Legendary track lives up to the name!

Qualifying:

Dark clouds loomed above the Assen track, just waiting to burst, making every lap count for the riders.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) made the most of it and secured his 4th pole position this season ahead of championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Jorge Martin (Ducati) in 3rd.

Honda rider Pol Espargaro would be sitting out of Sunday’s race due to damage to his ribs and even though he set 3rd fastest lap Martin would be racing with an infected wrist.

Race:

The weather wasn’t exactly clear blue sky, but it was declared dry for race day.

The action started almost immediately: with lights out Joan Mir (Suzuki) and Luca Marini (VR46) collided into eachother, while Bagnaia got a flying start. Quartararo went wide on the first corner ending up in 4th place, but managed to pass Martin and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) through turns 2 and 3 to take back 2nd. Aleix wasn’t just going to let him have the spot though and on the next corner passed him right back. Slightly further back Marco Bezzechi (VR46) passed Jack Miller (Ducati) for 5th. As the first lap ended would the momentum continue for the rest of the race?

Leading the pack. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Starting lap two and Bagnaia led A. Espargaro, Quartararo and Martin.

By lap 3 Aleix had secured fastest lap while the rookie Bezzechi made a move on Martin to take 4th.

Bagnaia was having issues in front trying to shake Aleix. Behind him Fabio took fastest lap and was chasing them both down.

Lap 4 saw Miller take his penalty from qualifying in the form of another long-lap penalty. We all know how last weeks penalty ended up, would history repeat itself this time?

Suddenly with 22 laps to go El Diablo made a move out of nowhere, trying to undertake Espargaro into turn 5. Resulting in both the top championship contenders colliding into the gravel. Aleix managed to remain upright on his Aprilia and rejoin the race, albeit in 15th. Seconds later Fabio had also rejoined the race, in last position behind his teammate. Bagnaia, oblivious to the carnage behind him, then had a 1.064 second lead ahead of Bezzechi and Martin.

There didn’t seem to be any significant damage to Espargaro’s bike as he started to take positions back. By lap 8 he was in 14th place. Now a man on a mission, how far back up the pack could he manage?

Meanwhile the Yamaha weekend was going bad to worse as Frankie Morbidelli crashed out on the same corner as Fabio 2 laps later. On the next lap, turn 8, Darryn Binder also ended his race early and Fabio pulled into the pits to try to retire but was told by his team to go back out, with 17 laps left – this would prove to be a mistake.

Alex Rins (Suzuki) was Espargaro’s next target managing to pass him on lap 9 for 13th while his teammate, Maverick Vinales made a move on Brad Binder (KTM) to claim 4th place on lap 11.

The man on the move – Espargaro then made quick work of both the Gresini racers taking 11th and with it another fastest lap.

Yamaha’s mistake sending Quartararo back out to race resulted in yellow flags being waved for him on lap 13, where once again on turn 5 Quartararo crashed for a second time. This time high-siding from his bike and looking like he’d hurt himself.

Second crash. Courtesy of: BT Sport, Moto GP Twitter page.

Following on from his penalty Miller was up to 6th place by lap 15. Behind him Johann Zarco (Ducati) and Joan Mir (Suzuki) were battling for 8th but, it was Espargaro that calculated a move passing them both claiming the 8th spot for himself.

By this time there were wet weather flags being waved by the marshals, declaring it a wet race. The riders had a choice to either stay out on track or go the pits and swap their bikes. It must not have been raining very hard as no rider decided to swap.

Lap 18 and Vinales took 3rd place from Martin. Was Martin’s wrist starting to hurt from the infection? Was the rain starting to affect visibility or tyres? Whatever was effecting Martin he fell back to 6th. But his troubles didn’t end there – going from strength to strength Aleix made up another place with 7 laps to go and was catching Martin who was 2.176 seconds ahead. Could he manage to catch him in time for the chequered flag?

