Legendary track lives up to the name!

Qualifying:

Dark clouds loomed above the Assen track, just waiting to burst, making every lap count for the riders.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) made the most of it and secured his 4th pole position this season ahead of championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Jorge Martin (Ducati) in 3rd.

Honda rider Pol Espargaro would be sitting out of Sunday’s race due to damage to his ribs and even though he set 3rd fastest lap Martin would be racing with an infected wrist.

Race:

The weather wasn’t exactly clear blue sky, but it was declared dry for race day.

The action started almost immediately: with lights out Joan Mir (Suzuki) and Luca Marini (VR46) collided into eachother, while Bagnaia got a flying start. Quartararo went wide on the first corner ending up in 4th place, but managed to pass Martin and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) through turns 2 and 3 to take back 2nd. Aleix wasn’t just going to let him have the spot though and on the next corner passed him right back. Slightly further back Marco Bezzechi (VR46) passed Jack Miller (Ducati) for 5th. As the first lap ended would the momentum continue for the rest of the race?

Leading the pack. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Starting lap two and Bagnaia led A. Espargaro, Quartararo and Martin.

By lap 3 Aleix had secured fastest lap while the rookie Bezzechi made a move on Martin to take 4th.

Bagnaia was having issues in front trying to shake Aleix. Behind him Fabio took fastest lap and was chasing them both down.

Lap 4 saw Miller take his penalty from qualifying in the form of another long-lap penalty. We all know how last weeks penalty ended up, would history repeat itself this time?

Suddenly with 22 laps to go El Diablo made a move out of nowhere, trying to undertake Espargaro into turn 5. Resulting in both the top championship contenders colliding into the gravel. Aleix managed to remain upright on his Aprilia and rejoin the race, albeit in 15th. Seconds later Fabio had also rejoined the race, in last position behind his teammate. Bagnaia, oblivious to the carnage behind him, then had a 1.064 second lead ahead of Bezzechi and Martin.

There didn’t seem to be any significant damage to Espargaro’s bike as he started to take positions back. By lap 8 he was in 14th place. Now a man on a mission, how far back up the pack could he manage?

Meanwhile the Yamaha weekend was going bad to worse as Frankie Morbidelli crashed out on the same corner as Fabio 2 laps later. On the next lap, turn 8, Darryn Binder also ended his race early and Fabio pulled into the pits to try to retire but was told by his team to go back out, with 17 laps left – this would prove to be a mistake.

Alex Rins (Suzuki) was Espargaro’s next target managing to pass him on lap 9 for 13th while his teammate, Maverick Vinales made a move on Brad Binder (KTM) to claim 4th place on lap 11.

The man on the move – Espargaro then made quick work of both the Gresini racers taking 11th and with it another fastest lap.

Yamaha’s mistake sending Quartararo back out to race resulted in yellow flags being waved for him on lap 13, where once again on turn 5 Quartararo crashed for a second time. This time high-siding from his bike and looking like he’d hurt himself.

Second crash. Courtesy of: BT Sport, Moto GP Twitter page.

Following on from his penalty Miller was up to 6th place by lap 15. Behind him Johann Zarco (Ducati) and Joan Mir (Suzuki) were battling for 8th but, it was Espargaro that calculated a move passing them both claiming the 8th spot for himself.

By this time there were wet weather flags being waved by the marshals, declaring it a wet race. The riders had a choice to either stay out on track or go the pits and swap their bikes. It must not have been raining very hard as no rider decided to swap.

Lap 18 and Vinales took 3rd place from Martin. Was Martin’s wrist starting to hurt from the infection? Was the rain starting to affect visibility or tyres? Whatever was effecting Martin he fell back to 6th. But his troubles didn’t end there – going from strength to strength Aleix made up another place with 7 laps to go and was catching Martin who was 2.176 seconds ahead. Could he manage to catch him in time for the chequered flag?

Next lap and Miller managed to pass his teammate for next year – Binder to take 4th.

By this point of the race, the rain seemed to have eased and the flags had stopped waving. With tension mounting could Bagnaia hold on for just 5 more laps or would the pressure get to him? Would the rookie be able to remain in his podium position? Could Vinales keep his first podium place for Aprilia? Where would Aleix end up? Would there be a classic Assen surprise at the end?

Miller was stalking Vinales and was looking likely to take the last spot on the podium, Maverick was riding defensively though – Miller knew he had to make a move and decided to with 1 lap to go but, he went wide and Maverick took it back. While behind them Espargaro had clawed the seconds down between himself and Martin and had taken 6th.

Last lap – Bagania led Bezzechi and Vinales but as they were crossing the line the Assen surprise came in the form of Espargaro taking 4th place, passing both Binder and Miller in a breathtaking pass on the last corner. In doing so claiming some more all-important championship points. Now with only 21 points between him and Quartararo.

Celebrating over the line. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top ten race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

M. Bezzechi

3rd

M. Vinales

4th

A. Espargaro

5th

B. Binder

6th

J. Miller

7th

J. Martin

8th

J. Mir

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

A. Rins

Vinales claimed his first Aprilia podium, Bezzechi claimed his first premier class podium, along with VR46’s first Moto GP podium and all was forgiven between Fabio and Aleix, after Fabio apologised to the Aprilia team and to Aleix.

Top four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

172 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

151 points

3rd

J. Zarco

114 points

4th

F. Bagnaia

106 points

Courtesy of: Moto GP website.
Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

 

 

With 5 weeks to wait for the next Moto GP round at Silverstone (August 5th/ 6th and 7th), the teams and riders can take a well earned rest and come back stronger. The championship is still wide open.

The first half of the season may now be over but what surprises will the second half have installed for us?

