MotoGP: Mayhem in Mandalika as Bagnaia Reclaims Championship Lead

A chaotic race in Indonesia has seen Pecco Bagnaia reclaim the championship lead that he lost after yesterday’s sprint race. Jorge Martin, his nearest rival, made a painful error which saw him crash out of the lead. With just 5 races left, this season is far from over!

It was both a costly error from Jorge Martin and a calculated ride from Pecco Bagnaia that has firmly placed today’s Indonesian GP in the history books. Having lost the championship lead for a day, Bagnaia was able to quickly reverse this as he sailed to a phenomenal victory. He made his way from 13th on the grid to win what might be the greatest race of his career.

Meanwhile, it was an undoubtedly difficult day for Martin. Having enjoyed all the momentum and accolades over the last few races, he crashed out of the lead at a crucial point in the season. The costly error came despite him sitting comfortably at the front of the field for the first 20 laps.

Image Credit: MotoGP

Bagnaia was joined on the podium by Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo who both enjoyed strong weekends but were frustrated to not finish higher after a close final few laps.

There was chaos up and down the field for most of the race, as we start our first of two triple-header weekends to round out the 2023 season.

AS IT HAPPENED

As the lights went out, Jorge Martin flew off the line and leapt from 6th to 1st before entering the first corner. It was a slower start for both Aprilia riders, as well as Luca Marini, who all slipped back down the field. This allowed both Brad Binder and Fabio Quartararo to make up some places on the first lap. However, Maverick Vinales was able to recover and slot in to 2nd.

There was chaos up and down the field across the opening laps of the race. This started with Aleix Espargaro going wide at turn 1. This let Pecco Bagnaia through but as Espargaro returned to the racing line, he nearly collected Marc Marquez.

Enea Bastianini also went wide, causing him to go off the track. He failed to rejoin in the correct way and was later given a long lap penalty as a result.

On lap 3, Binder gets out of shape at turn 10 and clatters in to the side of Marini, knocking him in to the gravel. Binder was just carrying too much speed in to the corner and wasn’t able to make it round. Like Bastianini, he also received a long lap penalty for this later on in the race.

On the same lap, Pol Espgargaro crashes at turn 15 and Franco Morbidelli heads in to the pits to retire.

Pecco Bagnaia and Aleix Espargaro then find themselves breezing past Quartararo to take 3rd and 4th respectively. Meanwhile the leading pair of Martin and Vinales were now 1.8 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

As Binder takes his long lap penalty on lap 6, he drops from 5th to 10th. Espargaro, in 4th, is all over the back of Bagnaia, in 3rd, and forcing the Italian to ride defensively.

On lap 8, Marc Marquez is quickly overtaken by Jack Miller, Marco Bezzecchi and Brad Binder, shuffling him back from 7th to 10th. A few corners later, he then crashes at turn 13. It has been a difficult weekend for the Spaniard who is undoubtedly counting down to his move to Gresini for 2024.

 

This then sparks a 4-way battle for 6th place, with Miguel Oliveira, Miller, Bezzecchi, and Binder in 6th to 9th respectively. Miller is the first to make a move on the final corner of lap 9, followed by Bezzecchi on the first corner of lap 10.

On the following lap, Binder attempts to then make a move on Oliveira but bumps in to the side of him, knocks off his wings, and then sends them both wide. They are both able to rejoin but lose places at a crucial point in the race. Binder will receive his second long lap penalty of the race for this harsh move.

On lap 12, Augusto Fernandez crashes, followed by Joan Mir on the following lap.

Moments later, our race leader then crashes at turn 11. The bike slides out from under him and he is left looking down at his Prima Pramac machine in utter disbelief.

Image Credit: MotoGP

This promotes Vinales to 1st, with a 1.2 second gap to Bagnaia in 2nd. Quartararo, after recently making a move on Espargaro, is now promoted to 3rd.

On lap 16, Johann Zarco also crashes, again at turn 11. This leaves just 14 riders out on the track.

Meanwhile, at the front, Quartararo is closing in on Bagnaia who, in turn, is closing in on Vinales. We thought the chaos had calmed down but these three had other ideas.

At this point in the race, it is clear to see who opted for soft tires and who played it safe with the hard tires. Those on softs begin dropping back down the field as their tires struggle with the heat and soaring temperatures.

After closing the gap significantly over 4 laps, it was on lap 20 when Bagnaia was finally able to take control at the front of the race. He breezed past Vinales to take 1st place away from him.

