The 2020 MotoGP World Championship ended at Algarve International Circuit today with thrilling battles in the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 races.
This has been an unprecedented season, which at one point seemed in jeopardy due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some incredibly hard work by rights-holder Dorna, the FIM governing body, teams association IRTA and all the riders, factory engineers and paddock staff made possible an incredibly intense championship, with rounds two to 15 taking place over just 18 weeks.
For other reasons 2020 was challenging for Honda. The factory’s fastest two riders were injured at July’s season-opening Spanish Grand Prix. Reigning and six-times MotoGP king Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) broke his right arm, which put him out for the rest of the championship. The same day Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) broke his left wrist. The Briton had the injury fixed with an operation but he struggled with post-surgery issues for much of the year.
Honda’s hopes for the Moto3 Riders World Championship – Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) and Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) – missed the title by just a few points.
However, Honda made history by securing its 20th Constructors World Championship in the Moto3/125cc class, the first manufacturer to reach this milestone. Honda won its first 125cc constructors crown in 1961, the year the company took its first Grand Prix victories and riders and constructors titles.
Honda won its first four constructors titles in the 125cc class with the twin-cylinder RC144 and RC145 (1961 and 1962), the four-cylinder RC146 (1964) and the five-cylinder RC149 (1966) four-strokes.
In Honda’s second era of Grand Prix racing the company won 11 constructors crowns with the RS125R two-stroke. Most recently the NSF250RW four-stroke has won five Moto3 constructors titles, including a clean sweep of the last four championships.
With Marquez out and Crutchlow not 100 percent fit, Honda’s 2020 MotoGP hero was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V). The former Moto2 race-winner completed his third season in the premier class with a fifth-place finish today.
Nakagami has been on sparkling form throughout much of 2020, taking a huge step forward with his mental and physical performance to run close to the front aboard his 2019-spec Honda RC213V. At August’s Styrian Grand Prix he achieved his first front-row start and fought for victory. At last month’s Teruel GP he qualified on pole position for the first time and backed that up with front-row starts at the next two races at Valencia.
Only one thing has eluded the 28-year-old from Chiba – his first podium finish. During practice here he once again looked capable of a top-three result, but two crashes at the high-speed Turn Four left him nursing an injured left hand. Despite that he rode a very strong race, working his way through from 11th on the first lap to fifth, closing rapidly on fourth place. He rode the fourth fastest lap of the race, just 0.160 seconds slower than the winner’s best lap.
The surprise performer of the weekend was Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), who has ridden Marquez’s bikes since August’s Czech GP. Since then the 30-year-old German has had to transform himself from HRC test rider into MotoGP racer. He scored his first points of the year at September’s rain-lashed French GP and backed that up with further point-scoring results in three of the next four races.
Today Bradl was in superb form, battling with some of the fastest riders in MotoGP, despite a high-speed fall in morning warm-up. He fought back and forth in the second group, ending the race in seventh, just over two seconds behind Nakagami.
MotoGP rookie Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) took ninth place, less than three seconds down on team-mate Bradl. The 24-year-old former Moto2 and Moto3 World Champion was still in some discomfort from a heavy tumble during qualifying at last weekend’s Valencia GP. Nevertheless he worked well here, always moving forward and riding strongly in the second group. At the finish he was less than six seconds behind the fourth-place finisher.
Crutchlow was fastest in morning warm-up and ended his full-time MotoGP career with a 13th-place finish, an unlucky result considering that he had been so strong in the early stages, when he held fourth place for several laps. He lost places when he lost rear grip and ten ran off the track.
Last week the 35-year-old Briton announced that this would be his last full-time MotoGP season. Today’s race therefore brings to an end a glittering career, which brought him three MotoGP victories with Honda – two in 2016 and one in 2018.
The enthralling four-way battle for the Moto2 World Championship went down to the final lap, with Italian Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) taking the crown with a fifth-place finish.
However, the points situation was so close that if third-place finisher Sam Lowes (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) had beaten race winner Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team Kalex) then Lowes would have been champion.
Bastianini ended the season nine points ahead of Lowes and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex), who led more than half of today’s race on his way to finishing second. Both Bastianini and Marini graduate to MotoGP in 2021.
This was the first Grand Prix win for 22-year-old Australian Gardner, the son of Wayne Gardner, who won Honda’s third 500cc World Championship in 1987.
Somkiat Chantra (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) did everything he could to complete his second World Championship season with another points score but the 21-year-old Thai rider didn’t quite make it. He finished 18th, three places outside the points.
Team-mate Andi Farid Izdihar (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex) had a frustrating end to his first year in Grands Prix, tumbling out of the race on lap 18 of 23.
The Moto3 race was another breathtaking championship thriller, with the outcome of both the riders and constructors titles uncertain until the final moments.
Honda’s two championship hopefuls Ogura and Arbolino did everything they could, scrapping all the way in a frantic pack of riders fighting to end the 2020 season in the best way possible.
Ogura started from the second row of the grid and was immediately involved in a duel with series leader Albert Arenas. Meanwhile Arbolino fought his way through from 27th on the grid, the result of a difficult qualifying session. Positions changed at every corner throughout the 21 laps.
