Alex Rins

Jerez MotoGP Sunday Subscriber Notes: Risk, The Price Of Crashing, The Future Of MotoGP, And KTM

We had to wait 245 days between races, but boy, was it worth the wait. The Moto3 race was the usual closely-fought battle, the new order reasserted itself in Moto2, and the MotoGP race destroyed any preconceptions we had of the 2020 season, while serving up a smorgasbord of some of the finest riding we have seen in a very long time. Motorcycle racing junkies got the fix they had jonesing for, which should keep them sated for a while. And the best thing is we do it all over again next week. Though it is hard to imagine how the MotoGP paddock can replicate the events of this weekend.

In these notes:

  • We told you this would be a tricky championship
  • Marc Márquez being Marc Márquez
  • The deep hole Honda have dug for themselves
  • The win we had been waiting for
  • Yamaha's shake up pays off
  • I thought Ducatis were supposed to suck at Jerez?
  • A whole new championship
  • KTM – a proper motorcycle at last
  •  

It is hard to believe how much happened in the space of just a single day. But here's what mattered on Sunday.

Risk vs reward

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Alex Rins Declared Unfit For Opening MotoGP Round At Jerez

Alex Rins will not take part in the first race of 2020 MotoGP season. The Suzuki Ecstar rider was declared unfit by medical staff on Sunday morning, the right shoulder injury suffered being too severe for him to take part.

Rins faces a difficult few weeks. Though the Spaniard is keen to race next week, when the series returns at Jerez, the injuries to his shoulder may prevent that. Rins suffered a fractured humerus (bone in the upper arm) as well as muscle and tendon damage in the right shoulder. In the press release, MotoGP surgeon Dr Mir speaks of a long recovery process, with surgery not an option.

With four more races in the next five weeks, Rins will have little time to recover his fitness, even if he does manage to race.

Below is the press release from Suzuki:


ALEX RINS DECLARED UNFIT FOR SPANISH GRAND PRIX

Team Suzuki Press Office - July 19.

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Jerez MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Risk vs Reward, How to Handle Yellow Flags, And Three Clear Favorites

For a stunning and heartrending reminder of just how difficult and delicate the 2020 MotoGP season is going to be, see Alex Rins' huge crash at Turn 11 during qualifying on Saturday at Jerez. The Suzuki Ecstar rider lost the front at one of the fastest and most treacherous corners of the circuit, and was forced to pick the bike up to try and save it. But as he entered the gravel trap, he realized he was traveling too fast, and decided to drop the bike to avoid hitting the barrier on the outside of the corner.

That is never an easy maneuver at speeds well over 170 km/h, and Rins fell badly in the attempt. After examination in the medical center, he was transported to a local hospital, where an MRI scan revealed that he had dislocated his right shoulder, fracturing the head of the humerus, the bone in the upper arm. He also suffered a tear in one of the muscles of his rotator cuff. Though he has not been officially ruled unfit to race just yet, the chance of him actually lining up on the grid on Sunday is minuscule.

Rins' real worry is the fact that there is another race in 7 days. And then three more races on consecutive weekends, starting three weeks from now. If Rins can race, it will be punishing. If he can't, there is still very little time to recover before the next race, or between the races after that. Thirteen races in eighteen weekends is a tough schedule for the fully fit. For anyone carrying an injury, it is going to be brutal.

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Alex Rins Taken To Hospital With Suspected Fractured Shoulder

Alex Rins has been taken to hospital in Jerez with a suspected fractured shoulder, and a dislocated shoulder. The Suzuki Ecstar rider crashed heavily in Turn 11 during Saturday's Q2 qualifying session, tumbling through the gravel at Turn 11. The Spaniard was holding his shoulder as he walked out of the gravel, and was taken to the medical center at the circuit.

After preliminary examination at the medical center, Rins was sent to hospital for further scans. At the moment, no decision has been taken on his possible participation in Sunday's opening race of the 2020 MotoGP season, but the seriousness of the injury does not bode well for the Spaniard.

Exactly why Rins crashed is uncertain. But riders have been reporting issues at Turn 11 with the wind, and track conditions, with temperatures approaching 60°C, it was easy to lose the front as the brakes are released.

Further updates once Suzuki issue a press release.

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Crunching The Numbers: What If COVID-19 Had Affected Previous Seasons?

What if “COVID-19” happens in the past

The 2020 MotoGP season has gotten off to a rocky start. Since the opening round at Qatar, where only the Moto2 and Moto3 classes raced, we have had two updated calendars for the season. We have had news of races postponed, then later on canceled. Speculation about the possible scenarios is changing week by week, or even day by day.

In the beginning of April, it looked like it would not be possible to start the MotoGP championship earlier than August, and multiple sources were talking about 10 races, leaving the final third of the calendar intact. The possibility of returning to Qatar round for the season finale was also being suggested.