For the final 7 laps of the race, the leading trio kept the pressure on each other. So much so that, by the final lap, there was barely a hair’s width between them. However, neither Vinales or Quartararo could make a move and they were forced to settle for 2nd and 3rd respectively.

FULL RESULTS
1st Pecco Bagnaia Ducati
2nd Maverick Vinales Aprilia
3rd Fabio Quartararo Yamaha
4th Fabio Gi Giannantonio Gresini
5th Marco Bezzecchi Mooney VR46
6th Brad Binder Red Bull KTM
7th Jack Miller Red Bull KTM
8th Enea Bastianini Ducati
9th Alex Rins LCR Honda
10th Aleix Espargaro Aprilia
11th Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda
12th Miguel Oliveira CryptoDATA RNF
13th Raul Fernandez CryptoDATA RNF
14th Franco Morbidelli Yamaha

DNF = Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac), Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac), Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Tech 3), Joan Mir (Repsol Honda), Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), Luca Marini (Mooney VR46), Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Tech3).

Feature Image Credit: MotoGP

McAMS Yamaha promote Tim Neave to British Superbikes for 2023

The latest news from the British Superbike paddock sees McAMS Yamaha announce the promotion of Tim Neave from National Superstock 1000 to British Superbikes for 2023.

After an injury riddled season aboard an R1 for the team in the National Superstock 1000 category which saw a broken pelvis ruin Neave’s season, McAMS have decided they had seen enough to warrant signing Neave into their superbike squad in the vacated seat of Tarran Mackenzie.

With Mackenzie, the former British Superbike Champion of 2021 having announced he is moving on to pastures new for 2023, this leaves the Fleetwood based squad in a position to take a chance on the young BSB rookie. Neave joins the team to learn and develop alongside current Yamaha Veteran rider, Jason O’Halloran.

Steve Rogers and Tim Neave – McAMS Yamaha

Neave said: “To get the call up to ride for McAMS Yamaha is a dream come true. When I signed to ride for the team last year, in the back of my mind I was thinking if I could do a really good job on the Superstock bike and a seat became available, it would be the dream but I didn’t think it would actually happen!

“Raceways are one of, if not the best teams in the paddock – they’ve certainly won more races than anyone else in recent years so I can’t think of a better team to step up into BSB with. I loved riding the R1 Superstock bike, it really suited me as a rider and from what Jason has told me, the Superbike has similar characteristics so I’m looking forward to getting out on it for the first time. BSB is one of the toughest classes in racing, but I’ll give it my everything to make sure this opportunity isn’t wasted on me.”

Team Owner Steve Rodgers commented: “When Tim joined the team to race the Superstock bike in 2022 we were all really impressed by him. Not only was he super quick straightaway, but his attitude and the way he went about things meant that he fit in to the team immediately. There’s no doubt had the Knockhill accident, which wasn’t his fault, not occurred, he’d have continued to fight for the Superstock title.

“When he was fit, he was super-fast on the R1 and the Superstock bike has a lot of similarities to the Superbike, including the fact that we couldn’t run any traction control on the stocker, so the jump isn’t as big as it is with some other manufacturers. There’s still a lot to learn, but we are confident he’ll pick it up and look forward to seeing what he can achieve.”

Tim Neave – McAMS Yamaha

Ducati Dominate in Decider!

The last weekend of the 2022 Moto GP season is finally here and the World Championship has yet to be decided. Who will be victorious?

The Decider. Courtesy of: BT Sport Twitter page.

Qualifying:

The sun was shining on Saturday for the qualifying sessions. The last time this type of qualifying would be seen (next year sprint races will be taking over from what fans are used to).

Getting another pole for 2022 was Jorge Martin (Ducati), putting in a fantastic time: 1:29.265, with Marc Marquez (Honda) coming 2nd and completing the front row with Jack Miller (Ducati).

The two championship contenders ended up in 4th (Fabio Quartararo – Yamaha) and 8th (Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati).

To win the title: Fabio needs to win and Bagnaia to finish out of the points to become champion. Bagnaia needs to claim 2 points to be crowned. Both were possible:

Race:

In-front of a sold-out crowd at Valencia the decider was on. With only 27 laps to race, to end the longest ever season in Moto GP history, who would win the race and the championship?

It was a surprise start for Suzuki as Alex Rins got a great start, over-taking everyone to go into first place, leading Martin and Miller into turn one. Bagnaia also got a decent start and managed to make his way into 6th place behind Fabio in 5th.

