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

Back-to-back victories for El Diablo

Controversy reigned in qualifying:

Local boy Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM – 88), took a tumble during the qualifying, which caused the yellow flags to be waved. During this time Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati – 63) was on his fastest lap and had also taken the lap record but it was taken away from him due to Oliveira’s accident, although the yellow flag was out of his peripheral vision at the time, rules state that his lap be removed.

Bagnaia was not the only rider to be unhappy with the qualifying results. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha -12) started in 12th, one position behind Bagnaia. Due to exceeding track limits by having both tyres on the green, although this was only by mere millimetres.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda – 93), returned this weekend after his explosive crash in July at the start of the 2020 season. He seemed to take a tow from Alex Rins (Suzuki – 42) which gave Marquez a brief third place on the grid. But, his time was not enough to keep him there and he started in 6th place.

Courtesy of: MotoGP website

Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha – 20) – took pole, from Alex Rins (Suzuki – 42) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati – 5) who took up the front row. A surprise 8th place for Luca Marini (Sky VR46 10) with reigning Champion Joan Mir (Suzuki – 36) in 9th and regardless of his crash Oliveira rounded up 10th place.

Rookie Jorge Martin had a massive crash which unfortunately resulted in him not being able to race on Sunday.

Portuguese Moto GP race:

Portimao, with it’s undulating bends and tight corners proved to be the place for Frenchman Quartararo to take back-to-back victories, in the third round of the championship.

Courtesy of: MCNews.com

Starting from pole, it seemed it was going to be a straight-forward race for Fabio, but he immediately went backwards to 5th place. Letting Zarco claim 1st into the first corner, leading from Rins and astonishingly Marc Marquez progressed to 3rd place. Mir also went up 6 places from the grid as did Brad Binder gaining 9th place for KTM.

With track temperatures now at 41 degrees the next 25 laps were sure to be sensational.

Quartararo was quick to put in a fastest lap, hoping to gain places back as soon as possible, taking 4th place from Miller. Only to have the fastest lap soon to be taken by Aleix Espargaro on lap three.

Courtesy of: MotoGP website

The battle was heating up already, with riders trying to gain ground with Quartararo soon taking 3rd place on lap 4 and Rins who was hot on the heels of leader Zarco. The Suzuki rider soon secured 1st place but the Ducati power proved too much and on the straight it was taken back.

Lap five saw a mechanical failure for Pol Espargaro (Honda – 41) and sadly he made an early retirement from the race. Rins once again battled for first place, this time brakes won over power and he was able to hold onto it, while Quartararo took 2nd.

Braking too hard however, caused Miller to crash out of the race on turn 3, lap 6.

Sadly for local boy Oliveira turn 14 also saw him crash out on lap 7, but he managed to get back on the bike to finish the race in 16th place.

Hard rear tyres seemed to be the right call for the riders as Bagnaia passed Marquez for 8th place, making his way through the pack and Quartararo was hunting down Rins for 1st. Unfortunately, Yamaha rider Vinales could not do the same and was outside the top 15.

Into the first corner of lap 9, Fabio decided to take 1st place and pushed hard to break-away from Rins. Getting faster and faster sections the further into the laps he went. A brilliant ride from Binder saw him progress from 15th on the grid to 6th place by lap 11. With the two Marquez brothers claiming 9th and 10th.

Lap 13 saw Bagnaia take fastest lap (1:39:728), in 6th place. Closing down on Morbidelli. All the while Rins was putting pressure on Quartararo and trying to catch up enough to pass him.

Bagnaia making his way through the pack. Courtesy of: MotoGP website

Quartararo responded with another fastest lap (1:39:680).

The battle between the Frenchman and the Spaniard continued to escalate and Rins regained fastest lap (1:39:598) on lap 15.

A bump in the circuit caused Rossi to crash out with 11 laps to the finish and track limit warnings were handed out to Morbidelli and Vinales, the latter had already fell fowl to them in qualifying.

Still fighting for 1st place, Rins took fastest lap yet again twice in a row and was pushing himself to his limits trying to catch Quartararo. Sadly, it proved to be to much for the number 41 and he crashed out with only 7 laps to the end. Zarco gained 2nd place with Bagnaia 3rd and Mir 4th. Creating the four riders to break away from the rest of the pack.

Moments after Bagnaia took 2nd place from Zarco, the Frenchman fell, seemingly from another bump in the circuit. Quartararo now lead Bagnaia and reigning champion Mir.

Quartararo seemed to be able to handle the hard rear tyre and use it to his advantage. Slowly gaining a 5.276 second lead ahead of the other two riders who followed behind.

This gap proved to be too big for any of the riders to close down and Quartararo took a very clean victory, with no mistakes, at Portimao. Mir looked to have one last attack in him for 2nd, but Bagnaia gave nothing away. They claimed the last two places on the podium. Morbidelli, with a return to form, just missed out and finished 4th.

Morbidelli back on form. Courtesy of: MotoGP website

Marc Marquez made a herculean effort, even having to change his riding style for race-day and finished a respectable 7th place, remaining ahead of his brother.

Nakagami, who looked like he wasn’t going to be able to even start the race, due to injuries sustained in practice sessions managed to finish the race completing the top 10 riders.

Incredibly six different manufactures finished in the top 7 positions.

The championship standings:

  1. Quartararo (61 points)

  2. Bagnaia (46 points)

  3. Vinales (41 points)

  4. Zarco (40 points)

  5. Mir (38 points)

With two weeks to wait until the fourth round of the championship, will it be enough time for Marc Marquez to heal any further or has this race halted his healing progress? Will it be a third race win in a row for the number 20? Or will we see a new race winner in 2021?

 

Happy Birthday to Fabio Quartararo for Tuesday 20th April.

 

(Featured image: Courtesy of Moto GP website)

©2017 The Pitcrewonline