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.

Guevara crowned Moto3 champion with victory in Australia

Izan Guevara has been crowned Moto3 World Champion after taking victory on the Australian Grand Prix!

After a tough outing in Thailand two weeks ago, Guevara came to Phillip Island hoping to get back on the podium, with the chance to wrap up the title early well within his grasp.

Qualifying for the Spaniard ended with a seventh-place result, meaning there was work to do on Sunday to get to the front.

The race began with damp areas present around the track, but not enough to force the riders on to the wet tyre, with slicks being the choice for all.

Guevara quickly made his intent clear from the start: to get to the front. As the lights went out it was Garcia who took the lead early on ahead of Diogo Moreira and pole-sitter Ayumu Sasaki.

Sasaki made a move for the lead on the third lap as Garcia dropped to third behind Ivan Ortola who had made a good start to find himself in second during the early stages.

Meanwhile the champion in waiting was still on the move, quickly getting up to second on lap four with an impressive move past both Moreira and Garcia, with his eyes firmly set on the lead.

By the eighth lap an exciting battle for first emerged between Garcia, who had taken first a few laps prior, and Guevara.

This battle went on for the rest of the race, with Sasaki and Deniz Öncü joining the fight.

The race went right down until the final lap, with the four riders separated by almost nothing!

Guevara had the pace to find a couple of tenths over his rivals, and crossed the line as winner ahead of Öncü, Garcia and Sasaki, crowning him champion!

With that, Guevara can now breathe a sigh of relief as he heads to the final two rounds of the year with the title already wrapped up.

Worth the wait!

Qualifying:

Marc Marquez was back with his incredible skills at saving his Honda from crashing, once again during the qualifying.

It was Jorge Martin (Ducati) who pipped him to the post to take his 3rd pole this season and an all-time lap record (1:27.767), with Marquez following closely behind him. Finishing the front row was Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) and the other championship contenders Fabio Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro behind him, in 5th and 6th.

Claiming pole. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

If qualifying was anything to go by, we were going to be in for a treat on Sunday.

Race:

Rain had poured during the night, but it was glorious sunshine that greeted everyone at Phillip Island in the morning. This race had been 3 years of anticipation and audiences were excited to see what was in store:

Lining up on the grid Bagnaia appeared to have trouble with his start device, he just about managed to sort the issue before lights went out. When the lights went green, it was Martin who led Marquez and Espargaro into turn 1. Bagnaia went backwards to 4th place but by turn 2 he was up to 3rd, passing one of his championship contenders.

Home-Hero, Jack Miller (Ducati) started to carve his way through the pack and on lap 2 of 27 he had made his way up to 6th, passing Alex Marquez (Honda) and Luca Marini (Ducati) in the process. His championship hopes weren’t quite done with yet.

Marini fought back on ‘Miller Corner’ (having been named after Jack during the weekend). Miller soon took the place back though, knowing he couldn’t let the championship leaders get away. By lap 3 he had managed to also pass Espargaro to sit behind his teammate. Would team orders come into play?

The answer is no – Miller passed Pecco to take 3rd a lap later. But Pecco was having none of it and fought back.

Meanwhile, behind them Quartararo lost another place to Marini but seconds later Fabio made a mistake and was forced to go onto the grass verge, entering back into the race in 22nd place, behind his teammate Franco Morbidelli.

While this was all happening Alex Rins (Suzuki) had taken fastest lap and was up into 7th place behind Marini. He soon passed him to take 6th. Rins was seemingly on a charge. Not content with his new spot, he soon took another one, this time from Espargaro in 5th. Could he make it to the podium?

With 22 laps still to go Martin led Marquez and Bagnaia.

Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

All eyes were on Suzuki-man Rins as he caught Miller by surprise, claiming his spot too (for 4th) and on lap 8 he also passed Bagnaia for 3rd. Could he manage to conserve his tyres to make it to the end of the race after pushing so hard? Only time would tell.

Miller seemed to be in the wars as Espargaro passed him for 5th (and took fastest lap), on lap 9. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) also managed to push Miller back to 7th. Alex Marquez tried his luck too but instead he hit Miller from behind, narrowly avoiding hitting Marini as well, sending them both into the gravel, on ‘Miller Corner’ ending both their races early. (It was later confirmed that A. Marquez would get a long-lap penalty next round for ‘riding in an overly aggressive manner’).