Next lap and Miller managed to pass his teammate for next year – Binder to take 4th.

By this point of the race, the rain seemed to have eased and the flags had stopped waving. With tension mounting could Bagnaia hold on for just 5 more laps or would the pressure get to him? Would the rookie be able to remain in his podium position? Could Vinales keep his first podium place for Aprilia? Where would Aleix end up? Would there be a classic Assen surprise at the end?

Miller was stalking Vinales and was looking likely to take the last spot on the podium, Maverick was riding defensively though – Miller knew he had to make a move and decided to with 1 lap to go but, he went wide and Maverick took it back. While behind them Espargaro had clawed the seconds down between himself and Martin and had taken 6th.

Last lap – Bagania led Bezzechi and Vinales but as they were crossing the line the Assen surprise came in the form of Espargaro taking 4th place, passing both Binder and Miller in a breathtaking pass on the last corner. In doing so claiming some more all-important championship points. Now with only 21 points between him and Quartararo.

Celebrating over the line. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top ten race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

M. Bezzechi

3rd

M. Vinales

4th

A. Espargaro

5th

B. Binder

6th

J. Miller

7th

J. Martin

8th

J. Mir

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

A. Rins

Vinales claimed his first Aprilia podium, Bezzechi claimed his first premier class podium, along with VR46’s first Moto GP podium and all was forgiven between Fabio and Aleix, after Fabio apologised to the Aprilia team and to Aleix.

Top four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

172 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

151 points

3rd

J. Zarco

114 points

4th

F. Bagnaia

106 points

Courtesy of: Moto GP website.
Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

 

 

With 5 weeks to wait for the next Moto GP round at Silverstone (August 5th/ 6th and 7th), the teams and riders can take a well earned rest and come back stronger. The championship is still wide open.

The first half of the season may now be over but what surprises will the second half have installed for us?

 

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website.

Flawless Fabio

Qualifying:

Very hot conditions greeted the Moto GP paddock at the ring on Saturday. 

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) claimed an all-time lap record along with pole position for Sunday (1:19.765). Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) took 2nd and finishing the front row was Johann Zarco (Ducati) in 3rd.

Jack Miller (Ducati) was given a long-lap penalty for crashing under yellow flags, which had to be completed during the race and Marc Marquez (Honda) will again not be competing in this weekend’s race.

Race:

Battling with an illness over the weekend, Quartararo’s team confirms he will be riding, hoping it won’t hamper his performance too much. The sunny conditions remained but it was even hotter for race day with temperatures rising to 35 degrees and track temperature being a scorching 52 degrees.

Lined up on the grid. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lights out. By turn one Fabio decided to take the lead straight away from Bagania and by the end of the lap Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) passed Luca Marini (VR46) for 7th place just behind Miller.

Takes the lead straight away. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

On the start of the 2nd lap, Bagnaia passed Quartararo to take the lead but Fabio passed right back, just touching Bagnaia’s Ducati on his way through. While Miller passed Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) for 5th.

Lap 3 saw Zarco make a great pass on Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) for 3rd place, while Fabio put in another fastest lap, making two in a row.

The next lap – turn 1: Bagnaia crashed out from 2nd place, leaving people to wonder if he can handle riding under pressure? Seconds later, Joan Mir (Suzuki) also crashed out of the race at the same corner, from 13th. Darryn Binder (Yamaha) ended his race early, on the same lap (turn 13) and Miller took his long-lap penalty, rejoining the race in 7th behind Jorge Martin (Ducati).

Championship hopes fading for Bagnaia. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

With 25 laps to go Quartararo started to put a gap between himself and Zarco (1.382 seconds) and with 24 laps to go he set another fastest lap.

Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) collided into the gravel on lap 7, turn 8 and Alex Marquez (Honda) retired from his race. Meanwhile, 5th place went back to Miller, from DiGi.

