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.

Enea reigns supreme in Texas

Qualifying:

Round Four saw the Moto GP riders in Austin, Texas at the Circuit of the Americas. But, did anyone see the Ducati lockout at the front of the grid?

Jorge Martin (Ducati) took pole, with a new all-time lap record (2:02.039) from Jack Miller (Ducati) in second and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) in third. Fourth and fifth went to Ducati riders Johann Zarco and Enea Bastianini.

Race:

With 3.426 miles for just one lap at COTA, the laps are long and the wind was strong. With such an unpredictable season so far, who would come out victorious?

Martin and Miller had a great start but it was Miller who took the lead into the first lap, from Martin, Bagnaia and Bastianini. It was a disastrous start though for Marc Marquez (Honda), who had returned from injuries after missing last race. He seemed to have issues with his launch control and stumbled from his grid position, falling to last place.

COTA. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Bastianini claimed third place fairly quickly from Bagnaia, Whilst Martin overtook Miller into turn 20 but Miller was in the mood to fight and took the position back immediately.

Marquez was on a mission and already on lap 2 had made up 5 places, claiming 17th place. Miller also knew he had to try and create a gap between himself and second, trying to do this he put in the fastest lap.

By lap 4 of 20 it was another Ducati’s turn to claim fastest lap, this time it went to Zarco, in 5th place.

Having won so many times at this race track, Marquez knew exactly what he had to do, with 17 laps to go he was up to 14th position. Was the win just a dream this time round?

Zarco and Bagnaia tussled for 4th place, Marquez took another step towards the front and Alex Rins (Suzuki) passed Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) for 6th.

Mini battles in the field. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

For the first time in the race the top five Ducati’s were suddenly split by the Suzuki of Rins who took 5th place on lap 6  and in doing so claimed fastest lap. Unfortunately for Alex Marquez (Honda) on the same lap, he crashed out cutting his race short, in sector 2.

Having looked good for some time, Rins took 4th place from Zarco, but Zarco wasn’t going down without a fight. Meanwhile the two factory Hondas switched places and Marquez was now up to 10th position.

With only 12 laps until the end Miller set another fastest lap and Rins and Zarco continued their battle for 4th.

Half-way through – Miller led Martin, Bastianini and Rins. Turn 11 though – Rins passed Bastianini, but Enea fought back for the spot.

Battling for 9th place, Marquez soon claimed it from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) – last weeks winner.

The Suzuki and Ducati clash continued between Rins and Bastianini with Bastianini coming out the stronger of the two and even taking 2nd place from Martin. Marquez also put in fastest lap – was a podium within reach?

Lap 12 of 20 and Miller continued to lead from the front, from Bastianini, Rins and Martin. While Mir passed Zarco once again for 6th.

Miller leads Bastianini. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Marquez continued to push even harder, this time beating his own record and taking the best race lap ever (2:03.553). This did not last long as Bastianini, soon after, did an even better lap record of 2:03.521.

The overtakes just kept on coming: lap 14 of 20 – Quartararo finally passed Zarco this time managing to make it stick. Mir passed Martin and Bagnaia took full advantage doing the same. Meanwhile Marquez passed Quartararo for 7th.

Back at the front and Bastianini looked menacing behind Miller. Could Miller make his tyres last for just 6 more laps?

Two laps later and Bastianini made his move on Miller, taking the lead on turn 12, he straight away pushed hard to create a gap between the pair.

Martin continued to go backwards in Austin and found himself being passed by Marquez for 7th place, only to then have Quartararo seize the opportunity to also pass and force Martin into 8th, however, Martin fought back and and re-took 7th from Fabio.

Marquez hunts Martin. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

With only 3 laps until the chequered flag Bastianini created a gap of 1.031 seconds ahead of Miller. While Quartararo and Marquez went back-and-forth for 6th position.

Last lap and the Ducati’s of Bastianini and Miller led Rins in 3rd.

The continued battle for 6th raged on while Rins and Miller decided to battle it out. Miller went defensive but in the end it was Rins who claimed 2nd spot on the podium from Miller.

It was an absolutely heroic race from Marquez, who showed with enough determination, will and grit, he could still fight through the pack to claim a valiant 6th place.

