MotoGP is currently on hiatus as the riders and teams enjoy a well deserved three-week summer break. We’ve enjoyed nine rounds of spectacular racing, full of excitement and controversy.
Marc Marquez leads the championship comfortably, once again, however that’s only part of the 2019 story. In this article we look at the main stories of the 2019 MotoGP season so far.
Marquez Dominates MotoGP
Marquez holds a comfortable 58-point lead over Andrea Dovizioso in the championship. He has won five of the nine races so far, in dominant fashion. He would have six victories if he hadn’t made a mistake at his beloved Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
Last weekend he achieved the “Perfect 10” at the Sachsenring. In the last 10 races there, Marquez has 10 poles and 10 victories. An incredible achievement for a rider who appears to be unstoppable in 2019.
The Spaniard is edging closer to the all-time pole position record. He now has 57 in the premier class, just one behind record-holder, Mick Doohan. He’s also only five premier class victories away from the Australian’s tally of 54.
Marquez’s form this year is scary. He’s crashing less, having not hit the deck since Le Mans, and the Repsol Honda RC213V is quick. Very quick. The Honda is now very close to the Ducati down the straights. Therefore, one of Dovizioso’s main advantages has nearly been evaporated.
Most frightening, perhaps, for Marquez’s rivals is that he is also riding with a mature head. He’s making fewer rash decisions, and is always more than happy to settle for second if needs be. For example, at Assen he knew he couldn’t stick with Maverick Viñales on the soft tyres, so he backed off. There was no point in risking a crash, nor injury.
Is there any hope for Dovizioso and the other contenders? Well, some of Ducati’s more favourble circuits are coming up in the second half of the season. The Desmosedici typically goes well at places such as the Red Bull Ring and Brno. However, when Marquez finishes a race, he doesn’t finish below second. His bike is much quicker, and arguably more controllable than ever.
Therefore, it appears the championship battle has come to a premature end.
Fabio Quartararo – A Star in the Making
Fortunately, Marquez’s dominance hasn’t ruined the 2019 MotoGP season. Why? Well, we’ve been treated to a phenomenal rookie who is taking the class by storm.
Fabio Quartararo is achieving incredible things for Petronas Yamaha. He became the youngest polesitter in MotoGP history at the Spanish Grand Prix. It’s worth mentioning that he took this record away from Marquez.
He then became the youngest rider to secure consecutive pole positions in MotoGP history. He did this by taking pole in Barcelona and at Assen. The Frenchman finished on the podium in both races; second in Spain and third in Holland. He has also topped a number of sessions throughout the year.
A fascinating statistic is that Quartararo completed 4200 miles before falling off a MotoGP bike. This incident came during Free Practice in Barcelona. He’s only other major error came in Germany last weekend, when he crashed out of the race.
He’s achieved all of this and also underwent arm pump surgery to his right forearm at the beginning of June.
Of course, Quartararo has been tipped for greatness for some time. Throughout his childhood, he dominated championships in Spain. He won six titles in total, including back-to-back Repsol CEV Moto3 Championships. He is the youngest champion in CEV history, securing the title aged 14. Such was his talent, the rules were changed in order for him to enter the Moto3 World Championship at the age of 15. Previously, you had to be 16.
He may have struggled in the intermediate classes, however he his proving his worth now in the premier class. I believe that he could well be the main contender to Marquez in the years to come.
Brand-New MotoGP Winners
We have two brand-new race winners in MotoGP! Firstly, we have Alex Rins. The talented Suzuki rider showed potential during winter testing, with many predicting an impending victory.
Victory would come in the most unlikely of places; COTA. Unlikely, not because of his record there, but because of the dominance of Marquez in Texas. Until 2019, Marquez had won there every year since 2013.
However, Marquez crashed and Rins was there to pick up the pieces. He fought off Valentino Rossi and secured Suzuki’s first win since Silverstone in 2016. Rins is the only rider to win at COTA in all three classes.
Our second brand-new winner is Danilo Petrucci. His maiden victory was a special one, a race that brought a tear or two and left Neil Hodgson screaming in the commentary box.
It came at Mugello. A special place for any Italian rider and the Ducati team. Petrucci fought extremely hard to secure victory, fending off both Marquez and Dovizioso. It went down to the final lap, however there was no way that Petrucci was going to let victory slip away. He fought hard, but fair.
Ever the gentleman, Petrucci was quick to thank Dovizioso for all the help he had given him following his move to the factory team. Petrucci followed up his victory with another podium and has since been rewarded with a contract extension.
Legends Starting to Fall?
The youngsters in MotoGP are beginning to shine. Quartararo and Rins are just the tip of the iceberg. Viñales is back on form, whilst Jack Miller and Franco Morbidelli continue to improve. There are others looming in the background too, waiting for their time to shine.
On the other side of the coin you have Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Both world champions, and both legends of the sport. Nobody in their right mind can say otherwise.
However, the 2019 season has not been kind to either of them. The year started reasonably well for Rossi. He finished inside the top six in the opening five rounds, including two second places. However, things then turned sour. He crashed out at Mugello, was wiped out by Lorenzo in Barcelona, before crashing again at Assen. Three consecutive DNFs for the first time since 2011.
He finished eighth in Germany last weekend, almost 20 seconds slower than last year. Times are tough for the 40-year-old. People are asking questions about his future, and Quartararo and Viñales appear to be taking the Yamaha to another level.
Rossi has plenty to think about over the summer. Hopefully he can turn his fortunes around and have a positive end to the campaign – whether it turns out to be his final year or not.
Lorenzo’s Honda Woes
Rumours are also circulating about the future of Lorenzo. Much like his first season with Ducati, he is struggling to adapt to the Repsol Honda. His best finish so far? 11th at Le Mans. He was also at the center of controversy in Barcelona, when he wiped out Dovizioso, Viñales and Rossi. Perhaps the most disappointing part of that entire incident is that Lorenzo was back at the front, looking like his old self.
Let’s be fair though. Lorenzo has been injured for the best part of a year. He dislocated his big toe and fractured the second metatarsal on his right foot after a first corner crash at Aragon last year. On his return, a technical problem caused a huge highside that left him with a broken left forearm. He then fractured his left scaphoid just before the season opener and cracked a rib in Qatar.
He’s now out with two broken vertebra, following an awkward landing in an incident at Assen. Lorenzo was flipped upside down and hit the gravel head first. It was uncomfortable to watch, and left the Spaniard in a lot of pain. He is now recovering back home, whilst wearing a body brace.
His body has taken a beating and he is struggling to adapt to yet another new machine. You have to give credit to Lorenzo for being brave enough to take the on the challenges he has. Would another top rider dare ride three different types of bike in four seasons?
Will 2019 be his last year in MotoGP? Only time will tell. It may be his body that tells him to stop. Lorezno would be a huge loss to the championship. Here’s hoping that he can make a full recovery, and find the setup he needs on the Honda. MotoGP needs Lorenzo fighting at the front once more.