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

I have written about it extensively this week: 13 races in 18 weeks poses a uniquely difficult challenge. Especially when the championship is at risk at being cut short at any point in the future, with no guarantee that we will even make it to 13 races. The shortness of the season, and the uncertainty over how long it will be, significantly shifts the balance of risk and reward in racing.

Ride conservatively, and your risk losing too many points, and end up with a championship deficit you won't be able to recover from. Push too hard, and you risk ending up in the gravel, scoring a DNF, and picking up an injury. With no time to recover between races, you will be riding hurt for a lot of races.

How long will this last?

But the uncertainty of how many races might be left in the season means you can't afford to be behind in the championship. Every race you are not leading the championship could potentially mean missing out on the title. With the COVID-19 pandemic capable of flaring up at any time, and the possibility of local, regional, and national governments imposing immediate restrictions which would make racing effectively impossible, the season could end at any time. Though the probability is low, it could quite literally end from one week to the next.

Any plan to win through consistency carries a huge risk in the championship, of being caught out by external factors beyond your control. Better, then, to take risks in each race, try to accumulate points quickly, and take an early lead in the title chase. That way, if COVID-19 intervenes, you are well placed to benefit.

That is how we ended up with 20 of the 22 full-time MotoGP entries on the grid at Jerez, and another entry virtually eliminated from the championship during the race. There was more to be gained by pushing than by saving your strength for the long haul.

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As usual David you have written a gem of an artical here. I live for these after the race. Thank you for all your hard work. Cheers!

Has Pol made the right choice jumping ship for next year. I don't think so. Next year he could very well be watching (from behind) Brad & Miguel achieving results on the KTM that he had been hoping for.

I said the same thing immediately after the checkered flag.  Yamaha have taken steps back, or the reality is they just finally started spending money where they really hadn't in years.  The thing I said at the finish was Dovi.  All the typical and regular bad rider managment at Ducati (Treating Stoner poorly, not listening to him on development, not listening to Rossi/Burgess, not giving Lorenzo more time) with them trying to pay Dovi 1/3rd when he's been #2 to the freak of nature every year...and Dovi podiums at a non-Ducati track.  Good for him man. I've read criticism about Dovi not having the "killler" instinct, and some other stuff I didn't agree with from Pernat.  Then the video that came out or film, Undaunted, where it seems like Ducati management are taking pot shots at the guy.  Well that cerebral guy that he is got Ducati on the podium.  He got there by being level headed, letting the race come to him, and doing what is better than most at, managing the tires over race distance.  That was the ride of the day today, not Marc Marquez.

And speaking of Marquez, we've seen this before.  I can remember a certain 10 second penalty handed to Valentino Rossi on the RC211V at PI, as well as Valencia just a few years ago in 2015. 

Interesting to see what happens with the Fabio vs. Maverick over this season.  That duo vs. Dovi is how I see 2020 going.  Lots of Ducati tracks coming. 

KTM, Aprilia and Suzuki. The bigger picture I see is not that KTM is advancing, or Aprilia, or Suzuki.  It's the standardized electronics and hardware implemented by DORNA.  This is why we are seeing these other factories slowly or quickly catch up to the biggest spender in the paddock, HRC.  HRC  can no longer outspend everyone on 0's and 1's, IE the laptop jockey wars.  That has leveled the playing field where we could actually see 6 manufacturers on the podium this year.  Aprilia have built a weapon, that just needs polishing, same for KTM, and Suzuki is there.  How outstanding would the 2020 championship be with 6 manus on the rostrum at different points of the season.

And DORNA won the day here.  Carmelo, and I've seen tons of dung flung at him and DORNA (unjustifably so), has done a masterful job at being at a desk, organizing, calling country figure heads, figuring out the ever changing COVID-19 changes, to deliver us a championship.  We just had premier class motorcycle racing in an ongoing pandemic.  Everyone was masked up, rules implemented, DORNA has done everything that could be done, and done it in spades.  I marveled at the mechanics, staff, etc, with a mask on and a face shield.  If this was your first race you ever watched you'd have to turn the station thinking that this sport is being run quite well.  Carmelo and his staff deserve an awful lof of respect for getting this going to doing it as safely as possible.  DORNA deserved a trophy and champagne today. 

