Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was unrivalled in 2019. A near-faultless season saw the Spaniard stroll to an incredible eighth World Championship, but he faces some stiff competition to keep his crown in 2020.
Let’s start with Andrea Dovizioso. The Ducati Team rider has finished runner-up to Marquez for the past three seasons and 2020 will see both the Italian and Ducati hungrier than ever to topple the number 93. The big question: can Ducati iron out their cornering issues? If steps can be made in that department on Ducati’s “brand-new” bike, while also keeping their superior advantage down the straights, Dovizioso will surely be a title contender. ‘DesmoDovi’ has previous in taking Marquez to the final round in Valencia – who’s to say it won’t happen again?
You’d be silly not to fancy Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) for a solid Championship charge after the Spaniard’s latter half of the season form in 2019. Seven top five finishes in eight – the anomaly being Australia’s last lap crash – which include three podiums and a win has seen Viñales climb to P3 in the overall standings. A Malaysian GP masterclass was a sure sign Viñales is more than ready to launch a 2020 title bid, and if Yamaha can find a few extra horsepower from their YZR-M1 engine, the number 12 will be a constant 25-point haul threat.
And joining Viñales in the 2020 Yamaha title charge will be reigning Rookie of the Year Fabio Quartararo. The Petronas Yamaha SRT superstar has been a revelation in the premier class and with a years’ experience under his belt, as well as a full-factory spec Yamaha at his disposal, the Frenchman is being tipped to really take it to the likes of Marquez in his sophomore season. Seven podiums and six poles before the final round of the year isn’t something anyone predicted, and regular victory fights look to be assured in 2020.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins – a two-time race winner in 2019 – is another who will have his sights firmly focused on a stronger Championship assault. The ever-improving GSX-RR is arguably the most balanced bike on the grid and on his day, the number 42 can beat anyone. Take a look at Silverstone 2019 for proof. Can Rins and Suzuki mount a season-long challenge? It’s hard to say. But if small – yet costly – errors are papered over next season, betting on the blue machine to put up a strong title fight is by no means out of the equation.
Four manufacturers, five real worthy title contenders. And you can definitely throw nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) into that mix. 2019 wasn’t the smoothest of years for The Doctor but if he gets on well with the 2020 M1, how can you rule out Rossi? Malaysia – the “toughest race of the year” – showed the 40-year-old is still as fit as ever and the hunger for more successful still thrives within.
There’s more than said candidates too. 2020 is sure to be a sensational season and it all begins with the Valencia Test in November, with every factory working flat out to give their respective riders the tools capable of winning a World Championship. Aprilia and KTM have shown glimpses of what they can do, 2020 is a huge year for both outfits. Ducati have one goal and one goal only: the riders’ title. Same with Yamaha. Honda and Marquez will be the favourites, and they will be the ones to beat from the outset.