Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 175: 2020 MotoGP Factory Review - Suzuki And Ducati

Now that the season is over, it's time to look back at what went into making MotoGP 2020 the sensational year that it was. To do that the Paddock Pass Podcast crew, in the shape of Neil Morrison and On Track Off Road's Adam Wheeler will be breaking it down factory by factory.

In this first part, Neil and Adam discuss Suzuki and Ducati. They start with Suzuki, and how the Japanese factory won its first title in 20 years. They discuss Joan Mir, what makes him special, and how he won the 2020 championship. And they talk about Alex Rins, and the development of the Suzuki GSX-RR.

Then they go on to discuss the enigma which was Ducati. A successful season from one perspective - winning the manufacturers' title and scoring a couple of victories and a multitude of podiums, with five different riders. But also a disappointing one, with the factory never able to find a solution to the challenges raised by the 2020 Michelin rear tire. Neil and Adam also talk in some depth about Andrea Dovizioso's season, his decision to leave Ducati, and whether the strong showings by Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia mean Ducati made the right choice to elevate them to the factory team in their current bout of rejuvenation.

If you don't want to miss out on these episodes as they are released, make sure you follow The Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Soundcloud we even have an RSS feed for you. If you do use Apple Podcasts, please rate the show and leave a review, as this helps other MotoGP fans find it. We now also have a Patreon, where you can support the show financially, and get access to exclusive content, such as rider interviews, debriefs, and more. Enjoy the show!

Round Number: 

Back to top


Thanks Neil and Adam! Enjoyed it. Missed you in the last Paddock Pass Podcast Neil, particularly thought that you would not have let those two stretch so unbelievably yogini far on their Winners at Portugal. Good lordy. 9 out of 10 times I am in your court on everything. If anything, you seem understated about lots. Which is nice. Suzuki taking a Championship now with just two bikes out there and a budget/resources befitting backmarkers at best? Cannot get hyperbole. Bloody damn miraculous feat. So happy for Championship Electronics btw. And no more Saturday Night Special tires. We are fortunate, eh? And for you. Looking fwd to you doing the next two bikes. Thanks so much!

Great content on Mir's makeup. Yet again, tuning in to the Ducati "how management handled" riders is compelling. One thought I often have is that much less is personal than most indicate. That the nature of this bike organically brings tension within the project around a rider getting the bike they want vs Duc getting a rider gelling with the bike they have. The opposite of Suzuki lately. Astute mention of a BIG spares bin for 2021 Adam! Noting that a good step was just taken for Red's maneuverability, and betting it takes another. The new tires demand it. I think it is a better time to go Red than many others. My heart goes out to Ducati riders. She isn't easy! I wouldn't date her. I would Suzuki, Yellow where all the silver is, and watch the kids take to big bikes like they did to Moto2. One of those kids is going to have their career ended by that spaceship. But another...will win (if the bike takes ONE more step on flickability and ease of riding). Agreed about pause and a question mark over their rider roster next year. Appreciating Jack. Pouring support out for Bagnaia, who's key finds the lock snatchy (graphite! Wait, aluminum!). You looked SO good for a few rounds friend! 

The KTM coverage next podcast, eager for it. As amazing as Suzuki, in an opposite manner. 

The tepid response in the podcast to Pecco’s year was on point, but no discussion of the rider that was also in the frame for the second Factory Ducati seat in 2021, Zarco. Along with Miller he was usually the most competitive Ducati at the majority of the tracks in 2020, with a pole position, front row starts and a podium to show for his first year on a Ducati - actually an “old” Ducati in their third tier team. I thought the choice of Pecco to continue as Miller’s team mate was a good one, Jack is clearly the senior ride of the two and with little friction in the relationship though the huddle between Miller and Zarco on the cool down lap in Portimao shows those two also gel well. Jack leading the Factory team and Zarco free to lead Pramac is a good choice. Remember Zarco knows how to win championships being the only man to win back to back Moto2 titles. So Ducati have a  two pronged assault on the ‘21 title with space for both to operate.  

The other Ducati omission was Marini. No opinions on what looks like a pay ride in Avintia? 

Hey Neil (and Brian w my new Triumph shirt), thoughts? VR46 Monster Suzuki 2022?

Unlike those that have come before, Rossi will be resurrected as VR46. With lots of bread to break, and cup that runeth over with WHAT drink inside? The most compelling thing in view now is the pivot, and how the Yamaha bike being soured at his twilight, his experience of being set aside by the Factory team (which I thought a good idea btw), shaping of grid spots and what bike/project to run. Something special is in store.

