MotoGP preview: 2020 European Grand Prix

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Andrea Dovizioso, Fabio Quartararo , Franco Morbidelli , Joan Mir , Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales look on during the press conference pre-event ahead of the MotoGP of Europe at Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo Circuit. Image: Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images.
Andrea Dovizioso, Fabio Quartararo , Franco Morbidelli , Joan Mir , Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales look on during the press conference pre-event ahead of the MotoGP of Europe at Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo Circuit. Image: Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images.
Mirco Lazzari

• The MotoGP season is nearing completion, with three races remaining in the season.

• Suzuki rider Joan Mir leads the riders' standings by 14 points despite not winning a race. 

• Reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has not competed this year due to a fractured arm.



Thirty-two points separate the top six riders in the MotoGP riders' standings as the action returns to Valencia in Spain for the Grand Prix of Europe after a two week break. 

Suzuki factory rider Joan Mir leads the championship by 14 points over Fabio Quartararo who has won three races this season, the most of any rider. Mir is the only rider in the top six in without a GP win to his name and no rider has won the championship without registering a win. 

Mir's Suzuki team mate Alex Rins is in sixth position in the standings, 32 points behind the leader.

South African rider Brad Binder is in 12th spot with 67 points after 11 races. He scored a maiden win in the Czech Republic early in the season but has failed to replicate that form. 

Yamaha handed penalty, Rossi cleared to race

Heading into the race the sport was rocked by a 50 point constructors penalty handed to Yamaha for fielding illegal engines at the Spanish GP in July.

The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) said the Japanese team "had unsealed some of its engines without agreement from the manufacturers' association and fitted non-homologated valves", according to Motorsport.com

The penalty will not affect the team's riders, Franco Morbidelli, Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales, who are battling for the championship. Vinales, currently third in the championship, faces an uphill battle after he was hit with a pitlane start for Sunday's race due to an engine change.

Yamaha unsealed a sixth engine as Vinales "had three engines from his allocation withdrawn since Jerez, following a technical issue on his second unit, while two engines have since been deemed illegal" following an FIM ruling on Thursday, reports Motorsport.com.

 Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales rides during the free practice for the MotoGP of Europe at Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo Circuit. Image: Steve Wobser / Getty Images.

Meanwhile Valentino Rossi was cleared to return to MotoGP action for the third practice session of the European MotoGP race after he passed a Covid-19 test in Italy on Thursday. 

The seven-time world MotoGP world champion had missed the double-header in Aragon after testing positive for Covid-19 in Italy last month. The Italian tested positive again on Tuesday (3 November), resulting in Yamaha to call up World Superbike rider Garrett Gerloff to take part in Friday's practice sessions. 

The American rider's performance in practice saw him as high as fifth fastest before finishing 19th in the standings, 1.5 seconds off the pace. 

Miller on top in practice

In Friday's practice session, Pramac's Australian rider Jack Miller was the fastest rider in Valencia, while championship rivals Joan Mir and Fabio Quartararo cracked the top 10 despite struggling in a wet opening session, AFP reports.

Ducati rider Miller set a fastest lap of 1min 32.528sec as the Ricardo Tormo circuit dried in the afternoon session. Aleix Espargaro was a surprise second ahead of Franco Morbidelli, Quartararo's Yamaha-SRT team mate and the Teruel Grand Prix from winner two weeks ago.

Frenchman Quartararo produced a better performance than the first session to finish ninth in the second session having come 21st and last earlier in the day. Mir was 10th with both riders over 0.8sec behind Miller.

KTM's Binder who put in a good performance to finish seventh on Friday, will serve a long lap penalty in Sunday's race as punishment for the South African rider's collision with Miller in the previous grand prix.

With two races left after Sunday's GP, the top six riders will aim to score as many points as they can. No rain is being forecast for Sunday's race which should allow for a competitive race. 

Compiled by Sean Parker - (Sources: AFP, Motorsport.com)

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