Checking Miller is okay. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Back at the front of the race Rins and Bagnaia had a tussle for 3rd with Bagnaia being the victor this time round.

By lap 10 Fabio had made it up into the points positions (15th) but on the next lap on turn 2 he made a mistake and crashed out of the race, taking zero points at Phillip Island. Has the dream for a second championship gone?

On the same lap Rins managed to pass Bagnaia and Marquez. Martin then led Rins, Marquez and Bagnaia into lap 12.

Rins was clearly up for fighting for the win and on lap 14 he saw his opportunity to get into the prime position, taking 1st from ‘The Martinator’ smoothly. While positions were being swapped behind him – Bagnaia passed Marquez and Martin and then Marquez also passed Martin – he had gone from 1st to 4th in only 2 turns.

Marquez was the only rider though to have taken a gamble with a soft rear tyre. Would the gamble pay off?

Martin soon lost yet another place, this time to Bezzecchi and in-front of him Bagnaia had had enough of watching Rins and had taken the lead. On the next corner Marquez also followed suit and passed Rins.

With 13 laps to go Bagnaia led Marquez, Rins and Bezzecchi. How much more drama could there possibly be? If crowds weren’t on the edge of their seats already, they soon would be:

Such close racing – Bagnaia, Rins and Marquez. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Just 11 laps until the end and Rins seizes his opportunity to pass Marquez for 2nd and Martin passes Bezzecchi back. Blink and you would miss the action!

Martin had found his second wind and managed to also pass Marquez for 3rd but lap 19 Marquez got his spot back and brought Bezzecchi with him, who managed to also claim a position from Martin, pushing him back to 5th. On the next lap a battle commenced between Bezzecchi, Marquez and Martin. Bezzecchi managed to claim Marquez’s spot and Martin also passed him, but Marquez fought Martin off to keep 4th. While back at the front Rins had managed to claim first position.

With only 8 laps to go Rins now led Bagnaia, Bezzecchi and Marquez.

So much action on track, no-one knew where to look!

Yet there was still more to come:

Bagnaia powered past Rins on the start-finish straight to re-take the lead and to start lap 21. Rins then got swallowed up by both Bezzecchi and Marquez to go back to 4th. The same thing that had happened to Martin moments ago.

With 6 laps to go Rins and Marquez fought for 3rd but it ended with Marquez going wide and Martin passing through, sending Marquez back to 5th. Could he still put up a fight with his soft rear tyre? If there was an issue with the soft tyre Marquez was ignoring it as he soon passed Martin back for 4th.

Bezzecchi seemed to be in trouble with Rins, with 3 laps until the end on turn 2 Rins managed to make his pass stick and was soon hunting down Bagnaia again. Meanwhile Marquez had also passed Marco to take 3rd. Marquez wasn’t letting Rins get away – they tussled for 2nd place, but Rins won.

Last lap:

Bagnaia led Rins, Marquez and Bezzecchi over the line but Rins passed Bagnaia shortly after and Marquez followed him. Could Marquez make the pass to snatch victory?

No, he couldn’t – Alex Rins took the chequered flag for a fairytale win for Suzuki. Followed closely by Marquez and Bagnaia.

Top Ten Finishers:

1st

A. Rins

2nd

M. Marquez

3rd

F. Bagnaia

4th

M. Bezzecchi

5th

E. Bastianini

6th

L. Marini

7th

J. Martin

8th

J. Zarco

9th

A. Espargaro

10th

B. Binder

It was such a close race between the top ten racers. But it was all about celebration: Rins became the 7th different winner this year, Marquez took his 100th premier class victory and Bezzecchi became Rookie of the Year!

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

Top Four in Championship:

1st

F. Bagnaia

233 points

2nd

F. Quartararo

219 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

206 points

4th

E. Bastianini

191 points

We have certainly missed Phillip Island these past 3 years – but wasn’t it worth the wait?!

 

 

(Featured image: courtesy of: Moto GP website). 

