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

The Beast conquers at Le Mans

Qualifying:

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

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

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

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

The excitement was building:

Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabio hunts Aleix. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bagnaia crashes out. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

Podium finishers. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter Page.

Top Ten Race Finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

J. Miller

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

F. Quartararo

5th

J. Zarco

6th

M. Marquez

7th

T. Nakagami

8th

B. Binder

9th

L. Marini

10th

M. Vinales

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

Top Four championship riders:

1st

F. Quartararo

102 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

98 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

94 points

4th

A. Rins

69 points

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

 

 

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

Pecco is perfect in Spain!

Qualifying:

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

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

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

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

Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leading pair. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

Battle for third. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

That save! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

Top ten finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

M. Marquez

5th

J. Miller

6th

J. Mir

7th

T. Nakagami

8th

E. Bastianini

9th

M. Bezzecchi

10th

B. Binder

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

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

Top four in Championship:

1st

F. Quartararo

89 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

82 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

69 points

4th

A. Rins

69 points

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

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

 

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Enea reigns supreme in Texas

Qualifying:

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

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

Race:

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

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

COTA. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miller leads Bastianini. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

Marquez hunts Martin. Courtesy of Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

A. Rins

3rd

J. Miller

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Bagnaia

6th

M. Marquez

7th

F. Quartararo

8th

J. Martin

9th

J. Zarco

10th

M. Vinales

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

Championship:

1st

E. Bastianini

61 points

2nd

A. Rins

56 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

50 points

4th

J. Mir

46 points

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

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

 

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website).

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

The final dance.

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

Qualifying:

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

Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking the lead. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Race Results:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

J. Martin

3rd

J. Miller

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Quartararo

6th

J. Zarco

7th

B. Binder

8th

E. Bastianini

9th

A. Espargaro

10th

V. Rossi

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

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

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

#GrazieVale

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

 

 

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

Pecco Conquers at Portugal

Qualifying:

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

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

Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top ten race results:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

J. Mir

3rd

J. Miller

4th

A. Marquez

5th

J. Zarco

6th

P. Espargaro

7th

J. Martin

8th

A. Rins

9th

E. Bastianini

10th

B. Binder

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

Congratulations all round. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

Championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

267

2nd

F. Bagnaia

227

3rd

J. Mir

195

4th

J. Miller

165

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

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

Magnificent Seven for Marquez!

Qualifying:

Moto GP was back in America!

Viewers would have noted that Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) was missing from the Qualifying sessions (and indeed the race) as he took compassionate leave due to the tragic passing of his cousin Dean Berta Vinales, last weekend.

Q2 saw a surprise lap from Luca Marini (Ducati), which took him through to Q1 where he finished 9th on the grid.

But it was a third pole in a row for the other impressive Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia. Putting in a time of 2:02.781 over Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) in second and Marc Marquez (Honda), who took last place on the front row of the grid.

Race:

It was the first time back on American soil since the pandemic struck. It should have been wonderful news but for many riders it caused some grievances – mainly due to the ever-deteriorating track conditions. It had become even more bumpy and the track surface even poorer, with visible differences in tarmacked sections. Some riders had even gone so far as to say that if the track wasn’t fixed they would not return next year.

Regardless of the track conditions, Marc Marquez was determined to win again at the Austin track. He gave himself the very best of starts, flying straight into first from third. Leading Quartararo and Alex Rins (Suzuki).

Marquez in a lead of his own. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 2 of 20, saw Jorge Martin (Ducati) pass fellow Ducati rider Bagnaia and gain fastest lap in the meantime. At the other end of the pack though Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) took a tumble on turn 12, but managed to continue on into the race, finishing 17th.

Lap 3 saw Jack Miller (Ducati) pass Brad Binder (KTM) and Joan Mir (Suzuki) for a place behind teammate Bagnaia, taking fastest lap from Martin soon after. Would Miller decide to remain behind Bagnaia or try to pass?

