The drama continues in Thailand

Qualifying:

Moto GP was finally back in Thailand!

But it wasn’t the only return this weekend. Danilo Petrucci also returned to the paddock, taking Joan Mir’s spot at Suzuki, who was still unable to ride.

Glorious sunny conditions graced the track, which had a nice surprise in store for everyone – 2022 rookie – Marco Bezzecchi (VR46) flew into pole position, ahead of Jorge Martin (Ducati) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), who took last spot on the front row.

Race:

The weather was turned on its head for Sunday. Big black clouds loomed large overhead and with them came torrential rain, which managed to hamper the start of the race, delaying it so far that audiences weren’t sure it was even going to go ahead.

Some riders protested against the start of the race while others wanted to go racing. The crowd at the circuit however were determined to not let the weather get them down and they remained in fantastically high spirits.

The race was later declared a wet race and with that, a decision to remove one lap from the race, taking it from 26 laps to 25 in total.

The green lights eventually went out and the race began:

Martin immediately went wide into turn one as did Bezzecchi, but he managed to remain in the lead ahead of Bagnaia and Jack Miller (Ducati).

Start of the race. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Championship leader – Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) made a mistake also early on, on the first lap taking him from 11th to 17th place. The championship points changing right before our eyes.

There was heavy spray coming from all the riders, making visibility poor, but one rider who was not perturbed by this was Alex Marquez (Honda), who had the best start, claiming 10 places and was up to 10th position. What could he achieve further into the race?

Lap 2 saw Bezzecchi be told he needed to give a position back due to exceeding track limits (when he went wide) on the 1st lap. Meanwhile, behind him, Miller made a move on his teammate to take him into 2nd. He was in prime spot to take the lead when Bezzecchi would eventually have to let him pass.

Alex Marquez wasn’t finished making up places and soon passed Enea Bastianini (Ducati) to take 9th spot on lap 3. On the same lap – Bezzecchi moved out of the racing-line to let Miller pass. Miller then led Bezzecchi, Bagnaia and Miguel Oliveira (KTM). In 6th place, Luca Marini crashed out, but he did manage to later re-join the race.

Sensing he needed to start to break away and gain a lead, Miller soon took fastest lap but it was quickly surpassed by Oliveira. Miguel also managed to pass Bezzecchi to claim another spot and Bagnaia followed, taking his opportunity too.

Miller led Oliveira, Bagnaia and Bezzecchi by lap 6 of 25.

Oliveira threw down the gauntlet for fastest lap, putting in an impressive lap time of 1:39.920. Could he fight for the victory?

Hunting Miller. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Meanwhile a mini battle for 7th place had started with A. Marquez passing Zarco, only for Zarco to pass straight back.

While that battle raged on, Miller and Oliveira started to create a gap at the front. A. Espargaro (Aprilia) on the other hand was having a bad weekend and was given a long-lap penalty for dangerous riding earlier on in the race. Would this result change the championship standings?

Still on the move – Alex Marquez managed to pass a further 2 riders, placing him behind his brother in 5th place. On the same lap Bagnaia picked up the fastest lap gauntlet and with it threw down a lap time of: 1:39.566. This was a great achievement by Bagnaia as he struggled last weekend in the wet conditions during qualifying. He later claimed that his teammate gave him a ‘pep-talk’ before this weekend’s race, which helped him this round.

The black clouds still gathered above but with them came the thunder. Would there be any further drama during the race?

Dark clouds above. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

14 laps until the end, Miller still led Oliveira and Bagnaia, with championship leader – Quartararo remaining in 18th place (out of the points). Could Fabio find something extra and manage to gain any valuable points?

2 laps later Oliveira set up a pass on Miller and took the lead. Miller tried to fight back but went wide. He decided to wait until the start-finish straight to use the full power of the Ducati to pass him back but, it came to no avail. Oliveira remained in 1st place.

It was then the turn of Frenchman Johann Zarco to take fastest lap, in 5th place. Not only did he manage it twice in a row but with 7 laps to go he managed to claim it a 3rd time (1:39.185). Could he fight for a podium position?