As recent as 18 months ago it was a foregone conclusion that he would run Yamahas. Then came fantastic Petronas/SIC success (can we please keep praising this? Wow!) at a critical time. Has Yamaha made overtures at a future w VR46? Not in any noticable fashion. Have they fallen back into their woeful gutter? Yes. Does he appear in any way happy with and connected to the bike they gave him the last 4 yrs (aside from the post Tsunami hari-kari 2019 blip) or their future as we have seen in 2020? No. As soon as the 2020 engine appeared so anemic at the Winter Test, writing began on the wall. Then, serious reliability issues and maddeningly inconsistent chassis with woeful rear grip. In hindsight Yamaha will wish they inked a VR46 3rd Team before letting Vale go, even though Petronas was there. It would have been a dynasty for several eras. They will do fine, they don't NEED Valentino. Who does?

Marini needs a MotoGP seat. VR46 buys the only one out there. Italian bike Vale is distinctly not aligned with, Spanish team. VERY Spanish team. Pramac isn't going anywhere. Ducati has bikes 5 and 6 as a customer leftover of mild consequence. Young Vale was preoccupied with all things Japanese and had all his success with their bikes. Why think VR46 is going Red? 

Aprilia? No. Not now. Just no.

Valentino Rossi is a friend of Dorna. He enjoys a new challenge. Natural helper for and with his friends. As Italian as pasta. What would Carmelo love to see more than anything? Two more of what bike? Which team could REALLY use the help of Yellow? Who runs it (nudge, Davide)? Which team manager is the last of the people (Burgess, Furusawa) in the circus dear to Vale from that golden moment? What is the atmosphere/culture of that program? What is the best bike on the grid now? Which MotoGP bike is the best to adapt from Moto2 on/put your progeny on and team around? What energy drink just signed on with them, and I betcha won't renew with Yamaha?

What VR46 rider has shown excellence in MotoGP lately? Are they on a Factory team? Where does their allegiance lay? (Ahem, #21). Who was Valentino's favorite growing up, poster by his bed? Schwantz. Light Blue, Yellow, touch of bright green claws.

-- 2022 VR46 Monster Suzuki, Morbidelli and Marini --

Full Factory bikes, setting the pace re what it can mean to be a Satellite/Independent/Jr Team. "Which is the Factory Team?" Well, both I guess. Suzuki was barely one before VR46 and Monster got there. Where is everyone going to want to visit in the paddock? Welcome to VR46 Monster Suzuki Island. Where the Factory brass, celebrities and dignitaries dine. 

Yellow bike upper with light blue please Mr Rossi. It has been a while (the old Camel Honda's and retro special Yamahas were gorgeous! Black schmack, except for Aprilia which wears it well). Yamaha, Honda, get ready to groan and blink. Again. Suzuki Blue plus Vale Yellow literally makes Monster Green. There is a new kid in town. You read it here first. Can I please get a free Team Jersey as a prize? I will build a GSXR750 and paint to match if you would be so kind as to send stickers. It takes a couple of yrs for those guys in Taiwan to churn cheap livery copy plastic kits, but I can be patient.

Mr Morrison, would love to hear a response. Thank you! Great work!

Addendum - VR46 #10 Luca Marini livery just presented. A Ducati that looks...nearly exactly like a Yamaha. Black and Blue like a bruise. Blech. A step towards Red, but something else is possible yes?

All will be revealed...I still don't see Suzi bringing the large and in charge entourage onboard what is a family operation but Davide has close ties to Vale so there is that. Gonna be fun finding out.

As for Luca's bike: can't be put any better than you did: blech. Ducati need some guidance as to the difference between forest and trees. Their bike looks as though every idea any of the engineers has ever had has been chaotically thrown at it but none of those idea guys ever met each other. You can plant trees randomly all over everywhere but you won't get a forest until all those trees are working harmoniously together to create a balanced system. Ducati put me in mind of someone trying to solve handling issues by making 2 adjustments at once. That just creates confusion and a poor handling machine, sorta like what I see in the pit box and on track. They must slow down with putting all their brainpower toward the foofraws and wingy things, do one thing at a time and give it time to prove itself better or worser. They are always too quick to change things for the sake of change, imo. And their bikes are fugly.

Honda may have benefited overall from a year off by MM. Bike development seemed to drastically soften that bull during the season - was the Kid purposely making that bike harder to ride? Wouldn't be unheard of...

KTM are going to be right up front next year. That factory team of Olivera and Binder is formidable and they push each other in the best way.

Suzuki, KTM, Jack, Franky, LCR, Pol, FQ, maybe Zarco all in with a chance of a win on any Sunday. Golden Age indeed. Cheers!