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.

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

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.

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.

The Beast conquers at Le Mans

Qualifying:

An impeccable time was done by Francesco Bagnaia/ Pecco (Ducati) on Saturday during the qualifying, securing him pole position and an all-time new lap record with 1:30.450, from team-mate Jack Miller and Aprilia rider – Aleix Espargaro rounding off the front row.

Ducati dominate in qualifying. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

However, eyes were on Suzuki this weekend following on from the breaking news that they are going to resign from Moto GP at the end of the year, leaving riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir with no ride (as of yet). With this news, how would they fair this race?

France was also looking at home-hero’s Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Johann Zarco (Ducati) to produce something magical during the race, as a French rider has never won at Le Mans in the Premier Class.

The excitement was building:

Race:

As the riders lined up on the grid many teams were choosing to change their tyre choice minutes before lights out, due to the temperature heating up. But, which team was going to decide correctly?

It was a great start from Bastianini (Ducati), who shot into 2nd place behind Miller. Bagnaia went down two places to 3rd. Three Ducati’s led the two Suzuki’s in 4th and 5th.

Bastianini made an early mistake which put him down to 4th place, while Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) fought Yamaha-man Quartararo. But seizing an opportunity during their tussle, Marc Marquez (Honda) took full advantage and surprised everyone, by passing both riders to take 7th place.

By lap 3; Miller led Bagnaia, Rins and Mir. But it wasn’t going to stay that way for long:

Rins suddenly crashed out, ending his race early on turn 4. He managed to rejoin the race after having to go through the gravel, but unfortunately didn’t finish.

Suzuki’s weekend was one to forget. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Miller then led Bagnaia and Bastianini, with 24 laps still to go.

The next lap and it was Miller’s turn to make a mistake, causing him to go wide leaving Bagnaia to take the lead. On the same lap Remy Gardner (KTM) took a tumble out of the race.

Fastest lap swiftly went to Pecco. Was he about to check out?

Hopeful to put on a show for the French fans on lap 6, Fabio tried to overtake the Aprilia for 5th place but to no avail.

Fabio hunts Aleix. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 7 saw Raul Fernandez (KTM) crash out on turn 6, leaving his team-mate to pick up any points.

Back in 3rd place Bastianini seemed to have more pace than the leading Factory Ducati’s. It soon became apparent this was the case as with no warning, he snuck up underneath Miller and claimed 2nd.

Lap 15, turn 14 and it was Mir’s turn to end his race early, cutting Suzuki’s weekend short. With Mir now out, A. Espargaro was bumped up to 4th position and Fabio into 5th.

Only 13 laps until the chequered flag Bagnaia couldn’t seem to shake Bastianini. Was it just a waiting game for The Beast?

Running a good race, Jorge Martin (Ducati) crashed out on turn 9, lap 18. This would be his third time in a row this season.

On lap 21 Bastianini took the plunge and passed Bagnaia to take 1st place but Bagnaia wasn’t having any of it and passed right back again. Then everything happened so quickly: Bagnaia went wide on the next corner giving Bastianini the lead back again. Only moments after that Bagnia crashed out from 2nd on turn 14. Bastianini then had a 2.371 second lead ahead of Miller and A. Espargaro, with the two Frenchmen in 4th and 5th.

Bagnaia crashes out. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

With only 3 laps until the end, number 88 – Miguel Oliveira (KTM) also crashed out.

Last lap time and Bastianini was leading, putting in consistent lap times and a very strong performance – still leading Miller and A. Espargaro. Fabio tried to make a move on Aleix for 3rd but couldn’t quite find the right way to do it. Brilliant riding from Bastianini saw him cruise over the finish line, claiming his 3rd win this season for the Gresini Racing team, with Miller taking some fantastic points in 2nd and holding onto 3rd place, A. Espargaro continued his theme of making history for Aprilia with the first ever 3 consecutive podiums in the Premier Class.

Podium finishers. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter Page.