"And speaking of Marquez, we've seen this before.  I can remember a certain 10 second penalty handed to Valentino Rossi on the RC211V at PI, as well as Valencia just a few years ago in 2015"

Quite a few differences. Rossi didn't crash, and then uncrash on his elbow before running into the gravel trap at 140kmph. And Rossi didn't then have to pass the world's best on his way back to the front, he had clear air in front of him and was on a dominant factory V5 Honda, on special order Michelins. The competition is much closer these days. In most of the years Stoner won at Phillip Island he'd have been capable of winning by the same margin had he needed to. It was a great ride by Rossi but this effort by Marc was on another level, reminiscent of his ride from last to first in Moto2 at Valencia. The way he was two wheel drifting into the last corner was unbelievable. Even though he came back to the pits in an ambulance it was still an incredible riding display. I've never seen such raw aggression on a motorcycle. 



He was incredible at powersliding a 500 2 stroke in an age before electronics. Before him Doohan was also pretty adept at sliding the rest on a 500. These da6s s losing the rear is still spectacular but far safer. The cool kids these days are sliding the front AND rear, a skill honed up in the cut and thrust of Moto 2. Marc seems to have either front or rear or both tyres sliding nearly all the time, sometimes with his elbow on the ground.

To this day, including Marc Marquez, I have never seen anyone slide a motorcycle front and rear at the same time like Toni Elias, at Portugal in 2006.  But I've seen plenty of riders on the 500's slide front and rear at the same time as well as Marc, same goes for the 990's and the beginning bikes of modern MotoGP.  Vale used to slide that 211v all over the damn place.  As I mentioned, McCoy was something else.  2000, some of the stuff he did, Marc has not done, and that was on a 500 with no TC.  Marc's sliding of the bike is nothing new, and nothing phenomenal, plenty of people have done it.  Now saves, yeah, I've never seen any other rider on any other bike save a lowslide like Marc, nobody.  But I have seen plenty of riders come from the back and pick people off left and right. Rossi on the NSR would do this nearly every race.  Starting in 10th, 11th, then bad start, then pick people off one by one, like a scalpel, and win the race.  So many times.  He was and never will be the pole man Marc is.  Marc's pole to wins % is nothing short of spectacular.  But what he did on Sunday, well you have to finish the race.  The save was incredible, the charge back was phenomenal (seen it before many times as I mentioned, and I'm talking coming from the back) but in the end, when you bin it, it matters 0, because that's how many points you got.  You got nothing.

If Marc can somehow figure out to not turn the switch off, but dim it, when need be.  Dial it back a little, take 4th, take 3rd, what have you.  He'll smash Ago's records, and Rossi's and everyone elses.  But not if he keeps doing this.  Valentino didn't have a serious injury until he was 30.  The leg break at Mugello.  Marc has already had two invasive shoulder surgeries, now this and he isn't 30 yet.  I have no doubt he'll do PT like a mofo, and be back super super fast.  And I have no doubt he can and will win races this year.  But displays like Sunday need to be a warning.  He came close to possibily ending his career early due to his mentality.  And none of us want to see that. 

And everyone is on about Honda doing him in.  MM is the defacto #1 at HRC and he is lead devrlopment rider.  A big chunk of how that thing rides is at his direction.  Cal and whomever else can say what they want.  It was clearly evident when Lorenzo hopped on it.  It's been designed like a coccoon around Marc, for his riding style.  HRC, like Ducati, and Valentino Rossi have a dealing with the new Michelin rear problem.  Once Marc went back to the 2019 aero, he was quite happy with the bike.  The doom and gloom HRC stuff I've read, is a bit comical.

