Teruel MotoGP Subscriber Notes Part 1: Crashes, Pressure, Victories, And Championships

The theme for the 2020 MotoGP season, insofar as one is discernible, is that there are two types of rider: riders who are doing their best to win races but lose the championship, and riders (or rider) who are doing their best to win the championship, but not win races. And never the twain shall meet, so far this year.

That was the tale of the Teruel round of MotoGP, also known as Aragon 2. Before the race, Takaaki Nakagami looked on course for his first podium, and possibly his first win, which would have put him right into the title fight. But Nakagami never even made it as far as the first intermediate timing strip, crashing out of the lead at Turn 5.

Of the three race winners in the top four of the championship, Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo found a way to go backwards during the race, while Andrea Dovizioso never even found a way to go forwards. That put Joan Mir more firmly in the driving seat of the championship, but despite a very strong race to finish on the podium, he never really threatened to win the race.

Winners and … winners?

Victory was fought out between Franco Morbidelli and Alex Rins, two riders who on Saturday had been asked if they would be willing to sacrifice their races to help their teammates in the title chase. On Sunday, they answered a resounding no to that question, though frankly, that was more down to the shortcomings of their teammates rather than selfishness or skulduggery on their own part.

And so Franco Morbidelli won his second race of the season. Morbidelli, Rins, Viñales, Quartararo, Dovizioso, all race winners, yet all in an increasingly weak situation in the championship, as the number of races left robs them of chances to make up points. And Joan Mir, with his sixth podium of the season, extended his lead in the championship, while never in with a chance of winning the Aragon 2 race.

"I reckon we might have another Emilio Alzamora situation on our hands," said Jack Miller on Sunday evening, referring to the 1999 125cc championship which the Spanish rider-turned-manager clinched without winning a single race. The season is looking increasingly likely to prove Miller right.

So, how did we get here? In Part1 these subscriber notes:

  • Brad Binder and Jack Miller's eight-second race
  • Takaaki Nakagami, pole position, and pressure
  • Alex Márquez makes it two Hondas crashing out
  • Franco Morbidelli's perfect race
  • Why Alex Rins came up just short
  • Will Joan Mir win a race this season? And does it matter?
  • Yamahas – winning races, but not leading the championship
  • Andrea Dovizioso, and whether the GP19 is better than the GP20

Where to start? How about Turn 2. The tight section after the start is always a magnet for trouble. A tight left followed by a sweeping right means riders get funneled in squashed together, with limited room for maneuver. It is easy to make a mistake, and lose the race before it is even started, taking out yourself, and if you're unlucky, someone else as well.

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Prophet of doom, or what. But it does feel like Covid's resurgence is making the completion of the final three races ever more uncertain. For obvious reasons I'd like to see the next three races happen, but also for one reason in particular: to see if Alex Marquez is going to be that fast consistently. Never mind that he crashed out this time, time and experience will bring improvements there, but he looks frighteningly fast and, if that shows true as a general thing rather than particular to Aragón, it may not matter if Marc comes back off the boil, the trophy may still have Marquez engraved on it next year. I'd put a pound to a penny on it that Honda are seriously rethinking the premature demotion decision made early this year. I wonder what options they have, to reverse that. A hefty chunk of compensation for Espargaro? Three factory spec bikes?

I can't help but feel a bit disappointed in how quarty's season has panned out. More Viñales than Rossi. Last year, I really thought he was the next big thing, but I think the measure of that is being able to do well on all the bad days.

Do we know who is using the BDB50? The Suzukis, Morbidelli as well. What about the other Yamahas? The Hondas and Ducatis? Would be interesting to see if recent results track with the adopting the new hardware. 

Buy one get one free?

Yamaha improved starts and bumped top speed with their 'dropper' system. In addition to less frontal area, the slack angle trims out the wings further reducing drag. In hindsight that was a pretty smart feature to focus on earlier in the season since it marginally improved 2 weaknesses of their package.