Only 5 laps until the chequered flag and M. Marquez made a move on Bagnaia for 3rd but couldn’t make it stick. In making the move, Marquez helped bring Zarco into the mix, who was looking menacing behind the number 93.

It only took until the next lap for Zarco to pass Marquez to claim 4th position. The podium was now in his sights.

Nothing in Thailand was going to dampen the drama unfolding on track, not even further black clouds and louder claps of thunder.

With 2 laps to go the KTM still led the 3 Ducati’s with Marquez’s Honda in 5th spot.

Last lap-

Bastianini managed to find some late race pace and managed to get up to 6th, behind Marquez, but he couldn’t quite make any move on him.

Oliveira passed the finish line to take the win, with Miller taking 2nd and Bagnaia bagging 3rd. The championship leader remained out of the points. A completely different story from round 16.

The championship still remains open for grabs.

Top Ten Finishers:

1st

M. Oliveira

2nd

J. Miller

3rd

F. Bagnaia

4th

J. Zarco

5th

M. Marquez

6th

E. Bastianini

7th

M. Vinales

8th

A. Marquez

9th

J. Martin

10th

B. Binder

Top Four Championship Standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

219 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

217 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

199 points

4th

E. Bastianini

180 points

Such exciting racing and close positions in the championship – there is now only 2 points between Fabio and Pecco! So, be sure not to miss the Australian round in 2 weeks’ time!

 

 

(Featured image – Jump for Joy. Courtesy of: Moto GP website). 

Aragon = All-out Action!

Qualifying:

Big news of the weekend is that Marc Marquez (Honda) is finally back, after his surgery which was a complete success this time around. He had some work to do to try and get through to Q2 but, yellow flags hampered him and he narrowly missed out going through to Q2, meaning he would start 13th on Sunday.

It was also a warm welcome back to British racer Cal Crutchlow, who will be racing for the rest of the season in Andrea Dovisiozo’s place at Yamaha.

Good news for Ducati though as it was a lock-out on the front-row for them. Francesco Bagnaia took pole with an all-time lap record – 1:46.69, from current teammate Jack Miller and next year’s teammate Enea Bastianini.

Pole! Courtesy of: Moto GP website

Race:

Sunshine was beaming and the anticipation was bubbling along nicely.

It was all action from lights out – Bagnaia remained in the lead from Miller and Bastianini. While Marquez had made an impressive start and was up into 6th place by turn 2, when suddenly championship leader Fabio Quartararo rode into the rear wheel of Marquez, propelling him from his Yamaha and flying him across the track, lucky not to get caught up in other riders behind him, he recovered on the side of the track. (A medical update later revealed that he had numerous burns to his chest – we wish him a speedy recovery). With this one sudden moment, the championship was flung wide-open!

Fabio’s crash. Courtesy of: Moto GP footage

A few moments later Marquez was checking his Honda as there was some of Fabio’s Yamaha lodged in the rear of it when Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) nudged him, sending Nakagami also into the line of on-coming bikes and then into the gravel. Quick reactions from the riders behind meant no further collisions were caused. (Medical updates later confirmed Nakagami is doing well but has visited the medical centre, we wish him a speedy recovery also).

Nakagami incident. Courtesy of: Moto GP BT Sport footage

The action wasn’t over yet though as Marquez’s bike started to smoke from the rear, the Yamaha parts that had gotten lodged in the bike must have damaged his rear wheel. He was forced to retire from his first race back in 2022.

Back at the front, Bastianini went backwards to 4th place, but he had also taken fastest lap.

Bagnaia led Miller, Brad Binder (KTM) and Bastianini onto lap 3 of 23. Bastianini wasn’t hanging around though and soon re-took 3rd from Binder. He knew he couldn’t let the factory Ducati’s get away.

Bagnaia leads the way. Courtesy of: Moto GP wesbite

The race pace settled down after the excitement of the opening laps as Bagnaia created a lead of 0.457 seconds ahead of his teammate with 18 laps to go.