Top Ten Race Finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

J. Miller

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

F. Quartararo

5th

J. Zarco

6th

M. Marquez

7th

T. Nakagami

8th

B. Binder

9th

L. Marini

10th

M. Vinales

It’s still super close at the top for the 2022 championship. 

Top Four championship riders:

1st

F. Quartararo

102 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

98 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

94 points

4th

A. Rins

69 points

This season is so unpredictable, we can only guess what is going to happen next round in Italy. 

 

 

Featured image: “Podium Traditions”. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter Page.

Pecco is perfect in Spain!

Qualifying:

Sunny and dry conditions greeted the riders at the Spanish circuit (Jerez) on Saturday during the qualifying session.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) set the fastest lap time to take pole position for the race on Sunday, beating Maverick Vinalez’s best recorded time in 2020, with a 1:36.170.

Coming second was Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and close behind in third was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia).

Also pushing hard for good results were Joan Mir (Suzuki), Jorge Martin (Ducati) and Enea Bastianini (Ducati), but unfortunately all three riders crashed out during the session.

Race:

The wonderful weather continued into Sunday as the racers lined up on the grid. Would Bagnaia’s shoulder injury, from last weekend, be able to withstand the pressure of a full race? Would Quartararo be able to do back-to-back victories?

Bagnaia got a great start from lights out and immediately led from the start, ahead of Quartararo, Jack Miller (Ducati), Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) and Marc Marquez (Honda), in 5th place.

Marquez was quick to pass Nakagami for fourth and A. Espargaro followed suit soon after. Relegating Nakagami to 6th position.

On the same lap, same corner, Martin and Stefan Bradl (Honda) tumbled out of the race, bizarrely in separate crashes.

Marquez also took fastest lap in the process of gaining a position, he was pushing hard, knowing he had to try and catch the leaders before they got too far ahead. Pecco and Fabio had already created a gap ahead of third-place-man Miller. The next lap Bagnaia claimed fastest lap with 22 laps to go, trying to secure his lead.

By lap 6, the front pair had gotten 1.600 seconds ahead. While Darryn Binder (Yamaha) crashed out of 17th place.

Two laps later and the gap increased further at the front to 2.773 seconds from the front two to Miller.

Leading pair. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

With 17 laps to go Marquez had caught up to the back of Miller with A. Espargaro closely behind.

Suzuki-man Alex Rins ran through the gravel at turn 12 whilst Johann Zarco (Ducati) crashed out of 9th place, turn 5.

For the second time during the race, on lap 11, Bradl crashed again, only this time he couldn’t re-enter. Whilst further ahead, Marquez was looking menacing behind Miller. Was Miller holding up the Repsol Honda?

Growing more impatient, Marquez tried to line-up a move on Miller a few times, but couldn’t seem to find the perfect spot to do so.

Battle for third. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

With only 10 laps to go the gap between the leaders and third-place still continued to increase- 6.088 seconds, but would Miller remain in 3rd for much longer?

In front of the 60,000 fans track-side and thousands more watching at home, the battle for third started: Miller, Marquez and Espargaro had managed to create their own pocket, gapping 1.639 seconds ahead of Mir in 6th place. Who was going to take last spot on the podium?

Lap 19 of 25, Marquez continued to follow and watch Miller and on lap 21 he decided enough was enough and took his chance, passing on turn 5, to take 3rd place. It was an odd choice of corner to pass on, but he made it work. Espargaro then took his opportunity and passed both the Ducati and Honda, going from 5th to 3rd in one corner, as Marquez lost control of the front of his bike but he managed an incredible ‘Marquez of old’ save. Miller also took advantage of this momentary lapse and passed him, taking 4th position. Marquez suddenly was down in 5th, right back where he had started the race.

That save! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The leaders were then 9.443 seconds ahead of A. Espargaro with only 3 laps until the end.

Espargaro must have felt he had better pace than the two riders behind him as he soon pulled away from them, quickly creating a gap.

