The 2021 MotoGP World Championship is a series to be deciphered and will be characterized more by unknowns than certainties. Will we have to expect the races, as they go, to designate a dominator, an oligarchy of riders at the top, or will we live the uncertainty to the end?
This time we will leave prepared, watchful, with the eye of those who know it long, scalded – so to speak – by how things turned out last year. We wondered, a year ago, whether anyone would finally be able to stem the competitive arrogance of Marc Marquez and his Honda, and this was the greatest peak of uncertainty that we thought we could be granted. Then the unthinkable happened: it was he, the one who dominated, the one with whom to deal, the superchampion, the swaggering Spaniard, broke down.
The effect – I do not dwell on it, we know – was the birth of a world championship as we had not seen in years and it was as if, with Marc Marquez absent, the energy that prevents the disorder from spreading had been lacking. And the kaos took over, giving us a passionate, strange world series, where all the certainties soon crumbled and where – blessed we enthusiasts – we remained in freediving almost to the end. We will not go any further because we all know how it went and now we find ourselves in a trepidated expectation, in this period of hibernation from the races, to find out with what face the MotoGP World Championship will present itself this year. The question marks are many and in addition they float in the broth of the uncertainty of a global pandemic situation that still seems far from being considered a marginal event.
But let’s pretend nothing and reduce the room for investigation. We limit the speech to what interests us and that is right here, reducing the Covid-19 problem to possible forced stops of the suitors due to any infections, or to a forced reshuffle of the calendar as happened in the MotoGp 2020,circumstances already these able to decisively condition the ranking. Absent or present, marc marquez is still the spark that ignites the first questions: will he be able to return, when and in what state of form? Will he return to impose his class and domination on us, or will he embark on the fate that was that of other fragile champions or sidelined by serious infotuni, such as Freddie Spencer, Kevin Schwantz or Carl Fogarty?
And will Honda, the house with the most powerful and responsive racing department in the world, have managed – in any case – to detoxify from absolute dependence on its brightest champion, revealed with the total anonymity demonstrated last year? For the Repsol team the future is to be built, the certain point now is Pol Espargaro, who beyond the proclamations and beyond biting the brake, will still have everything to prove. And then, if Marc Marquez were slow to be ready, or if his season was characterized by a discontinuous presence, would you choose to replace him or would you keep the number 93 bike stopped? Who could get on his bike? Andrea Dovizioso or maybe – let’s throw it there – a consistent Sam Lowes? Relative certainties for hamamatsu’s house could be sought in Takaaki Nakagami, more than Alex Marquez. The Japanese appeared to be in the process of personal growth at the end of last season and more master of the vehicle, so even in the context of the LCR Honda Team, he can be considered a veteran.
Then there is Yamaha, struggling with the resolution of the technical problems that have plagued it all season. Will Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo, having solved the problems, be able to share victories and points as we expected them to do last year? Will they be able to fuel a rivalry between them that can certify yamaha’s Monster Energy team as the strongest team not only on paper? It would be good to include Franco Morbidelli, with the same bike but under the Petronas flag, in this hypothetical oligarchy of Yamaha riders. Franco, in 2020 he is the one who spoke the least and collected the most, in terms of victories and unfortunately jokes of the bad lord. Valentino Rossi, a friend before even a rival, will have as his partner, one that it is good not to consider out of the games. Will the mature champion be able to take the path that at the beginning of the 2020 season made it fair to expect a few more flashes of class from him?
At home Suzuki Ecstar have the World Champion, but they will be orphans of the charisma and cunning of Davide Brivio. They will have a world champion in their own right, of course, but climbed high pushed by the kaos, the one who found himself robbery in front of the door and was able to push the ball into the net, with serious faults of the defense and the goalkeeper. Joan Mir must mature again and Suzuki must take a decisive step forward, that more jump that, working on a good basis already demonstrated, could bring it back to the years of absolute domination signed in the past by Barry Sheene, Marco Lucchinelli and Franco Uncini. If we had to choose who to bet on, despite the rainbow helmet on Mir’s head, perhaps we would still focus on alex rins’ greater experience. The Spanish World Champion has the difficult task of proving that he is more than a hero by accident.
In 2021 getting on a KTM will finally mean aiming for victory. The Austrian House was the surprise in some ways even more striking than the Suzuki. Two teams and riders who will be aware that the orange bike is no longer the one from which to at most expect a place in the top ten. KTM also comes out of the barracks of the last championship presenting at the start of the world championship at the gates the hard core represented by a team to be considered veterans: the Red Bull KTM Team has in Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder most of those representatives of the lively new wave of riders who have climbed Moto2, both have tasted the taste of victory and it will not be easy to ignore them. In tech3 there is Iker Lecuona, what seemed to be the most mellow element of oranges: a companion on paper easy to allow Danilo Petrucci the right setting, a condition in which to regenerate after the last period of tense and heavy atmosphere spent at Ducati?
yes, here we are at Ducati. In Borgo Panigale the refounding choice, as well as starting from the technical aspect, will also start from that of the riders. There has been a kind of slip forward that has materialised by promoting the two of Team Pramac, Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia, to ducati team, and by forwarding the combative and sometimes all too irrepressible Johann Zarco, from Team Esponsorama to Pramac Racing. At French will keep company what could turn out to be another nice joker caught from the Moto2 card deck: the Iberian Jorge Martin. To the two of the Ducati Team the obligation to win, without possible alternatives, and in particular to Jack Miller to materialize immediately with a victory in the race riding the red what good he was able to show last year.
For Pecco Bagnaia the imperative is to return to being the nice surprise that was in the first half of 2020, before the injury and before disappearing from the positions that matter for the rest of the season. The real renewal for Ducati will surely be on the front of Team Esponsorama Racing. There is curiosity on the riders’ front of the Spanish team, where – here too – we can talk about translation: the challenge that has inflamed Moto2 will continue within the team and the question that can circulate in two senses is this: will Enea Bastianini, fresh from the world title won in the cadet series, still impose himself on a teammate like Luca Marini from such an illustrious house? And will Luca, on the contrary, be able to take revenge for the defeat suffered by managing to be immediately faster than Enea in MotoGP?
This is undoubtedly the question league, which is so uncertain that for now only Aprilia riders are relegated to the role of outsider. The House of Noale is expected to take that step further that, for now, in its history in queen class, has always been missed. We are waiting for Aleix Espargaro and Lorenzo Savadori to be made available to technical material at the level of that of the opponents and that the sad experience he is experiencing with the virus can be closed for team manager Fausto Gresini in the best way.
SBK a Jerez: avanti tutta!
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