But it was Marquez in 4th who made the first overtake in the race, passing Miller for 3rd. Fabio took the opportunity to also pass Miller, pushing him back to 5th. Miller managed to pass Quartararo back on the start-finish straight to start lap 2. Seconds later Bagnaia also passed the Frenchman, but they touched, taking one of Bagnaia’s side wings off in the process. Would this hamper Pecco further into the race?

It didn’t seem to matter straight away as Pecco and Fabio fought for 5th place, constantly going backwards and forwards, but it was Bagnaia who won the mini battle. While Brad Binder (KTM) watched on behind.

Racing hard. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

While all that action was happening behind him – Marquez took fastest lap.

Lap 4 – Quartararo re-took his position from Bagnaia, knowing he had to catch up to the leading group. If he was to have a chance at the victory/ championship he had to move forwards.

Next lap saw Pol Esparagro end his last race for Honda early on and seconds later Darryn Binder (Yamaha) also ended his last race in Moto GP.

Lap 6 Miller made a move on Marquez to take 3rd place, while Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) retired.

Brad Binder was all over the back of Bagnaia and on turn 2, lap 9 he managed to safely pass the Ducati after 5 laps of attempting the move. The next rider in his sights was Quartararo. He knew he had the speed to pass and get to the front pack, but he was also very well aware of the two riders he was between. He was one rider eyes were watching.

Next lap on turn 8, yellow flags waved for an ill Marc Marquez, who crashed out of 4th place. The weekend went from bad to worse for the Spaniard.

Gapping started to appear between the riders. The front 3 were 1.339 seconds ahead of Quartararo, who was 1.361 seconds ahead of Bagnaia. Mir who had closed his gap between himself and Pecco suddenly made a move on the Ducati to take 6th place. While Binder put in the fastest lap.

With 14 laps to finish the season Rins continued to lead Martin and Miller.

Unfortunately for Johann Zarco (Ducati) lap 17 saw him crash out and Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) retired.

It appeared that Bagnaia was having slight issues with his Ducati following on from the winglet that came off during the battle with Quartararo earlier in the race, as yet another rider passed him to push him back to 8th. Luca Marini (Ducati) was then directly behind him. Would he also pass?

With just 10 laps to go Binder managed to get-through on Quartararo to take 4th position. Could he claim a podium finish?

Riding to the limit. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It didn’t take long before Marini did indeed pass his fellow-Italian and friend to take 8th place. Bagnaia then had his new teammate behind him. Would he act as a wingman or would he be out for himself?

Having closed the gap at the front – Binder managed to pass Miller to take 3rd but seconds later Miller crashed out of the race on turn 11. While behind them Bastianini did in-fact over-take Bagnaia.

With 3 laps to go: Rins continued to lead the Valencian Grand Prix ahead of Martin, Binder and Quartararo. But Binder had pace and soon passed Martin to take 2nd. Could he fight for the win?

Last lap: There were no changes and Rins took the chequered flag to take victory for the last time for Suzuki. Creating a bitter-sweet moment for the team.

Suzuki will be missed. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter page.

A new World Champion was also crowned as he crossed the line in 9th place – making Bagnaia the 4th different champion in 4 years. It was the biggest comeback in Moto GP history, coming back from a 91 point deficit to take the crown.

Last podium for 2022. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter page.

Top 10 Riders:

1st

A. Rins

2nd

B. Binder

3rd

J. Martin

4th

F. Quartararo

5th

M. Oliveira

6th

J. Mir

7th

L. Marini

8th

E. Bastianini

9th

F. Bagnaia

10th

F. Morbidelli

Top 4 Championship finishers:

1st (World Champion)

F. Bagnaia

265 points

2nd

F. Quartararo

248 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

219 points

4th

A. Espargaro

212 points

First to congratulate Bagnaia on his win was Fabio Quartararo, showing full respect between the two contenders. Second to congratulate Bagnaia was his future teammate Bastianini.

Nothing but respect. Courtesy of: BT Sport Live.

Dreams certainly can come true and this season was proof to never give up. Francesco Bagnaia has become the first Ducati champion in 15 years. The first Italian Ducati champion and the first Italian to win the championship since 2009. He is indeed ‘Perfect Pecco’.

New Moto GP Champion. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter page.

(21+42=63 for the Perfect Combination).

 

As the curtain falls on yet another memorable Moto GP season, everyone can now focus on what will happen next year.

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter page.

The fairytale continues for Ducati

Qualifying:

Clouds loomed large overhead on Saturday, but the sunshine prevailed.