Foggia wins in Thailand with faultless performance

Dennis Foggia took a dominant win on the Thai GP making it his third in the past six races, leaving a glimmer of hope that his fight for the championship is still on.

While his championship rivals struggled in qualifying, with Izan Guevara 11th and Sergio Garcia further down in 20th, Foggia lined up on Sunday’s grid with clear track ahead on pole position.

The start couldn’t have gone any better for the Italian, holding his lead and having a clean getaway as Stefano Nepa moved his way up to second after a good start from fourth.

Meanwhile there was drama almost straight away as the first lap came to a close, when championship contender Garcia found himself on the ground after a collision with Adrian Fernandez.

There was a couple of other crashes as the race unfolded, Kaito Toba and John McPhee fell down in separate incidents which brought both of their races to an early close.

Back at the front it was still Foggia out in first as a group of six riders formed in the lead pack. This number slowly began to fall as Jaume Masia, Diogo Moreira and David Muñoz dropped back down the field.

Garcia’s day continued to get worse as he went a lap down at the beginning of lap 12, there was nothing he could do as he let rival Foggia by when the blue flags waved.

Garcia eventually retired to the pits shortly after the halfway point in the race, with the opportunity to score any points well and truly gone.

Credit: Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool

There was little standing in Foggia’s way as the race went on, leading quite comfortably throughout the entire race bar one slight mistake at the end of lap 13 which allowed Ayumu Sasaki into the lead, albeit very briefly as the Italian quickly moved back ahead two corners later.

With a few laps to go and with Foggia pulling away, Sasaki and Riccardo Rossi battled it out for second place which went on right until the final corner on the last lap as Rossi made a last effort move up the inside on his Japanese rival, but had to settle for third after running wide.

But out front there was no stopping Foggia, his win putting on stamp on what was a strong performance at Buriram, winning the race by over 1.5s from second placed Sasaki.

A tense fight for fourth place ended with Nepa taking the position at the line, ahead of championship leader Guevara who took a good haul of points despite a tough weekend.

Three rounds remain and there’s 49 points separating the top two in the championship, but anything can happen as Moto3 heads to Australia in less than two weeks’ time.

Image credit: Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool

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). 

Aragon = All-out Action!

Qualifying:

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

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

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

Pole! Courtesy of: Moto GP website

Race:

Sunshine was beaming and the anticipation was bubbling along nicely.

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

Fabio’s crash. Courtesy of: Moto GP footage

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

Nakagami incident. Courtesy of: Moto GP BT Sport footage

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

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

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

Bagnaia leads the way. Courtesy of: Moto GP wesbite

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cal Crutchlow. Courtesy of: Moto GP website

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last lap:

Baganaia led Bastianini onto turn 1 –

turn 2 –

turn 3 –

turn 4 –

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

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

Top ten finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

F. Bagnaia

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

B. Binder

5th

J. Miller

6th

J. Martin

7th

L. Marini

8th

J. Zarco

9th

A. Rins

10th

M. Bezzecchi

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

Top four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

211 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

201 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

194 points

4th

E. Bastianini

163 points

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

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

Courtesy of: Ducati Course Twitter page

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

 

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

 

 

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

All in a days work for Pecco!

Qualifying:

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

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

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

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

Race:

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

The livery! Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

Crashing out. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following closely. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

Super close end. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

Top 10 race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

E. Bastianini

3rd

M. Vinales

4th

L. Marini

5th

F. Quartararo

6th

A. Espargaro

7th

A. Rins

8th

B. Binder

9th

J. Martin

10th

A. Marquez

Top 4 Championship Standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

211 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

181 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

178 points

4th

E. Bastianini

138 points

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of: Moto GP website. 

Ducati Dominance continues!

Austrian GP news: 

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

Qualifying:

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

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

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

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

Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain stayed away. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

Top 10 race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

J. Miller

4th

L. Marini

5th

J. Zarco

6th

A. Espargaro

7th

B. Binder

8th

A. Rins

9th

M. Bezzechi

10th

J. Martin

Top four championship:

1st

F. Quartararo

200 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

168 points

3rd

F. Bagnaia

156 points

4th

J. Zarco

125 points

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

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

 

 

Featured image – Courtesy of: Moto GP official Twitter page 

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.

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