Vinales was having a great race and with 19 laps to go he was up to 4th place behind his teammate (the highest he has been since joining the Aprilia team), but he was being held up by Aleix in-front of him. Would he risk passing his fellow Spaniard? – knowing he is fighting for the championship.

In 2nd place Zarco was pushing hard to bridge the gap that was growing between himself and Fabio, which was 1.554 seconds. Another rider who was pushing hard was Miller, who by lap 17 was right behind the two Aprilia’s.

Then heartbreak for Vinales on lap 20 of 30. He seemingly made a mistake which took him wide, gifting 4th to Miller but as he kept falling down the order, it became apparent that his ride-height device had failed, leaving him unable to control the bike. Meaning he was forced to retire from his best place so far in 2022.

With 10 laps to go Quartararo remained steady in the lead, ahead of Zarco and Espargaro, with Miller hot on his heels behind.

DiGi and Martin tussled to see who would claim 5th spot. Martin won the battle but it was Marini who took full advantage, also passing DiGi to take 6th.

Lap 23 – Jack attempted to pass Aleix but couldn’t make it stick, making it an easy move to pass back for the number 41. While his brother (Pol Espargaro (Honda)) retired from the race on the same lap.

Marini was in good form and continued his charge, managing to pass fellow Ducati rider, Martin for another position (5th).

Three laps later and Miller tried once again to make the pass on Espargaro, but with the same result. With only 4 laps to go would he manage to finish on the podium? Time would soon tell: Aleix made a small mistake and went wide, but it was all the Australian needed. He went past the Aprilia to take 3rd.

Miller passes Espargaro. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Last lap – Fabio’s lead had extended to 5.371 seconds ahead of Zarco and Miller. Fabio cruised over the line to claim the first Yamaha win at Sachsenring since Rossi’s victory in 2009.

Top ten race finishers:

1st

F. Quartararo

2nd

J. Zarco

3rd

J. Miller

4th

A. Espargaro

5th

L. Marini

6th

J. Martin

7th

B. Binder

8th

F. Di Giannantonio

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

E. Bastianini

Not even a long-lap penalty could hold Miller back nor could an illness for Quartararo.

Podium. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

172 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

138 points

3rd

J. Zarco

111 points

4th

E. Bastianini

100 points

With only one week to go for the legendary track – Assen, will Fabio continue his winning streak? Or will there be another rider to stand on the top step? Not long to wait to find out.

 

 

Featured image – Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

#HappyFathersDay

El Diablo dominant in Spain

Qualifying:

Sunny conditions in Spain made for a good qualifying session seeing Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) claim pole with 1:38.742. Narrowly missing out on taking the pole for himself – Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) took second and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha), finished the front row.

Marc Marquez (Honda) was not present over the weekend due to having further surgery on his shoulder so Honda’s test-rider Stefan Bradl stepped in.

Sitting on pole. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Race:

All eyes were on the Spanish home-riders (which there were 8 on the grid on Sunday). The brilliant weather conditions remained for Sunday and the crowds were ready.

Aleix got a great start and instantly pulled ahead. But into turn one, Fabio took the lead. More action continued on the turn though as three bikes hurled into the gravel behind. It soon became clear that Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) had gone into the first corner too quick and couldn’t stop in time, taking himself and Alex Rins (Suzuki) out along with him. But, Rins was not the only rider, as Nakagami fell his helmet knocked against Bagnaia’s rear tyre, causing him to also crash seconds later.

The crash. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It was an unexpected start to the race. However, perhaps a more expected start was how quickly Fabio started to eke away from both Aleix and Jorge Martin (Ducati), who were in second and third.

Another great start came in the form of the now, sole-running Suzuki – Joan Mir, who had made up an impressive 11 places. Starting 17th on the grid and by the end of lap one had made it up to 6th.

The closest they would be to Fabio this race. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Lap 3 saw Martin pass A. Espargaro for 2nd while Quartararo put in the fastest lap.

Bagnaia managed to re-join the race, but only briefly, having to concede and retire to the pits.