Last lap and Bagnaia continued to lead ahead of Quartararo, A. Espargaro, Miller and Marquez. But, Marquez had one more trick up his sleeve. He saw another opportunity and passed Miller two corners before the finish line, claiming 4th place as his own.

Back out in front the Bologna Bullet crossed the finish line to take Bagnaia’s first win and podium this season so far.

Top ten finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

M. Marquez

5th

J. Miller

6th

J. Mir

7th

T. Nakagami

8th

E. Bastianini

9th

M. Bezzecchi

10th

B. Binder

With his metronomic lap times it was no wonder Bagania dominated the race, even with his shoulder injury which could have hampered his race winning chances.

The top-three finishers ended the race exactly the same order they started in and due to Aprilia’s run of continued success this year- gaining yet another podium finish (and their first back-to-back premier class podiums) they now loose their concessions.

Top four in Championship:

1st

F. Quartararo

89 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

82 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

69 points

4th

A. Rins

69 points

The championship is still extremely close and is still anyone’s for the taking.

Next round is Le Mans – France, Fabio’s home-track. Will we see him take victory or will a new winner be crowned?

 

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website.

First win of the year for El Diablo!

Qualifying:

Unpleasant wet conditions for Saturday qualifying in Portugal saw Johann Zarco (Ducati) take pole position from Joan Mir (Suzuki) in 2nd and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) in 3rd. However, a pleasant surprise saw Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) finish on the second row and teammate Luca Marini in the middle of the third row.

Zarco qualifying in the rain. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The wet weather wasn’t as welcoming for others though – Enea Bastianini and Francesco Bagnaia crashed out, resulting in both riders receiving injuries.

The Home-Hero Miguel Oliveira (KTM) could only manage 11th on the grid. What could he do in the race though?

The wet conditions always manage to shake things up. Would the weather continue into Sunday?

Race:

Sunday: raceday and the black clouds still loomed large above the beautiful Portugal track but, with only 20 minutes of practice in the drier conditions, how would the racers fair?

Mir got a fantastic start from 2nd taking the lead straight away from Quartararo and Jack Miller (Ducati). But an even better start was from the other Suzuki in 23rd place – Rins propelled himself into 11th and soon took 10th place before the first lap was even complete. Up 13 places from lights out!

Mir got away. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 2 saw Zarco pass Miller for 3rd place and the fastest lap quickly went to the best Yamaha rider – Quartararo, who was in 2nd place, but was hunting down first-place man Mir.

Close racing. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The two World Champions were out in the lead and by lap 4, Fabio had passed Joan, whilst taking fastest lap again. He continued to keep pushing and put in fastest lap after fastest lap, gaining a lead over Mir and Zarco.

Lap 5 – Rins continued to improve on positions and was soon up to 8th place.

Sector 4, lap 6 saw Jorge Martin lose the front of his Ducati, ending his race early.

The two Repsol Honda riders battled for 9th and 10th with 19 laps to go, resulting in Marquez winning the position from P. Espargaro. Meanwhile the brothers of both riders fought further up for 5th place. It was A. Espargaro that won this one over A. Marquez (Honda). However, he soon had to defend his new place from Rins, who had managed to also pass A. Marquez.

Lap 10 – the current championship leader, Bastianini broke up the two Repsol Hondas, taking 10th from P. Espargaro, but going into sector 2 he crashed out of the race.

Crashing out. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Black clouds continued to loom large above but with only 11 laps until the end, they didn’t look like they would disrupt the proceedings.

Back at the front of the ‘rollercoaster’ track, Quartararo continued his pace and took another fastest lap, putting further distance between himself and Mir, who was under pressure by Zarco.

With 14 laps left, Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) crashed out but managed to rejoin, after clipping the back of Brad Binder’s KTM, who later crashed out himself on lap 18.

Fabio was controlling the race from the front with a 3.269 second gap ahead of Mir. But Zarco had other plans and soon passed Mir for 2nd place. The Ducati-man couldn’t make the pass stick though and the Suzuki was straight back in front.

