Jerez, July 15 (IANS) Marc Marquez will once again be the favourite to clinch the MotoGP crown when the revamped 2020 season begins this Saturday. Since 2013, the Catalan has only missed one title, thanks to his 56 victories and 95 podiums. In 2019, the Repsol Honda star scored the most points in premier class history and finished outside of the top two just once in Austin.
But 2020 could well be a game-changer, especially given the somewhat special circumstances that it will be held in. With such a condensed calendar, one mistake could prove pivotal meaning the main contenders to Marquez’s throne will fancy their chances.
First, there’s Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). No one expected the Frenchman to have the impact he had on MotoGP in his debut year. Named top independent rider and Rookie of the Year, the 21-year-old demonstrated his class with six pole positions and seven podium finishes. He took the fight to Marquez, most notably at Misano and Buriram, but the Spaniard always had his number.
However, in 2019 he was fighting with a Yamaha M1 that didn’t have any of the bells and whistles that Rossi and Vinales in the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP garage had. With a full factory machine at his disposal this year, El Diablo might have enough to get the better of Marquez and finally take that much sought-after MotoGP win.
Another rider determined to make Marquez fail is the aforementioned Maverick Vinales. After two years in the doldrums, both Vinales and, in particular, Yamaha appeared to find the right path forward in 2019. Proof of this was the two victories and seven podiums won by the Spaniard. A further boost of energy came throughout winter testing for 2020, when Vinales appeared to have it all covered: race pace, one-lap pace, a competitive package and bags of confidence.
Among Marquez’s major rivals this year will, of course, be Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). Admittedly, the Italian will arrive at Jerez far from 100 per cent after breaking his left collarbone just two weeks ago. He has been passed fit, but time will only tell how fit Dovi really is. Like Vinales, the Ducati won twice in 2019, helping him to a total of nine top-three finishes.
Write off Dovizioso at your peril, though; just like Valentino Rossi. Yes, The Doctor may have a harder time fighting over an entire season but if 2020 is to deliver as the year of surprises, then maybe, just maybe, he can finally clinch that elusive tenth title. Let’s not forget that this year could mark Marquez’s ninth World Championship, and you can be guaranteed that the Italian will be trying his level best to stop his fierce rival from joining the ‘9 Club’.
Marquez should also be wary of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), another man with two successes to his name from 2019. When speaking on motogp.com’s A Sit Down With, the Spaniard pointed out that his relationship with Marquez had changed, and that a rivalry was starting to grow.
The action will begin on Saturday from 4:00 pm with the qualifying race followed by the main race on Sunday from 2:30 pm on Eurosport and Eurosport HD.