With 21 laps to go, Quartararo got another fastest lap and was 1.627 seconds ahead of Martin. Fabio was pushing hard to get a substantial lead.

On lap 6 Marco Bezzecchi (VR46) ended his race early, crashing out on turn 10.

Another rider who had made his way through the pack was Enea Bastianini (Ducati), who was in 7th place and hoping his luck would fair better than the last race (when he crashed out of 6th place). But, bad luck continued to hamper ‘The Beast’ as he crashed out for the second time in a row, this time on lap 8 of 24, turn 5.

Back at the front, the lead had increased further to: 2.534 seconds.

The next lap saw last weeks pole-man Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) tumble into the gravel from 11th place.

With 15 laps to go Aleix passed Martin on the home-straight to re-take 2nd place, knowing he had to get the gap down between himself and Fabio. But the Ducati riders – Martin and Johann Zarco had other ideas and managed to keep him with them. But, in doing so helped in extending Quartararo’s lead, which was 3.862 seconds with 11 laps till the chequered flag.

Martin wasn’t going to have any of it. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

‘The Martinator’ re-took 2nd on lap 16, wanting to catch Fabio himself, who had managed to add yet another second to his lead. Martin however, had the same problem Aleix had, he couldn’t gap the two riders behind him. Meaning all three riders remained in their group 3.420 seconds ahead of Joan Mir (Suzuki), who had managed to pass Luca Marini (VR46) to take 5th position.

4 laps remaining and Espargaro passed Martin again to claim 2nd once more. Both Spanish men wanted to impress at home. But, it would seem no-one was going to be able to catch Quartararo, who was nearly 6 seconds ahead of the group. (Not even chest protector issues would stop him this year).

 

6 seconds ahead for victory. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Fabio crossed the finish line with one lap to go, time to really concentrate to bring back the victory. Bizarrely though as Aleix crossed the line moments after he started to shake his head and slow down, seemingly the unthinkable had happened – perhaps he had an electrical fault on the last lap? But, then his hands went up waving to the crowd. He had mistaken his last lap as the last lap of the race. Only to suddenly realise there was still one more lap, rejoining behind Marini in 6th. There were no words to describe the disappointment he must have felt, handing over a solid podium finish. He did manage to pass Marini for 5th place but, it was Quartararo who crossed the finish line to take the win whilst celebrating by ‘checking his watch’. Martin finished 2nd and team-mate Zarco claimed 3rd.

Top Ten race finishers:

1st

F. Quartararo

2nd

J. Martin

3rd

J. Zarco

4th

J. Mir

5th

A. Espargaro

6th

L. Marini

7th

M. Vinales

8th

B. Binder

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

A. Marquez

Top Four championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

147 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

125 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

94 points

4th

J. Zarco

91 points

After two DNF’s in a row, it was nice to see Mir claim 4th position. There is now only 22 points seperating the top two riders, even with Aleix’s unfortunate mistake, the championship is still very close.

What will happen in round 10?

 

 

 

Featured image. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

A Mugello Dream Come True!

Qualifying:

Wet conditions during the qualifying saw some unexpected results.

Starting in Q1 Fabio Di Giannantonio/ DiGi (Ducati) went through to Q2 along with Marc Marquez (Honda).

During Q2 Marquez high-sided his bike on turn 2, landing hard on his head and shoulder. The bike caught on fire and the accident caused the qualifying to be red-flagged early on in the session.

But, it was the Rookie, Di Giannantonio who finished in pole with 1:46.156 alongside another Rookie – Marco Bezzecchi and his teammate Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati).

An all Italian front row in Italy, the fans were sure to see something special on Sunday.

Race:

The rain stayed away for Sunday, but there was further drama unfolding: big news was confirmed that Marquez would be undergoing another operation on his shoulder during the coming week. With this breaking news, speculation was spreading about if he should even be starting the race.