Well I'd rather be on Rossi's level because he WON. Marc CRASHED.  You can diminish Rossi's competition all you want but what he did is in the annals of history.  Marc's ride will too probably but it will be marked by a bruised ego and a broken arm.

Seems sadly diminished these days. I can only imagine what he was thinking as Marc came past him at roughly the same speed Rossi passed him in the gravel trap. You can call Marc's riding reckless, but his record is sort of ok. 

I remember that race at PI in '03. Rossi had a reputation of passing other riders during that era described as "like water through a screen." His passes were cleaner than Marc's; they were almost magical. 

Fastest race lap?

A rookie, Binder.
On a KTM.

Deserving of more print space.

Future race winner. I'll say it, before Pol.

...looking on the official MotoGP site (which I hate, life's too short for trying to navigate around that monster) on the fastest laps chart it doesn't give Brad that credit, what am I missing? Footnote, either way Brad and the KTM are most certainly appearing over the horizon...

Ooh, it is horrible to navigate, I agree.

However, I can't see McPhee's all time lap record being beaten for some time.

0.000 seconds, 814,210 km/h :-)

<edit - it's been corrected already! MotoGP must read Motomatters. As they should.>

Remember the last guy to **** up his debut race but set the fastest lap?


Big things ahead for KTM, I hope Pol does not rue his decision.  The siren call of Honda is the mirage in a baking desert of disappointment in the Marquez era.  That bike is built for one person and one only.  Think Casey's D16 to the power of a few.

I don't know if it's just a modified microphone placement but Marquez' Honda sounded obnoxiously angry this round, like it wanted to kill its rider.  Every Honda rider bar MM hears this every race, MM unfortunately heard it this time too.  Sad to see him out for a while, I wish him all the best.  David's summary was so so good. 

9th in the fast lap chart, fastest lap of the race courtesy of Marc. Fastest lap by a rookie? For sure, but not really what you wrote there.

Binder's best lap was a 38.9. Marc's best lap was a 38.37. 8 riders had faster PBs than Binder including Pol. What data are you basing this on because I see nothing to support it. Binder had great pace no doubt, but what you said just is not true.

Primary commentator Steve Day clearly said Binder "just set the fastest lap" in the broadcast around the end of the race. Sorry, inaccurate with my partial account. By memory, thinking now he said Binder was running the fastest lap that just occurred/fastest of the field at that moment. May have had a one second gap on pace over those fighting at the front at the closing stage.

Point remains. He is fantastic right now. We won't have to wait.

With the benefit of hindsight, that was a properly prophetic statement. 
Now the question would seem to be; Can Binder challenge for the championship?
And; How sick must Pol be now? Jumping from probably the most competitive machine on the grid... to the poisoned chalice? That smacks to me of Rossi's move to the Duck of Death.

I'd meandered through some of the uncultured and thoughtless Facebook posts, saving myself for David's assessment. Then I found myself relaxing in an ocean of calm and considered detail, assessment and precisely chosen quotes that gave me a perspective of exactly what I thought I'd seen the day before; priceless. Followed of course by thoughtful and stimulating comment by the readers.

I sometimes scratch my head at Honda, Doohan, Rossi, Stoner, Marquez; they can always buy the very best, but where does that leave them with their bikes? The records will show, on balance, it gives them the glory and for that reason alone it's difficult to argue. Neil Hodgson maybe summed it up for me sometime last year when he commented on the rise of the KTM, when there was vague talk of Red Bull possibly having the clout to take MM to Honda's sworn enemy. He cited the Honda without Mark as a top ten bike at that time-the other Honda results on average bearing this out- whilst Pol on the KTM was a regular top ten runner by then; surely this is where they are here and now. The endless (well not any more..) talent of Marc has cost Honda badly in 2020, his ride yesterday was both staggering and frail as he carried the ruthless killer onwards into and over the abyss when this shortened season demanded an acceptance of where he, the bike and the tyres were at the time. Nobody wants to see the champ beaten up again but that bike is an animal that even the ringmaster knows will bite badly, this time he just couldn't avoid being mauled. With Cal also smacked up (you really do have to wonder what he could now do on the Ducati or even the Aprilia after the schooling of the RCV), Honda's season is finished. 

