It's time for the 2019 MotoGP™ rookies to shine. 2020 is a vital year for Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) as each will be armed with a factory-spec prototype this season.
Hitting the ground running at the start of a season has never been more important in MotoGP™. Contract negotiations for 2021 are going to be a hot topic in the opening stint of the year, so for the sophomores, good results from the off are imperative.
Quartararo sets a high benchmark for 2020 rookies
Quartararo, 2019’s Rookie of the Year, will have plenty of eyes fixed to him at the beginning of this season. Seven podiums and six pole positions, his Jerez pole making him the youngest ever in the premier class, saw the Frenchman claim P5 overall. And now on board an ‘A-spec’ YZR-M1 with teammate Franco Morbidelli, challenging for wins from the off is what ‘El Diablo’ will be after.
Suzuki factory man Mir was another impressive rookie in 2019, especially in the second half of the campaign. The Spaniard missed out on a top 10 just once in the final seven races after returning from an injury sustained in a monster Brno Test crash. Mir showed several glimpses of what he can do and with a year under his belt, and an ever-improving GSX-RR underneath him, Mir can hope for top five assaults – and potentially more – from the get-go.
Rins and Mir give their thoughts on the 2020 Suzuki engine
2018 Moto2™ World Champion Bagnaia had a trickier maiden premier class campaign. The Australian GP was a turning point for the Italian though, finishing inches behind teammate Jack Miller to narrowly miss out on that illustrious first MotoGP™ rostrum. Unfortunately for Bagnaia, his season would end with a left wrist injury in Valencia, forcing him to miss the last race of 2019 and the 2020 pre-season tests in Valencia and Jerez. Thankfully, it seems Bagnaia will be raring to go in Sepang as he gets to grips with Ducati’s GP20, the same machinery used by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Miller. A potential factory Desmosedici seat will be up for grabs, so can it be Bagnaia who stakes a claim for it?
The impressive Oliveira had a mixed first season in the premier class. The highlight? A phenomenal P8 in Austria in front of KTM’s home fans – a sign of things to come in 2020 perhaps. However, a crash at Silverstone would damage Oliveira’s shoulder and after vicious Turn 1 tumble at Phillip Island, the decision for the Portuguese ride to be operated on was taken. Likewise to Bagnaia, Oliveira missed the initial 2020 pre-season tests, so the Sepang Test will be vital as Oliveira prepares to get his hands on a 2020-spec KTM.
ATF Bitesize: Oliveira explains his recovery after PI crash
How will the sophomores get on in 2020? First indications will be seen at the Sepang Test on 7-9 February, and you can keep up with the action on motogp.com. Live Timing, highlights, interviews and After the Flag will be available as we look forward to seeing MotoGP™ bikes back on track.
Off the Racing Line #1: Miguel Oliveira
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