Down on the track Marc Marquez (Honda) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) managed to make their way through to Q2. Marquez kept his performance up and claimed 3rd place for Sunday, while Bagnaia unfortunately fell and could only manage 9th on the grid, ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia). Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) managed 11th place, after also crashing.

Making up the rest of the front row was Enea Bastianini (Ducati) who took 2nd and pole went to Jorge Martin (Ducati), who did a phenomenal lap to not only take pole (his 4th this year and 2nd in a row) but also a new lap record – 1:57.790.

Race:

The weather remained the same through to Sunday and the pressure was mounting. With 20 laps till the end, the drama continued:

Martin started well and kept hold of his lead, but it was Bagnaia who made a fantastic start going straight to 2nd by the first corner. He wasn’t the only one though – Fabio also managed to make up 6 places, but Espargaro fell back to 11th.

Leading on the first lap was Martin from Bagnaia, Bastianini and Marquez.

Leading the group. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The championship hunt was on!

Lap 2 of 20 and Bastianini looked like he was ready to line a pass up on Bagnaia but would he? Ducati had already confirmed there were to be no team orders, but he would still need to be careful with his decisions.

Martin soon took fastest lap and continued to lead, Bagnaia, Bastianini and Marquez. The leading group had started to break away from Quartararo in 5th.

While some Ducati’s were soaring unfortunately Luca Marini (Ducati) had to retire from the race early on – the first time this season he hadn’t managed to finish a race.

With 17 laps to go: Bastianini still looked menacing behind Bagania for second. Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) took his long-lap penalty (which was enforced following on from qualifying sessions and rejoined the race in 10th) and Fabio managed to pass Marquez for 4th – keeping his championship hopes alive.

Marquez in 5th looked like he was in trouble from the two Suzuki’s following closely behind him. On lap 7 Joan Mir managed to pass, forcing Marquez back to 6th. Behind them Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) had also passed Alex Rins (Suzuki) for 7th.

Yellow flags were suddenly waving and a Pramac Ducati was in the gravel – Martin had crashed out of first place on turn 5. All of a sudden, the championship leader was in the lead, with his 2023 teammate following closely behind. Fabio was also up to 3rd. The battle continued.

Next lap Marquez passed Mir back, but Bezzecchi had better pace and managed to pass both riders to go to 4th. Could Bezzecchi help Bagnaia by passing Quartararo?

With 13 laps to go, Bagnaia led Bastianini, Quartararo and Bezzecchi.

Pecco led The Beast. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Gapping had started to appear between the top 4 riders – Bagnaia and Bastianini were 3.156 seconds ahead of Fabio who was 1.156 seconds ahead of Bezzecchi. But Bezzecchi was eating away at his gap to Fabio. Could he fight for a podium spot?

Half-way through the race, Bastianini couldn’t hold back any further and on turn 4 he managed to make a move on fellow Italian Bagnaia to take the lead. Ducati had said no team orders, were they going to commit to this rule? Audiences were on the edge of their seats wondering what would happen next.

With 7 laps to go Bagnaia re-passed Bastianini on the start-finish straight and managed to hold onto first place into turn 1 (lap 16). Every championship point counted, with only one round left.

The lead for the two Italians at the front had decreased to Fabio in 3rd to 1.620 seconds, could he catch up and fight for the win? Bezzecchi behind him seemed to have had tyre issues, after fighting hard early on in the race as the gap between himself and Fabio had increased to 1.523 seconds.

With only 3 laps to go Mir crashed out of his race on turn 1, leaving his teammate to battle Marquez.

The pressure from Bastianini remained constant throughout the entire race even down to the final lap.

Close racing. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Last lap – would Bastianini make a last lap move on the championship leader? He certainly tried too. On turn 9 he made an attempt to pass but went slightly wide leaving Bagnaia free to take his 7th victory this season.

Top 10 Finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

E. Bastianini

3rd

F. Quartararo

4th

M. Bezzecchi

5th

A. Rins

6th

J. Miller

7th

M. Marquez

8th

B. Binder

9th

J. Zarco

10th

F. Morbidelli

Congratulations to Ducati for winning the team championship. 

It’s a team game. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top 4 Championship:

1st

F. Bagnaia

258 points

2nd

F. Quartararo

235 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

211 points

4th

A. Espargaro

211 points

It is now down to the wire – who will be crowned World Champion in the next round?

In the words of Fabio – “…even if the chance is super small, we bring it to Valencia”. We will see you there!

Then there were two. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

 

 

(Featured image – “Victory tastes sweet”. Courtesy of: Moto GP website).

