2020 MotoGP World Championship: A ninth winner rose to the fore on Sunday afternoon at the Gran Premio de Europa and it was in the form of title race leader Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) as he bagged an absolutely monumental 25-point haul to place one hand on the coveted trophy. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crossed the line second to hand Suzuki their first 1-2 since the 1982 German GP as Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) picked up a fantastic rostrum in P3. A Lap 1 crash for Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) saw the Frenchman eventually take P14 as Mir now holds a 37 point advantage with just two races to go.
The red lights came on and then went out and the premier class riders roared away from the line in Valencia. Both Rins and Pol Espargaro launched well from P1 and P2 and the two Spaniards led into Turn 1. Mir got away well from the second row and was up to P4, just behind Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) made a rapid start and was up into the top five, Quartararo was up to P8 from P11 but the Frenchman’s opening lap wouldn’t go to plan at all.
Heading into Turn 8 at the end of the back straight, Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) slid into the gravel. No contact between the two, it was two separate incidents, but it was monumental for the Championship. Luckily for Quartararo, he was able to pick the bike up and get running again but El Diablo re-joined behind Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Right from the word go, the tension was palpable in Valencia and the title race took yet another crazy turn.
Also read: 2020 MotoGP: KTM’s Pol Espargaro picks up season’s 2nd pole, Suzuki & Honda make up front row
Pol Espargaro led the first one and a half laps before Rins pounded at Turn 11. The Suzuki slotted through to take the lead and a couple of laps later, Mir – who had passed Nakagami on the opening lap – copy and pasted his teammate’s move on the KTM man. Now, it was a GSX-RR one-two at the front, Oliveira was now also past Nakagami as two KTMs chased the Suzukis.
More drama then followed for Yamaha. On Lap 5, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) stopped on track at Turn 5 and The Doctor’s return from Covid-19 was over after just a handful of laps. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) then crashed unhurt and this meant Viñales was now 15th and in the point-scoring positions with 20 laps to go.
Morbidelli’s Sunday was a contrasting one to his Teruel heroics. A P11 for the Italian sees him drop to 45 points behind Mir in the title race, a hugely damaging day for Morbidelli and a hugely damaging weekend on the whole for Yamaha. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) crossed the line 12th, another good ride from the HRC test rider who beats Viñales to the flag by just over a second. Starting from the pitlane after his engine penalty, there wasn’t much more the Spaniard could do as his disastrous weekend comes to a close.
Quartararo was left distraught after he took the flag in P14, his opening lap crash sees his title chances take a shocking dent and with just 50 points left on the board, the 21-year-old is now 37 points down on Mir.
Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) crashed out, riders ok.