The drama continues in Thailand

Qualifying:

Moto GP was finally back in Thailand!

But it wasn’t the only return this weekend. Danilo Petrucci also returned to the paddock, taking Joan Mir’s spot at Suzuki, who was still unable to ride.

Glorious sunny conditions graced the track, which had a nice surprise in store for everyone – 2022 rookie – Marco Bezzecchi (VR46) flew into pole position, ahead of Jorge Martin (Ducati) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), who took last spot on the front row.

Race:

The weather was turned on its head for Sunday. Big black clouds loomed large overhead and with them came torrential rain, which managed to hamper the start of the race, delaying it so far that audiences weren’t sure it was even going to go ahead.

Some riders protested against the start of the race while others wanted to go racing. The crowd at the circuit however were determined to not let the weather get them down and they remained in fantastically high spirits.

The race was later declared a wet race and with that, a decision to remove one lap from the race, taking it from 26 laps to 25 in total.

The green lights eventually went out and the race began:

Martin immediately went wide into turn one as did Bezzecchi, but he managed to remain in the lead ahead of Bagnaia and Jack Miller (Ducati).

Start of the race. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Championship leader – Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) made a mistake also early on, on the first lap taking him from 11th to 17th place. The championship points changing right before our eyes.

There was heavy spray coming from all the riders, making visibility poor, but one rider who was not perturbed by this was Alex Marquez (Honda), who had the best start, claiming 10 places and was up to 10th position. What could he achieve further into the race?

Lap 2 saw Bezzecchi be told he needed to give a position back due to exceeding track limits (when he went wide) on the 1st lap. Meanwhile, behind him, Miller made a move on his teammate to take him into 2nd. He was in prime spot to take the lead when Bezzecchi would eventually have to let him pass.

Alex Marquez wasn’t finished making up places and soon passed Enea Bastianini (Ducati) to take 9th spot on lap 3. On the same lap – Bezzecchi moved out of the racing-line to let Miller pass. Miller then led Bezzecchi, Bagnaia and Miguel Oliveira (KTM). In 6th place, Luca Marini crashed out, but he did manage to later re-join the race.

Sensing he needed to start to break away and gain a lead, Miller soon took fastest lap but it was quickly surpassed by Oliveira. Miguel also managed to pass Bezzecchi to claim another spot and Bagnaia followed, taking his opportunity too.

Miller led Oliveira, Bagnaia and Bezzecchi by lap 6 of 25.

Oliveira threw down the gauntlet for fastest lap, putting in an impressive lap time of 1:39.920. Could he fight for the victory?

Hunting Miller. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

Meanwhile a mini battle for 7th place had started with A. Marquez passing Zarco, only for Zarco to pass straight back.

While that battle raged on, Miller and Oliveira started to create a gap at the front. A. Espargaro (Aprilia) on the other hand was having a bad weekend and was given a long-lap penalty for dangerous riding earlier on in the race. Would this result change the championship standings?

Still on the move – Alex Marquez managed to pass a further 2 riders, placing him behind his brother in 5th place. On the same lap Bagnaia picked up the fastest lap gauntlet and with it threw down a lap time of: 1:39.566. This was a great achievement by Bagnaia as he struggled last weekend in the wet conditions during qualifying. He later claimed that his teammate gave him a ‘pep-talk’ before this weekend’s race, which helped him this round.

The black clouds still gathered above but with them came the thunder. Would there be any further drama during the race?

Dark clouds above. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

14 laps until the end, Miller still led Oliveira and Bagnaia, with championship leader – Quartararo remaining in 18th place (out of the points). Could Fabio find something extra and manage to gain any valuable points?

2 laps later Oliveira set up a pass on Miller and took the lead. Miller tried to fight back but went wide. He decided to wait until the start-finish straight to use the full power of the Ducati to pass him back but, it came to no avail. Oliveira remained in 1st place.

It was then the turn of Frenchman Johann Zarco to take fastest lap, in 5th place. Not only did he manage it twice in a row but with 7 laps to go he managed to claim it a 3rd time (1:39.185). Could he fight for a podium position?

Only 5 laps until the chequered flag and M. Marquez made a move on Bagnaia for 3rd but couldn’t make it stick. In making the move, Marquez helped bring Zarco into the mix, who was looking menacing behind the number 93.

It only took until the next lap for Zarco to pass Marquez to claim 4th position. The podium was now in his sights.

Nothing in Thailand was going to dampen the drama unfolding on track, not even further black clouds and louder claps of thunder.

With 2 laps to go the KTM still led the 3 Ducati’s with Marquez’s Honda in 5th spot.

Last lap-

Bastianini managed to find some late race pace and managed to get up to 6th, behind Marquez, but he couldn’t quite make any move on him.

Oliveira passed the finish line to take the win, with Miller taking 2nd and Bagnaia bagging 3rd. The championship leader remained out of the points. A completely different story from round 16.

The championship still remains open for grabs.

Top Ten Finishers:

1st

M. Oliveira

2nd

J. Miller

3rd

F. Bagnaia

4th

J. Zarco

5th

M. Marquez

6th

E. Bastianini

7th

M. Vinales

8th

A. Marquez

9th

J. Martin

10th

B. Binder

Top Four Championship Standings:

1st

F. Quartararo

219 points

2nd

F. Bagnaia

217 points

3rd

A. Espargaro

199 points

4th

E. Bastianini

180 points

Such exciting racing and close positions in the championship – there is now only 2 points between Fabio and Pecco! So, be sure not to miss the Australian round in 2 weeks’ time!

