What a return for grand prix motorcycle racing in Jerez! It was drama glarore in scorching hot conditions in southern Spain, with Fabio Quartararo grabbing his first MotoGP race victory, becoming the first French rider to win a premier class grand prix since Régis Laconi, who won the 1999 Valencian Grand Prix.
It was also the first race victory for a Yamaha satellite team (non-factory team), and the first race victory for a satellite team for any manufacturer with the exception of Honda, giving Quartararo the perfect start as he looks for his first world championship!
However, it wasn’t the perfect start for six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Márquez for the Repsol Honda Team, running off the track at Turn 3/4 on Lap Five, falling all the way down to 16th before fighting his way back through the field to be back in third-place by the end of Lap 20, before crashing spectacularly on Lap 22 in one of the greatest Did Not Finish results of all-time, but suffered a fractured humerus in the process to turn the 2020 MotoGP World Championship upside down as we head into the second round of this shortened season, the 2020 Andalucían Grand Prix back at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto.
Quartararo (25 points) leads the championship for Petronas Yamaha SRT by virtue of his first win in MotoGP, and given the injury to Márquez, and the likely prospect of him missing this weekend, as well as the injuries to Cal Crutchlow (wrist) and Álex Rins (shoulder), Quartararo will be one of a number of riders sensing that this is their opportunity to win their first MotoGP World Championship!
Maverick Viñales (20 points), who finished second at the Spanish Grand Prix for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, is another one who will be feeling that 2020 is their year! Viñales decided to go with the soft front tyre (with most of the grid selecting the hard front tyre), and it didn’t quite pay off for the Spaniard, but he will be aiming to get his first race victory of 2020 this weekend to be, at worst, leading the world championship with Quartararo after the opening two races of this shortened season.
Andrea Dovizioso (16 points) will also be hoping 2020 is finally his year after starting this shortened championship by finishing third for the Mission Winnow Ducati Team at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto, the first time he has ever finished on the podium at the Spanish Grand Prix in the premier class, and given the fact that he has finished second in the championship standings behind Márquez in each of the last three seasons, you sense 2020 could well be his final chance, if that opportunity hasn’t already passed, to win his first MotoGP World Championship!
And the other rider who I believe can benefit from the changed circumstances of the 2020 world championship is Jack Miller (13 points), who finished just off the podium in fourth for Pramac Racing at the Spanish Grand Prix. I feel like he could very well be the dark-horse of this year’s championship, and has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, and Casey Stoner to become Australia’s fourth premier class world champion.
However, a rider who I don’t think can add to his seven premier class world championships in 2020 is Valentino Rossi, who was almost anonymous throughout the entire Spanish Grand Prix, running only as high as eighth before retiring from the race due to mechanical issues with his bike.
In my mind, his performance at the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix was embarrassing, and I think Rossi should retire at the end of the 2020 season!
So, who do I think is going to win the 2020 Andalucían Grand Prix?
Well, you sense it is wide open, and given that conditions at the Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto are going to be very similar to what it was last weekend, I expect to see more carnage and drama, and if that is the case, I think whoever is leading the championship after this weekend will be the favourite to win the 2020 MotoGP World Championship!
And with that in mind, I think if Maverick Viñales can put all the pieces of the puzzle together all at the same time, he will win the 2020 Andalucían Grand Prix to take the lead of the championship, and will have the weight of pressure and expectation right on his back!