It's odd, because their road bikes are designed to be suitable for as wide a range of riders as possible. Apparently, the new 'blade is a pussycat at sensible revs. So they *can* do it, it's just that HRC choose not too. If HRC ran their road division, they'd barely make a sale.

Thinking back to a discussion about Mick Doohan in a recent Paddock pass podcast (the one where the gentlemen went through their all time top 5 MotoGP riders), where they said Mick had no interest in making the Honda more rideable, because then he would lose his competitive advantage over the others. Maybe Marquez has the same philosophy and HRC are happy to go along with him while they are winning?

Marquez just flew too close to the sun. Here's to a speedy recovery.

It will be a fitting end to this season, if Dovi has the last laugh. None can begrudege that. Now that Marc is out for this season, there is none more deserving of a title than Dovi. Maverick's time will come and so will Fabio's. 2020 is indeed time for the Undaunted. 

I'd really like to see that. He's been thereabouts for years, and like Pedrosa an excellent rider without being WC. I don't give any credence to this 'killer instinct' nonsense, that's comic book keyboard jockey stuff. Dovi is methodical that's his way but also well capable of brilliance in overtakes.

In text exchanges last night after the race, I said to my good motogp buddy "finally dovi's year?".  FQ and indeed MV will be fast, but I can't help but think that Dovi will once again be a little bit better than the rest over a (short) season.

I find myslef going back-and-forth on Dovi. He is obviously determined but maybe because his approach is more Professor-like i think he is too detached and not passionate enough to have the 'killer instinct' his rivals ooze. I give him tremendous credit for his ability to improve the Ducati and to manage through Ducati's perpetual mismanagement of their talent. That must weigh on him. To stay focused on what must have been a grueling race physically, think through his on-track strategy, compartmentalize his contract woes and bring the bike home safely is very impressive. 

Dovi and Miller are going to be thereabouts, but I think the Yamaha and wunderkid will pull it off even without the top end power needed.

Wish we had Rins healthy yesterday. Miller had a numb right hand secondary to the brake guard positioning. Maverick overheated his poor Soft front tire choice.

The race yesterday in my view had Marquez, FabQ, Maverick, Rins, Miller ALL ahead of Dovi with a few normalized factors.

I love Dovi. And think that he has been passed. His pushing for a different bike than he has is now an errant focus. The poisoned chalice of his relationship with his employer and demeanor/tone in his garage portend and reflect bad news. It isn't 2017. Or 2018. Nor are the Yamahas crippled as per last two seasons. Dovi came in 3rd last year, the gap was so big behind The Marc.

There is hope! In FOUR other guys, and Dovi. Hope he proves me wrong. It would be good for everything.

Bagnaia was thereabouts. Jack was THERE and lives this bike as it is. Martin is on fire already in Moto2 and not getting further away. Dovi's do or die time may have been 2018. Now he has one last chance? Play the hand well Professor.

It will be interesting to see how the double races pan out. Will the second races be tighter as everyone has data? Or will they be crazy, as everyone thinks they've got it worked out, only to find that they're not alone?

As an unashamed Marquez fan I am unhappy how this turned out, after his mistake, trademark save and 19th position I was watching in awe as he scythed through the pack of multiple world champions and necassarily taking risks to do that.  There is no universe where riding safely and conservatively was going to get that done.  Does he push his luck, of course he does but he has an amost feline quality, (almost) always landing on his feet, well.. until the high-side.  The law of averages dictates that at some point there must be regression to the mean, he now will most likely not be in a position to defend his title, possibly even not ride until the 2021 season.  If he has a career ending injury it will be calamitous, even if you don't like him personally - but you are a fan of the sport - you have to marvel at his abilities.  My sense after seeing this unfold is that in spite of the resurgence of the Yamahas it must revitalise Dovi who as the runner-up in the last three seasons has the realest chance of landing his first and possibly only WC, finally put the mercurial and sometimes seemingly treacherous Ducati management in their place and secure his position in the pantheon of greats of the sport and as someone whose retirement cannot be too far off - he needs to carpe this particular diem


Isn't it interesting that we get Binder (way better than A.Marquez) and FabQ that are two phenoms here and now. And A.Marquez gets the "prize HRC Repsol" seat, Binder the lowly KTM, RIGHT when Orange slots in ahead of the off line Honda as 4th best bike?

