MotoGP, Calendar under X-ray: Marquez the favourite, but Ducati and Yamaha threaten

ANALYSIS - Thirteen Grands Prix on 8 tracks: statistics point to Honda and Marc, but Dovizioso and Vinales have their cards to play

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The calendar for 2020 is now black on white: 13 races on 8 circuits in just 18 weeks, a real tour de force, and Malaysia and Thailand could still be added to the list. Of course, we can’t complain, this year we are experiencing an exceptional situation due to the coronavirus epidemic and being able to organize a championship with so many rounds is in itself a success.

The riders know that it will be absolutely vital not to make any mistakes because, with so many races in succession, an injury could cost them the season. At the same time, MotoGP is not a time trial, you have to be the fastest and therefore take some risks, otherwise victory remains a mirage.

Personal strategies aside, one wonders if this calendar can somehow favour any particular bike or rider. So, without wanting to go too far back into the past, we had a look at who has won in the last 5 years on the circuits that will host a GP this year.

Below you can find a brief summary.

Once you’ve poured through the archives, you can start to draw up the sums. If we were only to consider 2019, it would seem like a calendar made-to-measure for Marc Marquez. However, your memory would be very short, because you should remember that last year's season was (almost) perfect for the Spaniard. Considering that he won 12 races and finished 2nd in another six, with only one retirement (on another of his favourite tracks at Austin) taking any random circuit, Marc would any case still be the favourite.

So you have to broaden your horizons a bit and understand which circuits are more or less favourable for the various brands.

We will begin with Jerez, a track that – no secret here – Ducati doesn’t particularly digest, and neither does Dovizioso, but Lorenzo did get onto the podium in Spain in 2017. Here, in recent years, it’s been home for Honda: a hat-trick of wins that started in 2017 with Pedrosa and continued with Marquez. The circuit named after Angel Nieto, however, has been Yamaha's territory of conquest in the past and the M1 seemed in good shape in the winter tests, so it could prove to be a harder-fought (double) GP than you might think.

Leaving Spain behind, we come to Brno, another track where Honda has always gone well, but Dovizioso won in 2018 and the Yamaha have always been good there. Hard to say who will be favoured on paper in the Czech Republic, while there is no doubt when it comes to the Red Bull Ring Ducati is unbeaten (and unbeatable?) and it’s the only circuit where Marc has never won (although he has come close a few times). The Austrian double race is a wildcard that Dovi must not throw away, also because then we arrive at Misano.

The home circuit factor is said to help the riders, but nobody seems to have told Marc, who has won 3 of the last 5 editions of the San Marino GP, while in 2016 it was Pedrosa who won with the Honda. Dovizioso, however, finished first in 2018 and this is enough to arouse a bit of hope.

Also because at Barcelona, ​​the following round, the situation is very open, not to say favourable to Ducati, but also to Yamaha, with Marquez who has won, in the last 5 years, only once on his home track.

The scales again lean towards Honda at Le Mans, where Marc triumphed in 2018 and 2019, but Yamaha has always gone well in France. Aragon, however, is the kingdom of Marquez, with a poker of consecutive wins that began in 2016. The last appointment, at the moment, is at Valencia, where the statistics are not overwhelming for anyone. Dovizioso won in 2018, Marquez in 2019, Pedrosa in 2017 and Lorenzo (on a Yamaha) in 2015 and 2016.

All things considered, we could speak of a fairly even calendar but, if we examine the results on the various circuits, it is clear that it is Marquez more than the Honda who makes the difference.

Furthermore, we have to bear in mind that the title this year does not seem to be a two-horse fight between Marc and Dovi. After a few below-par seasons, the Yamahas seem to be competitive again and all their riders want to show how much they are worth. With a team that can count on names of the calibre of Rossi, Vinales, Morbidelli and Quartararo, their rivals can’t sleep easy at night.

Without forgetting Suzuki, which stood out in the winter tests with Rins and Mir, while the Honda struggled and we were unable to see if the changes made in the last hour of the Qatar tests actually represent the right direction to go.

Then there is the climate factor, if that’s how we want to call it, because MotoGP (and the Michelin tyres) are very sensitive to temperatures and we will be going racing on known tracks but at different times of the year than usual, at least in some cases .

The more the details are added, the more the doubts increase. That’s the beauty of MotoGP, watching and hearing them powering around circuits all over the world (sorry, all over Europe!) will be even more awesome than usual…

 

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