 

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Moto2: Fernandez Wins Action-Packed Dutch GP

Augusto Fernandez has taken back-to-back wins after taking victory in Assen. Ai Ogura enjoyed a phenomenal race as he fought his way back from 16th to 2nd. The final podium position was taken by our pole sitter, Jake Dixon, enjoying only his second ever Moto2 podium.

This year’s Dutch GP in Assen was a true spectacle with 24 laps full of action. For much of the race, we had a 7-way battle for the lead with no idea who would cross the line in the podium positions.

Augusto Fernandez eventually came out on top, enjoying back-to-back wins for only the second time in his career. With a clinical performance and well-timed moves, he took the lead on lap 17 and never looked back.

Second place went to Ai Ogura who was, arguably, the rider of the day. He faced two scary moments in the opening stages of the race, causing him to drop back to 16th.

The final podium spot went to this weekend’s polesitter, Jake Dixon. After struggling in the early stages, he found his rhythm in the latter stages and secured his second career podium.

It was a difficult day for Marcel Schrotter and Albert Arenas who had been part of the leading pack for most of the race. On lap 12, Schrotter crashed out from the lead, missing the opportunity for his maiden Moto2 win. Two laps before the checkered flag fell, Arenas also crashed out, missing out on his maiden Moto2 podium.

Despite starting on the front row, Sam Lowes also faced a difficult race. He was forced out wide on the first corner of the first lap, meaning he tumbled down to the back of the grid, before then crashing on lap 4.

Our championship leader Celestino Vietti, having started the race in 11th, was able to capitalise on these misfortunes to come home in 4th. He brought with him the home hero, Bo Bendsneyder, who crossed the line in with a career-best 5th.

Alonso Lopez, after flying off the line at the start of the race and enjoying a strong battle with the leading pack, slipped back down the grid in the latter stages of the race and ended the day in 6th.

Rounding out the top 10 was Tony Arbolino, Joe Roberts, Manuel Gonzalez and Filip Salac who all enjoyed a relatively quiet race in comparison to the leading group.

The weekend’s action was missing Aron Canet, who is still struggling with consistent nose bleeds after a car crash a few weeks ago, and Pedro Acosta, who is recovering from surgery after a training crash a few days ago.

As we head into the 5-week summer break, momentum is clearly with Fernandez. However, the battle will be hot when the grid returns in Silverstone, as the top three championship contenders are covered by just 1 point.

 

As It Happened

As the lights went out, Dixon and Lowes got a brilliant start, flying off the line. Lowes came up alongside Arenas and looked set to steal 2nd from him. However, as Lopez switched to the inside of Turn 1, he pushed Lowes wide and sent him tumbling down the order. It was a late and aggressive move from Lopez which saw Lowes sent to the back of the grid. A few corners later and Lopez was back at it again, making another aggressive move past Arenas to take 2nd.

Dixon, who had maintained the lead after his pole position start, was next on Lopez’s list. In a move that seemed to come from nowhere, Lopez snatched the lead away from the Brit rider and was leading the pack for the first time in his Moto2 career. As the grid crosses the line for the first time, Lopez was 1st, ahead of the Aspar duo of Dixon in 2nd and Arenas in 3rd. Schrotter was just behind in 4th, having started in 10th, with Ogura in 5th.

Image Credit: MotoGP

On the second lap, Ogura faced the first of two scary moments which forced him up and out of his seat as the bike wobbled beneath him. He dropped down to 9th before a similar issue on the following lap then caused him to drop further down to 16th. It appeared that his tires were not quite where he needed them to be.

On lap three, British rider Sam Lowes went down from the back of the grid to end a terrible race in the worst possible way. He will be undeniably disappointed after his strong qualifying performance.

Meanwhile, at the front of the grid, Schrotter was closing in on Lopez and looking like he wanted to challenge for the lead. On the following lap, Arenas made a move past his team mate, taking 3rd from Dixon. On lap nine, Dixon then loses 4th place to Fernandez. He thinks about fighting back and eventually makes a move a few corners later, only to move too late and almost lose 5th place to Bendsneyder. Dixon quickly swaps to defence mode and is able to remain in 5th.

On the following lap, Arenas makes a move past Lopez to take second place. Shortly after, Fernandez is also past Lopez, as the Spanish rider loses two places in as many corners.

At this point in the race, with 10 laps completed, the top five places were held by Schrotter in 1st, Arenas and Fernandez in 2nd and 3rd, followed by Lopez and Dixon in 4th and 5th. Just behind them, home hero Bendsneyder was able to squeeze past Arbolino in the final sector to take 6th. All this fighting allowed our championship leader, Vietti who was back in 8th, to catch up to the leading pack of seven and join in the fun. In the space of one lap, the gap ahead of Vietti dropped by half a second.

On lap 11, Schrotter crashed out of the lead, losing the opportunity to claim his maiden win. He went wide at Turn 5 which put him off the racing line. As he tried to correct the error, the bike dropped from underneath him. Meanwhile, Lopez and Fernandez were battling hard for second place, which they had inherited from Schrotter’s crash. The pair were swapping positions for most of lap 12 before Lopez came out on top.

Ss they started lap 13, it was Arenas in the lead, ahead of Lopez in 2nd and Fernandez in 3rd. Dixon was just behind in 4th with home hero Bendsneyder in 5th. Vietti was still in 8th with Ogura, his nearest championship rival, quickly catching up to him in 9th.

The battle for 8th was quickly hotting up with Vietti and Ogura swapping positions at every corner. Eventually, it is Ogura who comes out on top. Lopez’s struggles continue as he was forced to sit up at turn 1 of lap 16, sending him tumbling down the grid from 2nd to 6th. He is soon caught by Ogura whose pace was rapid.

