MotoGP: Pressure on Joan Mir, Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Vinales for Teruel Grand Prix
With four races to go in the 2020 MotoGP title race, the pressure is starting to rise and ahead of track action at the Gran PremioLiqui Moly de Teruel, new World Championship leader Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was chatting in the pre-event press conference alongside closest rival Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), third in the Championship Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), fourth in the rankings Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Aragon GP race winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and last weekend’s MotorLand runner-up Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
In five weeks time, we’ll know who the 2020 MotoGP World Champion is. The quartet at the top are split by just 15 points and although they aren’t showing it, pressure and tensions are naturally starting to bubble. But who has the most pressure on them, and who is sounding confident they can be the one to claim the crown this year?
After taking control of the standings for the first time on Sunday, Mir was asked whether this has changed how much pressure is on his shoulders. "The pressure is the same because six points behind or six points in front, four races remaining, it’s the same. Nothing changes," affirmed the Spaniard, who goes in hunt of his first MotoGP victory this weekend.
"The important thing is to be in a good position and to show the potential every race. It would be a big mistake changing the way I approach the race for sure I have to continue going race by race, trying to get as many points as possible and then on Sunday we will see where we are. If we have the chance for the victory we will try and if not, we will stay on the podium or closer."
What about Quartararo, who relinquished his title lead with a P18 last weekend. The Frenchman insists the onus isn’t on him, instead, it should be on the three factory riders surrounding him in the chase.
"Well, for me, the pressure is not so high because in the end there are so many races to go. Now I am behind in second, it just looks like that I have three guys around me who are factory riders and they need to fight also, so honestly the pressure is not really on me for the Championship so I’m feeling good and a little bit released. I am feeling confident and we are in a great position right now."
After his P4 finish in Aragon, Vinales jumped back ahead of Dovizioso as the Spaniard and Italian hunt down Mir and Quartararo. The factory Yamaha man was in a confident and straight-talking mood, pointing out that Valencia is a track he likes and when the riders went to Portimao, he was immediately quick. In addition, Vinales also noted that if it wasn’t for mechanical problems, he could be on a good 40 or so more points than he’s currently sitting on.
"Well I think for sure, because of many mechanical problems I lost at least 40 points in three races. They’re amazing points which we could achieve but in the end we need to face it like it is," said Vinales. "We did good result in Misano, we got back to winning ways and we recovered a lot of points in Misano, which was positive. In the end our team is working good, we need to understand why sometimes we don’t perform at the top. It seems we understand which is why we’re concentrating on the riding style, the bike is that bike; we can’t improve right now and we need to take the maximum from what we have.
"These races I will be in the same mood, trying to ride, do good lap times, to do a perfect lines and then we’ll see where we are in the race. For sure I’m confident that we can do a good job. Valencia is a track I like, Portimao I really like, when we rode there I was immediately fast straight away which is always positive so, for us the main key is to be consistent. If we can be consistent then I think we have a chance to fight for the title for sure."
Despite another relatively disappointing day at the office in Aragon, Dovizioso heads into the Teruel round closer to the leader than he did seven days ago. For the experienced and wise Italian, speed hasn’t been there for most of the season to – in his words – think about the Championship. But he is well in the hunt. And that’s the most important thing.
"Well in the end for me it has been a strange and different season compared to these riders. In the end I have never been that strong to think about the Championship but in the end, I am there, and this is very important. Still I think we have our chance, but it is difficult like I said before. We won one race but in the other racers the feeling wasn’t that good so it is difficult to fight for the Championship in that situation. But we are there so I think we will use our cards until the end," explained the number 04.
A few weeks ago, most people wouldn’t have muttered the words "Alex Rins" and "title contender" in the same breath. However, after his phenomenal return to winning ways, Rins is a genuine outsider for the title. The Spaniard didn’t rule himself out of the fight despite admitting he’s a little far away, with another victory here bringing him right into play with three races to go.
"Nothing to lose? Maybe not," began Rins. "We’re 36 points, a bit far away but still we have options. There are still 100 points in the game so let’s try to recover the points. For sure this season is very up and down, I suffer a lot but this is the price to pay. We need to be there, to fight, for sure last weekend was a fantastic result to get the win in Aragon. But as the others say, this weekend will be even more difficult because everything will be closer. So let’s see where we can arrive."
The shoulder injury sustained in the opening round of the season has blighted the Suzuki star’s 2020 season. But can Rins really challenge for the title still with four to go? Of course he can, even if he still might not be completely 100% fit.
"For sure it’s difficult to say I will be at 100% this season because to recover from a shoulder injury, it takes time. For me this track isn’t very aggressive, for example unlike Montmelo or Misano – I don’t struggle a lot with my right arm. For sure we lost two or three big opportunities but we were always there fighting. Always we had the opportunity. So let’s see what happens. Suzuki is working quite good, you can see from Joan’s results and mine results so let’s see."
MotorLand Aragon plays host to yet another colossally crucial MotoGP weekend. Expectations and pressure are mounting and with just four races to go, it’s all to play for. Who dares wins the latest battle? Find out on Sunday afternoon!
All the action from the MotoGPGran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel will be LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport HD with the Qualification race on Saturday, October 24, 2020, from 4:40 PM IST, followed by the final race on Sunday, October 25, 2020, from 3:35 PM IST. The same will also be streamed LIVE on Discovery Plus application on Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 PM IST and 4:55 PM IST.