Gaps started to appear quite early on in the race with the Spaniard out on his own from Frenchman, Quartararo, then Martin and Rins. Marquez was out to prove that he could still conquer at COTA.

The leading riders had all chosen to use hard front tyres and soft rear tyres, except the Australian Miller, who had opted to ride with two hard tyres. Was there something that Jack knew and the others didn’t? Or was he gambling on his tyres having something extra towards the end?

Lap 5 saw Johann Zarco (Ducati) leave his race early and crash out turn 1. While teammate Martin passed Rins again, after losing an earlier battle between the two. He quickly started to pull away from the Suzuki and put some pressure on Quartararo, who was still in 2nd.

Second to third. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It was then time for Miller to make his decision and on lap 6 he passed Bagnaia. Could he use his tyres and get near to the top four? Rins was soon in his sights and Miller quickly passed him for fourth place.

With 12 laps remaining the gap grew bigger still between first and second, with Marquez constantly doing metronomic laps from Championship leader Quartararo. The gap became 1.736 seconds.

It was a disastrous weekend for Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro, after having crashed numerous times over the weekend, he crashed once more- lap 10, turn 13, ending his race early.

Also half-way through the race Bagnaia passed Rins for 5th, knowing he needed to gain some more points on Quartararo for his championship hopes to stay alive. Was it too little too late?

Meanwhile, still leading, Marquez was busy proving all the doubters wrong about his physical abilities and was still gaining a lead over Fabio. Having created a 2.930 second lead. Quartararo stated that “it tastes even better than a victory” to remain in 2nd, knowing that he still had a lead over closest championship rival, Bagnaia.

Lap 13 saw Jack be the ultimate team-player and let Pecco past for 4th place. Having the precious championship points in mind for both Ducati and Bagnaia. Perhaps he was also having tyre issues with his choice of both hard Michelins, as soon after Rins passed him for 5th.

Miller lead Bagnaia before letting him past. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Continuing to put in impressive laps, Marc was stunning audiences with his continuous lead extension, up to 3.499 seconds from Fabio.

Bagnaia had another Ducati rider in front of him by lap 17, in the form of Jorge Martin. Speculation occurred when Martin went wide and soon after Bagnaia passed him to get the last podium position. Was this a purposeful maneuver from Martin? Or just a simple mistake? Whatever the reason Bagnaia went through while Martin received a long-lap penalty for cutting turns 4 and 5.

Last Lap:

Marquez had increased his lead even further and was 4.512 seconds ahead of Quartararo, who was also 4.513 seconds ahead of the two Ducati’s of Bagnaia and Martin. Martin decided to take his long-lap penalty and came back on track behind Rins for 5th place. Becoming the top independent race finisher. Mir nudged past Miller and in doing so Enea Bastianini (Ducati) passed them both to take 6th spot.

Marquez sailed over the finish line for his 7th win at the Circuit Of The Americas and for Honda’s 450th Premier Class podium. Celebrating in style with a tribute to the late Nicky Hayden #69.

Marquez celebrates victory with team. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Marquez was certainly back on form and was impressive from lights out.

Race Results (Top Ten):

1st

M. Marquez

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

F. Bagnaia

4th

A. Rins

5th

J. Martin

6th

E. Bastianini

7th

J. Miller

8th

J. Mir

9th

B. Binder

10th

P. Espargaro

Even though Mir passed Miller on the last lap, the stewards demoted Mir one place for irresponsible riding (results above include this decision).

Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) also picked up the last point and set fastest lap during the last lap.

Championship Results Update:

1st

F. Quartararo

254 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

202 points

3rd

J. Mir

176 points

4th

J. Miller

148 points

With only three races left until the end of the season. Could we see Quartararo wrap up his championship next time out? Will Marquez continue to improve? Or will we see another new race winner for the year?

 

(Featured image- Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter page).

 

 

 

Dean Berta Vinales. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter.

Always in our thoughts: Dean Berta Vinales. Taken too young. 

©2017 The Pitcrewonline