MotoGP-bound Enea Bastianini became the 2020 Moto2 champion in a nail-biter season finale at Valencia.
Bastianini, who will race for Avintia Ducati next year alongside Moto2 title rival Luca Marini, completed a three-win campaign with a fifth-place finish which was sufficient to preserve his advantage at the top of the standings.
Though four riders came into the season finale with chances of taking the title, Italtrans rider Bastianini held a fairly comfortable 14-point cushion over former Aprilia MotoGP rider Sam Lowes, with Marini and his VR46 team-mate Marco Bezzecchi a further four and nine points down respectively. It meant that Bastianini would be guaranteed the title if he posted a top-four finish.
Bastianini’s case for the crown was further bolstered by qualifying in fourth, ahead of Lowes, and he went up to second shortly after the start, after Marini had taken the lead yet suddenly slowed exiting Turn 3 as he selected neutral gear.
As a consequence, Remy Gardner established an early lead of nearly a second, yet Marini took only until the fourth lap to pass his 2021 MotoGP team-mate Bastianini for second into Turn 1, with Lowes following through on the same lap – and Lowes’ Marc VDS team-mate Augusto Fernandez then relegating Bastianini to fifth.
Marini and Lowes needed just a few laps more to reel in Gardner, both passing him on the run down to Turn 1 at the start of the eighth lap. And as his two closest rivals began to break away out front, Bastianini continued to fade, dropping behind Bezzecchi and finding himself in a dogfight with Pramac Ducati MotoGP signing Jorge Martin.
As the race passed its halfway point, Lowes – still nursing a fractured right hand from a monster practice crash at Valencia – began to drop off, soon falling back into the clutches of Gardner. Yet once Gardner went past, Lowes regrouped to follow the Australian, who brought him back towards race leader Marini – only for Lowes’ to suffer a major snap on the rear of his bike and lose ground again.
Behind them, Bastianini fought off Marini and re-passed Fernandez, but then found himself stuck by a slowing Bezzecchi and was not able to deprive him of fourth place.
But it mattered not, with Lowes unable to challenge after his moment and Marini getting passed by Gardner (above) – son of 1987 premier-class champion Wayne – on the penultimate lap for what was Gardner’s maiden win.
Marini and Lowes finished level on points, nine adrift of Bastianini, with Lowes having emerged as title favourite earlier this year with a hat-trick of consecutive wins but ultimately left to rue a shoulder injury that forced him to skip the Qatar opener and his late-season hand injury.
Joe Roberts, who is poised to take the last vacant MotoGP 2021 seat at Aprilia, finished what is likely to be his final intermediate-class race in seventh place.
Four the magic number for Arenas
Aspar KTM rider Albert Arenas won the 2020 Moto3 title, beating his main rivals Ai Ogura and Tony Arbolino by just four points in a dazzling finale.
Arenas, effectively in his fifth Moto3 season, had a difficult Portimao race and posted comfortably his worst finish of the season in 12th, but Ogura and Arbolino were not able to capitalise.
A big part of that was that the victory battle was settled almost right away, as pole-sitter Raul Fernandez made a speedy escape and ran as many as nine seconds ahead of his chasers at one point, ultimately finishing 5.810s in the clear.
Arenas sat second early on, seemingly content to allow Fernandez to escape and back up the chasing pack, which included Honda protege Ogura.
But when Arenas began to fade later in the race it wasn’t Ogura who was his biggest headache but Snipers Honda rider Arbolino, who put on a valiant display after a timing mistake in Q1 left him 27th on the grid.
Arbolino’s and Arenas’ paths crossed on lap 16 as the former caught and battled the latter for seventh – but when he finally got the move completed into Turn 1, the duelling left Arbolino too far off the riders ahead, and attrition could only promote him to fifth in the end. It also meant Arbolino missing a race due to COVID quarantine proved crucial to the fate of the title.
Arenas got muscled down the order in his group on the final lap, but Ogura’s eighth place could never be enough to threaten his title.
Fernandez was joined on the podium by Dennis Foggia, who took two long-lap penalties, and Jeremy Alcoba, who capped off a stellar rookie campaign.