At lights out DiGi got away well but it was the VR46 rider Marini who quickly took the lead from fellow Italian, leading the whole first lap until back on the home straight when Bezzecchi re-took control.

Bezzecchi, Marini and DiGi. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) had a poor start and went from 5th position to 8th, by the second lap he had gained back one place and had started to hunt down Johann Zarco (Ducati).

Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) took 3rd place but DiGi fought back on the straight, starting lap 3. Quartararo wasn’t having any of it and quickly re-took the position back. Meanwhile, Bagnaia made his way into 5th, having already passed Zarco earlier in the lap.

Close racing on the iconic track led to the fastest lap going to Bagnaia who was looking to pass DiGi for 4th place.

Marini had been holding strong in 2nd but Quartararo was stronger, taking the position from him on lap 4. How was the rookie in 1st going to handle El Diablo closing up fast behind him?

19 laps till the end and Bagnaia managed to pass DiGi. Both Quartararo and Bagnaia were on a mission from the start. Bezzecchi was pushing hard at the front, claiming fastest lap and leading Quartararo, Marini and Bagnaia.

So much action had already occurred early on in the race, but more action was yet to come: Lap 5, turn 9 Pol Espargaro (Honda) ended his race early while Bagnaia passed both Marini and Quartararo in the same corner to take 2nd place and the fastest lap of the race once more.

Pecco now had Bezzecchi in his sights, how would the Rookie fair?

On another Ducati, further down in the field Jorge Martin set a new record (fastest ever top-speed at Mugello) – 226.2mph.

It was the Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro though who was moving through the pack, taking 5th position from DiGi, who was going backwards.

For the second time in a row Joan Mir (Suzuki) crashed out of the race, lap 8, turn 1. On the same lap, just moments later, his teammate continued the bad luck and also crashed out for the second time in a row at turn 12. Suzuki’s year was just getting worse.

Starting lap 9 of 23, Bagnaia finally passed Bezzecchi to take the lead. Meanwhile the original leader and pole-man had fallen down the positions to 9th place.

Bagnaia was quick to start eeking out his lead. He was soon 0.964 seconds ahead of the pack. Quartararo could see him getting away and soon took another place, going to 2nd. Could he catch up to Bagnaia?

With 13 laps to go, Bagnaia led Quartararo, Bezzecchi, Marini and A. Espargaro.

Leading the way. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

The close racing continued however and Marini took 3rd from his teammate going into lap 12.

By the next lap the VR46 boys had swapped positions again, while Bagnaia continued his get-away and was now 1.164 seconds ahead of the Yamaha in 2nd.

Drama continued to reek havoc at Mugello as last race winner – Enea Bastianini (Ducati) took a tumble into the gravel on lap 14, turn 4 from 6th position.

Lap 15 saw A. Espargaro pass Marini to take 4th place. While Zarco and Martin fought for 5th spot, Zarco finally claimed it.

Two laps later and A. Espargaro’s calculations of trying to pass Bezzecchi come to fruition and he made the pass to go into 3rd. Could he make further history for Aprilia and have 4 podiums in a row? With only a few laps to go, audiences were on the edge of their seats.

Bezzecchi tried desperately to hold onto his new position (4th) but with only 3 laps until the chequered flag it looked likely that Zarco would pass him.

Last lap: Zarco had formulated exactly where to pass Bezzecchi and he did so, claiming the top independent rider spot. While at the front Bagnaia crossed the line in 1st to take that all important win! An Italian, on an Italian bike, in Italy – A Mugello Dream Come True! Bagnaia decided to celebrate his win with the fans by throwing his gloves and boots into the crowd.

Crossing the line victorious. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Top 10 race finishers:

1st

F. Bagnaia

2nd

F. Quartararo

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

J. Zarco

5th

M. Bezzecchi

6th

L. Marini

7th

B. Binder

8th

T. Nakagami

9th

M. Oliveira

10th

M. Marquez

Happy faces on the podium. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

It was an impressive ride from Marc Marquez considering the news regarding his shoulder surgery. Wishing him all the best in his recovery period (he will be having 4 – 6 months rest), hoping to see him back to full fitness soon.