The biggest bummer for Dovizioso and Ducati is that Dovi was almost seven seconds slower in Teruel than Aragón. And many riders improved their times by large double-digit margins. That is demoralizing. All the Gigi gadgets in the world cannot put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The Bagnaia hype that he is the cure for the turning woes of the Ducati GP20 has fizzled into the rubble. The downside of the aeros, spoons and lowering devices is that they bring temporary gains. Engineers for the competitors see the ingenuity and run with it. This eventually makes the competitors faster also. And they jump on that shit lickety split. Thanks Gigi! What needs to be examined is the philosophy - top speed and power vs cornering speed. The world is changing and that includes not only the world of Motogp, but also how to get around the racetrack the quickest. A motogp bike spends more time on the brakes than full acceleration per lap. Corners are more important. Cornering is important. Every Ducati rider has voiced this, yet the fundamental engineering challenge still remains. The slowest bikes through the speed trap have dominated the win column this year and also occupy the top four spots in the championship. Sure, 2020, upsidedowness and the new Michelin rear are a factor, but a chart of Ducati wins since their introduction to the Motogp era paint a stark picture. And that pattern suggests no more than one dry win next year...

Of course, I could be wrong. And now that I have drawn a conclusion I probably will be wrong. But at this moment, it's just what I see. Fortunately, everything is changing all the time. Nothing is a given. Which it is why it is hard or even impossible to take a snapshot of reality and make any sense of it. It's all a story.



I think Ducati are unlikely to pluck a title again until they strike gold by hiring another exceptional rider at just the right time. What that time will be, who knows. They got extremely lucky with Stoner, a supremely talented rider at just the right time in his career with just the right bike and just the right tyres. Or they could bin, what, 20 years of development that so often sees them within a whisker of domination, and listen to the next superstar they persuade to come on board. Based on past history, it'll probably be the former though, don't you think.

I am pretty sure that another genuinely transcendent talent might be able to be Ducati's next real winner, but I have to say that right now it might be beyond even that truly extraordinary level of talent. At the moment it is evident that they can't really get a baseline with the new Michelin rear. (That's really bad btw = looks like they are tweaking the set up right into FP3s and maybe beyond). And even when they do, apprently by chance, get conditions and set up right, theirs is a point and squirt ride and don't those almost always consume more tyres than other more corner friendly bikes? And if you were that transcendent rider why would you choose Ducati? - Stoner apparently convinced Lorenzo that the previous version could be competitive only for Lorenza to find out that the engineers knew better. And Stoner went over the horizon complaining his feedback wasn't taken on board. Then there is the small matter of Ducati's history of not exactly being the best employer on the grid, and ... . Right now they have 4 completely confused riders and I think that at least three of them are top shelf talent (if not in the Pantheon of Stoner or Marquez). Oh, the other one is bloody good and can win races too. I think that what they might need is an absolutely proven winner who is absolutely assertive and can prevail upon the engineers to listen to the feedback. Think a Rea or a Doohan. As neither of them are exactly recruitable right now, I think they need a cultural overhaul first and the design and engineering overhaul can come next. Good luck with that though. What we are seeing now is what a really smart rider can do once they have a stable set up - Morbidelli was just brilliant this round. Cheers All - good comments as usual and stellar reporting Mr Emmett. 

The biggest downer about the new Michelin rear tire is it makes all the chronic turning issues with the Ducati worse. It has been well documented over the years that Ducati riders have to wait mid-corner before opening up the throttle, or the bike won't hold the line. So the time spent waiting for the bike to turn off throttle has to be made up elsewhere on track. Now, Dovizioso cannot slide the rear in a controlled way on corner entry to help turn the bike and make up some time on braking. Instead he has to use the rear tire to turn the bike - dirt track style - and this destroys the tire too quickly. Conserving the tires for the end of the race was one of Dovizioso's strongest assets. Now he's in survival mode seemingly every race. If it weren't for the red flag due to the Zarco/Morbidelli monster crash at Austria, Dovi was going backwards and looking at no better than an eight place finish. Instead he was thrown a lifeline and able to fit a soft rear and win the race. The next weekend at Styria he finished fifth after messing up his braking into turn 3 on the last lap. Braking used to be Dovizioso's strongest point. 