The next lap (lap 9), Zarco tried again. He had learnt from his mistake on the previous lap and managed to remain in front, claiming 2nd place. This resulted in Mir then being under pressure by another Ducati, in the form of Miller who was close behind.

But more surprises were due: disaster struck as seconds later Miller tried to pass Mir for the last podium position, into turn 1, only to take both himself and the Suzuki out of the race, hurling them into the gravel.

The crash from 3rd and 4th meant that Quartararo then lead Zarco, A. Espargaro and Rins, who remember had unbelievably come from 23rd place!

With 6 laps to go, Bagnaia was also up to 9th place, fighting his shoulder injury against the relentless undulating track.

Two laps until the chequered flag and the Marquez brothers were fighting eachother for 6th. Marc managed to get the place from Alex but Alex took it back on the straight, leading into the last lap.

Last lap – Quartararo took his first victory this year and his first victory since August last year (at Silverstone) 5.776 seconds ahead of Zarco and A. Espargaro. Marc managed to take 6th back from Alex over the line as Bagnaia also stole 8th spot from P. Espargaro.

Home-Hero, Oliveira finished a respectable 5th.

Happy faces. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top ten race finishers:

1st

F. Quartararo

2nd

J. Zarco

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

A. Rins

5th

M. Oliveira

6th

M. Marquez

7th

A. Marquez

8th

F. Bagnaia

9th

P. Espargaro

10th

M. Vinales

Quartararo is now the fourth different winner of the season, with 5 races already complete, would we see a 5th? Could it be the seemingly illusive first win for the other French rider – Johann Zarco?

Top four Championship:

1st

F. Quartararo

69 Points

2nd

A. Rins

69 Points

3rd

A. Espargaro

66 Points

4th

E. Bastianini

61 Points

Two men are now equal on points for the championship lead and the others are very close behind. It is still anyone’s to take.

With only 1 week to wait, who will be victorious in round 6 of the 2022 season?

 

 

 

Featured image: That winning feeling. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

An unexpected win under Qatar lights

The wait is finally over, the predictions are in – who will win the opening race of the 2022 season?

Qualifying:

There were some interesting results, in less than favourable weather conditions. Jorge Martin (Ducati) took pole and fastest lap. Second was Enea Bastianini (Ducati) and taking last spot on the front row was Marc Marquez (Honda), who was declared fit enough to start the new season. Last year’s championship winner – Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) struggled to get to grips with his bike and qualified 11th with teammate Franco Morbidelli directly behind.

Pole for Martin. Courtesy of: Moto GP website

Race:

From pole Martin got an awful start to his race, starting with a wheelie from the line and almost rode into Bastianini, resulting in Martin going down into 8th spot. Pol Espargaro (Honda) on the other hand had a flying start and was quick to take the lead from teammate Marquez and Brad Binder (KTM).

Joan Mir (Suzuki) passed Bastianini for 4th place, while pre-seasons favourite to win, Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) languished down in 14th place.

Riding on last years Ducati, Bastianini was quick to put in the fastest lap but Mir’s teammate Alex Rins (Suzuki) soon beat it while overtaking Quartararo on the straight to go into 8th on lap 4.

Current champion – Quartararo struggled during the whole weekend. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

At the front P. Espargaro started to break away from the pack as the riders behind battled for positions. Lap 6 of 22 – Bastianini was ready to pounce on Mir and soon took full advantage, taking 4th place.

Binder was next – passing Marquez after Marc made a small mistake and went wide.

Ducati’s rider Jack Miller had to retire from the race on lap 7 and VR46’s racer Marco Bezzacchi crashed out on the last corner on lap 8.

Crashes seemed to come in thick and fast – lap 10, turn 1 Alex Marquez (Honda) ended his weekend. Miguel Oliveria (KTM) fell from 11th place – lap 11, turn 1. Then a shock crash between Bagnaia and Martin, meant both riders went into the gravel due to Bagnaia trying to overtake underneath Martin and losing the front. Three Ducati’s had exited early from the first race of the year.

