Monday, April 19, 2021

MOTO GP: New Season Begins with Multiple Rider Moves and A Missing World Champion

Will Any of the other Manufacturers be able to Wrestle away Suzuki’s Crown?


Typically this time ‘O year, we’ve just have completed hosting the world’s ultimate Road Racing Kneedraggers’ at COTA, nee Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. But sadly due to the never ending scurge of COVID 19 restrictions, MotoGP has skipped COTA for the past two years now.


As MotoGP seems to be one of the best kept secrets Stateside, with little media attention. But I thoroughly enjoy it due to it’s ultra competitiveness and how every race you Don’t know who’ll win.  


New Faces

This year’s Rookie Class sees three promising Debutante Kneedraggers graduating to the Premiere Class, two Italians and one Spaniard. Although I suppose this shouldn’t be somewhat of a surprise when you realize who  two-thirds of these Young Guns are racing for.


Italians Tnea Bastianini who won the 2020 Moto2 Championship and Luca Marini, the 2020 Moto2 Championship Runner-up will both ride for Sky VR46 Esponsorama Racing.


Esponsorama Racing is based out of Madrid, Spain and previously known as Reale Avintia Racing since 2012 and reportedly rebranded itself last year, which I was unaware of. The team will campaign Ducati Desmosedici GP19’s.


And Yeah, if that VR46 sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the initials of some MotoGP God known as “The Doctor,” akak Valentino rossi. Whilst I was unaware that Marini is Valentino’s Half Brother, hence presumably the “tie Up” sponsorship wise, eh?


Spain’s Jorge Martín who finished 5th Overall in last year’s Moto2 Championship will race for Pramac Racing aboard the #89 Duc’. (Ducati)


Meanwhile, I totally missed the Memo regarding Italiano’ Lorenzo Savadori replacing Bradley Smith at Aprilia last year for MotoGP’s final three races. As apparently there was some major friction between the team and Smith who was Substituting for Banned Aprilia rider Andrea Iannoney, and was only seen as a Stop-gap replacement.


As longtime Ducati Corse Factory rider Dovi’, aka Andrea Dovizioso who acrimoniously split with the Italian concern at season’s end, has replaced Smith as the team’s new Test Rider.


Savadori who’s won multiple Feeder Series titles including last year’s Italian Superbike Championship, with his reward being called up to MotoGP, will campaign the #32 Aprilia “Scooter” once again this year, contesting his first Full Season for the Italian concern.



Really Don’t know much about this Minnowesqe Italian Manufacturer, other than last year they built a new 90-degree V-4 lump in hopes of improving their overall performance, which reportedly has lopped multiple seconds off of it’s lap times. And although I’ve already mentioned Savadori’s place here, it’s Thar other rider Aleix Espargaro who’s leading the way, having flirted with Top-5 finishes in the first two rounds while mixing it up with the big Boyz! Finishing 7th in the first Qatar race, and 10th in the second.



The Werks’ Ducati corse Factory team once again seems to be outpaced by it’s rival Satellite concern Pramac Racing, which interestingly both Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia graduated from this year. Although “Pecco” Bagnaia did start from Pole at the season opener and finished third, followed up with a P6 finish in Round-2, whilst Miller seems to be suffering more from his switch to the Factory ride so far.  


Yeah, I know it’s early days yet, but Johann Zarco has certainly resurrected his MotoGP career with two second place finishes in the first two rounds. As the Frenchman seems  to be the more stable of the two Pramac riders vs. his mercurial rookie team-mate Jorge Martín, who he passed for second place in Round-2 on the final lap!


Martin amazed  everyone by utilizing Ducati’s Holeshot device to rocket from 14th to 4th place at the season opener before settling back down to earth with a 15th place finish. But  it was the Doha Grand Prix where he Shocked the MotoGP Paddock by capturing Pole position in only his second ever outing!


Martin led much of the race before being passed by eventual winner Fabio Quartararo, before scoring his first Podium in 3rd place. Although Zarco’s two runner-up finishes saw him leading the championship heading to Portugal’s Portimao circuit.


Already talked about the Sky VR46 Esponsorama Racing concern above, albeit Bastianini has done well, with finishes of 10th & 11th in his first two races, while Marini has been towards the Tail-end of the grid.  



Obviously Ye Pinball Wizard, nee Marc Marquez’s broken Right Arm injury was far more severe then reported, since the Spaniard missed the season’s first two races and hasn’t ridden competitively since the 2020 season opener at Jerez on July 19, 2020.


Longtime Test Rider Stefan Bradl has been Deputizing for Marquez since last season, and continued doing so during the first two rounds in Qatar. As Bradl’s a past Moto2 champion, but he just doesn’t seem to be able to contend for Top-10’s. while Pol Espargaro has joined the Factory Repsol Honda team from KTM this season as Alex Marquez’s replacement.


Meanwhile the Satellite LCR Honda Squad saw longtime rider Cal Crutchlow depart to rival’s Yamaha to become it’s official Test Rider this year, replacing Jorge Lorenzo as last’s year’s test rider. With Alex Marquez replacing the Briton’, while the lone Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami remains at LCR.


And I must wonder if Hondre’s Scooter woes are inherit to a bike being principally designed to suit Marc Marquez’s riding style? Which I suppose will be great News that he’ll make his MotoGP return at Portimao.



Miguel Oliveira graduates to the Werks’ concern alongside Brad Binder as Pol Espargaro’s replacement, giving the Factory Team two MotoGP winners on it’s rolls. While ex-Factory Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci takes over Oliveira’s seat, partnering Iker Lecuona at the Tec 3 Satellite Squad.


The KTM bikes reportedly had trouble utilizing Michelin’s soft rubber compound at the two Qatar events and had to utilize the less popular medium compound, albeit Binder  did manage to eek out an 8th place finish in Round-2.



This is the only team on the grid sporting an unchanged Rider lineup, presumably due to Joan Mir winning the MotoGP title last year with team-mate Alex Rins finishing third Overall. But as Mir’s finding out a la Marc Marquez, when you’re the Reigning Champion you’ve firmly got a target affixed to your back! As Mir and Rins have somewhat struggled  during Qualie’ during Qatar’s first two rounds, but both X-Star Riders have marched solidly to the sharp end of the race and are always a threat for victory! As the Suzuki GSX-RR seems to have extremely good corner speed and is gentle to it’s Michelin rubber.



Sure it’s Old News over what effectively was a Rider swap between the two Yamahopper’ Squad., With Fabio Quartararo taking Thee Doctor’s seat at the Werks’ concern, whilst Valentino Rossi will close out his illustrious career at the Satellite Petronas SRT Squad alongside one of his many protégé’s Franco Morbidelli.


Interestingly Maverick “Top Gun” vinales won the season oper at Qatar, whilst Quartararo won the second round in Doha, at the Losail International Circuit. Seeing the Factory Yamaha riders split 1-1 in the wins column heading to Portugal, whilst Rossi and Morbidelli seem lost right now, as both riders struggled at the back of the field.