, and try to stay at the top.”

Credit - PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (Franco Morbidelli)

Franco Morbidelli:“I’m a little angry about finishing fourth, but it is a positive thing as it means we are at a good level and want more. I’m angry because I made a mistake in the race: I started a bit too hot and wore the tyre out too much early on. When fighting with Fabio I was too much on the limit and trying to recover in braking, in the end I lost two seconds running wide and the chance for a podium. I still feel like this was the best strategy though. However I cannot complain about this weekend; I got pole position and I was really fast in general, so I’m happy. Now we rest a little bit and try to also be fast at Le Mans.”

Credit - Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team (Maverick Vinales)

One other rider paying the price for mistakes is Vinales. His qualifying result was poor and this led him to not being able to pass any other bikes with his top speed the weak point. Vinales will have to swallow this loss and it will be hard because he was on cloud nine after last weekend. In the 2020 season of MotoGP, as a rider you are not able to get comfortable until the flag is flown at the last race because anything can happen and within moments, a title lead can be damaged with then other being promoted to the top spot.

The next race on the calendar is Le Mans, where the Yamaha M1 has been strong. So could we see a dominant Quartararo force on home soil or will we see a new title leader with Mir? Will Cal Crutchlow recover and be ready to charge again for Honda after a superb tenth place finish even with a damaged foot and arm still recovering now in the healing phase…. We look forward to when the rubber wheels turn again.

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