On lap 17, we had another change at the front of the grid as Fernandez takes the lead from Arenas. With numerous battles going on behind them, the leading pair quickly find themselves with a 0.9-second lead.

With just four laps remaining, and plenty of on-track action going on, Fernandez is still leading the race, with Dixon now up to 2nd and Ogura in 3rd. Arenas had now slipped back to 4th but was still fighting for his maiden podium finish. Vietti was up to 5th, just ahead of Bendsneyder and Lopez. On the following lap, Ogura makes it past Dixon and into 2nd. The battle gifted Fernandez a 0.4-second, and a seemingly unbeatable, lead.

With just two laps remaining, Arenas cracks under the pressure and crashes at Turn 9. That first podium finish remains elusive for the Spaniard.

On the final lap, Fernandez had a 0.5-second lead ahead of Ogura and Dixon. With Vietti now in 4th, he made a late lunge, attempting to steal 3rd from Dixon. The pair met the checkered flag side-by-side but it was Dixon who came out on top.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Moto2: Dixon takes a Dazzling Pole in Assen

Brit rider Jake Dixon has taken a fantastic pole ahead of tomorrow’s Dutch GP. He is joined on the front row by his teammate, Albert Arenas, and fellow Brit, Sam Lowes.

Tomorrow’s Dutch GP will see an Aspar 1-2 for the start of the race. Brit rider, Jake Dixon, secured pole with a time of 1.36.736 – his final lap of the session. His team mate, Albert Arenas, was just 0.01-seconds off the pace and will start tomorrow’s race from second.

A second Brit will also be on the front row, as Sam Lowes takes third for tomorrow’s face start. Just behind Lowes with be Ai Ogura in 4th and Alonso Lopez in a brilliant 5th. Home hero, Bo Bendsneyder will start the race from a strong 8th.

Further down the grid, Celestino Vietti, our championship leader, faced a challenging day. He crashed out during Q2 and was forced to settle with 11th for tomorrow’s race.

Image Credit: MotoGP
Qualifying 1

As the session started, Fermin Aldguer quickly faced an issue and was forced to head back to the pits. Having enjoyed a strong weekend so far, it was clear he was keen to get back on to the track as soon as possible.

As the first flying laps were completed, it was Jorge Navarro who topped the timing sheets with a 1.37.670. Manuel Gonzalez, Marcos Ramirez and Lorenzo Dalla Porta slotted in behind him, taking the provisional Q2-progression places. However, it should have been Barry Baltus at the top of the timing sheets – after taking a shortcut at the end of his outlap, his first flying lap was cancelled due to track limits. He cut the final chicane as a shortcut to give him extra speed at the start of the next lap.

With just less than 10 minutes left on the clock, Navarro improves, staying at the top of the timing sheets, with a 1.37.285. Ramirez jumped up to second and Dalla Porta leapt up to third, meaning that Gonzalez was shuffled down to fourth. Baltus, who was able to keep his next lap time on the board, was only able to slot in to 12th.

Aldeguer was back on the track and clearly pushing the bike to its very limits – the machine was twitching underneath him at the end of Sector 2. It took him a good few laps to get back on the pace, with his first lap only putting him in ninth.

With just over seven minutes to go, Dalla Porta improved on his time again. However, it wasn’t quite enough and he was soon shuffled down by Alessandro Zaccone, Gonzalez and Baltus who put themselves in 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.

With 5 minutes left on the clock, Aldeguer temporarily leaps up to 2nd, only to have his lap time deleted for a track limits violation. He is clearly pushing as hard as he can after the mishap he faced at the start of the session. He keeps pushing and, with just over 3 minutes left of the session, he is able to jump to 2nd again – and this time it sticks! He pushes Baltus out of the top 4. Dalla Porta is the next to improve, jumping up to 3rd and pushing Gonzalez out of the top 4.

As the session draws to a close, Gonzalez makes up time in the final sector to jump up to 3rd. This pushes Aldeguer down to 5th with no opportunity left to improve. Finally, Baltus is able to steal 4th away from Dalla Porta in the final moments of the session.

Those progressing to Q2 are Navarro, Zaccone, Gonzalez and Baltus.

Qualifying 2

As the session starts, Baltus is the first out on track, clearly feeling in good form after his Q1 performance.

Bo Bendsneyder was also feeling in good form as he quickly went up to 2nd, with a 1.36.986. He sat just 0.1-seconds behind our early leader, Navarro. Dixon then slots in to third with his fastest lap of the weekend so far.

With 8 minutes left on the clock, championship leader Celestino Vietti crashes at turn 3. He locked the front, spun around and ended up in the kitty litter. He briefly considered getting back on the bike but the damage ended his session early. When his session ends, he is currently set for a second row start in tomorrow’s race. But just 1 minute later, he is shuffled back to the third row, leaving Vietti with a nervous wait in his pit box.

5 minutes are left on the clock when Joe Roberts leaps up to 2nd. Moments later, he is shuffled down to 3rd when Lowes takes provisional pole with a 1.36.767.

Augusto Fernandez then makes a risky move as he comes into the pits to change his tires with just 4 minutes remaining. With such little time on the board, he may struggle to get the tires up to temperature and into their sweet spot.

As the session draws to a close, Arenas takes pole away from Lowes, despite hitting traffic at the end of his lap. Ogura slots in to provisional third before Dixon crosses the line to leapfrog them all and snatch pole. Fernandez and his new tires are unable to secure a spot higher than 8th.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

Flawless Fabio

Qualifying:

Very hot conditions greeted the Moto GP paddock at the ring on Saturday. 

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) claimed an all-time lap record along with pole position for Sunday (1:19.765). Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) took 2nd and finishing the front row was Johann Zarco (Ducati) in 3rd.