Bastianini had plans to thwart Bagnaia’s lead though and soon had passed Miller to take 2nd. The gap between himself and his future teammate was 0.700 seconds, knowing he had to hunt him down – he got to work.

Miller’s race meanwhile, was going from bad to worse as Binder also passed him as did Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) moments after, putting him back to 5th place.

With 16 laps to go Bagnaia was still in control, leading Bastianini, Binder and Espargaro.

The gap between the two front Italians had decreased further to 0.412 seconds. Would Bastianini dare challenge Bagnaia for the lead? Ducati had announced prior to the race that their riders are “free to race” so what would he decide?

By lap 9 the gap between the pair had closed dramatically and Bastianini did indeed pass the Duke to take the lead. It was a short-loved lead though as he soon went wide, meaning Bagnaia could re-take the lead with ease. He then made a small mistake on the next corner, nearly letting Binder also take a place from him, fortunately he remained in second, but all his hard work had come undone. The gap between him and the leader was back to 0.786 seconds. He wasn’t going to be perturbed though.

Bastianini was on a mission, not letting the number 63 get away he started to claw the gap back. Meanwhile, behind him Binder was being hunted down by Espargaro.

By lap 16 of 23, gapping was appearing between the leading four riders: Bagania’s lead was 0.745 seconds ahead of Bastianini, who’s gap between him and Binder was 1.579 seconds, who’s gap between Binder and Espargaro was 0.405 seconds.

In 14th place – British Yamaha test-rider Cal Crutchlow was remaining in the points, currently higher than any place Dovi had managed to collect this year.

Cal Crutchlow. Courtesy of: Moto GP website

Back at the front the action was becoming tense. With only 6 laps until the chequered flag the gap between Bagnaia and “The Beast” had dropped and Bastianini was very close to the rear of Pecco.

With 4 laps till the end: Crutchlow passed Vinales to take 13th, Espargaro closed the gap between himself and Binder (to 0.193 seconds) and Bastianini started getting tempted to pass his future teammate.

Would he actually do it? Could he actually do it? There weren’t many laps left to make a decision.

The gap between the two Ducati’s was 0.193 seconds as Bastianini seemed to be testing a corner to pass Bagnaia on. Deciding against it, audiences had to hold their breath.

Espargaro though, decided enough is enough sitting behind Binder and passed him to take the last podium position.

The next lap Bastianini did another tempting move but again decided against it. Was he going to try a pass on Bagnaia?

Last lap:

Baganaia led Bastianini onto turn 1 –

turn 2 –

turn 3 –

turn 4 –

turn 5 and turn 6 but, turn 7 saw a surprise move from Bastianini which saw him re-take the lead at Aragon. Bagnaia had little response to it. The last corner/ the short start-finish straight was his last chance, but it was not to be.

Bastianini claimed his 4th victory for 2022, with Bagnaia extremely close behind.

Top ten finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

F. Bagnaia

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

B. Binder

5th

J. Miller

6th

J. Martin

7th

L. Marini

8th

J. Zarco

9th

A. Rins

10th

M. Bezzecchi

Surprising turn of events for round 15 sees the championship blow wide-open:

Top four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

211 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

201 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

194 points

4th

E. Bastianini

163 points

Now only 10 points between Fabio and Pecco and 17 points between Aleix and first place.

With a 1, 2 in the bag for this round, Ducati had more to celebrate as they became the 2022 Constructors World Champions! 

Courtesy of: Ducati Course Twitter page

What could possibly happen next time in Motegi, Japan? Be sure to join in with the action on Sunday 25th September.

 

(Featured image. Courtesy of: Enea Bastianini Twitter page)

 

 

Thank you for your service. May you rest in peace. Courtesy of: Google Images.

All in a days work for Pecco!

Qualifying:

Rainy, damp conditions greeted the riders for their qualifying sessions on Saturday.

But, it was Ducati-man Jack Miller who took full advantage and secured pole, followed by Enea Bastianini and Marco Bezzecchi, making an all Ducati front-row. Second and third place were local-boys, hoping to shine bright at home.