Finally Arbolino and Ogura finished fifth and eighth, ahead of Arenas in 12th. But Arenas had just done enough, ending the year with four points more than the 20-year-old Italian and the 19-year-old from Tokyo, who took second and third overall.
Next year Ogura moves up to Moto2 with Honda Team Asia, swapping places with Izdihar, who will contest the 2021 Moto3 season with the squad.
The ride of the race came from Czech GP winner Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) who finished second, despite taking two long-lap penalties, imposed for riding too slowly in Friday’s FP2 practice session. The 19-year-old came back from that sanction with incredible pace to take the checkered flag line a fraction ahead of Jeremy Alcoba (Kommerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), whose first podium helped him take the Rookie of the Year prize.
Alcoba was chased over the line by Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) in fourth place. Arbolino headed the second group in fifth, making it four Hondas in the top five.
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) finished just behind Ogura in ninth and 11th.
Grand Prix rookie Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) completed his first World Championship race with a 22nd place, his result constrained by a long-lap penalty. The 17-year-old from Setagaya had a great pace and tried to make his way through the pack but he made a few mistakes and overused his tires.
Both Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) and Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) slid out of the race while in podium contention.
Today’s racing ends the unprecedented 2020 MotoGP season, delayed and truncated due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 action starts with the Qatar GP on March 28.
|1||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)|
|2||Jack MILLER (Pramac Racing)|
|3||Franco MORBIDELLI (Petronas Yamaha SRT)|
|4||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|5||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (LCR Honda IDEMITSU)|
|6||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|7||Stefan BRADL (Repsol Honda Team)|
|8||Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|9||Alex MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|10||Johann ZARCO (Esponsorama Racing)|
|11||Maverick VIÑALES (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)|
|12||Valentino ROSSI (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)|
|13||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda CASTROL)|
|14||Fabio QUARTARARO (Petronas Yamaha SRT)|
|15||Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|16||Danilo PETRUCCI (Ducati Team)|
|17||Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|18||Tito RABAT (Esponsorama Racing)|
|RT||Lorenzo SAVADORI (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|RT||Joan MIR (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|RT||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|RT||Francesco BAGNAIA (Pramac Racing)|
|1||Remy GARDNER (Onexox TKKR SAG Team)|
|2||Luca MARINI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|3||Sam LOWES (EG 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|4||Marco BEZZECCHI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|5||Enea BASTIANINI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|6||Jorge MARTIN (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|7||Joe ROBERTS (Tennor American Racing)|
|8||Augusto FERNANDEZ (EG 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|9||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Flexbox HP 40)|
|10||Xavi VIERGE (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|11||Marcos RAMIREZ (Tennor American Racing)|
|12||Marcel SCHROTTER (Liqui Moly Intact GP)|
|13||Bo BENDSNEYDER (NTS RW Racing GP)|
|14||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|15||Aron CANET (Inde Aspar Team Moto2)|
|16||Thomas LUTHI (Liqui Moly Intact GP)|
|17||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|18||Somkiat CHANTRA (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|19||Stefano MANZI (MV Agusta Forward Racing)|
|20||Dominique AEGERTER (NTS RW Racing GP)|
|21||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Inde Aspar Team Moto2)|
|RT||Simone CORSI (MV Agusta Forward Racing)|
|RT||Andi IZDIHAR (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|RT||Edgar PONS (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|RT||Kasma Daniel KASMAYUDIN (Onexox TKKR SAG Team)|
|RT||Jorge NAVARRO (HDR Heidren Speed Up)|
|RT||Hector GARZO (Flexbox HP 40)|
|RT||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (HDR Heidren Speed Up)|
|RT||Nicolo BULEGA (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|1||Raul FERNANDEZ (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Dennis FOGGIA (Leopard Racing)|
|3||Jeremy ALCOBA (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3)|
|4||Sergio GARCIA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|5||Tony ARBOLINO (Rivacold Snipers Team)|
|6||Darryn BINDER (CIP Green Power)|
|7||Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|8||Ai OGURA (Honda Team Asia)|
|9||John MCPHEE (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|10||Deniz ONCU (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)|
|11||Niccolò ANTONELLI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|12||Albert ARENAS (Valresa Aspar Team Moto3)|
|13||Ayumu SASAKI (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)|
|14||Carlos TATAY (Reale Avintia Moto3)|
|15||Kaito TOBA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|16||Barry BALTUS (CarXpert PruestelGP)|
|17||Ryusei YAMANAKA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|18||Adrian FERNANDEZ (Adrian FERNANDEZ)|
|19||Stefano NEPA (Valresa Aspar Team Moto3)|
|20||Romano FENATI (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team)|
|21||Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|22||Yuki KUNII (Honda Team Asia)|
|23||Jason DUPASQUIER (CarXpert PruestelGP)|
|24||Riccardo ROSSI (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy)|
|25||Maximilian KOFLER (CIP Green Power)|
|26||Davide PIZZOLI (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy)|
|27||Gabriel RODRIGO (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3)|
|28||Khairul Idham Pawi (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|RT||Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|RT||Jaume MASIA (Leopard Racing)|
|RT||Alonso LOPEZ (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team)|