Jack Miller (Ducati) was given a long-lap penalty for crashing under yellow flags, which had to be completed during the race and Marc Marquez (Honda) will again not be competing in this weekend’s race.

Race:

Battling with an illness over the weekend, Quartararo’s team confirms he will be riding, hoping it won’t hamper his performance too much. The sunny conditions remained but it was even hotter for race day with temperatures rising to 35 degrees and track temperature being a scorching 52 degrees.

Lined up on the grid. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lights out. By turn one Fabio decided to take the lead straight away from Bagania and by the end of the lap Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) passed Luca Marini (VR46) for 7th place just behind Miller.

Takes the lead straight away. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

On the start of the 2nd lap, Bagnaia passed Quartararo to take the lead but Fabio passed right back, just touching Bagnaia’s Ducati on his way through. While Miller passed Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) for 5th.

Lap 3 saw Zarco make a great pass on Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) for 3rd place, while Fabio put in another fastest lap, making two in a row.

The next lap – turn 1: Bagnaia crashed out from 2nd place, leaving people to wonder if he can handle riding under pressure? Seconds later, Joan Mir (Suzuki) also crashed out of the race at the same corner, from 13th. Darryn Binder (Yamaha) ended his race early, on the same lap (turn 13) and Miller took his long-lap penalty, rejoining the race in 7th behind Jorge Martin (Ducati).

Championship hopes fading for Bagnaia. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

With 25 laps to go Quartararo started to put a gap between himself and Zarco (1.382 seconds) and with 24 laps to go he set another fastest lap.

Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) collided into the gravel on lap 7, turn 8 and Alex Marquez (Honda) retired from his race. Meanwhile, 5th place went back to Miller, from DiGi.

Vinales was having a great race and with 19 laps to go he was up to 4th place behind his teammate (the highest he has been since joining the Aprilia team), but he was being held up by Aleix in-front of him. Would he risk passing his fellow Spaniard? – knowing he is fighting for the championship.

In 2nd place Zarco was pushing hard to bridge the gap that was growing between himself and Fabio, which was 1.554 seconds. Another rider who was pushing hard was Miller, who by lap 17 was right behind the two Aprilia’s.

Then heartbreak for Vinales on lap 20 of 30. He seemingly made a mistake which took him wide, gifting 4th to Miller but as he kept falling down the order, it became apparent that his ride-height device had failed, leaving him unable to control the bike. Meaning he was forced to retire from his best place so far in 2022.

With 10 laps to go Quartararo remained steady in the lead, ahead of Zarco and Espargaro, with Miller hot on his heels behind.

DiGi and Martin tussled to see who would claim 5th spot. Martin won the battle but it was Marini who took full advantage, also passing DiGi to take 6th.

Lap 23 – Jack attempted to pass Aleix but couldn’t make it stick, making it an easy move to pass back for the number 41. While his brother (Pol Espargaro (Honda)) retired from the race on the same lap.

Marini was in good form and continued his charge, managing to pass fellow Ducati rider, Martin for another position (5th).

Three laps later and Miller tried once again to make the pass on Espargaro, but with the same result. With only 4 laps to go would he manage to finish on the podium? Time would soon tell: Aleix made a small mistake and went wide, but it was all the Australian needed. He went past the Aprilia to take 3rd.

Miller passes Espargaro. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Last lap – Fabio’s lead had extended to 5.371 seconds ahead of Zarco and Miller. Fabio cruised over the line to claim the first Yamaha win at Sachsenring since Rossi’s victory in 2009.

Top ten race finishers:

1st

F. Quartararo

2nd

J. Zarco

3rd

J. Miller

4th

A. Espargaro

5th

L. Marini

6th

J. Martin

7th

B. Binder

8th

F. Di Giannantonio

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

E. Bastianini

Not even a long-lap penalty could hold Miller back nor could an illness for Quartararo.

Podium. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

172 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

138 points

3rd

J. Zarco

111 points

4th

E. Bastianini

100 points

With only one week to go for the legendary track – Assen, will Fabio continue his winning streak? Or will there be another rider to stand on the top step? Not long to wait to find out.

 

 

Featured image – Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

#HappyFathersDay

Round 4 WorldSBK, Misano, Race 1

Conditions were extremely hot for the Italian round, with track temperatures reaching 44 degrees Celsius. Tyre management would surely be a major factor, especially towards the end of the 21 lap race. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) secured pole with an unbeaten lap of 1:33.328, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha), and Rea (KRT Kawasaki), in 2nd, and 3rd respectively.

Lights went out for the 21 lap race, and it was Toprak with the hole shot into turn 1, followed by Bautista, and Rea, who were both looking aggressive in the early stages, no doubt wanting to take an early lead.

On lap 2, the positions were as follows; 1. Razgatlioglu 2. Bautista 3. Rea 4. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 5. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 6. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 7. Vierge (HRC Honda) 8. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki) 9. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 10. Baz (Bonovo BMW).

With 19 laps remaining, Rea, who was looking quick, made a move on Toprak cutting up the inside of the Turkish rider, and moved into the lead. A group of 7 riders had now moved clear from the rest of the field. Ponsson crashed into turn 4, and his race was over.

Next lap, and Toprak now found himself in 3rd, after Bautista was next to pass him. It was now Rea leading, followed by Bautista in 2nd, and Toprak in 3rd. Rea held a gap of 0.4s to Bautista, and looked keen to get away. Meanwhile further back it was Lowes 8th, Gerloff 9th, Lecuona 10th, and Redding (BMW Motorrad) 11th.

With 16 laps to go, Bautista set a new fastest lap of 1:34.3, and was closing in a Rea. Toprak appeared to still be shedding time, and was unable to match the pace of the two upfront. Meanwhile Bassani was having a great ride and was up to 4th, having only qualified in 10th.