Stoner on a Bridgestone shod Ducati was the perfect combination. It has been stated that Stoner got on the gas earlier than anyone else coming out of the corners. Nobody could understand how he did it. He turned the bike with the rear and usually the Bridgestones could take the abuse. Bridgestone still holds lap records at some of the tracks, including the pole time set in 2015 at Aragon by Marc Marquez.

I don't know what kind of phenom it would take to ride around the current Ducati/Michelin problem. A month or so ago that rider's name was Bagnaia. Pirro's comments saying the problem is not the bike, but a lack confidence from the rider does not ring true. As Mr. Emmitt has stated, the factory has known about this problem since last years post race test at Valencia, almost an entire year, and has yet failed to find a solution. From here, Ducati Corse employs more than one rider with title winning potential. But instead, they look completely lost. 

At this moment, it seems the only thing that can save Ducati and Dovizioso is rain. And to quote Rossi from his Ducati days, "you know you are in the shit when you hope it rains." (or something like that)

Stoner on a Bridgestone shod Ducati was the perfect combination.... until others got the Bridgestone the following year, when Casey joined his predecessors in finding the bike couldn't turn well enough to be unbeatable. I think I've probably watched every race since Ducati returned to MotoGP in the 2003 and the one constant, bar 2007, is riders saying 'the bike won't turn'. When you think of the roll call of top names that have said that, which includes around 8 or 9 world champions across the various classes, and for how long, you have to wonder at the teams' dogmatism. I don't know a thing about bike design and couldn't care less about the technical issues that create this flaw, but if I had squillions to spend on trying to win a MotoGP title, by now I'd have probably bought a Honda, Yamaha or Suzuki and copied it piece by piece. It's as though Ducati are determined to prove that their design is the best, in the face of overwhelming evidence that it's not. (I'd quite like to own one though).

There are huge old threads on why the Ducati couldn't do things others could. The 90 degree v four was blamed until Honda was identified as having the same. The move to an alloy perimeter frame similar to all the others (no KTM then) was supposed to solve, allied with Rossi and Burgess's development skills and imported knowledge. One other possibility raised was the extra bulk and high weight of the desmo valve control that is so intrinsic to Ducati.

There have been and are lots of discussion and theories but no accepted answers and I don't believe that Ducati are not trying. I would point a finger at control tyres as being the major cause of the recent issues as they are a major part of the package that the factories cannot control.

The question is why can't Ducati adapt to the new rear when the others have been able to?

and at the risk of sounding like one, it's a typo, I think most people know this, hence no other correctors. The quality of David's work is such- in my humble opinion- it is a small price to pay, and an irrelevance to continue to point them out. Enjoy the sunshine, a wisp of cloud slightly and temporarily obscuring the view doesn't spoil a nice afternoon..😊

Funsize: it wasn't my intention to offend David or anybody else, I was just giving a tiny help as I've seen others do that in the past. I mean even proper books accept this sort of contributions. If this isn't acceptable I'll refrain to do that in the future. I would have sent a msg privately to David if there was an address somewhere here (probably there is but haven't looked).

we're all grown ups and the variety of the contributors is fabulous. It's just that in recent months David has -again in my humble opinion-produced some titanic work on sometimes a huge scale, thousands of words, and he's picked up on one 'predictive text' type error. It's like having the very best seat to see your favourite band play a brilliant gig but writing to them to point out one of the buttons was missing off the bass player's Lycra pants. There's no need to apologise, it's cool, we're in this together 🙂