Under the floodlights of Qatar number 55 (P. Espargaro) slowly increased his gap from Binder and Bastianini. The gap went to 1.063 seconds.

Bastianini had had enough of seeing the rear of the KTM though and soon passed Binder for 2nd place on the straight. He went slightly wide on the first corner but managed to hold his new position. This only let Espargaro’s lead intensify further to 1.406 seconds with only 8 laps to go. Could Bastianini push his Ducati to fight for the win?

It didn’t take him long to take chunks out of the lead and soon the gap had decreased to just 0.856 seconds with 7 laps to go. Then it was 0.500 seconds and Bastianini’s dream of winning his first race was in sight.

Taking fastest lap for the second time in the race Bastianini was pushing hard to get close to Espargaro. Meanwhile his brother Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) managed to pass Marquez for 4th.

Bastianini had chosen to race with a rear medium tyre as apposed to Pol’s soft. Was his tyre fairing better in the closing stages of the race? – it appeared so, as Bastianini blasted past the Repsol Honda on the straight, leaving Pol to make a small mistake and run wide into the first corner, resulting in him re-joining the track, only to be behind Binder.

The 2019 Ducati was soon taking full advantage of being in the top spot and soon had a gap of 1.446 seconds ahead of the KTM and the Honda.

It was down to the final lap and all Bastianini had to do was hold his nerve and take his bike over the finish line to take his maiden victory in only his second year.  As the chequered flag waved there were tears all around, not only for the young Italian but also for the whole Gresini Racing team. Bastianini had proved his dream could come true.

Winning feels good! On the podium with Bastianini and Nadia Padovani. Courtesy of: Moto GP BT Sport Twitter page.

Top ten riders results:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

B. Binder

3rd

P. Espargaro

4th

A. Espargaro

5th

M. Marquez

6th

J. Mir

7th

A. Rins

8th

J. Zarco

9th

F. Quartararo

10th

T. Nakagami

2022 is the longest season ever for Moto GP, but what will the second round in Indonesia hold for us on 20th March?

 

#UnitedForPeace

 

 

Featured image – Enea Bastianini. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The end of an era: Grazie Vale!

How do you sum up this Entertainer, this Role-Model, this Legend?

He has entertained audiences for the past 26 years, winning races and fans throughout the world, bringing new and old supporters to watch the spectacle that is Moto GP. His undying enthusiasm and passion for the sport that he loves has brought smiles and tears to many. His ups and downs shared and felt by all.

The infectious smile. Courtesy of: Autocarindia.

Starting in 125’s (now equivalent to Moto 2) on the Aprilia in 1996:

The young boy from Tavullia, Italy, who entered into the 1996 125cc World Championships didn’t start off lighting the world on fire, but little did we know he soon would. Starting his pattern of one year to watch and learn and second year to win, he went into 1997 with his first championship title, collecting 4 poles and 11 race wins, which would crown him Champion. It was here that we first saw the entertainer that fans would adore, dressing up as Robin Hood at Donington – one particular celebration that stands out and also adopting the iconic Sun and Moon design that he has carried with him through the years.

Winning the 125’s Championship – 1997. Courtesy of: Aprilia website.

Progressing to 250’s (now equivalent to Moto 3) again on the Aprilia:

Rossi took another year to watch and learn and then became champion in 1999. Ditching the name Rossifumi and emerging as Valentinik. He continued to entertain the crowds with his celebrations on track, with the infamous Chicken riding pillion and the porta-loo gag. During the championship winning season he accumulated five poles and nine wins.

The Porta-Loo gag. Courtesy of: MCN

Following the pattern – watch and learn then win the next year, he moved up to the premier class: 500’s (now Moto GP):

With the dominating force of Mick Doohan winning everything in the premier-class, the racing was taking a bit of a lull and audiences were lacking in their numbers but even though the dominating force was due to change no-one was quite prepared for just how much!

Enter: The Doctor.

Another name change for Rossi saw him become The Doctor, a name that has become synonymous with him, just as much as the number 46 has.