With 13 laps remaining of the 21 lap race, the trio up front had now pulled out a gap of 2s to Bassani in 4th. Razgatlioglu had pulled back a bit of time, and was riding hard to stay with Rea, and Bautista. Meanwhile Lowes moved past Vierge to take 7th.

With 10 laps to go, the gap between Bautista, and Toprak was now 0.7s. Meanwhile Rinaldi found some extra pace, after a disappointing start, and was battling Bassani for 4th. Bautista was actively searching for a pass on Rea, and tried into turn 8, but Rea was able to respond out accelerating the Ducati. A few corners later and Bautista took the lead. This time Rea was unable to  respond, and the Ducati powers around the outside of the Kawasaki, and into the lead.

With 7 laps remaining, there was late drama as the reigning champion, Toprak Razgatlioglu, has a mechanical issue and his Yamaha coasts to a stop against the tyre barrier. He cut a dejected figure as his race was over. The win would surely be fought out between Rea and Baustista.

On the next lap, Bautista put the hammer down, trying to break Rea who was still able to maintain the current pace. The gap was now 0.3s between them. Rinaldi found himself in podium contention in 3rd.

With 5 laps to go, Rea had lost contact with Bautista, and the gap was now up to 1.5s. The Spaniard was showing great late race pace on the Ducati, and set a new fastest lap of 1:34.3. Meanwhile, further back, Lowes was up to 5th, Gerloff 8th, and Redding in 10th.

With 3 laps to go, Rea was completely out of contention, possibly suffering from tyre wear issues, and the gap to Bautista was now 3.4s. The Spaniard however, was still able to find extra pace, and set a new fastest race lap of 1:34.221.

On the last lap, Bautista, having judged his race to perfection, crossed the line to take the win. Rea 2nd, Rinaldi 3rd, Bassani 4th, Lowes 5th, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 6th, Vierge 7th, Gerloff 8th, Lecuona 9th, Redding 10th.

Result top 5:

  1. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  2. Rea (KRT Kawaski)
  3. Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati)
  4. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati)
  5. Lowes (KRT Kawaski)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 186 pts
  2. Rea – 164
  3. Razgatlioglu – 109

Feature Image Credit: WSBK

El Diablo dominant in Spain

Qualifying:

Sunny conditions in Spain made for a good qualifying session seeing Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) claim pole with 1:38.742. Narrowly missing out on taking the pole for himself – Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) took second and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), finished the front row.

Marc Marquez (Honda) was not present over the weekend due to having further surgery on his shoulder so Honda’s test-rider Stefan Bradl stepped in.

Sitting on pole. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Race:

All eyes were on the Spanish home-riders (which there were 8 on the grid on Sunday). The brilliant weather conditions remained for Sunday and the crowds were ready.

Aleix got a great start and instantly pulled ahead. But into turn one, Fabio took the lead. More action continued on the turn though as three bikes hurled into the gravel behind. It soon became clear that Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) had gone into the first corner too quick and couldn’t stop in time, taking himself and Alex Rins (Suzuki) out along with him. But, Rins was not the only rider, as Nakagami fell his helmet knocked against Bagnaia’s rear tyre, causing him to also crash seconds later.

The crash. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It was an unexpected start to the race. However, perhaps a more expected start was how quickly Fabio started to eke away from both Aleix and Jorge Martin (Ducati), who were in second and third.

Another great start came in the form of the now, sole-running Suzuki – Joan Mir, who had made up an impressive 11 places. Starting 17th on the grid and by the end of lap one had made it up to 6th.

The closest they would be to Fabio this race. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 3 saw Martin pass A. Espargaro for 2nd while Quartararo put in the fastest lap.

Bagnaia managed to re-join the race, but only briefly, having to concede and retire to the pits.

With 21 laps to go, Quartararo got another fastest lap and was 1.627 seconds ahead of Martin. Fabio was pushing hard to get a substantial lead.

On lap 6 Marco Bezzecchi (VR46) ended his race early, crashing out on turn 10.

Another rider who had made his way through the pack was Enea Bastianini (Ducati), who was in 7th place and hoping his luck would fair better than the last race (when he crashed out of 6th place). But, bad luck continued to hamper ‘The Beast’ as he crashed out for the second time in a row, this time on lap 8 of 24, turn 5.

Back at the front, the lead had increased further to: 2.534 seconds.

The next lap saw last weeks pole-man Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) tumble into the gravel from 11th place.

With 15 laps to go Aleix passed Martin on the home-straight to re-take 2nd place, knowing he had to get the gap down between himself and Fabio. But the Ducati riders – Martin and Johann Zarco had other ideas and managed to keep him with them. But, in doing so helped in extending Quartararo’s lead, which was 3.862 seconds with 11 laps till the chequered flag.

Martin wasn’t going to have any of it. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

‘The Martinator’ re-took 2nd on lap 16, wanting to catch Fabio himself, who had managed to add yet another second to his lead. Martin however, had the same problem Aleix had, he couldn’t gap the two riders behind him. Meaning all three riders remained in their group 3.420 seconds ahead of Joan Mir (Suzuki), who had managed to pass Luca Marini (VR46) to take 5th position.

4 laps remaining and Espargaro passed Martin again to claim 2nd once more. Both Spanish men wanted to impress at home. But, it would seem no-one was going to be able to catch Quartararo, who was nearly 6 seconds ahead of the group. (Not even chest protector issues would stop him this year).