The top two riders in the championship – Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) both qualified on the 3rd row.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) received a 3 place grid penalty which resulted in him starting in 5th, following on from slowing down on the racing line, after he assumed the chequered flag had been waved to end the session.

Race:

A wonderful tribute to the late Fausto Gresini would be done during the race, in the form of the Gresini Racing bikes having their livery changed to remember the 1987 125cc World Championship winning Garell bike that Gresini used. Whatever their outcome for the race, this was a wonderful surprise.

The livery! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The rain/ damp conditions had passed ready for Sunday with partly cloudy weather, the track temperature though had risen significantly to 43 degrees, come race time. Would this prove to be an issue?

It was finally lights out for the Moto GP race: Miller got a great start, as did Bagnaia. Miller led Bastianini and Bagnaia into the first corner. But behind it was  disaster for; Johann Zarco (Ducati), Michele Pirro (Ducati) and Pol Espargaro (Honda), who all toppled out together. Hopefully, none were injured in the collision.

Crashing out. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

After the news this week, that Bastianini had been confirmed he was to be Bagnaia’s teammate next year, there didn’t seem to be any future team orders between the pair. Bastianini soon passed Bagnaia to take 2nd place. But on the second lap Miller unexpectedly fell from first (turn 4), leaving ‘The Beast’ to lead the race.

Bastianini led Marini (VR46) and Bagnaia (Marini had also managed to pass Bagnaia to take 2nd). While one VR46 rider fortunes were in his favour, teammate Bezzecchi’s fortunes were not – crashing out also on lap 2.

The new race leader also almost toppled from first moments later, but managed to recover.

The excitement was far from over though. Lap 3 saw Bagnaia and Vinales both pass Marini, pushing him back to 4th, another yellow flag waved but this time for both Frankie Morbidelli (Yamaha) and Fabio DiGiannantonio (Ducati), Bagnaia passed Bastianini for the lead and ‘Top Gun’ passed ‘The Beast’ for 2nd.

Bagnaia led Vinales, Bastianini and Marini with Quartararo and Espargaro close behind.

Bagnaia took fastest lap (lap 5) but had mounting pressure in the form of Vinales, who was looking menacing behind.

In 5th place on lap 7, Espargaro made a small error, which Quartararo needed no invitation and passed him to gain another place. Meanwhile in 3rd Bastianini was pushing hard and took fastest lap (1:32.560 seconds).

Now in 5th spot, could Quartararo close the gap on the front 4 riders, their gap had increased to 0.826 seconds, with 21 laps still to go? He knew he had to try. Next lap he took fastest lap. Could he be in for a shout of a podium finish?

Fastest lap soon went to Bagnaia, but was beaten seconds later by 6th place rider Espargaro. Fighting for the championship, alongside Fabio, could Aleix catch him to reduce the points between them? He certainly kept the momentum going – with 16 laps till the end, he secured another fastest lap.

Track limits warnings were coming thick and fast: Vinales was the first to receive one, then Martin then Quartararo. But, Vinales didn’t seem perturbed by his warning and soon took 2 fastest laps in a row, all the while, eyeing up a pass on Bagnaia.

With 12 laps to go, Bastianini went slightly wide, letting Marini take 3rd, but Bastianini wasn’t having any of it and re-took the position straight back. The gap between number 23 and 12 was 0.615 seconds. Could Bastianini manage to catch up and if so fight for the win?

Setting fastest lap with only 10 laps to go he had managed to claw the gap down between himself and Maverick to 0.471 seconds. With Vinales still trying to get the perfect spot to pass Bagnaia for the lead. But, he had waited too long to make his move and 2 laps later Bastianini attacked and took 2nd place on turn one. Bagnaia now led Bastianini, Vinales and Marini.

Following closely. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The next track-limits warning went to Bastianini with 6 laps till the end.

