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We may have been forced to wait until the middle of July to see MotoGP™ bikes tearing around a racetrack competitively in 2020, but boy has it been worth the wait. Before Sunday at the Gran Premio de Europa, eight winners had emerged from 12 races. Now, Championship leader Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has made it nine to equal 2016’s tremendous tally.
It’s been a fascinating year in so many ways on track, and it began with Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) doing the double in Jerez. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) then sprung an almighty surprise in Brno to hand himself and KTM their first MotoGP™ win before Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) continued Ducati’s 100% win record in Austria. That soon went though, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) became the first Portuguese premier class winner and gave Tech3 their first MotoGP™ victory in an epic last corner, last lap battle at the Red Bull Ring.
The MotoGP™ circus then headed to the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli as two more winners stood tall. The first of those was Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) as the Italian landed his dream MotoGP™ win on home soil, with Yamaha counterpart Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) getting the business done a week later. That made it six winners in the opening seven races and after Quartararo’s Barcelona brilliance, Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) made a welcome return to the top step in MotoGP™’s first wet race since Valencia 2018 at Le Mans.
Two encounters at MotorLand Aragon came immediately after and seven days post-Petrucci’s victory, number eight came along. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) fought off Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) for home glory, bringing the Suzuki rider back into the title frame. Morbidelli then secured a phenomenal second win of the season as MotoGP™ descended into the final three races of 2020, with the title hanging in the balance.
However, Mir’s Sunday performance at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo was nothing short of spectacular. A title-winning worthy performance as the premier class sophomore brushed the monkey off his back to win his first MotoGP™ race, extending his Championship lead to 37 points with just two races remaining. One hand on the trophy? You bet.
Nine winners in 12 races is simply staggering. Back in 2016, we were treated to nine different winners as Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Andrea Iannone, Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso, Maverick Viñales and Jack Miller all stood on the top step. In 2016 we had four first-time winners – we’ve gone one better than that this year. Anyone thinking that could have been repeated this before Jerez season was either lying or has a crystal ball no one knows about. 2020 has been staggering and the best part about it is, we could genuinely have a 10th and 11th before we pack up on Sunday in Portimao.
Valencia podium finisher Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Pramac Racing’s Miller and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) are the riders you could probably argue strongest for when picking a 10th winner, but there’s more. Alex Marquez has claimed two podiums this year, Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) has a podium this season, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) too and the likes of Rossi and Crutchlow already have Grand Prix wins to their name. If Marc Marquez comes back, there’s another phenomenal candidate for a race win.
We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the 2020 season. Nine different winners on four different types of machinery is testament to how competitive every rider and every factory is in this day and age of pinnacle two-wheel Grand Prix racing. Mir is on cloud nine and now has the chance to wrap the title up before the Portuguese Grand Prix in next weekend’s second Valencia helping. Will a 10th winner in 13 races rise highest though? It’s impossible to predict, but it’s absolutely possible.
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