 

 

(Featured image – Jump for Joy. Courtesy of: Moto GP website). 

The Beast conquers at Le Mans

Qualifying:

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

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

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

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

The excitement was building:

Race:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fabio hunts Aleix. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bagnaia crashes out. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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

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

Podium finishers. Courtesy of: Moto GP Twitter Page.

Top Ten Race Finishers:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

J. Miller

3rd

A. Espargaro

4th

F. Quartararo

5th

J. Zarco

6th

M. Marquez

7th

T. Nakagami

8th

B. Binder

9th

L. Marini

10th

M. Vinales

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

Top Four championship riders:

1st

F. Quartararo

102 points

2nd

A. Espargaro

98 points

3rd

E. Bastianini

94 points

4th

A. Rins

69 points

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

 

 

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

An unexpected win under Qatar lights

The wait is finally over, the predictions are in – who will win the opening race of the 2022 season?

Qualifying:

There were some interesting results, in less than favourable weather conditions. Jorge Martin (Ducati) took pole and fastest lap. Second was Enea Bastianini (Ducati) and taking last spot on the front row was Marc Marquez (Honda), who was declared fit enough to start the new season. Last year’s championship winner – Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) struggled to get to grips with his bike and qualified 11th with teammate Franco Morbidelli directly behind.

Pole for Martin. Courtesy of: Moto GP website

Race:

From pole Martin got an awful start to his race, starting with a wheelie from the line and almost rode into Bastianini, resulting in Martin going down into 8th spot. Pol Espargaro (Honda) on the other hand had a flying start and was quick to take the lead from teammate Marquez and Brad Binder (KTM).

Joan Mir (Suzuki) passed Bastianini for 4th place, while pre-seasons favourite to win, Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) languished down in 14th place.

Riding on last years Ducati, Bastianini was quick to put in the fastest lap but Mir’s teammate Alex Rins (Suzuki) soon beat it while overtaking Quartararo on the straight to go into 8th on lap 4.

Current champion – Quartararo struggled during the whole weekend. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

At the front P. Espargaro started to break away from the pack as the riders behind battled for positions. Lap 6 of 22 – Bastianini was ready to pounce on Mir and soon took full advantage, taking 4th place.

Binder was next – passing Marquez after Marc made a small mistake and went wide.

Ducati’s rider Jack Miller had to retire from the race on lap 7 and VR46’s racer Marco Bezzacchi crashed out on the last corner on lap 8.

Crashes seemed to come in thick and fast – lap 10, turn 1 Alex Marquez (Honda) ended his weekend. Miguel Oliveria (KTM) fell from 11th place – lap 11, turn 1. Then a shock crash between Bagnaia and Martin, meant both riders went into the gravel due to Bagnaia trying to overtake underneath Martin and losing the front. Three Ducati’s had exited early from the first race of the year.

Under the floodlights of Qatar number 55 (P. Espargaro) slowly increased his gap from Binder and Bastianini. The gap went to 1.063 seconds.

Bastianini had had enough of seeing the rear of the KTM though and soon passed Binder for 2nd place on the straight. He went slightly wide on the first corner but managed to hold his new position. This only let Espargaro’s lead intensify further to 1.406 seconds with only 8 laps to go. Could Bastianini push his Ducati to fight for the win?

It didn’t take him long to take chunks out of the lead and soon the gap had decreased to just 0.856 seconds with 7 laps to go. Then it was 0.500 seconds and Bastianini’s dream of winning his first race was in sight.

Taking fastest lap for the second time in the race Bastianini was pushing hard to get close to Espargaro. Meanwhile his brother Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) managed to pass Marquez for 4th.

Bastianini had chosen to race with a rear medium tyre as apposed to Pol’s soft. Was his tyre fairing better in the closing stages of the race? – it appeared so, as Bastianini blasted past the Repsol Honda on the straight, leaving Pol to make a small mistake and run wide into the first corner, resulting in him re-joining the track, only to be behind Binder.

The 2019 Ducati was soon taking full advantage of being in the top spot and soon had a gap of 1.446 seconds ahead of the KTM and the Honda.

It was down to the final lap and all Bastianini had to do was hold his nerve and take his bike over the finish line to take his maiden victory in only his second year.  As the chequered flag waved there were tears all around, not only for the young Italian but also for the whole Gresini Racing team. Bastianini had proved his dream could come true.

Winning feels good! On the podium with Bastianini and Nadia Padovani. Courtesy of: Moto GP BT Sport Twitter page.

Top ten riders results:

1st

E. Bastianini

2nd

B. Binder

3rd

P. Espargaro

4th

A. Espargaro

5th

M. Marquez

6th

J. Mir

7th

A. Rins

8th

J. Zarco

9th

F. Quartararo

10th

T. Nakagami

2022 is the longest season ever for Moto GP, but what will the second round in Indonesia hold for us on 20th March?

 

#UnitedForPeace

 

 

Featured image – Enea Bastianini. Courtesy of: Moto GP website.

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