MotoGP farewells: All 12 riders reflect on journey after 2020 finale
Three are leaving MotoGP, while nine are changing teams for 2021.
The finale of 2020 MotoGP season in Portuguese GP was not just the end of the championship but also a farewell for lot of the riders.
While some ended their full-time MotoGP career, some ended their stint with their respective outfits to move to new ones. In the former list, we had Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso and Tito Rabat, while the latter had nine riders.
That list consisted of Valentino Rossi (Yamaha to Petronas SRT), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas SRT to Yamaha), Alex Marquez (Honda to LCR), Pol Espargaro (KTM to Honda), Miguel Oliveira (Tech 3 to KTM), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati to Tech 3), Johann Zarco (Avintia to Pramac) and Jack Miller & Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac to Ducati).
It is rare to see so many farewells in MotoGP and all had much to speak about their respective journeys with their teams and special moments also shared at the end of the MotoGP race - here's thoughts of all along with photos of celebrations:
Ducati pack -
Dovizioso (sabbatical for now): "It certainly wasn't an easy race today starting from twelfth on the grid, but I'm happy because we managed to make a good comeback and finish ahead of some of our direct rivals in the Championship, reaching fourth place in the standings, which was our main goal.
"It was my last race with Ducati: in the last four years we have been able to do something extraordinary, and I never thought I would be so excited to see the joy that our results have been able to produce in our fans! It's the magic of our sport, and I'm happy to have experienced it! After these eight seasons, there have been wonderful relationships within my team, which I will surely miss very much."
Petrucci: "I would have liked to have ended my adventure in Ducati with a better result, but unfortunately today was a tough race. I want to thank all the people who work in Ducati, first of all to my team, because during these six seasons on the Desmosedici GP bike I have been able to achieve several successes and two victories in MotoGP! I'm happy to have been part of Ducati in these six years of my career."
Miller: "I can never say thank you enough to the Pramac Racing team, for me it was a family, they made me grow as a rider and as a man. This podium is for them and for all the work they have done with me."
Bagnaia: I didn’t want to finish my last race with Pramac Racing like that but that’s how it was, It was a complicated year, but together we managed to get through it and we also took satisfaction away from it. I would like to thank the whole team for the work they have done and for the way they have made me feel over the years, if I have grown as a rider it is surely thanks to them."
Yamaha pack -
Rossi: "This is an important moment, because this is the end of our long journey together. Our history, between me and the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team, is divided into two parts – almost like a good movie, I think. The first part is from the beginning in 2004 to 2010. I think that was the best part of my career. We wrote history for Yamaha. We were able to win the championship for Yamaha after twenty-something years. I will always remember these achievements, for sure, because they are key moments in my career too.
"But I’m also very proud of the second part. I want to say ‘Thanks’ again to Lin and all of Yamaha. They gave me a chance to come back to the Factory Team after two bad years with another factory, when I was already ‘getting old’ by MotoGP-standards, so I was desperate. I will never forget the moment when Lin told me I would have a chance to come back here. I’ll always be thankful for that moment, because maybe I could also have stopped riding at that time if I wasn’t able to come back here.
"My return to the Factory Yamaha team has lasted 8 years, so one year longer than the first part. The second part was a bit more difficult in terms of results, but we did come close to winning a championship at one point, which could have changed our story. But things happened the way they happened, and I’m still thankful for the support I got from Lin, Maio, and all the Japanese engineers.
"But especially I want to say ‘Thank you’ to my crew. We’ve been together for a long time. Bernie, Alex, Brent, Matteo, Mark, David, Idalio, and more. I also want to say thanks to the other guys from the team and the hospitality staff. And of course to my mate Maverick: we also had a good atmosphere with that side of the box, so I want to thank them too. Next year I will still be riding a factory bike with full factory support, just in different colours. It’s true, I will not be sitting in the Yamaha Factory Racing garage, but I will be just next door – together with Matteo, Idalio, and David – so for sure we can still say hello."
Lin Jarvis: "This is an emotional moment. It’s always sad to bid farewell, especially to people who have been such a vital part of the team. But nothing in life is continuous, nothing remains the same, and that’s also the nature of MotoGP. The situation in the paddock is constantly evolving. People come into the team, some leave, and some come back again. 2020 was Valentino’s 15th season with the Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP Team. I have very vivid memories of those years.