Phil Read Tribute 1939 – 2022

Phil Read MBE

B. 01-01-1939

D. 06-10-2022

‘The Prince of Speed’ didn’t just get his name, he had to earn it:

Read’s story could have been so different. He almost didn’t go into Motorcycle racing, he started as an apprentice fitter at a machinery company but whilst there he competed in amateur short-circuit racing, gaining valuable experience for when two years later he won his first motorcycle event in the Junior Manx Grand Prix, breaking the speed record in the process. It was clear from an early age this young man had talent.

In 1959 he won another title, this time in the Junior 350cc TT race but it didn’t end there. Keeping his winning streak up he went on to win the Thruxton 500 Endurance two years in a row. In the second season he also made the step-up into Grand-Prix road racing replacing Derek Minter, who was injured at the time.

Phil’s 500cc debut came at the Isle of Man TT, he finished 3rd and followed that with podiums in the next two races.

But to become a house-hold name in the 1960’s and 70’s he had to push himself even further.

Courtesy of: Svrider website.

In 1964 he signed a contract for Yamaha and won the 250cc championship, not just that he also maintained it the second year. People were certainly now noticing Phil Read, if they hadn’t already.

Throughout his career he battled many giants of the sport and in 1966 was no exception. Going toe-to-toe against fellow Brit Mike Hailwood (Honda), he lost his first championship since competing in the GP’s.

Read had a rebellious streak and was known for being outspoken. In 1968 this behaviour came to the forefront in the most spectacular way:

Yamaha wanted to win both the 125 and 250 championships. For this they chose Read and another fellow Brit – Bill Ivy to race for them. Read for 125’s and Ivy for 250’s. However, Phil had decided this wasn’t for him and defied team orders. Yamaha still won both championships, but it was Read who took the trophy for both. Yamaha did not take this well and responded by firing him and leaving him with no ride in 1969 and 1970!

Read and his Yamaha. Courtesy of: Flipboard website.

After two years away Phil came back with a bang! 1971 saw Read compete once again in the 250 championship on a private Yamaha. The odds were against him, but he succeeded in winning his 5th World Title – the first ever World Champion as a privateer.

MV Augusta took note of his performance and offered him a ride for the following season. Read took the chance with both hands and it proved to be a fantastic call. Together they won the 500cc Championship and also in the same year the 350cc Championship. Making him the first-ever rider to win the junior, intermediate and senior World Championships. To show how difficult this achievement truly is only Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez have done so since.

MV Augusta was a great match. Courtesy of: Pinterest.

He then took back-to-back victories in the 500 class, claiming his 8th crown.

Read was a tough competitor, he needed this toughness to win all of his titles, but in 1975 he couldn’t quite compete against another ‘King of the Sport’ – Giacomo Agostini (Yamaha). He fought well but, finished 2nd behind him. That same year would be Read’s final GP victory. But not his last win ever – in 1977 he won the Formula TT.

Risk equals reward and during these times manufacturers were trying lots of new things as new technology became available. Riders would risk their lives (just like they do now) but the prize was always worth it. Read was rewarded with an MBE (for his services in motorcycle racing) in 1979 and skipping a few years, in 2002 the FIM – Motorcycling Racing Governing Body – named Phil a GP Legend, meaning he was entered into the Moto GP Hall of Fame.

He lived his best Rock ‘n’ Roll life and was known as the ‘bad boy’ in the paddock. Owning a Rolls Royce, flying his own private plane and having many glamorous ladies during this time.

He retired in 1982 to spend time on ‘business interests’ and to take part in classic racing.

His legendary status will always live on, and his large living lifestyle will always be remembered. He is a true icon of the sport.

 

 

(Featured image: Read winning for Yamaha. Courtesy of: Motor Company Website). 

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). 

Both heartbreak and elation at Motegi.

Qualifying:

Heavy rain poured down in Japan for the start of the qualifying but by Q2 it had stopped, the track however was still drenched. The riders went out cautiously.

A surprise, but not a complete surprise, came from one rider – Marc Marquez. He showed he was still very much a champion and put his Honda back on pole position (his first pole since Motegi in 2019). Behind him Johann Zarco (Ducati) took second place and Brad Binder (KTM) took the last slot on front row.

Rainy conditions wouldn’t stop Marc Marquez. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) qualified 9th. 12th was Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and in 6th was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) – the top championship contenders.

Race:

Clear skies graced the track on Sunday but that didn’t mean drama wasn’t just round the corner.

