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MotoGP Valencia #2: Mir crowned World Champion in Spain

Ecstar Suzuki’s Joan Mir has today been crowned MotoGP World Champion after a seventh-placed finish was enough to secure the required points lead as Jack Miller and Franco Morbidelli fought it out for the win.

Mir rode carefully enough to stay out of trouble as title rival Fabio Quartararo crashed out. Mir’s Ecstar team-mate Alex Rins finished in fourth but that wasn’t enough to stop Mir from bagging his maiden blue riband trophy.

It is 20 years since Suzuki last won the big title, with Kenny Roberts Jr taking the 500GP crown in 2000, and Mir’s title comes on the firm’s 100th anniversary year.


All the action was not centred around the new king though, it was all at the front as Miller and Morbidelli duked it out over the final couple of laps for the win.

Morbidelli looked like he had enough pace on his hard/medium Michelin combination to clear off as he took the lead from pole position after Miller ran wide at turn one.

Miller kept his cool and came back to second with Pol Espargaro in third place but the KTM rider didn’t have the pace to go with the leading duo, eventually finishing three seconds off the pace.

Morbidelli, on last year’s M1, didn’t manage to shake off Miller, who had opted for medium/medium Michelins, and the Australian pushed the Petronas Yamaha man right to wire.

He found a way past on the run to turn one on the last lap but Morbidelli was able to go back in front. The pair traded paint through the lap but Morbidelli ran out the winner by less than a tenth and is now second in the title chase as Quartararo went down on lap nine and that crash saw the end of his title hopes.

Rins will have to beat Morbidelli by four points to claim a title one-two for Suzuki at Portimao next weekend. Maverick Vinales is now the leading Yamaha in fourth with a 44-point gap to Mir after his tenth place finish today, 19s behind the winner.

From on top of the world in Jerez, Quartararo’s title-chasing season ended on Lap 9. Quartararo tucked the front at Turn 6 from outside the points, the Frenchman was down and out in terms of the World Championship. P9 was ok for Mir but 10th place Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was swiftly reeling him in, with Mir right behind Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).

On Lap 11, Morbidelli’s lead still wasn’t over a second. Miller and Pol Espargaro were keeping the Italian honest and now, the gap between the orange KTM and Nakagami, with Rins also now past Oliveira – P5 now for the number 42. Mir then passed Aleix Espargaro for P8 to strengthen his title grip, knowing that Dovizioso was now right on his tail. Lap 12 was then completed and Morbidelli’s lead was now over a second, with Nakagami making slight inroads to Pol Espargaro.

This was incredibly tense. Rins needed a rostrum finish in order to try and take the Championship to Portimao, and it was in sight. On Lap 14, Mir was still in a title-winning position. As things stood, race leader Morbidelli would be 28 points behind with a race to go in second place. But Mir wasn’t breaking clear of Aleix Espargaro and Dovizioso, the trio 1.6 behind Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in seventh.


Things then started to get very interesting in the podium scrap. Nakagami was lapping four tenths faster than Pol Espargaro and the gap was now down to a second with 12 laps remaining, Rins was 1.5 seconds back from Nakagami and not able to stick with the Honda at that moment in time. It was also getting interesting at the front. Miller had reduced the gap back down to below a second with 11 laps to go, this was far from over. Championship leader check: Mir was still P8, 1.5 seconds behind Binder and over half a second clear of Aleix Espargaro.

Miller, on Lap 17, then slammed in a 1:31.378 to set the fastest lap of the race. Sensational from the number 43 who was on the medium front tyre, unlike a lot of the other riders who had gone for the hard. Pol Espargaro had his hands full as Nakagami swarmed in on a maiden MotoGP™ podium, Rins remained P5. Morbidelli then responded to edge his lead up to nine tenths, but the gap was remaining at just under a second.

With nine laps to go, Nakagami went for a pass on Pol Espargaro at the final corner. He had so much more grip around the famous left-hander but Nakagami’s race then ended, the number 30 tucked the front and crashed, narrowly avoiding Pol Espargaro. This was aiding Mir, who moved up to P7.

Something else which would aid Mir was Miller overtaking Morbidelli. The gap was down to 0.6 seconds with eight to go and now, as things stood, Mir would hold a 29-point lead over Morbidelli with one race remaining. With six laps to go, the World Championship crown was heading the way of Mir as Rins has to start fending off Binder. Miller was now 0.4 seconds away from Morbidelli, it was between these two for the win as Pol Espargaro was nearly three seconds back.


Remember, if Miller won, we’d have a record-breaking 10th different winner. Right, five laps to go. The gap was three and a half tenths as Morbidelli dropped into the 1:32s. The title looked to be heading Mir’s way, but all eyes were focused on the lead duo. Morbidelli vs Miller, Yamaha vs Ducati, Italy vs Australia. Four to go and Morbidelli was back into the 1:31s, Mir four laps away from the title – and he was closing down on sixth place Oliveira.

Both Morbidelli and Miller were giving absolutely everything, four tenths were splitting them. Three laps to go now and Mir was still P7, Dovizioso was less than a second behind the Spaniard, and Rins had some last-minute pressure to deal with from Binder. There were now two laps left and the gap was now as close as it has been between Morbidelli and Miller, the latter was almost two tenths faster than Morbidelli on Lap 25.

The gap was still virtually nothing and heading onto the front straight, Miller sniffed an opportunity. Miller blasted past Morbidelli to take the lead into Turn 1, but the Aussie was wide to allow Morbidelli back through. Turn 4 then saw Miller chuck it up the inside of the Yamaha, but having absolutely none of it, Morbidelli snapped straight back to grab P1 again. What a final lap this was! Miller then pulled alongside Morbidelli down the back straight and showed a wheel, but there was no way through. Miller then set himself up for a dive up the inside at Turn 11, however, there was no way through as the duo got very close for comfort.

Attention then turned to the final corner, but Miller wasn’t close enough to lunge. Could the number 43 get the power down and use the extra grunt to scream past Morbidelli on the run to the line? Not quite, Morbidelli emerged victorious for the third time this season in a magnificent battle with Miller. The gap over the line was just 0.093 seconds, tantalisingly close for Miller but it’s a great third podium of the season. Pol Espargaro goes back-to-back in Valencia for his fifth podium of the year, another fantastic effort from the Spaniard in his penultimate race for KTM.

Rins’ comeback ride was staggering, but the Suzuki man ran out of steam and eventually missed out on the podium by six tenths. A fantastic effort from the Spaniard who helps Team Suzuki Ecstar claim the Team Championship, but his dreams of becoming 2020 World Champion are now over. Binder returns to the top five for the first time since the Austrian GP to strengthen his grip on the Rookie of the Year title, Oliveira finishes three seconds behind Binder to make it three KTMs in the top seven.

Then, Mir took the chequered flag. Pandemonium raged on the pit wall as Suzuki witnessed their rider come across the line to win the 2020 MotoGP™ World Championship, the young Spaniard joining Barry Sheene, Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Jr. as Suzuki title winners. An incredible achievement from the sophomore and the entire Hamamatsu factory.

Dovizioso finished 0.026 behind Mir in P8, the Italian’s aim of becoming 2020 World Champion are now officially over as he gets set for his Ducati and potentially MotoGP™ goodbye in Portimao next weekend. Aleix Espargaro crossed the line in a solid P9 to grab his second top 10 of the season, the Aprilia man taking the flag one place ahead of Viñales. It was another quiet race for the number 12 who will be hoping he and Yamaha can end the season on a high in Portimao.

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) finished three tenths ahead of Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) completed the points.

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