Rossi teamed up with Doohan’s ex-crew chief Jeremy Burgess, who proved to be just what he needed. An impressive rookie season saw Rossi take 2nd in the championship and then in 2001 he became the last 500cc (2-stroke) World Champion. Taking 11 wins and 4 poles and along with that Honda’s 500th victory.

Enjoying the win. Courtesy of: Successbod website.

Spectators began to grow in their masses to watch this mesmerizing force that is Valentino Rossi, bringing with them a sea of yellow.

Moto GP – 2002: (the biggest-ever change in technical regulations):

Rossi was on the Repsol Honda – the first year of 990cc (4-stroke) and he pathed his way to glory once again, claiming 11 wins and 7 poles. Remaining with the same team for 2003, but with new team-mate the late Nicky Hayden, Vale again claimed the Moto GP crown with 9 wins and 9 poles.

Victory celebration- issued with a speeding ticket, to poke fun at being told he had the fastest bike on the grid. Courtesy of: Pinterest.

But then when he was on top of the world he did what many people thought was the impossible and decided to do a ‘ridiculous move’. Many times we watched in awe at his talent but nothing more than when he switched teams. Why would he leave a championship winning team, one that had dominated for so long and ride for an under-dog team?

The under-dog team = Yamaha. The reason = A challenge.

The relationship between Rossi and Honda had slowly deteriorated, with Honda claiming that it was all the bike and not much to do with the rider. Rossi taking offence by this lack of respect up and left to prove a point and prove a point he did.

Taking along with him his crew chief and most of his team, they went into the 2004 championship with very little testing during the winter period leaving Rossi to ride his first race on the Yamaha in 2004 at Welkom and incredibly he won! Breaking Yamahas longest losing streak and beating Giacomo Agostini’s record run of 22 consecutive top-three finishers in the process. Finishing the season with 9 wins and 5 poles.

Many people thought it would be too difficult or nearly impossible to win a race let alone the entire championship. But, Valentino is no normal rider. If people weren’t supporting Rossi already then they were now.

The iconic moment. Courtesy of: GP-Inside.com

Staying with Yamaha for 2005, Rossi was joined by another American – Colin Edwards. Vale won for a second year in a row alongside Yamaha and clinched  his 50th premier-class win. At Donington he mesmerized us by winning on water and miming playing a violin over the line. He took a total 11 wins (the highest number of premier class victories in a season on a Yamaha) and 5 poles.

2006 was a close year for the title and went right down to the last race in Valencia to see who would be crowned. It was between the reigning champ – Rossi and old team-mate Hayden. Consistency was key for Hayden and he became the only other rider other than Rossi to win the 990cc era. Rossi finished 2nd overall.

Another hard year for Rossi and Yamaha in 2007, saw them finish 3rd in the championship, only securing 4 race wins. Casey Stoner became another new champion. But, not letting any of this get to him Rossi won back his crown in 2008 becoming the most successful rider in the top-class with 69 wins, overtaking Agostini’s record total of wins. He accumulated 9 wins for the season, 2 poles and another title under a different formula – 800cc. He became the first rider to become champion on four different types of motorcycle and with that – Yamaha’s most successful rider.

8x Champ. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The showman carried on his winning streak and in 2009 remained Moto GP World Champion for the 9th time (in all classes), accumulating his 100th win of his career, 6 wins for the season and 7 poles. In 2010 Rossi announced it would be his final year with Yamaha as he decided he would switch manufactures once again to Ducati. He missed the most races of his whole career during that season after breaking his leg, when he did return though it was like he had never left. He was strong but couldn’t quite catch up.

9x champ – 2009. Courtesy of: GPone.com.

Ducati, as it turned out was not a great career move for the Italian, even though on paper it seemed like the dream team. The Doctor couldn’t produce miracles this time and ended up returning to Yamaha after 2 seasons with Ducati and that is where he remained. He finished 4th in 2013, being a runner-up for the crown in 2014/ 2015 and 2016. What could have been 12 championship wins was never to be. In 2017 Rossi was 5th, then 2018 rose back up to 3rd in the championship. He finished 7th in 2019, 15th in 2020 and for his last year in 2021 he finished 10th.