Having now taken a second win this year – Bastianini rode the Ducati to claim victory, securing Ducati’s first ever win at COTA.

Bastianini takes the flag at COTA. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Top Ten Finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

A. Rins

3rd

J. Miller

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Bagnaia

6th

M. Marquez

7th

F. Quartararo

8th

J. Martin

9th

J. Zarco

10th

M. Vinales

This season is so unpredictable, we now have another new championship leader:

Championship:

1st

E. Bastianini

61 points

2nd

A. Rins

56 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

50 points

4th

J. Mir

46 points

Rins claiming second on the podium, equaled Suzuki’s 500th podium finish in GP history across all classes.

Are we seeing a new championship contender in Enea Bastianini? Who would have predicted such a Ducati dominance? Can they continue in this fashion? We will have to see in round 5.

 

 

(Featured image: 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.

Pecco Conquers at Portugal

Qualifying:

Returning to Portugal for the second time this year it was Francesco Bagnaia’s (Ducati) turn to take pole and with it a new lap record – 1:38.725 also claiming his fifth pole in a row. Teammate Jack Miller took 2nd on the grid from last years champion Joan Mir (Suzuki) in 3rd – taking his first front-row start in 2021.

This year’s newly crowned champion however was down in 7th on the grid.

Race:

Clear weather conditions meant that the track was perfect for the race ahead.

Missing from this weekends race though was last weeks winner Marc Marquez (Honda), who unfortunately suffered from concussion during a training session mid week. Brad Binder rode in his place.

Starting from pole position, Bagnaia got a slightly poor start but it didn’t stop him from going into first place from turn one. Leading from Mir and Miller. Joan took an early 2nd place from Jack, knowing full-well he needed to get a good start to his race.

Lap one, sector 2 saw an early finish for Danilo Petrucci (KTM) as he crashed out, ending his penultimate race before retiring from Moto GP.

The Portimao track is an undulating track with plenty of ups, downs and tight corners, meaning that mistakes are easy to do. There were a few riders that went wide by the end of lap 2, but one rider that seemed to be reveling on the circuit was home-boy Miguel Oliveira (KTM), who had a great start and was up into 10th, taking 7 places with 23 laps till the end.

Down-hill on the track. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

All eyes were on Bagnaia though, who was out in front. He had gained fastest lap and had already started to gap from Mir. Bad luck surely couldn’t strike twice for the Italian? Having crashed from the lead last time out in Italy.

Newly crowned Moto GP champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) soon took fastest lap in 6th place. While in front of him Alex Marquez (Honda) and Jorge Martin (Ducati) scrapped for their positions.

Pecco responded to Fabio, gaining fastest lap and soon took two fastest laps in a row. The Italian was not going to give up this win. Meanwhile, A. Marquez also didn’t give up on his surprising 4th place fight with Martin and soon held firm with it, with Miller next in his sights. Marquez had chosen to have a medium front Michelin tyre and a hard rear, while all 3 riders in-front of him had opted for both medium. Would his tyre choice be a deciding factor later on in the race?

Lap 7, saw Iker Lecuona (KTM) fall foul to the track as he went wide, leaving his comfortable 8th place and rejoining the race down in 12th. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) was not so fortunate and also made a mistake, which caused him to crash out of the race on turn 1.

Meanwhile, at the front Bagnaia was metronomic and had managed to gap a slightly larger lead from Mir with a 0.663 second lead and Mir having a 0.944 second lead over Miller – who still had Marquez close behind.

In a race of his own. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 12 saw Marquez pass Miller for 3rd. Was Marquez finally getting to grips with his Honda? He was certainly having an impressive race. Whilst Quartararo and Martin battled for 5th position, Quartararo hit a bump on turn 13 and almost crashed, leaving him to wait a little longer before he could make another move.

Still in the lead and looking strong, Bagnaia was 1.501 seconds ahead of the Suzuki in 2nd and only half-way through the race could he keep this pace up?  Not only was Bagnaia’s Ducati looking in good form, so were the other 3 Ducati’s. Miller remained in 4th from Johann Zarco (5th) and Jorge Martin (6th). Keeping Fabio behind in 7th.

Bagnaia could indeed keep his pace up and was in complete control and was remaining consistent. With 11 laps until the end he had broke away from Mir and had a gap of 2.410 seconds. Mir was ahead of Marquez by 1.195 seconds. The front leaders were in their own race away from the rest of the pack.