 

6 seconds ahead for victory. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Fabio crossed the finish line with one lap to go, time to really concentrate to bring back the victory. Bizarrely though as Aleix crossed the line moments after he started to shake his head and slow down, seemingly the unthinkable had happened – perhaps he had an electrical fault on the last lap? But, then his hands went up waving to the crowd. He had mistaken his last lap as the last lap of the race. Only to suddenly realise there was still one more lap, rejoining behind Marini in 6th. There were no words to describe the disappointment he must have felt, handing over a solid podium finish. He did manage to pass Marini for 5th place but, it was Quartararo who crossed the finish line to take the win whilst celebrating by ‘checking his watch’. Martin finished 2nd and team-mate Zarco claimed 3rd.

Top Ten race finishers:

1st

F. Quartararo

2nd

J. Martin

3rd

J. Zarco

4th

J. Mir

5th

A. Espargaro

6th

L. Marini

7th

M. Vinales

8th

B. Binder

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

A. Marquez

Top Four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

147 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

125 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

94 points

4th

J. Zarco

91 points

After two DNF’s in a row, it was nice to see Mir claim 4th position. There is now only 22 points seperating the top two riders, even with Aleix’s unfortunate mistake, the championship is still very close.

What will happen in round 10?

 

 

 

Featured image. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Moto2: Vietti Victorious after a Chaotic Catalunya GP

Vietti took a stunning win at the Catalan GP after he fought his way back from a poor start to beat the rest of the field. Despite leading for much of the second half of the race, Canet was forced to settle for second as his first Moto2 win still eludes him. Fernandez made a late move on the final lap to claim the final podium place.

Celestino Vietti has given his championship hopes another boost today, taking his third win of the 2022 season in Catalunya. Despite starting on pole, he was forced to fight his way through the field as he dropped to fifth on the first lap. A well-timed move allowed him to take the lead from Spanish rider, Aron Canet, in the dying moments of the race.

The final podium spot was filled by Augusto Fernandez, despite Jake Dixon sitting within the top three for the entire race. He made a brilliant last-corner lunge to steal third from the Brit.

Despite a brilliant start and leading the first half of the race, today will be a day to forget for Joe Roberts who crashed out of the race, leaving him unable to repeat the success he enjoyed in Portugal.

As It Happened

As the lights went out and the race started, Dixon and Roberts enjoyed a strong start as they leapt up to first and second respectively. Canet slotted in behind them in third whilst Vietti dropped from pole down to fifth. Sam Lowes also struggled at the start of the race, dropping from sixth to 11th. Marcel Schrotter, trying a different strategy on harder tyres, moved up from ninth to seventh.

A few corners into the race and Roberts made a move on Dixon, taking the lead and he shot down the inside of the British rider. By the time the grid started their third lap, Roberts had a 0.4s lead on Dixon, whilst Canet set the fastest lap time just behind them. These fast times allowed Canet to quickly get himself up to second, just ahead of Dixon.

Further down the pack, our top two championship contenders were battling for fifth – Vietti was just ahead of Ai Ogura, with the pair jostling and swapping position with every lap.

On lap three, we had our first crash of the race as Alex Toledo went down at Turn 10. This was not the end he had been hoping for as he entered his first Moto2 race to replace the injured Gabriel Rodrigo. The following lap saw Filip Salac end up in the kitty litter, as he crashed out from 13th whilst trying to follow Pedro Acosta. Three laps later and it was Cameron Beaubier who went down, suffering a fast crash at Turn 14.

Meanwhile, Vietti and Ogura were still battling, with Vietti only just ahead in fifth. Ogura then made an uncharacteristic mistake as the front started to slide from under him – he managed to keep the bike upright but, in doing so, he dropped down to seventh. He then lost another place to Schrotter, who stole seventh place from him on lap nine. Ogura was simply unable to fight back and failed to make any other significant moves during the race.

Lap ten saw Roberts enjoying a 2.4s lead as Dixon makes a move on Canet for second. He bumped in to the side of the Spanish rider and stole second place. However, disaster struck just one lap later when Roberts suffered a crash at Turn 5. Late in the corner, the bike slid from under him and he found himself stuck in the kitty litter.

This meant that we now had Dixon leading the way, just ahead of Canet in second and Albert Arenas in third. This also promoted Vietti up to fourth whilst Ogura was still stuck in seventh.

At this point in the race, Vietti seemed to come alive and started making his way through the field. He quickly took third from Arenas and started to reduce the gap to the leading pair ahead. At the same time, Canet, who was the fastest rider on the track, made a move on Dixon to lead the race for the first time. Dixon shortly found himself under yet more pressure as Vietti quickly closed the gap and, on lap 15, he made a move to take second away from the Brit.

As we approached the final lap, everything was hotting up – Fernandez and Schrotter both came past Arenas whilst Lowes was battling with Ogura.

On lap 17, with just four laps remaining, Vietti finally made his move for the lead. However, he wasn’t able to keep this for long and, on lap 18, Canet found the slipstream on the start-finish straight and regained the lead.

The final lap started with Canet in first, Vietti in second with Dixon third and Fernandez fourth. The top four were incredibly close, with barely a hair’s width between them. In the final sector, Vietti and Canet bumped into each other as Vietti made an aggressive, but successful, move for the lead. Just behind, Dixon lost his podium place to Fernandez as he made a perfectly timed lunge at the final corner.

Championship Standings

As the only rider to win multiple Moto2 races this year, Vietti remains at the top of the championship standings with 133 points.

In second place is still Ogura, but the gap has now been extended to 16 points after he was unable to make waves in today’s race.

Third in the standings belongs to Canet on 109 points, just ahead of Fernandez and Tony Arbolino in fourth and fifth.

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

TT 2022 – It begins!

After what feels like the longest 3 years, the 37.73 miles of the Isle of Man TT Course is once again alive with the sound of race bikes. Visitors are arriving in their thousands to see the spectacle, and many of the fan’s favourites are back on the course to pit their wits against the tarmac and trees.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

Whilst many of the competitors arrived fresh from the North West 200, given the Dunlop tyre issues there it hasn’t been as clear an indicator of form on the Superbikes as we’ve seen in previous years.