Even though the last few years he hasn’t been fighting for those wins we are all used to witnessing, it doesn’t matter because he transcended the sport and has become synonymous with Moto GP and can never be replaced. He has made Moto GP what it is today and even though he will leave a hole, we all know the racing will still be just as good as always and of course his VR46 team, with it’s young Italian riders will be there to carry the flag.

Final ride in-front of his yellow sea. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

This living legend, leaves behind a legacy and fantastic memories from fans and riders alike. Ending his illustrious career the way he wanted to, having raced for 26 seasons, finishing 235 times on the podium (more than any other rider in the history of the sport) and accumulating 115 Grand Prix Victories. The stats are truly astounding!

We may never again watch the iconic rituals of The Doctor or the sheer joy of his winning celebrations and the on-track battles but the memories will stay with us forever. Etched in our minds are the fights between him and his rivals – Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez. Who could forget the moment on the corkscrew at Laguna Seca between Vale and Casey? Which had us all on the edge of our seats, or the last corner at Jerez with Sete? Holding our breath.

Laguna Seca – Cork Screw. Courtesy of: Blogspot.com

He has inspired so many people, not just celebrities like F1 driver Lando Norris or fellow Moto GP champion Fabio Quartararo, but millions of people around the world. You say Valentino Rossi and people just know. He has a natural ability to make people want to support and cheer him on with his charisma and affection for all his fans. The whole Moto GP paddock admire him and it showed with the last race in Valencia 2021. The whole pitlane came out for him and every rider got a private hug – his popularity is unhinged.

For us that have had the joy to watch his incredible career, it has been a privilege. He has become a Titan of Motorbike racing and we all know God-like status’s never fade, his name will be there along with Sheene and Agostini forever.

You have written the most amazing story and you will be missed. But as we all know “it’s not the end, it’s the next chapter” – Rossi.

Thank you Vale for the memories. Courtesy of: Moto GP BT Sport twitter page.

 

 

(Featured image. Courtesy of: Moto GP website).

Images Courtesy: Moto GP website/MCN/ The Guardian/ Blogspot and Daily Star.

The final dance.

Here we are: the final round of the 2021 season. And what a season it’s been, ending as always with the Valencia Grand Prix.

Qualifying:

Jorge Martin (Ducati) got a surprise pole with 1:29.936 from Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) in second, who crashed directly after taking pole just before Martin stole it from him. Jack Miller (Ducati) also finished off the front-row getting third place. Valentino Rossi who finished his last qualifying session before retirement secured tenth place.

Race:

Both the Repsol Honda riders were not to participate in the race as Marc Marquez was still suffering from his last crash and Pol Espargaro took a heavy fall during the qualifying on Saturday – an unfortunate end of the season for Honda.

However, it was a weekend for only one man. A sea of yellow filled the grandstands as audiences flocked to see Valentino Rossi for one last time. With only the hope of finishing in the top 10, would he be able to make it?

Martin got off to a flying start and led from Miller and Bagnaia, however Joan Mir (Suzuki) had other ideas and soon took 3rd from Bagnaia, pushing him back to 4th, leaving him sandwiched between the two Suzuki’s.

Lap 2 saw Miller pass Martin for 1st place but Martin was in a fighting mood and took it straight back again, seeing his chance Mir also passed Miller to take 2nd. Pecco didn’t want to miss out on a podium place and was side-by-side with Jack on the straight – beginning of lap 3 and managed to take the position from him. Next was Rins’ turn to battle Miller, coming out on top for 4th and also claiming fastest lap.

While one Ducati rider was getting beaten up, the other soon took 2nd place from Mir, knowing he had to hunt down Martin, for any hope of a victory. But while on a high, Rins also passed his team-mate on lap 4 of 27.