But, more drama was about to unfold going onto the last lap:

Bastianini was all over the back of Bagnaia. Would he make a last lap lunge? Surely not – this would be his teammate next year and a championship contender this year. None of this was on his mind though as he went to make a move but had to abort it, in fear of crashing into Bagnaia, which in turn created a small gap between the pair. The gap was severely shrunk down on the start-finish line though making it a picture-finish. Bagnaia had the edge and claimed the victory (with only 0.034 seconds between them) and in the process made history: Being the first-time Ducati have won 4 races in a row!

Super close end. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

A great ride from Vinales saw him finish on the last spot of the podium.

Top 10 race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

E. Bastianini

3rd

M. Vinales

4th

L. Marini

5th

F. Quartararo

6th

A. Espargaro

7th

A. Rins

8th

B. Binder

9th

J. Martin

10th

A. Marquez

Top 4 Championship Standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

211 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

181 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

178 points

4th

E. Bastianini

138 points

As seen above, there are some changes to the championship table.

The race was brilliant and had everyone on the edge of their seats. BUT, we can’t end there.

For the last 21 years there has been a consistent rider, one who we have had the pleasure to watch come through the ranks: winning the 125 championship, coming close to winning the 250 championship and coming runner-up many times in the Moto GP class.

Ever a gentleman off track but with the heart of a lion on track, he gave us many exciting battles and has raced against many big names in the sport. He won his first-ever race at Misano and decided to end his Moto GP career his way, at the very same track. He has won many fans over the years and the paddock will not be the same without him.

Thank you for the memories Andrea Dovizioso and Ciao! We wish you all the best wherever your future takes you.

Feel the love Dovi. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of: Moto GP website. 

Ducati Dominance continues!

Austrian GP news: 

The big news of the weekend was that the Austrian track had been changed. Turn 2 had now been split into two sections, a “flip-flop chicane”, now being re-named turns 2a and 2b. It caught some riders out over the weekend but, in the end would hopefully create some interesting overtaking opportunities.

Qualifying:

Cloudy conditions greeted the riders on Saturday, but they remained undeterred.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) looked to be confident, taking an early provisional pole in Q2. Jack Miller (Ducati) was also on fine form and soon took the pole spot. The championship leader, Fabio Quartararo on the other hand seemed to be struggling getting to grips with his Yamaha.

The Ducati’s though were dominant at the Red Bull Ring as Enea Bastianini took his first Moto GP pole, with a flying lap time: 1:28.772, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and Miller – an all Ducati front-row.

Happy with his pole – Bastianini celebrates. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Race:

The weather remained cloudy for Race Day, leaving many fans to wonder if it would indeed rain as the bikes lined up on the grid, ready for lights out:

Undulating track and foreboding clouds at Austria. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Bagnaia got a great start, leading Bastianini and Miller into the first corner and through the new chicane for the first time.

However, turn 4 saw Joan Mir (Suzuki) take an early tumble from the race. Seen holding his ankle in the gravel, (it was later confirmed that he had had medical checks and that he had broken his ankle. We wish him a speedy recovery).

Mir crashes lap 4. Courtesy of: Moto GP official Twitter page.

On lap 4, Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) had managed to pass Quartararo for 5th place and the four front Ducati’s started to gain a lead ahead, with Jorge Martin in 4th taking the first fastest lap of the race, (1:30.364). Another pass came from Miller to take 2nd place from Bastianini, but ‘The Beast’ was having none of it and passed him right back.

By lap 5, A. Espargaro had taken fastest lap (1:29.979), while his teammate had been given a track limits warning and if that wasn’t bad enough, Maverick also got passed by 2 riders on the same lap (lap6), forcing him back to 8th place.

Back at the front, the four Ducati’s suddenly got broken up by the Yamaha of ‘El Diablo’, taking 4th spot from Bastianini. Seconds later, Bastianini appeared to have a technical fault and pulled out of the race. On the same lap it was Remy Gardener’s (KTM) turn to bow-out early as he crashed out – turn 4.

Bagnaia then led Miller, Martin and Quartararo onto lap 7.

With 22 laps to go Miller passed his teammate to briefly take the lead, but Bagnaia out-braked him, re-claiming his lead.