But, Quartararo needed to make up spaces and soon found a way past the Ducati blockade, passing Zarco on lap 19. The two Frenchmen had a mini battle with Zarco being the victor and with that he also passed his teammate to take 5th place with 6 laps to go. Fabio followed suit and also passed Martin but on lap 21 of 25 (turn 5) he made his first major mistake of the season and crashed, creating his first DNF of 2021. After which, Martin also lost another place to Pol Espargaro (Honda).

Whilst all that was happening behind him, Miller was hunting down Marquez. Miller passed but Marquez passed straight back. On lap 22 Miller managed another pass and that time kept hold of it. Marquez was not going to let him have it that easy though and remained glued to the rear of the Ducati.

However, the race was quickly drawn to an end with marshals waving red flags. With only 2 laps until the checkered flag, Iker Lecuona tried to overtake Miguel Oliveira but ended up taking them both out. Both riders have been confirmed to be okay. As the race was more than three-quarters of the way through there was to be no restart and the results were as they were the lap prior:

Top ten race results:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

J. Mir

3rd

J. Miller

4th

A. Marquez

5th

J. Zarco

6th

P. Espargaro

7th

J. Martin

8th

A. Rins

9th

E. Bastianini

10th

B. Binder

A. Marquez gained his best finish this year and with it the top independent racer this time out. Also worth noting was top Yamaha finisher Valentino Rossi who finished in 13th place, completing his penultimate race this year.

Congratulations all round. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Bagnaia took his 3rd top spot on the podium for 2021, claiming that he “enjoyed every single session this weekend”, Miller took his 4th podium of 2021 having looked confident and in great form all weekend.

Championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

267

2nd

F. Bagnaia

227

3rd

J. Mir

195

4th

J. Miller

165

Ducati also claimed the Constructors Championship this weekend and Zarco took Best Independent Rider of 2021.

The race may not have been the biggest of spectacles and may have seemed a little subdued but these races need to happen to make the truly special races stand out. One thing is for sure though audiences are witnessing history with Ducati coming back to their previous winning ways, new championship contenders coming forward and with only one race to wrap up the 2021 season – Valencia is sure to be a show-stopper.

A new champion is crowned!

Qualifying:

Poor weather conditions resulted in championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) qualifying in an unusual position of 15th on the grid.

Second-place-man in the championship Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) took another pole. Team-mate Jack Miller was second and it was a surprise last place on the front row, for fellow Ducati rider, Luca Marini getting his best qualifying result.

You can’t miss him! Luca Marini sported a new livery, in honour of his brother who celebrated his last race in Italy. Courtesy of: Sky Racing Team VR46 – Twitter Page.

Race:

If the weather was dramatic in qualifying, it certainly wasn’t for the race. However, the drama was there to stay:

The two factory Ducati’s gained a great start from the front and remained in first and second from Marc Marquez (Honda) who quickly got himself to third. Quartararo however, went backwards from 15th to 17th.

Straight away Miller became the perfect team player and took the defensive line against Marquez, keeping him at bay, to let Bagnaia get away. Bagnaia responded and quickly started to create a gap.

Ducati’s lead from the start. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Meanwhile, down in 17th, Fabio started ticking people from his list and by lap 3 was up to 12th position, on the same lap unfortunately, last years champion Joan Mir (Suzuki) was told he had a jump start and was given a long-lap penalty, but soon after that he crashed out alongside Birthday-Boy Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) on turn 2.

Marquez was pushing himself and soon claimed fastest lap. Could he keep this form up and fight for a podium spot? With his fellow Repsol Honda rider behind him he only had to focus on the two Ducati’s ahead.

But there was drama unfolding on the track and with 24 laps to go the first part played out. Jack Miller crashed from second on turn 15, trying to defend for Pecco – leaving him alone to fight for first.

Marquez took his opportunity and closed up on Bagnaia, piling on the pressure. It appeared he was able to turn his Honda better than the Ducati, his arm problems seemingly a thing of the past. Or was it due to the Michelin tyre choice between the two? Bagnaia chose to race with a hard front and medium rear, while Marquez chose a medium front and soft rear. Which set of tyres were going to prevail?

