Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 171: Taking On Teruel - On Nakagami, Morbidelli, Suzuki, And Ducati

With the penultimate triple header in the books, the Paddock Pass Podcast crew take a look back at what could end up being a crucial Teruel round of MotoGP at the Motorland Aragon circuit. Steve English, Neil Morrison, and David Emmett look at how the second round at Aragon played out.

We start off with a discussion of Honda, and where they have improved. What happened to Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez, and whether it really is all down to the new Ohlins shock. We discuss Franco Morbidelli's outstanding victory, and whether the Suzukis would have had a chance of beating him. We talk about Alex Rins' progress, and whether Joan Mir's title will be deserved if he doesn't win a race, and David coins a truly terrible acronym for Mir's title campain.

We discuss what happened to the other Yamahas, and why the 2020 Yamaha M1 wasn't as competitive as the 2019 machine. We ponder Ducati's miserable weekend, and their up and down season. We touch on KTM's excellent weekend, and the progress made between the two races. We answer a bunch of reader questions throughout, and finish up with our winners and losers.

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Great discussion guys with some wonderful humor. Thanks. Unless I'm missing something, did not Mir lead 13 laps at Styria before the red flag? I ask this because this is the second time in two days I've heard a moto journalist state that Mir has not led a single lap in Motogp.

Ah, ok. Thanks. Seems like there might be a sly, alternative motive behind the reason that a couple of moto journalists have been stating this of late...

Thanks guys! 

Taka's first lap crash was too bad, and understandable as you say. His start was SO blistering, over 10 10ths pace. Then PLOP. First time I was looking at a possible podium finish? Upon catching the guy in 3rd, I overreached and threw the bike into a fast left too hot and lost the front on the brakes. Humbling. I'd lost my flipping mind just approaching the guy. Never bested 4th.

Tossing an interesting bit in. Apparently Lorenzo is talking w Aprilia about going there to Test. This makes sense because of Covid - Yamaha has a pause on their Euro Test team, Jorge is stuck doing nothing and expected a dozen and a half test days and several wildcards. Aprilia is based in Italy, and could use a test rider putting their bike on pace. Simple enough. Mystifying letting Smith go? Not at ALL for me, and the way you folks took perspective looks limited. Not to mention, a tad of "Stoner journo ick?" They are setting up things for next year, they are going with a clearly faster rider than Smith. I have closely noted Bradley's pace and work. Lorenzo S is coming in because they are transitioning their lineup. How did KTM make their big step re riders? If Smith wasn't  English would you be viewing this through a bit different lens? Soon we will have Cal giving us another measure and insight in the Aprilia machine. The bike has more engine potential this winter. And Jorge may go Dani there. Aprilia didn't change their mind about Smith or wrong him as much as Smith changed their plans. Please keep in mind that we hear from riders and their experience/perspective on the regular. Management less, quantitatively and in a more limited range. Hope Brad enjoys BSB and comes back here to commentate. And I see good interesting stuff going at Aprilia to wish the best.

In shuffle, Dovi is looking at Yamaha Test. Maybe Honda. He could race at Aprilia and passing on it. 

The wheels of the circus move rather quickly. 

Morbidli's ride with that bike on this old surface? Brilliant. The last three rounds are back on sticky tarmac. Interested in temps/conditions. Half the grid could podium. I see Honda dropping back a bit with the rear pushing again. A strong Ducati rider returning. Yamaha better overall. And BOTH Suzukis, maybe a Mir pointy fight. Of course for 2020 a surprise isn't surprising.

... once again gents, listening is becoming one of my most-anticipated weekly rituals. Love the analysis and occasional jabs :)

Now, on Nakagami - I dont know what his crew did or did not say to him throughout the weekend leading up to the race, but here's what I would've told him; "You are not the favorite to win this race. Stop listening to the fans and journalists on the subject. Someone who has never won a MotoGP race, let alone finished on the podium, is not a favorite to win a MotoGP race. However, you're starting on pole which will give a you a great chance at having a really good race - so go have a good race, take advantage of your great starting spot and have a good race, enjoy the bike." 

Simple as that really.

After Nicky Hayden's WSBK win in the wet at Sepang of 2016 he said something like, "They say you can't win the race on the first lap, but today I think I did just that." Hayden had asked PJ Jacobsen how good the grip was on the wet track and Jaconsen had replied that it was phenomenal. Hayden pushed very hard on the first lap and built up a big gap which gave him enough of a cushion from the chasing pack until the checkers. 

But that race was an anomaly. Nakagami has learned from Teruel that the race is longer than five corners or even one lap. Hopefully he'll keep his cool next time and let the race come to him. It wouldn't have been a disaster if he finished the first lap a place or two off the lead. He had the killer pace all weekend.  

Sometimes a rider will credit a win to the work the team did during the entire race weekend, such as what Morbidelli alluded to. Lowes has also been quick to credit his teams vast knowledge in preparing a bike that is in the ballpark first session on Friday morning. I recall a few races ago, Marini saying something like they won the race on Friday because of how well the team worked. It can be how well everything flows.

Nakagami took a bit too much responsibility at the start of the race. In all the tension and pressure he forgot just how good of a package he and the team produced that weekend. It wasn't all on him. The team helped put a bike underneath him that allowed him to lay down the lap times and race pace that no one else could match. Maybe if he had acknowledged that he could have relieved some of the pressure that would have allowed him to start the race a bit calmer. 

As usual, another wonderful summary and analysis of the races. It was fun to hear about David's cycling too. I've managed a few hundred kilometers on my motorcycle over the course of 2020 so far, but the bicycle has around 3,500 kms on it, much of that indoors on the trainer. One week to go until more racing. Looking forward to it. 

It seems to me from the fan side that you have done an excellent job of adapting your reporting and analysis to the challenges of these trying conditions. 

Thanks for the great work.