The 2020 PIT pass motogp end of season award
2020 was definitely a year to forget. At the same time, it was also one that we never will. I’m confident that we’re all ready to wave ta-ta to the last 12 months, put the Christmas kipple back up in the loft, blast off the cobwebs and turn our attention to a 2021 season that’ll hopefully move back towards a bit of normality. But before we finally consign the events of last season to the history books it’s time for our traditional irreverent review of the season that was and dish out some End of Season Awards. So, without further ado, I’ll make like a tree and get to the Gongs.
The Award for Best Director – Three contenders for the first award of the evening: Herve Poncharal of Red Bull KTMTech3, Davide Brivio of Suzuki Ecstar and Mike Leitner of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team. Poncharal and Leitner are intrinsically linked and both strong contenders after what was a break-out year for KTM. Leitner has overseen operations at the Austrian Factory from day one, the scale of his contribution to their growing success can’t be overstated. As for Poncharal, finally, after 20-odd years, he got to experience the sweetest taste of victory for his beloved Tech3 outfit. Not content with that, he also played a crucial part in getting a 2020 season off the ground in his role as IRTA president. However, it has to be Davide Brivio that snaffles this award. Having first experienced huge success with Yamaha during Valentino Rossi’s and Yamaha’s golden period he did it again in 2020, having overseen the Suzuki project since they came back into MotoGP in 2015. One of the nicest and most knowledgeable guys in the paddock, few would argue that he’s helped mastermind the Hamamatsu manufacturer’s return to the top. Amore than worthy winner.
The Rising Star Award –Miguel Oliveira on the Red Bull KTM Tech3 machine was a strong contender for the Rising Star. Two wins, a spectacular first for Tech3 at the Styrian GP and a masterful win in his home race at Portimão made it amemorable year. Alex Marquez, highly criticised when he got the Repsol Honda ride alongside his brother, grew into the role, on a notoriously hard bike to tame and under huge pressure. He proved his doubters wrong with back-to-back podiums at Le Mans and Aragon. But in his rookie season it was Brad Binder that shaded it forme. He goes down in history as the man that did it first for KTM. Huge. He regularly showedmetronomic race pace as fast as anyone on the grid and if 2021 is anywhere near as crazy as 2020 he could easily challenge for a title.
The Annus Horribilis Year to Forget Award – Where to start with this one? Rossi had a stinker; Dovi was a disaster; Quartararo flourished and then withered on the vine. This award, however, is swiftly delivered to Marc Marquez. Arguably the greatest rider ever and perennial pre-season favourite, Marquez cracked under pressure from the Yamahas at the very first round with catastrophic consequences. To compound matters, a very ill-advised return a week later made an already dire situation potentially a career-threatening one. I’m confident we’ll see himback, but three surgeries later and an almost nailed-on certainty to miss the start of 2021, no one knows with any degree of confidence if he’ll be able to hit the previous heights of his career. I for one sure hope he can.
The 2020 Rider of the Year – I mean, come on. Surely there was only ever going to be one winner. I hope therewill never be another year like 2020. The power vacuum left by the injured Marc Marquez, combined with a global pandemic, made it a season like no other. It was Joan Mir that ultimately rose to the challenge and dealt with the various slings, arrows and all the rest of it thrown his way better than anyone else, all in only his fifth season in Grand Prix racing – his second in the top class. Incredible. With two DNFs in his first three races he could’ve easily fallen by the wayside. But that’s not how the mind of a champion works. Four podiums in his next five races and he knew he had what it takes. If the truth be told, by the time we got to Aragon, it never looked in doubt. Joan Mir is the worthiest of winners, in a fair fight, against the best in the world and most definitely without need for an asterisk.
We can’t wait for 2021. Not only for the hope that it’ll bring better times for us all, but for the fact that we get to watch our new world champion defend his title with everything he’s got. We’ll be there again, covering every lap. We’re already salivating at the prospect. We’re sure you are too. Here’s to a new season and a new dawn. As they say in Mallorca: hasta la próxima.