Aleix Espargaro had issues with his Aprilia from the start of the sighting lap, before the race had even begun, forcing him to return to pit lane, where he then literally dropped his bike to take his number 2 bike out. He managed to get out of the pit lane in time to join onto the back of the race.

Back on the grid – Marquez got a great start from pole, but Binder had an even better one and was soon leading, from Marquez and Martin. Martin, however, was quick to take 2nd and by turn 3 had also managed to pass Binder to take the lead.

There was another man on a mission though in the form of Jack Miller (Ducati). He had managed to pass both Miguel Oliveria (KTM) and Marquez, in one swift move, to take 3rd place.

Every championship point rang in their ears: – Quartararo was down in 8th place, behind him in 11th was Bagnaia and Espargaro had made it to 22nd. What could any of them do?

Meanwhile Miller had passed next year’s teammate (Binder) to take another spot (2nd) on lap 3 of 24. While fastest lap went to Oliveira.

Up to second. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

With 22 laps to go Miller fought Martin for the lead – he won and with it took fastest lap. Miller seemed to be untouchable.

In 8th place, Quartararo was under pressure by Luca Marini (Ducati) with 21 laps to go but so was Bagnaia from Bastianini. Enea managed to pass Pecco but Pecco took the position straight back. Meanwhile Marini had also passed Quartararo and managed to make it stick. There was only Pol Espargaro (Honda) between the top two of the championship.

Under pressure by Marini. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Zarco who had had a great qualifying session had fallen backwards throughout the race and perhaps had an issue with his bike. It was a gift for Quartararo who took 8th spot and Bagnaia promoted himself to 10th. Bastianini was still all over the Ducati rider though, waiting to attack.

With 17 laps to go gapping was being created – Miller’s gap between himself and Martin had grown to 1.046 seconds and Martin’s gap to Oliveira also had grown to 1.115 seconds. Bastianini managed to pass Bagnaia to take 10th place from him. There certainly were no team orders from Ducati. Bagnaia then had to worry about Marco Bezzecchi (another Ducati) who was already very close behind.

Passing Bagnaia. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Bastianini soon had pulled away and had already closed the gap between himself and P. Espargaro, managing to pass him on lap 11 of 24. It turned out Bagnaia had nothing to worry about with Bezzecchi as Bagnaia also passed Pol, after Pol made a slight mistake. Now up to 10th place, directly behind Bastianini once more.

Halfway through the race and Takuya Tsuda (who had stepped in for Mir at Suzuki) suddenly had his bike on fire beneath him, causing yellow flags to be waved at sector 2 (turn 5) and ultimately ending his home race.

In 7th place Marini was looking menacing behind Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) and soon had passed him to claim 6th spot and on the same lap (lap 14) Darryn Binder ended his race early sliding off into the gravel. He managed to re-join the race but retired a few laps later.

Back in front, Miller couldn’t put a foot wrong, with his metronomic lap times and a gap of 4.369 seconds ahead of Martin, the chequered flag was in reaching distance. Could he win his first race this year?

5 laps to go and Miller remained in command of the Japanese race, while his teammate also managed to dig deep and find some form, beginning to shrink the gap between himself and his future teammate. Into turn 12 he managed to pass Bastianini to take 9th, now he had Quartararo in his sights.

Martin, who had remained in 2nd place for quite some time, was under pressure from Binder. With only 3 laps until the end, who would take 2nd?

Behind them Honda rider Marquez had managed to pass Oliveira to take 4th with 2 laps left. Could he fight for the podium?

Last lap:

Miller continued to lead.

Behind him though, binder passed Martin to take 2nd –

Second-in-the-championship-man Bagnaia suddenly crashed out of 9th, applauding himself for his mistake, while he walked away.

Marini passed Oliveira but couldn’t quite make it stick, crossing the line.

But nothing could stop Jack today – the Thriller was back!

Top Ten Finishers:

1st

J. Miller

2nd

B. Binder

3rd

J. Martin

4th

M. Marquez

5th

M. Oliveira

6th

L. Marini

7th

M. Vinales

8th

F. Quartararo

9th

E. Bastianini

10th

M. Bezzecchi

This is Bagnaia’s 5th DNF this season and his teammate’s first Moto GP victory this year, it was both heartbreak and elation for Ducati.

Top 4 Championship Standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

219 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

201 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

194 points

4th

E. Bastianini

170 points

None of the top championship riders could quite capitalize on today’s race, so the championship is still up for grabs with only 4 more races, who will be crowned World Champion?

 

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website). 

British Superbikes Oulton Park Preview – The Showdown Starts Now!