Also piling on pressure was Fabio, now up to 10th place, passing fellow Frenchman Johann Zarco (Ducati).

Crashing on the same lap however was Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) but he managed to rejoin, albeit in last place.

Continuing his hunt, Fabio was soon up to 9th place behind a group of riders, ready to pick them off one-by-one.

A technical issue resulted in Alex Marquez (Honda) having to retire early on lap 11 and Iker Lecuona (KTM) also retired early due to a crash on turn 1.

The tension meanwhile between first and second continued to build with Marc still looking like he was going to pounce at any moment on Pecco.

Quartararo started to pick off the riders in the pack and soon passed into 8th place, with 14 laps until the end. Whilst Fabio was riding high, disaster struck for another Ducati rider – Jorge Martin, who crashed out turn 1, lap 13.

The group in-front of El Diablo started to have mini battles for positions, bringing him into the fray. He soon passed team-mate Franko Morbidelli and number 10 rider – Marini, taking 7th place. With only 12 laps to go, could he progress any further? Any questions were answered when on lap 18 he also passed Alex Rins (Suzuki) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) for 5th position. He only had KTM rider Miguel Oliveria and Honda rider Pol Espargaro in-front for a podium spot. Could he do it?

Fighting through the pack. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Meanwhile, Bagnaia was responding to Marquez’s pressure and pushed for the fastest lap, trying to break away from the Spaniard.

But, the Ducati drama was not over and with only 5 crucial laps until the end, Bagnaia suddenly slid from first position into the gravel and alongside that his championship hopes. Ducati held their heads in their hands along with multiple fans who couldn’t believe what they had seen. Leaving Marquez to claim first and lead the race all the way to the chequered flag. Quartararo was also granted another position, but Enea Bastianini (Ducati), who had come from 16th place on the grid, had other ideas for Fabio and with only 2 laps until the end, looked like he might fight for 3rd.

The edge-of-your-seat drama continued on the last lap and Bastianini did indeed pass Quartararo for the last spot on the podium.

There was too many things happening all at once – Marquez crossed the line, proving all the doubters wrong with regards to his arm health. Bastianini passed Quartararo on the last lap. Fabio claimed the World Championship and local Hero Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) finished in 10th at his last home race.

Team-mates congratulate each other. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.
Never gets old – Rossi celebrates with fans. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It was history in the making! Fabio Quartararo became the first Frenchman to ever claim the Moto GP World Championship title and along with it the first championship win for Yamaha since 2015.

It was also the first podium for Pol, racing for his new team and a second podium for rookie Bastianini in the Premier Class.

Fabio celebrated in style, walking down a red carpet to receive a golden helmet, alongside celebrations which included pyrotechnics and a live DJ.

Celebrations! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top 10 race results:

1st

M. Marquez

2nd

P. Espargaro

3rd

E. Bastianini

4th

F. Quartararo

5th

J. Zarco

6th

A. Rins

7th

A. Espargaro

8th

M. Vinales

9th

L. Marini

10th

V. Rossi

Top Four Championship results:

1st

F. Quartararo

267 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

202 points

3rd

J. Mir

175 points

4th

J. Zarco

152 points

With only 2 races left for the season, will there be another new race winner? A third in a row win for Marquez? Or will El Diablo want to go out with an even bigger bang?

 

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website).

Perfect Pecco at Misano!

Qualifying:

A few unexpected crashes from Marc Marquez (Honda), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) during the qualifying session meant yellow flags had to be waved and some riders were caught out by this, by not putting in a good qualifying lap.

One rider not to be caught out was Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) who bagged a second pole in a row. Also claiming a second, second place was team-mate Jack Miller (Ducati) from Quartararo in third, taking the last spot on the front row.

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) had yet another team-mate, this time with former Moto GP rider Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha). He also had another helmet design, following on from last years design (Viagra pills) being substituted for a pink bow in honour of the announcement of his soon-to-be baby girl. Would this helmet bring him any luck for the race on home ground?

Rossi with new helmet for Misano. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Race:

With the riders getting prepped on the grid, grey clouds started to loom above them and the temperature at the track dropped but it was declared a dry race by the start.

Grey clouds over the grid. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

When the lights went out it appeared that Bagnaia may have had a jump-start but stewards quickly assessed the situation and he just started as he meant to go on – perfectly.

