MotoGP 2022 Updates
In the July 2022 issue, we brought to you all the news prior to the 5-week long summer break in MotoGP. Then, it seemed the championship was Fabio Quartararo’s, now we aren’t so sure!
Before delving into the juicy details of the races which have happened since, we bring to you the biggest bit of news from the world of MotoGP. As the pinnacle of motorcycle racing recently announced that they signed an MOU to hold a race at the Buddh International Circuit in NCR. Rumours abound that the race could be held as early as 2023, but that seems unlikely. Realistically, we can expect a race in India in 2024. Needless to say, we are extremely excited!
Now back to the business of racing.
The first race after the summer break kicked off at one of the best circuits on the calendar, Silverstone in England. The Monster Energy British Grand Prix threw up an incredible race with a lot of overtaking for every position on the grid. Francesco Bagnaia, on the Ducati, rode a near flawless race, to overtake first his teammate Jack Miller, then Suzuki rider Alex Rins, to take the lead. He was pushed on the last two laps by Maverick Vinales on his Aprilia. Bagnaia held his nerve to take the victory, with Vinales in second and Miller taking the final spot on the podium. Silverstone is an old school circuit which almost always throws up fantastic racing on its wide sweeping layout. Bagnaia closed the championship gap to Quartararo on the Yamaha to 49 points, as the Frenchman finished in 8th after serving his, seemingly underserved, long lap penalty.
A couple of weeks after Silverstone the circus gathered in Austria at the fastest track on the calendar for the Cryptodata Motorrad Grand Prix von Osterreich. Spielberg isn’t the greatest of tracks in terms of layout, but it usually provides close contests, with Ducati winning almost all the races at the circuit, since racing resumed a few years ago. The stop and go nature of the track is perfectly suited to the Bologna Bullets, which have great acceleration, top speed and braking stability. This year saw a chicane added to the layout of the circuit to bring down the top speeds of the MotoGP machines. Quartararo took maximum advantage of that chicane to eke out every drop of performance from his underpowered Yamaha. Bagnaia eventually took the win, but being pushed all they way to the line by Quartararo. This was Bagnaia’s third consecutive win and a first for Ducati since the Casey Stoner era for the Italian factory. Miller took third and increased his run of strong performances as news came through that he will be leaving the team at the end of the season. Quartararo increased his lead in the championship over Espargaro to 32 points, while Bagnaia closed in within 44 points of the leader.
The third race after the summer break was back in Italy with the Gran Premio Gryfyn di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini. Bagnaia has had something of a stranglehold on Misano in the last few visits. 2022 was no different, but by a whisker! This relatively tight and twisty circuit saw the Italian take his fourth consecutive win, a first for Ducati. Compatriot Enea Bastianini finished a super strong second just 0.034 seconds behind. On the last lap he attacked and almost wiped out the race leader. Vinales couldn’t keep up with the searing hot pace in the latter half of the race, but continued his strong run of form, finishing on the podium in third. The win saw Bagnaia close down the championship gap to Quartararo to 30 points and move up to second in the championship, with Espargaro falling to third.
From Italy the racing moved to Spain with the Gran Premio Animoca Brands de Aragon. Drama, the word that best described the race weekend. Which started even before the bikes were on track. Marc Marquez was to make his return to the MotoGP class on his Honda, after many months away suffering from multiple injuries. After a successful surgery, he was back to shake up the processional racing. Shake it up he did on the very first lap of the race! He charged through the first couple of corners and almost lost the rear, chopping the throttle and losing speed suddenly. Quartararo who was directly behind him and much faster had nowhere to go other than into the rear of Marquez’ bike. The Frenchman was violently thrown off his motorcycle and taking a beating to his body. The drama didn’t end there, as debris from the Yamaha got stuck in his Honda, making him veer off course a few corners later and directly into the path of Takaki Nakagami, forcing the Japanese rider to crash out as well. And this was just the first lap!
For much of the race it seemed like a repeat of Misano, with Bastianini shadowing Bagnaia. On the last lap the ‘Beast’ made a lunge up the inside to take the lead and defended to the finish line to take the win in glorious fashion. Ducati management were not amused to see their riders dicing it with so much risk and a championship on the line. Bastianini’s win also sewed up the Constructors’ Championship for Ducati. The final spot on the podium was taken by Espargaro who pipped KTM’s Brad Binder on the penultimate lap. Quartararo’s crash, coupled with his championship rivals strong showing, meant that Bagnaia and Espargaro moved in to 10 and 17 points respectively of the Frenchman.
After three long years, MotoGP returned to the home of Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki in Japan for the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. With Suzuki set to leave MotoGP at the end of this season, it was their last race at home. They would have wanted it to be unforgettable, unfortunately their results were best forgotten with retirements and mechanicals for both their riders.
The Motegi race will be remembered for the pole that Marquez took for the first time in 3 years on his Honda in wet and risky conditions. The race itself was topsy turvy, with the championship contenders missing in action at the front. Miller took a comfortable win, with no other rider being able to match his pace. Binder made a last lap lunge down the inside of Jorge Martin’s Ducati to seal second place, relegating the latter to third. In a dismal day, Quartararo finished 8th, but the good news for him was that Bagnaia crashed out on the last lap trying to overtake the Frenchman. Espargaro’s woes began on the warm up lap, as a mistake from his technicians, who left his bike a sitting duck. He had to start the race from pitlane and never managed to recover enough time and positions to get even a solitary point.
As a result, the race was much ado about nothing in the championship contention, with now Quartararo leading Bagnaia by 18 points and Espargaro by 25 points.
The Final Quartet
With just four races to go in the 2022 championship at Thailand, Australia, Malaysia and Spain, it is all up for grabs, for the top three. Even the tiniest mistake going forward will be punished by the competition. The only guaranteed winners are, we the spectators!