After winning the Italian Grand Prix last week, Fabio Quartararo comes to Spain as championship leader. With no Spanish rider in the top four in the title, will it be another heart-breaking day for the country which oh so dearly loves MotoGP?
Spain is undoubtedly the heart of MotoGP. With four rounds held on the Iberian country every year, and nine MotoGP riders coming from there, it’s a fact not up for question. The last time a non-Spanish rider won the MotoGP world title was Casey Stoner in 2011, with Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, and Joan Mir being the rider’s champions since then.
Of those nine Spaniards in the field, six will call the Catalan Grand Prix their home round. Maverick Vinales, Alex Rins, and the Marquez and Espargaro brothers all hail from the region of Catalonia, where the Barcelona circuit is.
Historically this has been a very balanced circuit in terms of riders and manufacturers winning. Over the past five years, three bikes and five riders have won, with the most recent being Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo last year. If he can win this year, he will be the first rider since Lorenzo in 2011-12 to take a back-to-back win at Barcelona.
Last year, it was a Yamaha front-row lockout, with Franco Morbidelli on the pole. By the end of the race, there was only one Yamaha in the top three, with Quartararo winning from the Suzuki boys, Mir and Rins. The long corners that dominate the course place an emphasis on the handling and tire life of the bike, something everyone knows Suzuki has aced.
Historically this has been one of the weaker tracks for the Ducati team. Despite their top speed advantage, they’ve never had the edge grip that is necessary here, with their most recent win coming in 2018 thanks to Lorenzo, who was an ace around this circuit.
KTM looks likely to struggle this weekend, with their historic results at Catalunya being less than impressive. Their best finish here was seventh place thanks to Pol Espargaro in 2019. Likewise, Aprilia has never finished higher than eighth around Barcelona, however, thanks to their rapid development this season, that may be a record soon to be beaten this year.
Stats aside, this weekend looks to be a cracker. If Quartararo wins, he’s more than one race’s worth of points ahead of anyone else. Will it be a French 1-2 by Sunday evening, and what could the order be? We won’t know until Sunday comes upon us, as MotoGP returns.