“Showdown – NOUN. A final confrontation intended to settle a dispute.” Oxford Dictionary. The dispute?  Who will lift the 2022 Bennetts British Superbike Crown?

Picture courtesy of Official BSB

This weekend Oulton Park in Cheshire plays host to the travelling Circus that is the British Superbike paddock. Despite the tents and food vendors and merchandise stalls, it’s not Clowns we are here to see, it’s Gladiators!

A motor racing venue for 2 and 4 wheels since the 50’s, the former parkland/come formal gardens were converted to the racing circuit we know and love (although it has changed a little over the years) it has been the home of many adored racing series over the year such as BSB, British Touring Cars, Formula 3 and Porsche Carrera Cup etc. Oulton Park is also a favorite venue for track day enthusiasts of many different disciplines and track day experience providers.

This weekend is the first round where all eyes are now on the championship rather than qualifying for a position in the Showdown. The podium credits have been applied and the final game of musical chairs has finished. Everyone is now fully aware of their overall position within the points standings table. There are 9 races left in the 2022 season and the overall standings have the top 8 riders separated by just 53 points. With 3 races per weekend over the next 3 rounds, there are 225 points available between Race 1 at Oulton Park and the final race of the season at Brands Hatch on the 16th of October.  So as of this moment, it really is anyone’s guess who will lift the trophy at the end of the season and put their name on the plaque under the words ‘British Superbike Champion 2022’. A title held by racing greats such as Shane Byrne, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Neil Hodgson, Niall Mackenzie, John Reynolds and more. BSB is seen as the best domestic racing series in the world and winning the grand prize takes a tremendous feat of bravery and skill.  

Coming into Oulton Park, the current series leader is Bradley Ray of Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha. Ray has had a stellar second half of the season and really piled the pressure on reigning champion, McAMS Yamaha’s Tarran Mackenzie. Team mate to Mackenzie is Jason O’Halloran who knows all too well the level of pressure any rider faces in the Showdown fight for the championship after slipping off his Yamaha in 2021 while occupying the top of the rider standings going into Oulton Park. Oulton Park in 2021 saw Jason O’Halloran’s title challenge take on water after 2 DNF’s which ultimately cost him the Championship.  

It’s no secret that the three Yamaha riders are seen as the favorites to lift the trophy but as we have seen before, anything can happen in the Showdown. The first thing to consider is the great British weather. At the time of writing this it’s looking like the rain will hold off although it will be mild and overcast. As a keen motorcyclist myself, I can guarantee whatever the forecast says in late September, you can assume it’s wrong or just plain lying to you. You never know what the weather is going to do when moving into British Autumn.

The second thing to consider for the Showdown are the other riders on the grid. Although anyone from 9th onwards in the overall standings is not in contention for the championship, there are other things at stake for them. With the end of the season drawing close at an alarming rate, the rumors are starting to circulate. Silly season has started and there are already rumors flying around about who will be riding for who next year. There are riders looking to impress and therefore will not think twice about their position on track and how it would affect anyone else’s placement in the championship. It is a team sport, but it’s well known the only standings the race fans keep an eye on are the individual rider standings. All the riders are battling for a seat for the 2023 season, or to be seen as doing well from spectators in other paddocks around the world. Showdown rounds are usually where you end up with riders who are not racing for the championship taking wins, podiums and top 10 positions. These situations create an unknown for the riders in the Showdown… Imagine a tangle between a couple of riders and suddenly the gap in the standing shrink and we have a new championship leader? 5th place moves to 2nd etc. A situation we have literally just seen over in MotoGP where Pecco Bagnaia has battled to bring a 91-point deficit to Fabio Quartararo down to just 10 points, aided massively by the reigning MotoGP champions DNF at the recent Grand Prix of Aragon where Pecco finished 2nd and collected 20 points.

The pressure is on for sure for 2022 glory.

Bradley Ray – Image Courtesy of Official BSB

Bradley Ray – Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha. Brad’s plan is simply to go out and win. Hoping to keep his title rivals behind him, and on his recent run of form it’s not a bad plan whatsoever. Get your head down and win the championship by winning every race. It’s foolproof, providing he can pull it off.

Jason O’Halloran – Picture courtesy of Official BSB

Jason O’Halloran – McAMS Yamaha. The ever-pragmatic Australian’s plan is to relax into the racing and see what the next few rounds bring. A strong season again for the McAMS rider has seen him once again in a very strong position to challenge for championship glory. Consistency needs to be the key to O’Halloran’s Showdown battle plan. Almost approach the Showdown in a race-by-race situation rather than worrying where his rivals are. O’Halloran has had a dip in form over the last few rounds which has given Brad Ray the overall lead, and I fear Jason has to hit the ground running or no matter what he does, it will all be a little too far to reach.