Fastest lap was soon taken by Martin – lap 9. Could he get close enough to the factory Dukes, with only a 1.023 second gap between them, to fight for the win? Further down the field Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) took to the gravel, finishing his race early.

Martin indeed managed to eat into the leading gap and soon got it down to 0.311 seconds. By lap 12 he was right on the back of Miller. Which Ducati would be dominant?

With 16 laps until the end, another track warning got issued, this time to Quartararo. Behind him Luca Marini (VR46) took 6th place from A. Espargaro and behind them Darryn Binder crashed out.

The next lap, Martin clipped the gravel forcing him to take evasive action and he took to the run-off section of the track, Fabio passed to take 4th place, but Martin also needed to make sure he wouldn’t incur a penalty so also gave back a second, but quick-thinking meant he also managed to keep his new position – 5th.

Two laps later and bad luck continued to keep hold of Vinales who got passed not just by Johann Zarco (Ducati) but also Suzuki-man Alex Rins.

10 laps to go – The front 3 riders had all managed to create gaps between each-other. Bagnaia still led Miller by 0.896 seconds. Quartararo continued to hunt down Miller with 0.515 seconds between them. A few places behind them Espargaro put up a great fight from the Italian – Marini, but in the end Marini passed him again on lap 21, this attempt the pass stuck.

Things were heating up, with only 4 laps until the finish line, a surprise move came from the Yamaha in 3rd – Quartararo passed Miller on the new turn 2b, to take 2nd place, leaving Miller in the clutches of Martin, who quickly seized the opportunity and passed Miller to take 3rd spot. Miller fought back though to re-take 3rd. Meanwhile, another yellow flag waved, this time for Yamaha rider Frankie Morbidelli, who crashed out turn 2.

Due to the on-going battles behind him, Bagnaia managed to extend his lead further to 1.554 seconds from the Championship leader.

Then it was Martin’s turn to receive a track-limits warning 2 laps later, as a result of his tussle with Miller.

Last lap – the clouds above still seemed dull and grey but the rain had stayed away.

Rain stayed away. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Turn one saw Martin try to overtake Miller once more, but this time resulted in him seeing the gravel instead. He managed to get back into the race and still finished in the top 10. This error meant that Miller could now finish comfortably on the podium.

Podium hopes fall from beneath him. Courtesy of: Moto GP official Twitter page.

Bagnaia managed to remain in complete control of the entire race and passed the finish line to take his 3rd consecutive race win in a row ahead of Quartararo and Miller. Behind them in 4th was an elated Marini.

Celebrates with team. Courtesy of: Bagnaia’s official Twitter page.

Top 10 race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

J. Miller

4th

L. Marini

5th

J. Zarco

6th

A. Espargaro

7th

B. Binder

8th

A. Rins

9th

M. Bezzechi

10th

J. Martin

Top four championship:

1st

F. Quartararo

200 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

168 points

3rd

F. Bagnaia

156 points

4th

J. Zarco

125 points

The racing was super exciting and had fans on the edge of their seats through-out.

Can Ducati continue their streak into the next round at Misano on 4th September? Or would Someone else step onto the top spot? 

 

 

Featured image – Courtesy of: Moto GP official Twitter page 

Moto3: Austrian GP Preview

The second half of the 2022 Moto3 season began in style with a thrilling British Grand Prix barely a fortnight ago. Now that the dust has settled, our attention turns to the Red Bull Ring in Austria for Round 13 of the championship this coming weekend (19/20/21 August).

Moto3 Sergio Garcia Picture courtesy of Aspar Team

The GASGAS Aspar duo of Sergio Garcia and Izan Guevara were unstoppable during the first half of the season, they sit first and second in the championship standings respectively, despite both crashing out in the latter stages at Silverstone. The chequered flag was taken by title rival Dennis Foggia, who masterfully guided his Leopard Racing Honda to victory, capitalising on the Spanish riders misfortune. The Italian is now just 42 points behind Garcia in the race for the Moto3 crown.