FabQ got on the "caught napping for two years" Yamaha right when they Gigi'd the whole Blue org and quit hitting snooze? Most notably passing like ships in the night with Zarco.

French hopeful #1 exceeds as top Yamaha on a 2016 parts bin Herve special. Tech 3 finally leave their neglectful Blue parent to get Jr Team collaborator status full fat new bikes. Goodbye "customer" spec. French hopeful finally gets a Factory seat, with a near backmarker not yet there KTM. He hates it. Few options avail, gets shifted to the LAST vestige of "just a customer running old kit."

French hopeful and phenom #2? Hello Aqua. Hello Yamaha returns. Hello poles. Hello dry podiums. HELLO RACE WIN.

You French, always liking stinky cheese and complex irony. Fabio is the real deal, and right on schedule. So is Binder, but the KTM is still ripening. I have wish for him to be on a Suzuki or the KTM to join our front three Manus as proper tools for the job. But little need for fantasy now, this reality is great!

1) Visceral first four and a half laps between Viňales and Marquez, both of them hitting 38.4 on their second lap and 38.5 on the fourth one. It really felt like the race was to be decided in the first five laps, either with Marquez running away or with a crash.

2) Maverick's wrong front tire choice ending up as catastrophe for Marc. How much did Viňales' pace on the soft tire in FP4 and WUP force Marquez into pushing one lap too many? Had Maverick chosen the hard front, he'd probably have been figting with Jack/Fabio for the 2nd place and Marc would have switched to 90 percent mode of 2019.

3) What was the cause of the highside? Even when Marc pushes, he usually folds the front end. Two highsides I remember were Thailand and Malaysia last year. Apart from pushing too much for too long, one of the more likely answers would be the tire. Apart from new tire construction, the heat forced Michelin to bring harder compound. Did they bring a compound which they'd have used in high heat this year? I don't want to establish causation (Thailand crash was due to a cold tire), but it just seemed interesting to me not to share.

He was on the gas all the way from the exit of turn 3 into and out of turn 4. Question in my mind is why didn't the TC catch this? I suppose Marquez is one of those riders who uses minimal TC because he wants to control the slide with his right hand. Also with his charge back through the field, his rear tire was probably shagged beyond the anticipated condition that his end game ECU mapping was set up for.

Dovi is my pick for the championship this year now that Marquez is sidelined.  You've got to admit Dovi has had really bad luck over the years.  It seems he gets taken out by other riders (including his own teammate!) every year.  Hopefully, luck will go his way in 2020.  It already has with Marc's unfortunate crash.

I also think that he'll retire immediately if he wins the championship ala Nico Rosberg in Formula 1.

Alberto Puig

"These things happen when you are Marc Márquez, he does exceptional things. There is nothing for him to regret, only to show once again that all our team has tremendous respect and admiration for what he does." "Now we are facing the challenge of Marc’s injury, but this is racing, we are a strong team and somehow, we will overcome" "In Qatar [test] some people [had] doubts about Marc’s performance. Today it’s more than clear that there is no question mark about this. His package, Honda RC213V and himself, are clearly two steps ahead."

Marc is two steps ahead. The Honda is one step ahead of the grim reaper, and Puig can shove it in the ugly hole this disgusting nonsense craps out of.

