Adios 2020, Hola 2021: 8 Reasons why we can’t wait for MotoGP 2021

We won't forget the 2020 MotoGP season in a hurry but that just means we cannot wait for the 2021 MotoGP to hurry up and kick off already...

Ducati Danilo Petrucci Le Mans French MotoGP

The 2020 MotoGP World Championship may be a season that will forever jump out of the history books but right now it is ‘sooooo last year’.

As such, we’re looking right into the eyes of 2021 and tapping feet impatiently for the start of another new season. At least we won’t have to wait until July for the opening round this time...

Joan Mir and Suzuki’s tremendous 2020 MotoGP title win means they take the effective #1 plate into 2021, the first time since 2016 that Marc Marquez hasn’t been the rider with a target affixed to his back coming into the year.

Triumph Trident 660 vs Yamaha MT-07

With the ongoing COVID crisis lurching into 2021, we’ll stop short of suggesting normality will resume entirely in 2021 but for now we should be back to a March starting date and a full calendar that traverses outside Europe this time.

Regardless, if the action is as en pointe as it was last season, then we have much to look forward to in 2021…

1. Joan Mir ascends the MotoGP throne

While we’re still reeling a touch from Joan Mir’s rise to the top of the MotoGP hierarchy in 2020, it does of course train the spotlight firmly on him coming into the season, bringing a fairly unique pressure even before you consider his relative inexperience at this level.

Fortunately for him, while the weapons in his armoury are solid - consistent, makes few errors - there are still areas that can certainly be improved upon, not least qualifying having won the title with an average starting position of just ninth on the grid, while he will hope gains there will allow the one-time race winner the chance to build on his trophy cabinet.

Barely a footnote in title prediction terms in 2020, Mir won’t be afforded the same underdog privileges in 2021…

2. More rounds, more miles, same social distancing

Such is the world coming into 2021, there remains some doubt over whether MotoGP can realistically hope to stick to its current target of a full 20-round calendar and if it does it may not be as comprehensively international as it looks right now.

Ignoring that for a moment though, MotoGP plans to assume normal service in 2021 which means we’ll have 20 races (one TBD at the moment) and a season beginning on 28 March in Qatar, though pre-season testing could be held there or in Europe, rather than the balmy but far away climes of Malaysia.

Having been forced to cancel its inaugural round in 2020, the KymiRing has been added to the schedule again for the first MotoGP race to be held in Finland in 29 years.

3. The same but different: Valentino Rossi’s swansong era begins

Valentino Rossi made his debut in grey and aquamarine Petronas SRT Yamaha hues over the New Year period as he settles into life as a satellite rider for the first time since his maiden 500GP in 2001.

Rest assured, the term ‘satellite’ is a loose one in this day and age with Rossi on all-but-identical machinery to that of Fabio Quartararo, with whom he has swapped places with over the winter.

This may prove to be his final season in MotoGP, a feeling he may be leaning towards come end of 2020 as COVID-19 and slack Yamaha performance rubber-stamped his worst season in the premier class yet.

Nevertheless, new surroundings, a new crew and an unfamiliar ‘underdog’ status may be just the ticket to revive his fortunes.

4. Marc Marquez to return to racing… probably

He may have taken a year out of action and is still seemingly grappling with his injury but Marc Marquez remains a cautious favourite heading into 2021 on the strength of his dominance in previous years.

Officially Marquez will be back on the Repsol Honda in time for testing but his condition remains something of an unknown, with his recent surgery - five months after the original accident - a rather concerning indication there remains a significant road to recovery to go.

While we won’t debate the merits of MotoGP without the dominant #93 stringing the pack out, it will be welcome to see Marquez back on track after such an arduous period.

5. New orange, bright future for Pol Espargaro?

With the late season start and abbreviated number of rounds throwing a heavy curveball into the rider market last year, some deals for 2021 were decided before 2020 had even gotten underway.

Chief amongst the winter movers is Pol Espargaro, whose high-profile switch to Repsol Honda from KTM seemed a great decision on paper before the Austrian firm’s mammoth leap forward saw it comfortably out-pace the multiple title-winning HRC team in 2020.

Even so, while he didn’t win a race in 2020, Espargaro was KTM’s leading representative, while his physical riding style means he is considered the man most likely to adapt to the RC213V quickly. KTM is on the up but this seems like its loss and Honda’s gain…

6. How much will Ducati miss Andrea Dovizioso?

The seemingly never-ending saga over Ducati’s 2021 MotoGP rider line-up certainly endured last year before concluding with an all-new line-up that while bold and fresh, perhaps wasn’t what the firm had originally intended.

Nevertheless, with Dovizioso settling into his spot on the sofa, Jack Miller takes the reins as team leader and on the strength of his late 2020 form appears very capable of handling them provided he can navigate the somewhat notorious management style from on top.

An anonymous end to the year means Pecco Bagnaia has something to prove alongside him in the Factory squad, not least because a revitalised Johann Zarco will be snapping at his heels on the Pramac machine.

7. MotoGP: The Next Generation

The 2021 MotoGP season will see three rookies debuting, all on Ducati machinery, with Jorge Martin (Pramac), Luca Marini (Avintia) and Enea Bastianini (Avintia) stepping up from Moto2.

While Bastianini takes the intermediate class title into the premier sector, it is Martin in the stronger position with his on-spec Ducati GP21, while Marini will court attention for both his familial association with Valentino Rossi and the distinctive colours of his Sky Italia VR46 machine, which is set to prelude the team’s full entry for 2022.

8. Has a new world order of MotoGP begun?

Mir and Suzuki won the title, KTM scored three victories, Honda’s title defence was led by a 2019 bike… the 2020 MotoGP season was unconventional to say the least.

Still, while some may crave a return to the ‘alien-era’ of choosing a potential race winner from a pool of five or six riders, we very much hope we continue the trend of having more top contenders than we have fingers and thumbs.

Chief amongst these will be KTM as it looks to continue striding forward in an Espargaro-less era, while Yamaha will aim to steady its form after a wild 2020 and Honda will be keen on rediscovering its mojo - with or without Marquez - in its first attempt at entering four on-spec bikes across its two teams.

Last but not least - even if ‘last’ is something of an operative word for it in the last few years - Aprilia will bid to join the party of podium contenders once it has resolved its ongoing rider issues.