One for the history books!

Qualifying:

After issues with freight delays, qualifying finally got underway at Argentina and it was a surprise front row finish.

Aleix Espargaro with the Aprilia took pole, the first ever in the Moto GP era with 1:37.688. Jorge Martin (Ducati) was second and Luca Marini (Ducati) took his second front row in Moto GP.

(Sad news once again for Marc Marquez as he couldn’t participate in this weeks race either. Wishing him a speedy recovery)!

Race:

With the energy buzzing and all eyes on Aprilia, could we finally witness history? Could Aleix Espargaro finally win his first race?

Lights out and Martin quickly took the lead ahead of A. Espargaro and Marini.

Honda rider, P. Espargaro powered past Marini, knowing he had to get to the front and fast, if he was going to be in for a shot of the podium. On the same lap Andrea Dovizioso retired his Yamaha and Aleix put in the fastest lap.

Lap 5 of 25 – current World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) was struggling in 13th position and his teammate (Franco Morbidelli) was having an even worse time in 19th. Franco later retired from the race with a mechanical failure.

Lap 6 – Johann Zarco (Ducati) crashed, turn 2 from 12th position, but his teammate was having a great time, setting a fastest lap from the lead.

Both Spanish riders were fighting hard for first place, each taking fastest lap away from each other. They managed to gap the third and fourth place men and break away with 1.749 seconds between them. Alex Rins (Suzuki) passed P. Espargaro to claim third, knowing this was his chance to get close to the leaders and try to also fight for the win.

Although starting off well, Marini had gone backwards and was fighting for 6th place alongside Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and Maverick Vinales (Aprilia).

With 14 laps to go A. Espargaro took another fastest lap, he clearly had more pace than Martin and continued to chase him down. But, ‘metronomic Martin’ just kept putting in the perfect laps, keeping Espargaro at bay.

Hunting Martin down. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

By lap 13 Bagnaia had gotten the better of Marini and took 7th place. Brad Binder (KTM) also seized the advantage and passed the Italian.

Meanwhile from 4th position, P. Espargaro fell in the gravel. A bad weekend for Honda just got worse.

Having gotten the better of Marini earlier in the race, Bagnaia made a small mistake which took him wide and forced him to re-join the race ahead of teammate Jack Miller, in 12th.

Back at the front and the Aprilia continued it’s hunt for the Ducati. Could he pass Martin for that elusive win? Could he make the dream a reality?

8 laps until the chequered flag and everyone was willing Espargaro on. He managed to finally make a move on Martin but couldn’t hold onto it and Martin took the advantage and went back in front. With the two Suzuki’s biding their time just behind.

The second attempt from Espargaro came with 6 laps to go, but once again the Ducati passed him back. Rins was now closer and looking ready to strike.

Third time lucky! With only 5 laps to go, Espargaro took attempt number three and this time made it stick. Almost immediately he created a small gap from Martin (0.249 seconds). Which then became 0.381 seconds. The pace was most definitely there.

The final pass. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

However, Martin was not going to give up without a fight and stayed with Aleix. Unlike Aleix, Jorge knows the sweet taste of victory and the rush of adrenaline, but was Aleix about to also know the elation?

All Espargaro had to do was ride the perfect few laps. Just hold on!

The pressure was rising and audiences had their hearts in their mouths whist biting their nails. Just willing Aleix to the finish line. With just two laps to go.

It felt like forever for the last lap. A. Espargaro still led from J. Martin and A. Rins. The gap between Espargaro and Martin was now too large to shrink. The dream was edging even closer!

And just like that, history was made! Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia won the Argentine Moto GP 2022 race. With only his 4th ever podium and Aprilia’s first ever Premier Class win. After all the years of hard-work. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t feel joy for both rider and the team. 200 (premier Moto GP starts) must have been Aleix’s lucky number. The longest wait in Moto GP history for a maiden win, had finally ended.

All press can wait. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Not only did he win the race and the hearts of many viewers, he also leads the championship:

Championship Standings:

1st

A. Espargaro

45 points

2nd

B. Binder

38 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

36 points

4th

A. Rins

36 points

Top Ten Race Finishers:

1st

A. Espargaro

2nd

J. Martin

3rd

A. Rins

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Bagnaia

6th

B. Binder

7th

M. Vinales

8th

F. Quartararo

9th

M. Bezzecchi

10th

E. Bastianini

Overcome with emotion A. Espargaro said “… this is just a dream…”. No Aleix, this really happened and everyone was 100% behind you.

With nine different podium finishers in the first three races this year, Moto GP has never been so unpredictable. What will happen this weekend in Austin?

 

 

Featured image. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Victory in Indonesia!

Finally after 25 years Moto GP returned to Indonesia. The sun was shining and the crowds were cheering. A huge welcome in the form of a procession went through the streets, which included the Moto GP riders and the Indonesian President.

The beauty of the island is incredible. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Qualifying:

Surprisingly, Marc Marquez (Honda) crashed out twice from Q1, resulting in him not qualifying for Q2. Going through to Q2 was Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati).

Pole winner was current champion Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), with an all time lap record (1:37.067) and teammates Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco (Ducati) finished the front row in 2nd and 3rd.