More recently, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta offered two possible scenarios for 2020: 10 to 12 races only in Europe, or up to 16 races, if intercontinental travel becomes possible again later this year.

The more versions we heard about, the more interested I became in seeing how the championships in the last 10 years might have ended differently with the given scenarios.

So until we know what the final and definitive calendar for this year looks like, let’s play with the numbers a bit.

Warning! During this experiment we haven’t taken into consideration the human factors. The only thing we took into account: that the numbers never lie, and in statistics everything is possible.

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Interview, Part 2: Suzuki's Davide Brivio On How Suzuki Sees A Shortened Season And Negotiations With Rins And Mir

Alex Rins and Joan Mir at the Thailand round of MotoGP at Buriram in 2019

Last week, Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP boss Davide Brivio held a teleconference with a number of journalists to face questions on a broad range of topics. Brivio talked about the possibility of MotoGP resuming again at Jerez, as Dorna has announced, and what that would entail for Suzuki and for the paddock. He discussed how the manufacturers are working together to cut costs, putting an end to the long-running dispute which has divided the MSMA members, which I examined in detail in this story.

Brivio also fielded questions on the 2020 MotoGP season, and how Suzuki saw the advantages and disadvantages of a curtailed season with a limited number of races taking place on an even smaller number of circuits. And he went into some detail on the contract extensions signed with riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir.

Below is the second half of the interview Davide Brivio gave to journalists:

Q: With a shorter season planned, at fewer circuits, who do you think who will be the surprise of the year, and what are the chances of Suzuki riders causing an upset?

Davide Brivio: I don’t know, but I don’t think having a short championship or a long championship will change a lot. The fast riders will always be the same. Of course there are a few variables this year, because we have to see if this long stop affects somebody more than others. In terms of results or competition or whatever I think it will be pretty much the same.

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Alex Rins Extends Contract With Suzuki Through 2022

In a welcome diversion from the ongoing onslaught of COVID-19-related news, the Suzuki Ecstar team have announced that they have signed Alex Rins for a further two seasons, meaning that the Spaniard will be riding for the team in the 2021 and 2022 MotoGP seasons, such as they may be.

The only thing about the news is perhaps the timing, in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown. It has been clear for a while that both Rins and Suzuki were treating each other as their first priority in contract negotiations. Suzuki has made no secret of wanting to hang on to both of its current riders, and with Rins having won the races at Austin and Silverstone last year, Suzuki's first victories since Maverick Viñales' win at Silverstone in 2016.

The next target for Suzuki will be to try to extend with Joan Mir. Mir had an impressive season as a rookie, and has sparked some interest from other factories, but the best option for the Spaniard is likely to stay put.

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What Does The Delayed Start To The 2020 MotoGP Season Mean To The Factories?

On Sunday, at 6pm, the desert night will erupt in a cacophony of sound, as Grand Prix motorcycle racing gets underway for the start of the 2020 season. But it won't be the vicious bellow of MotoGP machines which will shatter the desert silence; instead, the more modest howl (118 dB compared to 130 dB of the MotoGP bikes) of the Triumph triple-engined Moto2 machines will scream away from the lights and around the floodlit track.

It wasn't meant to be that way, of course. The Moto2 machines were supposed to race an hour and forty minutes earlier, their original start time planned for 4:20pm local time. Now, it will be the Moto3 riders starting their race at that time, and not the 3pm slot originally scheduled. The MotoGP machines will be sitting in packing crates, waiting to be shipped to the next race.

As I write this, it is not entirely clear where that will be. It might be Austin, Texas, unless the US authorities impose further restrictions. It might be Termas De Rio Honda, in Argentina, unless the Argentinian government changes its mind about allowing entry from Italy, or Japan, or anywhere else. It might even be Jerez, if international air travel is subject to sudden and extreme restrictions.

Evolution

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Qatar MotoGP Test Subscriber Notes: Assessing All Six Factories After Qatar

So testing is done and dusted – at Qatar, quite literally, once the wind picks up – and the pile of parts each factory brought has been sifted through, approved, or discarded. The factories are as ready as they are ever going to be for the first race in Qatar, at which point the real work starts. Testing will only tell you so much; it is only in the race that the last, most crucial bits of data are revealed: how bikes behave in the slipstream; how aggressive racing lines treat tires in comparison to fast qualifying and testing lines; whether all those fancy new holeshot devices will help anyone to get into the Turn 1 ahead of the pack. Only during the race do factories and riders find out whether the strategy they have chosen to pursue will actually work.

Fabio Quartararo at the 2020 Qatar MotoGP Test

So after three days of the Qatar test, what have we learned? In these notes:

Honda, from catastrophe to optimism courtesy of old bodywork

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