Tarran Mackenzie – Picture Courtesy of Official BSB

Tarran Mackenzie – McAMS Yamaha. Mackenzie has form at this point of the season after coming from behind in 2021 to dominate the Showdown and take his championship by the scruff of the neck. No doubt last year is something he aims to repeat after a dismal start to his 2022 season after suffering a broken ankle in a training crash. Tarran has great form at Oulton Park, Donington Park and Brands Hatch, although he was involved in a little skirmish with both Christian Iddon and Lee Jackson last year at Outlon, Tarran is still the man everyone is looking to now the Showdown has started.

Glenn Irwin – Picture Courtesy of Official BSB

Glenn Irwin – Honda Racing UK. Glenn has an outside chance of the championship although he will need a little bit of bad luck for his rivals, or a poor showing in terms of finishing positions in their races. The Honda doesn’t generally enjoy the Oulton Park circuit so much and Glenn also wasn’t able to finish all the races held at Oulton in 2021, but recent improvements to the bike and a boost of confidence for Irwin after a strong round at Snetterton (despite podiumgate) should give the popular Northern Irishman a spring in his step for the weekend. I’m sure deep-down Honda think the Yamaha’s will be too strong for them but I for one hope to see the Fireblade and Glenn return to the top step before the end of the year.

Lee Jackson – Image Courtessy of Oficiall BSB

Lee Jackson – Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki. Jackson needs a return of the form that saw him claim his maiden win at Oulton Park earlier in the season. With Jackson having re-signed with the FS3 Kawasaki team for 2023, the pressure of next year is off. With Jackson free of the silly season pressure, it will hopefully lift a weight from his shoulders and allow him to attack the weekend with nothing but podiums in every race to try and pull off the underdog story of the year.

Kyle Ryde – Picture Courtesy of Official BSB

Kyle Ryde – Rich Energy OMG Racing Yamaha. Ryde is appearing in the Showdown this year for the first time. The popular Nottinghamshire rider will have no choice but to buckle in and see how it unfolds. If Ryde can return to the form from the start of 2022 which saw him take podium and race wins, there’s no reason he cannot promote himself into the top 3 positions in the standings overall. It’s fair to say Kyle has a big hill to climb to win the championship this year but nothing is impossible. Good luck to him I say and hopefully he can finish the season with a big smile on his face and plan for a new attack in 2023.

Rory Skinner – Image Courtesy of Official BSB

Rory Skinner – Cheshire Mouldings FS3 Kawasaki. Rory has had a standout season with multiple podium finishes and has done himself a grand service achieving a place inside the Showdown. Especially when you consider the grid he is racing against. He has well and truly put himself in the window for the rumoured move to Moto2 for 2023. A rumour which has gained traction since the announcement that Cameron Baubier will not ride for the American Racing Team in Moto2 for 2023 but return to home soil to race in Moto America. A move which would leave room in the team for Rory Skinner in his stead. Although nothing is yet announced, Skinner’s wild cards this year in the Moto2 paddock have come via the assistance of John Hopkins, former MotoGP and BSB rider, whom also has a lot of pull inside the American Racing team. Could Hopper be able to aid Rory’s step back up onto the world stage after falling through the crack in Red Bull Rookies? Skinner, like Ryde, will have to see how the next few races pan out and would be better concentrating on picking up a win, race by race rather than concerning himself with championship glory. A strong finish to the British Superbike season could well seal the deal / grease the wheels to his future.

Tommy Bridewell – Image Courtesy of Official BSB

Tommy Bridewell – Oxford Products Ducati. Bridewell has had a somewhat up and down season with only 5 visits to the podium so far in 2022. Tommy seems to be in a similar (albeit more successful boat) as rival Ducati riders Josh Brookes and Tom Sykes. It seems the Panigale hasn’t been able to replicate its expected run of form this year and the package has spent most of this season in the mid-pack. Bridewell has a mega battle on his hands now to be in with a shout of championship glory but after a strong end to the Showdown in 2021 saw the Oxford Products Ducati rider pip Jason O’Halloran to 2nd in the championship overall, I for one have no doubts Tommy Bridewell will make waves over the next few weekends, especially at Oulton Park.

Good luck to all the riders this weekend in every category. We are truly in for a great show.

Racing Armchair.

 

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. 

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