It was also an impressive ride from both the VR46 riders, managing to remain in the top ten by the end of the race.

Top four Championship standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

122 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

114 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

94 points

4th

F. Bagnaia

81 points

History is constantly being written: Bagnaia took his first win at Mugello and A. Espargaro managed to get Aprilia their first 4 podiums ever in a row in the premier class.

The 2022 season is so unpredictable and constantly surprising us. With the next round only next Sunday we haven’t got long to wait for even more action.

 

 

 

Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website.

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).

One for the history books!

Qualifying:

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

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

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

Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunting Martin down. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final pass. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Championship Standings:

1st

A. Espargaro

45 points

2nd

B. Binder

38 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

36 points

4th

A. Rins

36 points

Top Ten Race Finishers:

1st

A. Espargaro

2nd

J. Martin

3rd

A. Rins

4th

J. Mir

5th

F. Bagnaia

6th

B. Binder

7th

M. Vinales

8th

F. Quartararo

9th

M. Bezzecchi

10th

E. Bastianini

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

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

 

 

Featured image. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati set to continue together in the 2023 & 2024 MotoGP Seasons

Ducati have announced that Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati Corse have reached an agreement that will see the Italian rider aboard the Ducati Lenovo Team’s factory Desmosedici GP bike for another two seasons. Here’s what they have to say:

Francesco Bagnaia. Picture courtesy of Ducati Lenovo Team

Born in Turin in 1997, “Pecco” Bagnaia made his MotoGP debut in 2019 with the Desmosedici GP of the Pramac Racing Team. He also contested the 2020 season with the same squad, achieving his first podium at the Grand Prix Lenovo of San Marino and the Rimini Riviera, where he finished second on the rostrum.Promoted to the official Ducati team last year, the Turin-born rider continued to shine after taking pole position and finishing third place in the opening GP of the 2021 season in Qatar and soon became one of the main title contenders. With nine podiums, four victories and six pole positions, Bagnaia ended 2021 in second place and is now looking forward to the new Championship, which will start on 6th March at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar.Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team)“Being a Ducati rider in MotoGP has always been my dream, and knowing that I can continue with the Ducati Lenovo Team for another two seasons makes me happy and proud. I have found a serene environment in the factory team: I feel very much in tune with my team and know that we can do great things together. Now I can only concentrate on doing well in this Championship. A big thank you to Claudio, Gigi, Paolo, Davide and all the Ducati Corse staff. I’ll try to repay their trust with my results on the track!”

Francesco Bagnaia and Luigi Dall’Igna. Picture courtesy of Ducati Lenovo Team

Luigi Dall’Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse):“We are delighted to have Bagnaia with us for another two seasons. Since he arrived at Ducati in 2019, Pecco has shown great talent and the ability to interpret our Desmosedici GP very well, adapting to ride it in any condition. He did it, especially in the last season, during which he had significant growth and got to play for the World Title. The way he managed the races at Aragón, Misano, Portimão and Valencia, scoring four fantastic victories, is proof of his maturity as a rider. With these great qualities, we are sure that he has the potential to aim for the title with us”.

The Ducati Lenovo Team concludes MotoGP pre-season testing at Sepang

In the latest press release from the Ducati Lenovo Team, they have concluded MotoGP pre-season testing at Sepang with Bagnaia sixth and Miller fourteenth. Enea Bastianini is the fastest (new unofficial Sepang record) with the Desmosedici GP bike of the Gresini Racing team.