Peter Hickman was showing great pace at the NW200 on the Gas Monkey/FHO BMW before the tyre problems and his closest challengers have to be Dean Harrison on the DAO Kawasaki; Davey Todd on the Padgett’s bike; and his teammate (Isle of Man born and bred) Conor Cummins.

Despite the late changes in machinery, and a lucky escape with the tyre issues, Michael Dunlop can never be discounted and with his knowledge and experience, John McGuinness will also be one to watch.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

It’s hard to write an article that doesn’t just become a list of competitors – by it’s nature the Isle of Man Mountain Course is never easy to predict – the distance, the speed at which conditions change, the wide open Mountain Section contrasting with the lower tree lined sections make it a really fascinating prospect.

There are some talented new names to look out for too. As they make the step up from the Manx Grand Prix, James Hind and Nathan Harrison have already put in some solid laps during Practice Week. Glenn Irwin makes his debut on the Isle of Man, as does Milo Ward.

On the Superstocks, as the current lap record holder Hickman is an obvious one to watch, so too is Davey Todd. Dunlop on his Carl Cox support machine, and local lad N Harrison will also be pushing.

We’ve not yet mentioned Lee Johnston – he’s got to be worth a look on the Supersport and with 16 podiums, Dean Harrison will hoping for another trip up the famous steps. Once again Todd & Cummins will be competitive, and Michael Dunlop is showing his experience as the current lap record holder.

The Supertwins could be an interesting one to watch – again Dunlop is on the Paton, with the mightily experienced Rutter contrasting against the young man James Hind who is the current Manx Grand Prix Lap record holder – he has the capability to secure a top 8 finish. We also have the North West 200 success of Pierre Yves Bian who is obviously one to watch as he brings that to the Island.

The Sidecar entry is made up of a lot of well known and highly successful names. Dave Molyneux and Darryl Gibson will be debuting the KTM. Speaking of debut, Harry Payne and Mark Wilkes make their first attempts at conquering the course – somewhat different to the circuits they have enjoyed recent success on.

IOM TT – Picture courtesy of Keith Quirk

The locals are well represented this year with Callum and Ryan Crowe vying for a podium finish and of course the Mansfield brothers. Ben & Tom Birchall will be continuing their charge and hoping to add to their previous wins. The sidecars also sees Michael Russell making the crossover from solo in an attempt to contest all 8 races during race week…!

It would be wrong to write this without mentioning the sad loss of Mark Purslow following an incident at Ballagarey during the Wednesday evening practice session. Mark was a previous winner at the Manx Grand Prix, and this was to be his second TT. Our thoughts are with all those affected by his passing.

A Mugello Dream Come True!

Qualifying:

Wet conditions during the qualifying saw some unexpected results.

Starting in Q1 Fabio Di Giannantonio/ DiGi (Ducati) went through to Q2 along with Marc Marquez (Honda).

During Q2 Marquez high-sided his bike on turn 2, landing hard on his head and shoulder. The bike caught on fire and the accident caused the qualifying to be red-flagged early on in the session.

But, it was the Rookie, Di Giannantonio who finished in pole with 1:46.156 alongside another Rookie – Marco Bezzecchi and his teammate Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati).

An all Italian front row in Italy, the fans were sure to see something special on Sunday.

Race:

The rain stayed away for Sunday, but there was further drama unfolding: big news was confirmed that Marquez would be undergoing another operation on his shoulder during the coming week. With this breaking news, speculation was spreading about if he should even be starting the race.

At lights out DiGi got away well but it was the VR46 rider Marini who quickly took the lead from fellow Italian, leading the whole first lap until back on the home straight when Bezzecchi re-took control.

Bezzecchi, Marini and DiGi. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) had a poor start and went from 5th position to 8th, by the second lap he had gained back one place and had started to hunt down Johann Zarco (Ducati).

Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) took 3rd place but DiGi fought back on the straight, starting lap 3. Quartararo wasn’t having any of it and quickly re-took the position back. Meanwhile, Bagnaia made his way into 5th, having already passed Zarco earlier in the lap.

Close racing on the iconic track led to the fastest lap going to Bagnaia who was looking to pass DiGi for 4th place.

Marini had been holding strong in 2nd but Quartararo was stronger, taking the position from him on lap 4. How was the rookie in 1st going to handle El Diablo closing up fast behind him?

19 laps till the end and Bagnaia managed to pass DiGi. Both Quartararo and Bagnaia were on a mission from the start. Bezzecchi was pushing hard at the front, claiming fastest lap and leading Quartararo, Marini and Bagnaia.

So much action had already occurred early on in the race, but more action was yet to come: Lap 5, turn 9 Pol Espargaro (Honda) ended his race early while Bagnaia passed both Marini and Quartararo in the same corner to take 2nd place and the fastest lap of the race once more.

Pecco now had Bezzecchi in his sights, how would the Rookie fair?

On another Ducati, further down in the field Jorge Martin set a new record (fastest ever top-speed at Mugello) – 226.2mph.

It was the Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro though who was moving through the pack, taking 5th position from DiGi, who was going backwards.

For the second time in a row Joan Mir (Suzuki) crashed out of the race, lap 8, turn 1. On the same lap, just moments later, his teammate continued the bad luck and also crashed out for the second time in a row at turn 12. Suzuki’s year was just getting worse.

Starting lap 9 of 23, Bagnaia finally passed Bezzecchi to take the lead. Meanwhile the original leader and pole-man had fallen down the positions to 9th place.

Bagnaia was quick to start eeking out his lead. He was soon 0.964 seconds ahead of the pack. Quartararo could see him getting away and soon took another place, going to 2nd. Could he catch up to Bagnaia?