Pre-race practice:

Bad luck continued to follow Marc Marquez and during the pre-race practice session he had another crash, this time much worse than the previous ones and was taken to hospital where it was concluded that he had severe concussion and would not be fit enough to race. Of course we wish him a speedy recovery.

Race:

The sun did not last however. Lighting struck the track, thunder rumbled through the hillsides and rain poured from the black clouds above. The race was delayed for 2 hours while race direction decided whether or not to go ahead with it. A Shaman from Bali was even brought over to deal with the rain. It seemed to work and within half-hour the rain subsided enough for the pit lane to open. It was decided that the race would in fact go ahead but, would be cut short from 27 laps to 20.

Soon the bikes were lining up on the grid, the clouds still loomed large but at least the rain had eased. It was finally lights out!

The rain poured! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Front the front Fabio got a great start and was leading the pack with Jack Miller (Ducati) and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) in 2nd and 3rd but it was Joan Mir (Suzuki) that made the best of starts going from 18th to 8th.

Quartararo lead from pole. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

At the start of lap 2 though, Oliveira had passed Quartararo to take the lead. If that wasn’t bad enough for Fabio, Miller then decided to steal 2nd from him too. Now flying, Miller took a couple more corners and passed Oliveria for first place as well.

The front three riders managed to quickly create a gap from the rest of the field and Miller immediately put in the fastest lap.

With spray causing visibility issues, Quartararo suddenly found himself being left behind by Miller and Oliveira who were already 1.217 seconds ahead. He was in the clutches of Zarco and Alex Rins (Suzuki). On the straight both riders managed to pass him with ease with 17 laps to go.

Miller once again took fastest lap.

Rins was now in 3rd place but could he catch up with Miller and Oliveira? Who were now 2.340 seconds ahead.

Lap 5 of 20 – Oliveira saw that he had more pace than Miller and passed the Ducati, taking fastest lap in the process.

88 leads 43. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Meanwhile, race-favourite Bagnaia had an almost-crash which resulted in him being pushed back to 12th.

Lap 8 – turn 1 – Jorge Martin (Ducati) crashed out after passing Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) on the straight, after hitting a wet patch on the track.

The lonely Repsol Honda of Pol Espargaro also had a moment but was extremely lucky and managed to stay on the bike, with only 12 laps to go.

Back at the front, Oliveira was putting the hammer down and got yet another fastest lap. The treacherous conditions did not faze him at all.

Fastest lap however, would not remain his for long as Zarco from 4th place decided he was ready to fight. He took fastest lap and soon after 3rd from Rins and was hunting down Miller for 2nd.

Rapidly the gap between him and Miller decreased with 8 laps till the end and another fastest lap went to Zarco. Could he steal the win?

It was Quartararo’s turn now and he too started to push and also passed Rins to take 4th place.

As action appeared at the front, the battle for 8th place was also heating up. Luca Marini (VR46) lead that pack from 8th, the Binder brothers behind him in 9th and 10th and the Espargaro brothers behind them in 11th and 12th all fighting together for those valuable points.

Back at the front and Zarco had caught Miller up, they began their fight for 2nd place. But it was Fabio that had come along with Zarco who stole 3rd from Zarco on lap 15. The two Frenchmen battled for the spot but it was Quartararo who came out victorious. Fabio was not done there though and soon after passed Miller as well for 2nd. Miller found himself once again in the clutches of Zarco.

With all the battling going on behind him, Oliveira was just gathering more and more time between himself and the remaining podium finishers. The gap had increased to 4.443 seconds with 5 laps to go. But did Fabio have another trick up his sleeve? Could he find something even more extra to catch Oliveira?

Fastest lap – Quartararo!

4 laps until the chequered flag and Zarco finally passed Miller to take 3rd place.

Meanwhile, the battle still raged on for 8th position. With rookie Darryn Binder (Yamaha) having taken 8th, A. Espargaro (Aprilia) 9th, Bastianini 10th, P. Espargaro 11th and B. Binder (KTM) 12th. Heating up further still, three-a-breast went into a corner at one point – D. Binder, Bastianini and A. Espargaro, but it was B. Binder that triumphed and took the 8th place, everyone bravely fought for.

D. Binder lead the pack. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

In a league of his own, out in front Miguel Oliveira took his KTM over the line, Quartararo celebrated his 2nd place and Zarco managed to keep the last podium spot, taking 3rd.

Top 10 race finishers:

1st

M. Oliveira

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

J. Zarco

4th

J. Miller

5th

A. Rins

6th

J. Mir

7th

F. Morbidelli

8th

B. Binder

9th

A. Espargaro

10th

D. Binder

Last weeks superb winner Bastianini, after battling hard, finished 11th place.

Championship standings:

1st

E. Bastianini

30 points

2nd

B. Binder

28 points

3rd

F. Quartararo

27 points

4th

M. Oliveira

25 points

At one point the race didn’t look like it was even going to happen, but aren’t we glad it did? Some surprising results in Indonesia and a fantastic track to return to. Only two weeks to wait to find out what will happen in round 3!

 

 

Featured image courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter

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