Pecco Bagnaia Testing Sepang Feb 2022 Picture courtesy of The Ducati Lenovo Team

Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller concluded the first MotoGP pre-season test of 2022 at Sepang International Circuit (Malaysia). Over the two days, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders could lap again at the Malaysian track (which had been absent from the MotoGP calendar for the past two years) with their Desmosedici GP bikes in 2022 configuration.Despite the scorching temperatures, the Borgo Panigale team’s riders found good conditions to ride, except for the last few hours of the second day, which were disturbed by rain. During the Sepang test, both Bagnaia and Miller continued the testing program they began last November in Spain, at Jerez de la Frontera, testing the new solutions developed by the Ducati Corse engineers over the winter.With 110 laps under his belt and a best time of 1:58.265, Pecco closed the test in sixth position, while Jack, who completed 92 laps, finished fourteenth with a best time of 1:58.645, 380 thousandths behind his teammate. Enea Bastianini topped the Sepang test with the Ducati Desmosedici GP of the Gresini Racing team, thanks to a lap in 1:58.131, 172 thousandths faster than the current circuit record.After these first two days on track for 2022, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders will have another three days of testing next weekend. From 11th-13th February, MotoGP will make its debut at the brand new Mandalika Street Circuit in Lombok, Indonesia, for the final official test before the season opener scheduled on 6th March in Qatar.Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:58.265 (6th):“I am happy with how this second day of testing went. We are definitely not at the level I aim for yet, but I know we will get there soon. In just two days of working with the new bike, we have taken a big step forward, and with each session, we continued to improve. Now we have to keep working in this direction to be ready for the start of the Championship. These days, I did not concentrate on finding the best time. My priority now is to work on developing the bike, which has shown to have really great potential. I am satisfied and can’t wait to get on track for another three days of testing next week in Indonesia.”

Jack Miller Testing Sepang Feb 2022 Picture courtesy of The Ducati Lenovo Team

Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:58.645 (14th):“Thanks to the data we gathered on the first day, we were able to take a big step forward today, and I also felt more comfortable on the bike. Unfortunately, we missed the afternoon because of the rain, but we could still carry out most of our program. I have been busy testing some new components, and maybe if we had pushed harder, we could have been even faster, but we are still not far off the front. In general, I’m satisfied with these first two days of work, and I can’t wait to get back on track in a few days at Mandalika.”

 

Pedro Acosta – A star is born

Acosta

There aren’t many riders who enter their rookie season in Moto3 and blow both the fans and opposition away. But Pedro Acosta has done just that.

The young Moto3 rookie entered the category this year with an already impressive resume, winning the Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2020 and finishing as runner-up in the FIM CEV Moto3 Junior Championship in the same year.

At the tender age of 16, Acosta made his Moto3 debut in March with a strong and heavily experienced team of Red Bull KTM Ajo, meaning he had the equipment to run at the front.

It usually takes riders a few races to get up to pace with the close nature of Moto3; it can even take some a year and very often riders find themselves struggling to get up to speed at all.

It took Acosta just one race.

The Spaniard impressed everyone when he topped both FP1 and FP2 of the Grand Prix of Qatar and went one step further as he battled his way through the pack to finish second in the race, just 0.042s behind race winner Jaume Masia.

The paddock already knew he was the real deal, with Jack Miller even making what then seemed like a bold prediction that Acosta would win the championship.

Acosta
Credit: Rob Gray (Polarity Photo)/KTM Media Library

The now 17-year-old couldn’t stop impressing as he stunned everyone with a victory in the second round of the year, this time starting from the pit-lane and charging his way up the field to the front – something no Moto3 rider had accomplished beforehand.

Another two wins in Portugal and Spain saw Acosta become the first rider in Grand Prix history to achieve a podium in his first four races.

Acosta remained a regular front-runner from then on but only achieved a further four podiums, with his last coming in the Algarve GP, the race where he was crowned champion.

Ending off the season with 259 points – 43 points ahead of his nearest rival Dennis Foggia – Acosta has cemented himself as one of MotoGP’s future stars.