With 13 laps to go, Bagnaia led Quartararo, Bezzecchi, Marini and A. Espargaro.

Leading the way. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The close racing continued however and Marini took 3rd from his teammate going into lap 12.

By the next lap the VR46 boys had swapped positions again, while Bagnaia continued his get-away and was now 1.164 seconds ahead of the Yamaha in 2nd.

Drama continued to reek havoc at Mugello as last race winner – Enea Bastianini (Ducati) took a tumble into the gravel on lap 14, turn 4 from 6th position.

Lap 15 saw A. Espargaro pass Marini to take 4th place. While Zarco and Martin fought for 5th spot, Zarco finally claimed it.

Two laps later and A. Espargaro’s calculations of trying to pass Bezzecchi come to fruition and he made the pass to go into 3rd. Could he make further history for Aprilia and have 4 podiums in a row? With only a few laps to go, audiences were on the edge of their seats.

Bezzecchi tried desperately to hold onto his new position (4th) but with only 3 laps until the chequered flag it looked likely that Zarco would pass him.

Last lap: Zarco had formulated exactly where to pass Bezzecchi and he did so, claiming the top independent rider spot. While at the front Bagnaia crossed the line in 1st to take that all important win! An Italian, on an Italian bike, in Italy – A Mugello Dream Come True! Bagnaia decided to celebrate his win with the fans by throwing his gloves and boots into the crowd.

Crossing the line victorious. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top 10 race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

J. Zarco

5th

M. Bezzecchi

6th

L. Marini

7th

B. Binder

8th

T. Nakagami

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

M. Marquez

Happy faces on the podium. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It was an impressive ride from Marc Marquez considering the news regarding his shoulder surgery. Wishing him all the best in his recovery period (he will be having 4 – 6 months rest), hoping to see him back to full fitness soon.

It was also an impressive ride from both the VR46 riders, managing to remain in the top ten by the end of the race.

Top four Championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

122 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

114 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

94 points

4th

F. Bagnaia

81 points

History is constantly being written: Bagnaia took his first win at Mugello and A. Espargaro managed to get Aprilia their first 4 podiums ever in a row in the premier class.

The 2022 season is so unpredictable and constantly surprising us. With the next round only next Sunday we haven’t got long to wait for even more action.

 

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Round 3 WorldSBK Estoril, Portugal, Race 2

The earlier Superpole race saw Rea (KRT Kawasaki), claim his first win of the weekend, followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) and Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Lights out for race 2, and it’s Toprak with the hole shot, followed by Rea 2nd, Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 3rd, Bautista 4th, Leucona (Honda HRC) 5th and Rinaldi (Aruba.it Ducati) 6th. And then drama as light rain began to fall – would this have a bearing on the race?

Next lap, and Rea again showing good pace, takes over the lead from Toprak. His team mate, Lowes, was showing good early pace too and moved up into 5th, and then quickly into 4th moving through on Lecuona, setting a fastest lap of 1:37.222 in the process.

With 18 laps of 21 remaining, it was Lowes with another fastest lap this time 1:37.039, and moved past Bautista with a neat pass. Both the ZX10-RR machines were looking quick in the early stages of the race. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Razgatlioglu 3. Lowes 4. Bautista 5. Lecuona 6. Locatelli 7. Rinaldi 8. Vierge (Honda HRC) 9. Bassani (Motocorsa Ducati) 10. Redding (BMW Motorrad).

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Lecuona Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 13 laps to go, a group of 4 riders had splintered away from the others, with Locatelli trailing by 2s back in 5th. Positions were as follows; 1. Rea 2. Toprak 3. Lowes 4. Bautista. The former then moves past Lowes to take 3rd. The good news was the earlier light rain had stopped, with the track remaining dry.

With 11 laps to go, as he had in race 1, Bautista was showing good late race pace, and used the top end grunt of the Ducati to overtake both Rea and Toprak down the straight and into turn 1, moving from 3rd into the lead. Meanwhile further back, Bassani was having a decent race and was now up to 7th.

Next lap, and Rea comes through on Bautista, after the Spaniard made a mistake running wide and missing the apex. Rea had gone with the softer tyre option, and it looked to be a valid choice, as the Irishman set a new fastest lap of 1:37.751.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Vierge Picture courtesy of Honda Racing Corporation

With 8 laps to go, Bautista again using the top end speed of the Ducati, powers past Rea to retake the lead into turn 1. Further back it was 10. Redding 12. Baz (Bonovo Action BMW) and 13. Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).

With 6 laps to go, the leading group was now down to 3, as Lowes went off the track briefly, losing contact in the process. The win looked likely to be fought out amongst the leading group of Rea, Toprak and Bautista.

With 2 laps to go, it was the turn of Toprak to lose contact with Rea and Bautista, after the reigning champion made a mistake and ran wide, seemingly struggling with tyre grip again.

WorldSBK Estoril 22.05.2022 Picture courtesy of Kawasaki Racing Team

Last lap, and Rea was all over the back of Bautista, he made his move into the chicane, cutting under the Ducati to take the lead. He held the slim gap into the final sector, and crossed the line to take his 2nd win of the day, and his 117 career win to date. 2nd Bautista, 3rd Toprak, 4th Lowes, 5th Locatelli, 6th Lecuona, 7th Bassani, 8th, Rinaldi, 9th Vierge.

Result top 5:

  1. Rea (KRT Kawasaki)
  2. Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati)
  3. Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha)
  4. Lowes (KRT Kawasaki)
  5. Locatelli (Pata Yamaha)

Championship top 3:

  1. Bautista – 161 pts
  2. Rea – 144
  3. Razgatlioglu – 109
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