Perhaps the biggest talking point ahead of the Austrian GP is the new chicane which has been installed to reduce speeds on the approach to turn 3. The alteration was prompted after an incident in the 2020 MotoGP race, where Franco Morbidelli and Johann Zarco came together at high speed, nearly collecting the Yamaha duo of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales in the process.

The revised layout has divided opinions, with some riders suggesting that the new chicane itself is dangerous. How the racing will be affected remains to be seen, but the hope of course is that the changes will lead to more overtaking as well as improved safety.

Moto3 Izan Guevara Picture courtesy of Aspar Team

As is often the case in this class, there are a number of contenders for victory. Last year’s podium finishers will all be in the hunt this weekend. 2021’s race was won by the aforementioned Garcia, with 3 wins already this season, he is probably the favourite. Turkish rider Deniz Öncü is still searching for his maiden Moto3 win, he was last year’s runner up and has the added motivation of Austria being both KTM and Red Bull’s home race. Foggia, who was third, has shown steady improvements in his results of late, though he knows as well as anyone that more victories will be required if he is to win the championship.

British fan’s hopes will once again rest upon the shoulders of Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max rider, John McPhee. The Scotsman rode well at Silverstone and almost led at one stage, though a chaotic final lap saw him shuffled back to 7th place. Visiontrack Racing Team’s Scott Ogden made progress through the field after a poor showing in qualifying, finishing 12th. He and teammate Josh Whatley will be hoping for better fortunes this weekend.

Moto3 Dennis Foggia Picture courtesy of Le0pard Racing

Weather was an infamous factor at the Red Bull Ring in 2021, and the forecast suggests it will be again this year. Thunderstorms are predicted for Friday, with showers anticipated on both Saturday and Sunday. The race is scheduled to start at 11:00am local time (10:00am GMT).

Back with a bang!

With the long Summer break finally over, all riders have returned fresh and ready for battle. The championship was left with very little space between the top two riders, but what will happen now?

A fantastic historical venue to start the second part of the season: Silverstone – it surely won’t disappoint.

Qualifying:

Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The news of the weekend was that Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) would have to complete a long-lap penalty (due to irresponsible riding at the Dutch GP, taking Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) with him into the gravel).

Following on from his strong performance in Assen, Espargaro is still on a high and knowing that Fabio has to complete this penalty, could he maximize on this?

It seemed maybe this would be a tall-order to do, as during the qualifying session he had a massive high-side, being thrown from his Aprilia and hurting his ankles. He didn’t let this deter him too much as he then went on to take provisional pole, but it was taken away seconds later by first Jack Miller (Ducati) and then from nowhere Johann Zarco (Ducati). A further surprise saw Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) swoop in to take 2nd.

Zarco made a new all-time lap record – 1:57.767 for his pole position – could this be his moment?Could he finally win a Moto GP race? Vinales lined up beside him and taking the last spot on the front row was Miller.

Race:

Glorious sunshine dowsed the former RAF track for race-day, but it wasn’t just the weather that was heating up. Soon the race would be underway:

Zarco got a great start and kept his lead from Fabio, who instantly took two places. The two factory Ducati’s remained close behind. Vinales didn’t seem to have the same luck and went backwards to 6th. He soon took 5th place back though from Alex Rins (Suzuki).

The second lap – Quartararo was told he must take his penalty – he had 3 laps to complete it by. He pushed hard to try and create space between himself and the following Ducati’s but Miller in 3rd took fastest lap, hampering any advances.

By lap 3 Rins managed to claim 4th place (pretty impressive start considering he started 11th on the grid). Where could the Suzuki-man get to?

Leaving it until his 4th lap, El Diablo decided he must take his long-lap penalty – he does it flawlessly and re-joined the race in-front of Vinales, slotting into 5th.

At the front – Zarco lead Miller and Rins, with the fastest lap going to Rins, he was clearly pushing hard. When suddenly Zarco threw his lead away, slipping into the gravel – the dream win, yet again falling away from him, turn 8, lap 5. Leaving Miller to lead from Rins and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati).