"There have been highs and lows – it’s been a roller-coaster ride, but his list with results on a Yamaha is seriously impressive: 4 MotoGP World Championship Titles, 255 Grand Prix races, 56 victories, 142 podiums. It’s amazing how much he achieved during his time with us. In Valentino’s case we are now facing what I would call ‘a changing of the guard’. Though he is leaving the Factory Yamaha MotoGP Team, this is not the end of his career. This is not a complete farewell scenario, this is a transition moment. It’s important, regardless, because Valentino has been part of our team for so long.
"But next year he will be next door, so he will stay close. His factory-rider status continues, and he will continue riding a factory YZR-M1 with full support from Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. He will also be taking Crew Chief David, Data Engineer Matteo, and Rider Performance Analyst Idalio with him, so he will be surrounded by some familiar faces in the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT garage. Brent, Alex, and Javier will finish their long-term working collaboration with Yamaha. Their expertise, professionalism, and passion for the job is something that kept our team going for many years, so it’s very sad to have to say goodbye to them. We wish them all the best for the future and hope to stay in touch."
Quartararo: "We had an issue with the holeshot device at the start, so I lost some positions, and then I suffered from arm pump for half of the race, which is really strange because since an operation I have never had that problem. It’s been quite an emotional last race for the team and unfortunately I couldn’t finish in the way that I wanted. I wanted to end the year with a great result.
"The feeling on the bike was good and I think we could have been fighting for P5 to P8 today, so it’s a shame that arm pump prevented that. We did win three races in 2020, but it is not enough and this season hasn’t ended how we wanted. These two years that I have spent with the team will always be in my heart though, because they gave me the opportunity to be in the MotoGP championship. Thanks a lot for all the support and hard work, I will visit them every time I can."
Honda pack -
Crutchlow (becomes Yamaha test rider): "First of all, I want to say thank you to my team for the last six years, we’ve had some incredible moments. This year obviously didn’t go to plan, but with the team that I’ve spent the most amount of time with in my career, it was nice to finish it with them. I gave my all this weekend, I topped a couple of the sessions, I went for it in the race, unfortunately I didn’t have the rear tyre under me to be able to continue to push at that pace.
"But I was glad to finish the race and glad to have the season over and my full-time career finished, which was the decision I took earlier in the year and am happy with. Now I look forward to watching from afar, obviously I’ll still be in a testing role next year, but I look forward to watching the MotoGP races in years to come. It’s going to be exciting, I’ll let these young guys take the reins and go for it and I wish them all the best."
Marquez: "A tough race with a lot of battles against experienced riders, I enjoyed it a lot on the bike. We battled with Mir on the first lap, then Valentino, then Fabio and I was able to learn a lot from these experienced riders, unlocking more secrets. The starting position again hurt us because our rhythm was quite good to fight for fourth, but we put together another good recovery. Looking back, of course there are some things that we could have done to improve and get results sooner, but I usually start slower in most categories, but I never give up and we get there.
"We have achieved two podiums this year which was a dream before the season started. One was in special conditions but the podium in Aragon was the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, we couldn’t deliver the Rookie of the Year title because of our ambition in Aragon and Valencia but we remain very satisfied with what we have done in the second half of the year. Thanks to everyone who made this year possible from Dorna to our sponsors and the fans at home and around the world."
KTM pack -
Espargaro: "It was not one of my best races but we must be very satisfied with the end result this year and the way to sign-off four years together. To be level on points for 4th in the championship and ahead of many other factory bikes and seeing a KTM take three wins this season is amazing for the company and the project. I’m proud to have brought five podiums and two pole positions. I’m really proud in fact of what we have done together. In a way it is sad to say ‘bye bye’ but I feel to give KTM their best championship finish yet is the best way to go."
Oliveira: "I knew I had a good pace, but as I said to everyone yesterday, it was going to be a little bit unpredictable after mid-race what was going to happen to the tyres. Surprisingly I kept doing the 40.1’s, 40.2’s quite easily without taking too much risks, so the tyres hold on very well. After five laps to the end, I really started to think about too many things, so I decided to just lose a couple of tenths and just tried to enjoy as most as possible. At that point, I honestly just wanted the race to finish earlier. I came to lead from start to finish, it was a good experience for me. I enjoyed myself on the bike, I had a little bit of pressure, but I could handle it and that’s the most important thing."
[Image courtesy: Yamaha] [Note: This story was written on FormulaRapida.net]