Another week, another race track. We are a third of the way into the 2021 MotoGP season (probably, possibly, pandemic permitting), and things are starting to move fast. A third of the way now, and in three weeks’ time, we will be at the halfway mark.
It is hard to overstate how important this part of the season is. Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona, and Assen are the guts of the season, the foundations on which championships are built.
By the time we pack up for the summer break – a long one this time, five weeks between Assen and Austria, with Sachsenring taking place before Assen instead of after, its usual slot – we should have a very good idea of who is in the driving seat for this year.
What makes the triumvirate of Mugello, Barcelona, and Assen key? They are fast, punishing tracks that test man and machine.
They are riders’ tracks, where a fast rider can make the difference, but they also need a bike to be set up well in pursuit of a good result. There are no shortcuts at those three circuits, no relying on one aspect of the machine to get you out of trouble.
The bike has to do a lot of things well, from braking to turning to accelerating. That needs a good crew chief to analyze strengths and weaknesses, a competent team to find the right balance between them, and a good rider to use that bike between them.
If motorcycle racing is about finding the best compromise between braking, acceleration, turning, speed, the Mugello-Barcelona-Assen is the ultimate test of that.