Rins wasn’t sitting around in 2nd for very long though and the next lap saw him overtake Miller to become the new leader of the race. Making up ten places in just six laps. Slightly further back Jorge Martin (Ducati) passed Vinales for 5th.

Rins seemed to be on top-form and with 14 laps to go had created a buffer (0.794 seconds) between himself and Bagnaia, who had passed his teammate for 2nd place. If Miller wasn’t having a bad enough time with Bagnaia passing him, another fellow Ducati passed him also – Martin, to take 3rd. Miller re-took it though when Martin made a mistake, forcing him to go wide.

Meanwhile the championship leader seemed like he might be in trouble as Vinales looked like he was setting up to pass him. But it was Vinales’ teammate that got overtook first by Joan Mir (Suzuki) just behind. It didn’t take long for Vinales to pass Fabio though and was soon through to take 5th. The Aprilia power proving to much for the Yamaha.

Aiming to pass. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Only ten laps to go and Bagnaia had eaten into Rin’s lead, already down to 0.274 seconds, could the Ducati make it two wins in a row? Who had conserved their tyres better?

Two laps later saw Bagnaia charge past Rins, leaving him to deal with Miller in 3rd. But Bagnaia wasn’t the only Ducati on the move, Enea Bastianini in 10th place took fastest lap. Always a late charger, what could Enea do?

Barely any time separating all top ten riders – Vinales decided to make yet another move forwards, this time claiming fourth from Martin, with seven laps to go.

The tyres played a massive part this late on in the race and it was unfortunately Alex Rins who struggled the most, after doing so well. The Suzuki went wide on a couple of corners, making it an easy pass for not only Miller but Vinales as well.

Meanwhile, Bastianini had moved up to 7th place, passing Espargaro and Mir. Moments later Mir took to the gravel behind him, trying to keep up.

Audiences were on the edge of their seats, as they watched yet another pass by Martin, re-taking 4th place from Vinales. Bastianini and Quartararo also tussled for 6th.

The battle continued between Maverick and Jorge with Maverick coming out on top this time. Eventually Bastianini also won his fight with the current champ, leaving him to deal with Miguel Oliveira (KTM), who was gaining fast.

Fresh from claiming a new place from Martin, Vinales soon took a further position from Rins. Martin also took his opportunity to take yet another position from the Suzuki, forcing him to fifth spot – lap eighteen.

With all this action happening behind him, Bagnaia managed to create a small gap from Miller, Vinales and Martin.

Close racing. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The racing wasn’t done yet though. With 2 laps until the end, “Top Gun” passed “Thriller” to take second place. The Aprilia was working wonderfully around Silverstone. What more could he do?

Falling into the clutches of Bastianini, Rins lost yet another place, as did Quartararo to Oliveira. But it was all eyes at the front as Vinales became the 5th leader of the British Grand Prix. Bagnaia was not going down without a fight though and re-took the lead.

Last lap – Seemingly anything could happen:

The Ducati power of Bagnaia was just enough and it took him to the finish line, but behind him it was Oliveira that passed Rins, Bastianini who passed Martin and Esparagaro took Quartararo (but his maneuver didn’t stick).

Meaning it was back-to-back victories for Bagnaia, with Vinales taking second (his best finish so far for Aprilia) and Miller in third.

Winning. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top 10 Finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

M. Vinales

3rd

J. Miller

4th

E. Bastianini

5th

J. Martin

6th

M. Oliveira

7th

A. Rins

8th

F. Quartararo

9th

A. Espargaro

10th

M. Bezzechi

All smiles. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

With the top two in the championship collecting less points than thought going into the race, the championship has bubbled up yet again:

Top 4 Championship Standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

180 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

158 points

3rd

F. Bagnaia

131 points

4th

E. Bastianini

118 points

All the action during this superb race meant that it was the second closest ever top-ten finish (all within six seconds of eachother). No wonder fans were screaming and cheering and the atmosphere was electric.

What a great start to the second half of the 2022 season, with action right from the start to the very end. What can we expect from the next round?

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website

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.

©2017 The Pitcrewonline