Marc Marquez was quick off the line and was soon in fourth place with Jorge Martin (Ducati) close behind, who had passed A. Espargaro.

Starting from 12th place – Bastianini had quickly made up places and was soon in 9th. Would he be one to keep-an-eye on?

Bastianini starting to make ground. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Pecco created a gap straight away from Jack and Fabio, already 1.231 seconds ahead and secured fastest lap in the process. While Fabio and Jorge Martin scrapped for third position behind. But it was not to be for Martin, who crashed out on lap 3, turn 14.

The man to watch (Bastianini) flew through the field and soon passed A. Espargaro for 5th place. While Miller took fastest lap behind his team-mate, in the lead.

Next up on Bastianini’s list was M. Marquez, they had a fight for 4th position but the Ducati man came out the victor. Could he make it to a podium place? The gap between himself and Quartararo was 3.486 seconds – it seemed it could be done with 11 laps to go.

Both front Ducati’s had chosen to race with hard front Michelin tyres and soft rears, compared to Yamaha which had front hard and medium rear. Would the soft tyre choices prove to be effective for the Dukes? Or would the Yamaha conserve tyres more effectively?

While it was elation for the factory Ducati’s in 1st and 2nd, it was deflation for the Pramac Ducati’s. In quick succession both Pramac Ducati riders soon had long-lap penalties. But for Martin, who had managed to get back on his bike, found himself in last place and took his penalty but soon after retired out of the race.

Pecco continued to extend his lead from Miller while Quartararo continued to stalk him for 2nd place. With 14 laps till the end Quartararo took a stop to the Ducati dominance and passed the Australian for 2nd, trying to claw back the lead that Bagnaia had created, which was 2.818 seconds ahead.

It appeared that Miller’s rear tyre may have degraded as Bastianini had him in his sights by lap 16.

The young Italian was on a mission – he claimed fastest lap on lap 17 and again on lap 18. Closing the space between himself and Miller to under a second. Whilst Alex Rins (Suzuki) crashed out in sector one, Bastianini claimed a third fastest lap in a row. He was just 0.180 seconds behind Miller. But the number 43 couldn’t hold off the number 23 any longer and on lap 19 Enea passed Jack to take a podium place.

Third for Enea. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The gap between Bagnaia and Quartararo was closed down to 1.254 seconds. Did Bagnaia have the same tyre concerns as Miller? With just 5 laps until the end the gap was down to 1.089 seconds.

But then the gap was suddenly increased again to 2.628 seconds – maybe Bagnaia had been conserving his tyres all along? Or had Quartararo made a small mistake?

The pressure was building between the Italian and the Frenchman as Quartararo seemed to find something last minute as well and was soon back behind Bagnaia. But as Bagnaia had proven last weekend, he was ready for a fight, with the taste of one victory, he wanted more.

Bagnaia defends first. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

With two laps to go Fabio appeared to be setting himself up to pass Pecco. The gap had decreased to just 0.271 seconds. But Bagnaia managed to hold off his advances and took back-to-back wins from Quartararo and Bastianini – who rode an incredible race and took his first podium in Moto GP on a 2019 Ducati.

Marquez and Joan Mir (Suzuki) managed to pass Miller, who couldn’t quite defend 4th place, on the last lap. But Miller was soon promoted to 5th place as Mir had exceeded track limits on the last lap.

It was the perfect weekend for Pecco – taking back-to-back poles and back-to-back wins!

Misano Podium 2021. Courtesy of: Misano World Circuit, Twitter Page.

Top ten race finishers:

1

F. Bagnaia

2

F. Quartararo

3

E. Bastianini

4

M.Marquez

5

J. Miller

6

J. Mir

7

P. Espargaro

8

A. Espargaro

9

B. Binder

10

T. Nakagami

Championship results:

First

F. Quartararo

234 points

Second

F. Bagnaia

186 points

Third

J. Mir

168 points

Fourth

J. Zarco

141 points

What can we expect for the next round in two weeks time at Austin, Texas? Will Quartararo be in a comfortable position to claim the World Title? Will there be a 9th new winner? Or will the Ducati’s reign supreme once more?

 

(Featured image – Courtesy of Moto GP website).

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