After one of the most peculiar seasons of MotoGP ever, which saw nine different winners over 14 rounds, predicting who’ll win in 2021 isn’t going to be easy. Will it be one of 2020’s nine different winners? Will it be Marc Marquez? Will the Repsol Honda rider even be fit? What about the rookies; are there any new kids on the block that have half a chance of taking the spoils? Join us as we ask, who’s going to win MotoGP in 2021…
Let’s start with the reigning MotoGP champ, Suzuki mounted Joan Mir. There is no doubt about the fact that it was Mir’s consistency, rather than his out and out speed that won him the championship in 2020. He was never a long way off the pace, but he only actually stood on top of the podium once, at Valencia. So you can’t write him off this year, but I think, realistically, he’s unlikely to take two MotoGP Championships in a row.
Mir’s Suzuki teammate, Alex Rins, also managed a win in 2020, and finished third in the overall standings, cementing Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s position at the top of the team standings. You’ve got to give credit to the boys at Suzuki for pulling a season like that out of their arses. I don’t think anybody expected it, least of all them.
Both Red Bull KTM teams (Factory and Tech3) impressed in 2020, too, with Binder taking a win for the Factory squad and Olivera chalking up a brace of first place finishes in Tech3 colours. Both riders showed us what they and their bikes are capable of, but none of the orange clad riders were at the front often enough to fight for the championship, and I don’t think MotoGP in 2021 is going to be any different.
The real fight for the championship came from the relative newbies in the Petronas Yamaha SRT pit. Fabio Quartararo and Frankie Morbidelli both managed three wins a piece, and up until about halfway through the season, both looked strong enough to fight for the spoils. One too many retirements from Morbidelli and a difficult end to the season for Quartararo meant second and eighth respectively were as good as the Petronas pair could manage. Quartararo’s bad form tended to coincide with the crap weather at the end of the season (2020 ran much later in the year than normal – thanks Covid), so if we see a more conventional calendar, I think he is more than likely to be one of the ones that stands a serious chance of taking the 2021 crown. Especially now he is riding for the factory team, alongside Maverick Viñales. Although I wouldn’t want to bet against Morbidelli, who stays on the Petronas backed Yamaha M1 for MotoGP in 2021.
Jack Miller, as ever, will be a force to be reckoned with, and if he starts 2021 with the momentum he finished last year with, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him win some races. Although I don’t know if he has got the consistency to win a championship. I like the lad, so I hope he proves me wrong.
Takaaki Nakagami, Danilo Petrucci and Alex Marquez all took some decent steps forward last year, but I wouldn’t exactly call them title contenders. I also wouldn’t call Valentino Rossi a title contender, as much as it pains me to say it. That said, maybe a step down into the satellite Yamaha team might be the stress free environment the GOAT needs to thrive. Let’s hope so.
Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini (both Esponsorama Racing) are all stepping up to MotoGP this year, and they are all class acts. But in such a competitive field, they’ll have to have their work cut out just to get in the top ten, never mind the podium. I don’t think we will be sing a rookie taking the championship in 2021. In fact, I’d bet my house on it.
If Pol Espargaró can get to grips with the (notoriously difficult to ride) Repsol Honda, who knows what he might do on it, but whatever that is, I don’t expect him to be as fast as the returning Marc Marquez. If he ever does return, that is. Should Marquez be fit and well, I expect he will once again be the man to beat in MotoGP, and by all accounts his latest surgery went fairly well. When that lad is on form, he tends to make the rest of the field look a bit daft. But, he has had a year off, and everyone else has really upped their game in his absence, so I don’t think he’s going to walk away with it like he has in the past. I think he’ll have a hard time in MotoGP in 2021. But I still think he’ll win.