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If the 2020 campaign has taught us anything, it’s to throw predictions out the window. But it’s probably safe to say that the two main MotoGP™ protagonists heading into the final six races of the season are Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
That’s easy to say, of course – they’re now the top two in the World Championship after the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya. But it stretches deeper than that. Quartararo is the only rider to win more than once in 2020, the Frenchman now having three to his name as he reclaims to title chase baton after a Barcelona masterclass. Mir is yet to win a race but is on a run of three podium finishes in a row – the first Suzuki rider to do so since Kenny Roberts Jr in 2000 – and four in his last five races.
With Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) struggling to find any form since his Austria GP win and Maverick Viñales’ (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) topsy-turvy Sunday afternoons seeing him finish P1 one week and P9 the next, El Diablo and Mir are the only two that are showing true signs of title-winning form. Eight points separate the Frenchman and Spaniard heading to Quartararo’s home race at the legendary Le Mans circuit, with Viñales and Dovizioso dropping to 18 and 24 adrift respectively.
When things click into place, Quartararo looks pretty much unstoppable. His two Jerez victories were dominant, and you could argue the Catalan GP one was too. Not to the same degree, but he carved his way past Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and teammate Franco Morbidelli on his way to victory. All three made mistakes in the race, while Quartararo didn’t put a foot wrong.
We say pretty much unstoppable, because Mir and Suzuki’s race pace is just stunning. If the Catalan GP was a lap longer, you could make a very strong case for Mir snatching the win from Quartararo’s grasp – but that’s ifs buts and maybes. The MotoGP™ sophomore’s last three starting slots have been P8, P11, P8, and he’s reached the podium on all three occasions. You have to think that if Suzuki can find a tenth or two over a flying lap in qualifying, race wins are going to come thick and fast.
Both Quartararo and Mir look the strongest after the first of three triple-headers. This win for Quartararo was “the best moment of his life”, a huge weight lifted off his shoulders after a tough podium-less run. Confidence will now be flowing through his veins again heading to home territory, but he’ll know Mir will once again be a threat. The latter will also have confidence in abundance, knowing he’s in a MotoGP™ Championship fight.
Two of MotoGP™’s young guns are rising to the fore in 2020, leaving their more experienced counterparts behind. But this is 2020, and this is MotoGP™. Fortunes can change in the blink of an eye. However, right now, Quartararo vs Mir is a battle that gets the senses tingling, and it’s a fight that looks set to go right down to the wire.
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