The 2020 MotoGP season has swiftly become a fascinating contest like no other in recent memory and Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix, the second straight race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, looks set to provide more surprises.
The major news event of the season was the serious arm injury suffered by world champion Marc Marquez in the opening race in Spain, which has kept him out of the subsequent events and left the title up for grabs after the Spaniard won in six of the last seven seasons.
The first four races of the season have produced three different winners, four riders have set the fastest lap of a race – and Pol Espargaro became the fourth man in 2020 to claim a pole position in qualifying for the Styrian event.
Form is Temporary
Riders have been jumping up the grid from race to race this season making it hard for bettors – and bookmakers – to get a grip on the formlines. For example, Fabio Quartararo looked like he might dominate in place of Marquez when he won the first two races, but the Frenchman has managed only seventh and eighth in the two subsequent rounds.
Maverick Vinales was runner-up in the first two events but has been 14th and tenth since, while other riders have made massive improvements after slow starts.
Brad Binder gave KTM a surprise victory in the Czech Republic GP in Brno, having finished 13th in the opener and retired in the second race. Andrea Dovizioso finished 11th in that event but won in Austria the following week.
More Contenders to Consider Too
Pol Espargaro is on pole for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix, giving Austrian team KTM their first ever pole on home territory. He is 13th in the championship after retiring from the last two races, but had shown plenty of speed last week, when he was fifth on the grid.
Takaaki Nakagami will start in second place. He has been more consistent than most this season with four top-ten finishes, and can now target a first visit to the podium.
The other team to keep an eye on in the race is Suzuki. Joan Mir was second last week and Alex Rins crashed when he looked like he had a decent chance of winning in the Austrian GP.
They were fourth and seventh-fastest in qualifying but will be slightly better off as Johann Zarco, who qualified third, must start from the pit-lane after being penalised for his involvement in a crash with Franco Morbidelli last week.
They both look likely to be right in the mix for podium places and slight preference is for Mir, who has generally had the edge over the practice sessions and was fastest of all in practice three.
The nimble Suzukis don’t have the power of their rivals but turn into the corners superbly and preserve their tyres better than most, meaning they can finish the races strongly.