Moving into Moto2 for the 2022 campaign and already being linked to a MotoGP ride, the Spaniard will be looking to continue the already incredible form he has shown this season.

Sam Lowes victorious as Moto2 returns to Misano

After crashing out at the Grand Prix of the Americas and seeing his championship lead reduced to just nine points, all eyes were on Remy Gardner and his rookie teammate (and championship rival) Raul Fernandez as we moved into round 16 of the 2021 Moto2 season with a return to Misano.

But this is a season where we have learned to expect the unexpected. After a difficult qualifying in damp conditions, Raul started from 9th place on the grid and Gardner from 14th, his worst starting position of the season.

Moto2 Misano 2021 Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

Fernandez quickly moved up the order to 2nd place by lap 6, but Gardner struggled to make progress, initially dropping back, then moving up to 8th by the start of lap 5.  His attempt at passing Somkiat Chantra forced the Honda Team Asia rider into the gravel, with Gardner being given a long lap penalty.

On Lap 15 Raul Fernandez’s fortunes changed again – after running slightly wide and clipping the white line on turn 15, both bike and rider were sent cartwheeling into the gravel. Fortunately uninjured, Raul could only watch as Gardner crossed the line in 7th place, the championship lead stretching out once again to 18 points.

Instead it was a good day at the office for the Elf Marc VDS Racing Team, with Sam Lowes starting from pole and claiming the top spot on the podium. Teammate Augusto Fernandez received a long lap penalty before the race had even started, for riding slowly on the racing line during qualifying. Starting from 3rd on the grid, he took his penalty early, rejoined in 14th place, and worked his way back up to the top 4, eventually finishing in second.

Off the line Lowes held onto the lead after a brief challenge from his teammate, as behind him Aron Canet moved up past Jorge Navarro into 2nd and Augusto dropped back into 4th.

By the end of lap 1 Canet had taken the lead, until lap 4 when Navarro moved up to challenge, Canet forced him wide and Lowes was able to pass them both, and in the meantime Raul Fernandez moved up to 3rd.

Going into lap 6, Lowes had a lead of half a second, and started to stretch it out, as Raul Fernandez passed Canet to gain 2nd place. Lap 7 saw Raul close in on Lowes, as Gardner’s attempted overtake of Chantra resulted in a long lap penalty. A prolonged battle with Augusto Fernandez saw Gardner struggle to maintain his pace and by lap 15 Augusto was running in 6th, Stefano Manzi 7th and Gardner 8th.

After Raul Fernandez’ crash, Gardner took to the long lap loop, and rejoined in 7th place in front of Marco Bezzecchi.

On lap 18, Lowes ran wide allowing Canet to seize the opportunity to take the lead, but Lowes regained the place on lap 22 whilst fighting the front end, and Canet began to drop back almost immediately. On the last lap, Lowes led by a second over Canet, who was in turn half a second ahead of Augusto Fernandez. As they approached the chequered flag Augusto caught up to Canet to snatch 2nd.

Lowes & Fernandez podium Moto2 Misano 2021 Picture courtesy of marcvds.com

With only 2 rounds remaining, can Raul Fernandez fight back to take the championship crown in his rookie season? Or can Gardner recover his composure and increase his lead?

First fifteen riders:

1              Sam Lowes GBR  – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 25 points

2              Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 20

3              Aron Canet SPA  – Aspar Team Moto2 – 16

4              Celestino Vietti ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 13

5              Jorge Navarro SPA – +EGO Speed Up – 11

6              Stefano Manzi ITA – Flexbox HP40 – 10

7              Remy Gardner AUS – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 9

8              Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 8

9              Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 7

10           Marcos Ramirez SPA – American Racing – 6

11           Albert Arenas SPA – Aspar Team Moto2 – 5

12           Bo Bendsneyder NED – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 4

13           Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing -3

14           Thomas Luthi SWI – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 2

15           Marcel Schrotter GER – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 1

 

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