Mark isn't two steps ahead because of the bike, it's despite the bike and with Cal crocked there ain't no plan B, or C...I'm not against Honda but if the long standing rumours that made VR go, that it's all about the bike, then how must they feel now because it clearly isn't. As I said earlier, while Marc delivers it's  elementary what we think but now, when there's potentially 3 Yamahas, 3 Ducatis, 2 Suzuki's and who knows possibly an Aprilia or KTM getting podiums if the stars align, where will the Honda podium materialise from? Bet Repsol are chuffed to bits...

I've just re-watched the oboard footage for Marc and MAN! the guy is unbelievable...

1 - he does not lose his cool when he goes on his off-track excursion

2 - he was only "erratic" during the first full lap after going off track but after that all of his passes were clean, almost looked like he was on a liter bike and everyone else was on a 600cc

3 - hopefully he's back by Brno as predicted by Dr. Mir

Highly recommend watching that footage

Do teams "instrument" their riders (especially in conditions like those we saw Sunday) to monitor their health during the race? I know the bikes are wired up to capture and/or report loads of data.

Even though these MotoGP bikes have traction control the system can't just jump in when the wheel starts to spin like on road bikes. The riders want to have the rear spinning up a little at times to help them hook up out of corners. Marc was managing his performance with his skill. You see him do this all the time and can be seen in turn three just before his crash. The bike is sliding underneath him as he slows the bike and forces it into the corner. Marc has that kind of sensitivity and reaction time on a bike. Just like when he saved the bike and was able not only to survive the entry to the gravel, he was able to yet again force the bike to turn away from the wall and return to the track as soon as possible. On gravel... 

But, at the end of the day, Marc is human and can make mistakes. My guess was he was trying to get on the gas as early as he possibly could trying to catch MV. With the end of the race coming he was willing to do anything to secure that 2nd place. The season is short and he would know that those extra points could be all the difference. 

Marc isn't the type to patiently look for an opening. He forces them. And this time it was just a little too much. A little too much throttle and a little too much lean with tires and temperatures well beyond reference. Marc has always been a risk-taker and this time it bit him. 

I'm a huge fan of Marc's skill, not a fan of his domination, but hope for a speedy recovery. 

Brad excites me. He's already fast and I'm excited to see what he does this coming weekend. 

A ride for the ages. It really saddens me to think that things may never be the same again for the champ from hear on, be it mentality or physical ability. Nerve damage and shoulder injuries are no joke. Someone commented that corner ended Doohan's career, a really terrifyingly thought. If this was the last time we saw mm as we know mm, he truly went out in a blaze of glory and we were all witnesses.  I hope that's not the case and I get to see him reclaim the crown at cota next year. 

Thanks David as always for the amazing insight and fascinating read. 

Marc has been incredible over the last years. But is there a nagging doubt as to the capability of the bike that forced him to override (oh! But what a ride!!) the bike to establish some sort of psychological domination over his rivals?

There was no doubt over the weekend that his long run pace was way ahead of the rest of the field. Yet what we saw was not the measured approach of the last few years, but a "win it or bin it" ride reminiscent of his early years. Makes me wonder how bad the current bike is.

Moto2 seemed a bit dull. Not to take away from the stellar rides from the top three. But cannot help wishing Nagashima repeated his Qatar heroics and was a bit closer.He has been quite the revelation. Ajo seems to have a real eye for talent.

This begs a question, after all these years of criticism from within the range of riders, has the RC213V finally reached the un-ridable level that every Honda rider warned about, a threshold that even a motorcycling phenomenon like Marc Marquez can no longer tame? As fast as Marquez was throughout the whole weekend, it was evident that he was able to do it because he could keep the bike consistently above its limits. Never once Marquez looked comfortable while doing it and there always was an air of an impending crash looming charge. Sadly, for Marquez, that inevitable crash came at the worst of the time and in a terrible way. Honda is in a grave situation for 2020 and they would need to take revolutionary efforts to make the 2021 Honda a much easier to handle package, this iteration seems to have reached its peak.

Pol would be looking closely because as it looks right now, the RC213V is better than only the Aprilia RS-GP 20. Seriously hope Marc recovers well and thoroughly from the injury at the earliest.