Conversely, we have KTMs where 2020 Hondas were. A complete overall of their Moto GP machine, with a new type of frame, has seen Team Austria become the darling of the paddock – two wins so far from a manufacturer that, in four years, had seen just one podium in the wet after everyone else crashed. It’s amazing what a slight dose of The Plague can do. With the season starting in July and being compacted into a few months, it was imperative that riders stay afloat without injury because there would be no time off. Every rider said precisely that, urging caution as part of their season strategy. And by caution, they seemingly meant crashing constantly. By Round Five at the second Red Bull outing, we’ve seen Dovizioso break a collarbone on an MX bike, Alex Rins completely ruin his shoulder, Cal Crutchlow snap his hand, Johann Zarco snap his hand at a faster speed and Pecco Bagnaia snap a leg off. Then there’s the curious case of Marquez. The humerus crash (please read that correctly) at the beginning of the season was damn silly. We realise people say things like ''He rides hard no matter what'' and ''He's either full taps or nothing'', but this is a load of bollocks, especially when he was one of the riders that subscribed to the Caution Strategy. Also, at Jerez One, he was more than half a second a lap faster than anyone on track. Why the hell did he push so hard? And now, because of The Plague, he could be out for the rest of the year. Maybe more. If it weren't for The Plague, there would have been a three-week gap between the opening round and the next, with bigger gaps between the rest. With such pressure, Marquez took a gamble and attempted to ride just four days after major surgery on the second-largest bone on his body, one that has a six-month recovery. Naturally, it all went somewhat wrong, and he was back under the knife for a second round of titanium instalments. And so, he is out for the rest of the season—what a bummer! Well, not such a bummer when we look at how the season has turned out. By round five, we have four different winners including two first-timers, namely Miguel Oliviera and of course the sensational Mr Brad Binder. And who is going to win the next round? No one knows. Six weeks ago, we would have said Marquez. It's sad that we don't have his speed in the paddock but also not that sad. What has also created a new spectacle is the double round system introduced to help the paddock cater for The Plague. At the time of print, we have had back-toback races at Jerez and Red Bull Ring, and both have presented interesting new developments. Every time a team goes to a different circuit, they sort of start with a fresh piece of paper. The bikes will have base settings, but each track has a different set of challenges with a different approach to each. Often, they get it wrong, and riders that were previously challenging for podiums are suddenly struggling for a top ten. Where having a round at the same track a week later helps, is that the teams get a second chance without starting afresh. Examples of this are Rossi’s podium at Jerez Two after a dismal showing at Jerez One, and the close racing during Red Bull Two after each team managed some form of catch up. Except for Yamaha, who found themselves putting on the brakes and finding the lever planting the bar, causing Vinales to abandon ship. This is of course after their engine debacle during the Jerez' where three of their motors went pop! These events are indicative of a simple underlying issue – the motor. It's too slow. The problem is simple, but the solution is less so. At Jerez, the heat and the slow speeds of the circuit were most likely the cause of their problems as they attempted to more drag more revs than those poor conrods could handle. Until they overheated the system and kinda stopped braking entirely, as Quartararo found when running off the track twice, and Vinales discovered with a wall fast approaching. It’s unsure what dilemmas Yamaha will face during the rest of the season but, thankfully, none of the other tracks offer these unique challenges. If Yamaha is being a bit reckless, Honda seems to be overly cautious. For 2020, they added weight to their motors to increase rotating inertia. Put simply, too little rotating inertia causes the rear wheel to spin, and too much rotating inertia causes the bike to push the front. Seemingly, they added a little too much weight, and so we have three 2020 Hondas circulating where the KTMs used to be. Where KTM is thriving, Ducati sees its share of woes. Miller has been a delight with his Australian charm mostly outclassing the two factory machines. Dovi and Petrucci have had difficulties with the new Michelin rear tyre that has too much grip meaning they cannot slide the rear and use it to aid the turning process. The handling concerns might be a bane in Ducati's existence, but then so is their star rider. Dovi and the Bolognians have been engaged in a contract war, one that was reportedly about money but turned out to stretch way further than that. During Red Bull One, Dovi's manager made the shock announcement that the Italian would end his eight-year relationship with Ducati at the end of this year, citing more than just money concerns. More so, there are no plans for his future right now. Boldness has a new meaning – the only seat available for next year is with Aprilia on a MotoGP famously not as good as anything else. It may seem nutty, but his decision has some merit – he is 34 years old, he›s a multimillionaire, and has been racing since before he could walk. Should he continue where he isn't having fun? Speaking of fun, Rossi said he would continue racing until he stops enjoying it. At the moment, the maximum age limit is MotoGP is 50. They are thinking of extending it. At Red Bull, the problem was again - speed. With engine reliability already an issue, they had to make up ground in other areas, such as on the brakes. For this reason, teams ignored the notice from Brembo to use their updated calipers and opted instead to use the standard calipers that, presumably, offered better braking.