Could things get any worse for Miller? Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) was next to pounce, taking 5th place from him. But, the Ducati was unbeatable on the straight and soon took the place back. Fabio chose another place to again pass Jack later on the same lap.

Lap 5, turn 6 saw Takaaki Nakagami take an early exit from his race.

Meanwhile at the front Bagnaia closed down on Martin and kept checking for the right place to pass but Martin proved a difficult one to get a good place to do so. The two Suzuki’s also looked like they were ready to fight the Ducati’s for 1st and 2nd.

Rookie of the Year. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) was where he wanted to be, in the top 10, in 10th place but Enea Bastianini (Ducati) passed him to take the spot. Could Rossi do anything about it?

Miller and Quartararo continued to have mini battles for 5th place while Bagnaia continued to watch Martin for any weaknesses. With 18 laps to go Bagnaia attempted a pass on Martin but it didn’t stick.

With all front riders on the same tyre set-up (hard Michelin tyres on the front and medium on the rear) it was an even battlefield.

Suddenly on lap 11, turn 6 one of the front riders crashed out of the race. Rins was in the gravel leaving the two Ducati’s to battle it out on their own in front and leaving his team-mate to take 3rd position, with only a 0.726 second gap between him and them.

The gap slowly decreased as Mir caught up to the Ducati’s, closing the gap down to 0.493 seconds. Was Mir in for a chance of winning?

13 laps till the chequered flag and Bagnaia attempted to take the lead again. This time he was successful and took the lead over the finish line to mark the half-way point in the race. Mir and Miller still followed closely behind.

Taking the lead. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

But Bagnaia was soon pulling away from the rest of the field and the gap quickly got to 0.320 seconds. Was Martin starting to feel the results of being ill the night before? Martin had a nice position in 2nd with 1.316 seconds ahead of Miller, who had managed to pass Mir for 3rd with 10 laps to go. The Australian didn’t want to stop there though and he picked up the pace to close down on Martin. With 8 laps until the end the gap had decreased further to 1.285 seconds. Miller had said previously that he saw no point in playing it safe in the last round and wanted to get onto the podium and he did just that. He took fastest lap on lap 21 and continued to bring the gap down further still.

With 3 laps to go Miller had clawed the gap down to 0.317 seconds, was he able to pass for 2nd?

Last lap and last dance of 2021 saw Bagnaia leading with a gap increase of 0.914 seconds over the other two Dukes. But there was nothing the two riders could have done to change the results and Bagnaia won from Martin and Miller, who took the last podium place. The same three riders that had dominated qualifying also dominated the race.

Bagnaia took his fourth win in a row and Martin secured Rookie of the Year.

But the weekend was all about one man – the GOAT – Valentino Rossi. Yellow flags waved vigorously as he crossed the line in 10th place and all the riders stopped at the edge of the track and waited for him to come to them. Each one cheering, clapping and receiving a personal hug from the man that transcended the sport and made it what it is today. A very fitting farewell to an absolute legend who marked the end of an era.

Everyone wanted to say Thank You! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

But we also said farewell to another Italian rider – Danilo Petrucci who also left Moto GP and will be competing in the Dakar for KTM. He will also be sadly missed.

Top Ten Race Results:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

J. Martin

3rd

J. Miller

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Quartararo

6th

J. Zarco

7th

B. Binder

8th

E. Bastianini

9th

A. Espargaro

10th

V. Rossi

Bagnaia wished to dedicate his race win to his Hero Valentino and I would like to say it has been a privilege and a joy to watch the career of the Titan of Moto GP, all the way from those 125cc days to Moto GP.

On behalf of everyone who has been a fan – old or new – we THANK YOU!

Taking his final bow. Courtesy of: Moto GP BT Sport Twitter page.

#GrazieVale

The 2021 season may be over but it will all start again in March 2022. Will a new victor emerge? Can Quartararo secure his crown? Will we see old riders come back to the fray? Whatever happens we will be there.

 

 

(Featured image: courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter page).

©2017 The Pitcrewonline