In the last issue of Motor Vikatan, we had written about the MotoGP 2022 season after the second race held in Indonesia.
A lot of time and racing action has happened since then! It is time to delve into the adrenaline packed world of top-class motorcycle racing once again.
We are now close to the halfway mark of the championship, as we enter the summer break. With 8 races having been held since the race at Mandalika. Race action resumed in Argentina, USA, Portugal, Jerez, France, Italy, Catalunya and the latest in Germany.
In the opening part of the season, it was all topsy turvy, with one rider up one week and down the next. It was difficult to see a pattern emerging from the race results. There seemed to be many contenders for the championship, but nobody stamping their authority.
Let us start with Argentina. The race held at the spectacular Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, which sees little action throughout the year and therefore a dirty surface. One of the fastest racetracks on the calendar saw Aprilia take their first win since their comeback, with Aleix Espargaro. That win has been coming for sometime now, with Aprilia gradually going from strength to strength. Compatriots of his, Jorge Martin for Ducati and Alex Rins for Suzuki rounded off the podium, as they gave close chase till the finish line.
Next up we went to Texas, a roost ruled by Marc Marquez. But with Marquez still suffering badly from his injuries, the race was for once open for others to try their luck at winning! Enea Bastianini took the win in style on his satellite Ducati, scything through the field. Followed by Alex Rins, who was starting to show consistency, something which he lacked in previous seasons and Jack Miller on his Factory Ducati in third place. The exan rodeo rewarded the riders who could manage the bumpy track the best.
The first race in Europe, was in Portugal at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. A track which is most commonly described as a rollercoaster, because of the constant undulations and change of directions. The return to Europe saw a return of the reigning MotoGP champion, Fabio Quartararo, as he took the win on his Yamaha. Fellow Frenchman, Johann Zarco took second, while Aleix Espargaro finished third, showing that the Aprilia was a beast to reckon with.
Jerez was next. It is a track which every rider has ridden many laps of. Across multiple categories. This track has no secrets for the riders to exploit. We saw a clinical display of metronomic consistency from Francesco Bagnaia for the Factory Ducati to keep at bay Quartararo. These two pre-season favourites for the championship were joined by Aleix, as he was putting in a consistent charge for the podium places.
France was the next race with its festival like atmosphere. It had a record number of attendees post the pandemic, but the racing was mostly processional. Bastianini took the third win of the season for him, with Miller and Aleix rounding up the podium. Though the week was remembered for another reason. Suzuki announced that they will be quitting MotoGP at the end of the season, that didn’t go well with the riders as both ended up in the gravel during the race.
Mugello in Italy was the opposite of France. Without star attraction Valentino Rossi, a once packed Mugello was largely empty. The racing was fortunately good, with the results a copy of Jerez. As Bagnaia took the win, followed by Quartararo and Aleix. The Suzukis continued having a dismal run of form as both riders didn’t finish the race. It was also where Marc announced that he will be having another surgery to fix his long-standing injuries, we hope he recovers and returns to the battlefield of MotoGP.
ஒட்டுமொத்த விகடனுக்கும் ஒரே ஷார்ட்கட்!
The first lap of Catalunya saw the most action. As Takaaki Nakagami of Honda got the first corner all wrong and wiped out Rins and Bagnaia. Quartararo rode unhindered to take the chequered flag for the win. Drama ensued behind, as Aleix celebrated a lap too early and went from 2nd to 5th in one lap. His costly and somewhat amusing mistake saw Martin take second place ahead of teammate Zarco.
Sachsenring in Germany is a tight twisty track, with lots of left handers. It is a treat to watch the rider wrestling their MotoGP monsters around the track. But with the riders almost always being leaned over through a turn, it doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for overtaking. Quartararo took the holeshot and led the race from start to finish, eventually taking the win. He was joined on the podium by a consistent Zarco and Miller, who had to take a long lap penalty. The Suzukis continued to have another miserable weekend. While, it was the first time in 44 years, that Honda finished a race without any of their riders scoring a single point.
The talking points this season has been the lack of overtaking in comparison to previous years. With riders mostly blaming it on advanced aerodynamics and ride height devices. The former throw dirty air for the rider in the wake, while the latter has made everyone brake even later into the corner. Together it isn’t allowing riders to overtake by braking into a corner or drafting down the straight.
With 9 races done, Fabio Quartararo seems to have a firm grip on proceedings. He is the man in form, has the consistency and confidence, while leading the championship by 34 points. Aleix Espargaro has a strong package in the form of the sweet handling Aprilia and has been showing the potential of the bike. But the rider does not have the experience of fighting for championships. It will be interesting to see how does he perform in the latter half of the season as the pressure builds up.
A consistent Johann Zarco is in 3rd currently, but last year as well, we saw him fade in the second half of the season. Bagnaia, one of the pre-season favourites, has a massive mountain to climb, as he is almost 100 points adrift of the leader. Enea Bastianini who seemed such a strong contender in the beginning seems to be running out of steam on his one-year-old bike. There does not appear to be another rider in the paddock who has any answer for the tough questions being asked by Quartararo.
We cannot wait for the summer break to end and the championship to get lit up once again!