MotoGP Weekend: Francesco Bagnaia Wins In Jerez

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It’s the showdown that had been building all weekend: Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia vs Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Fabio Quartararo. Despite his easy win in Portimao, Quartararo couldn’t catch the Ducati. This is duel that we were waiting to spark again in 2022.

The jam packed weekend started on Friday. Reigning Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was the rider to beat. The Championship leader pulled two tenths clear on Friday to hold off the hard-charging Ducati trio of Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™), Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing), with the Frenchman finding a late 1:37.071 in FP2 to sit top of the pile despite a crash earlier in the day.

FP1
2020 Champion Joan MIr (Team Suzuki Ecstar) topped FP1, the Spaniard’s penultimate lap good enough to hold off a last lap charge from teammate Alex Rins, who ended up just 0.025 behind in second. LCR Castrol’s Honda’s Alex Marquez slotted into third, but there was some headline stealing from Quartararo in a different way to start the day.



The Frenchman was sitting pretty at the top of the timesheets before a wet patch caught him out at the final corner, and the crash left him wincing as the rear wheel of his Yamaha flicked him in the groin. No harm done once he’d had a few minutes to recover, but there were two further moments as well: The first came under braking at Turn 9, before he was then forced to straight line it through the gravel trap at Turn 5. Despite all of that, the number 20 closed out the opening session in fifth, just behind Aleix Espargaro.

FP2
Quartararo was able to pull out those two tenths to take back to the top, but he had competition from Ducati. Looking at the opening day of action, it’s the Bologna factory who may well be his closest challengers on Sunday after Bastianini, Bagnaia and Martin all impressed. The ‘Beast’ jumped ahead of his factory counterpart with the chequered flag out to take second spot late on, but after Bagnaia had earlier led the session too. The number 63 appeared to be back to his brilliant best as he threw in a handful of fast laps, with his best placing him third overall and a quarter of a second adrift of his 2021 title rival.



Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), meanwhile, suffered two crashes. The first off was at Turn 6, before quickly picking up the bike and rejoining. Whilst heading back to the pitlane, however, the eight-time World Champion was cruising off the racing line at Turn 9 and touched a damp patch that remained from Thursday’s rain. Down went the Spaniard again but former teammate and now KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa was on hand for a taxi back.


Friday Top Three (Full Results Here)

1 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – 1’37.071
2 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – Ducati –  +0.201
3 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – +0.212


 

Saturday
History was made at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto after Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) set a new all-time lap record of 1:36.170, an incredible near half second clear of his main competition, aka reigning Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™). The Italian denied the number 20 a fifth straight pole position in Andalucia, with a late charge from Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro enough to see him snatch third and another front row.

Q1
There were plenty of disgruntled faces at the conclusion of Q1, most notably from the man tied on points at the top of the World Championship: Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins could only manage 14th on the grid and will be desperately hoping he can conjure up some first lap magic again on Sunday. Repsol Honda Team’s Pol Espargaro missed out on a Q2 place right at the end following a late lap from Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), and KTM had a day to forget as well with their factory stars Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira struggling down in 15th and 21st. Zarco topped the session, with rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) once more an impressive nuisance for the veterans on Saturday.

Q2
Before the first flying laps had even come in we saw drama in Q2 when Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin crashed out at the first corner. A slight bobble saw him crash out and sprint back for his second bike, but the fall had consequences as it forced the cancellation of the majority of laps thanks to the Yellow Flags, meaning Joan Mir’s (Team Suzuki Ecstar) 1:37.616 was the fastest of the five riders whose laptimes still stood.



On the second flying laps, a familiar usual duo were down to business and at it again. Bagnaia took top spot for a split second before Quartararo back took over with a 1:36.790. The pair asserted their dominance early too, sitting four tenths clear of Aleix Espargaro. Bagnaia had company for his first run as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez latched himself onto the rear of his GP22, but the number 63’s crew got the Italian back out in rapid time, and he was able to shake off the close attention of Marquez. The eight-time World Champion then switched his focus to Quartararo instead, gluing himself to the rear wheel of the reigning World Champion’s Yamaha M1.

History was then made as Bagnaia smashed everyone out of the park with a sensational 1:36.170, a jaw-dropping six tenths clear of Quartararo, as hopes of a fifth straight Jerez pole began slipping through his fingers. The Frenchman improved his laptime but was still four tenths adrift of the brilliant Bagnaia, whose first pole since the Algarve GP last year was an arguably perfect and unbeatable lap.



With the chequered flag out, Aleix Espargaro was able to dig deep to grab the final front row spot out of the hands of Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) too, the Aprilia rider making it a third top three performance in the last four rounds.


MotoGP Qualifying Results (Full Results Here)

1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 1’36.170
2 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – +0.453
3 Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) – Aprilia – +0.763


After a weekend of speed from both at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, Jerez was the place as the pair were in a class of their own to pull out ten seconds on the rest. In the end, Bagnaia held on for an emotional first win of the year, with Quartararo forced to settle for second but taking an outright points lead in the World Championship, 0.285 off the win.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) broke clear of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Jack Miller (Ducato Lenovo Team) in the final laps to take third, and in doing so brings to an end Aprilia’s MotoGP™ concessions after six years.



As the lights went out, the roars went up as the thousands of trackside fans celebrated their return to the grandstands after three years away. It was the poleman Bagnaia who launched himself into the lead too, with Quartararo settling into second behind. Ducati Lenovo Team’s Jack Miller was third on the opening lap, ahead of LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami, and Aleix Espargaro and Marc Marquez were literally elbow-to-elbow off the line – with the Aprilia diving under the eight-time World Champion into the opening corner only to run wide and allow the Honda back through into fifth. 

Marquez was aggressive later on the opening lap as he fired up the inside of Nakagami to claim fourth, and Aleix Espargaro also squeezed through. Seconds later Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin then crashed out for the fourth time in six races and, on his 200th Grand Prix appearance, HRC’s Stefan Bradl also hit the deck at the final corner.

Meanwhile at the front, only a handful of laps had been completed but the leading duo were already flexing their pace, edging further and further clear of Miller. By Lap 5 it was 1.5 seconds and thr gap just continued to grow. The Australian instead had to focus on hanging onto the final podium place, with both Marquez and Espargaro applying increasing amounts of pressure on the factory Ducati rider.

Darryn Binder (WithU RNF Yamaha) then crashed out at Turn 2, before a big moment in the World Championship fight: after a sluggish start, Alex Rins’ day got worse when the Team Suzuki Ecstar rider straight-lined his GSX-RR through the Turn 11 gravel trap after a big moment on the front end, and then Pramac Racing’s difficult day continued when Johann Zarco crashed out at Turn 5.



By half distance, Bagnaia had eked out an eight-tenth advantage and the Italian would maintain that gap up until the final three laps of the race. But then, a frisson of Jaws music: Quartararo sliced the lead in half and was starting to close in. Could Quartararo steal Jerez victory away from Bagnaia late on? The pair were pushing to the absolute limit, by then a mind-boggling 11 seconds clear of the rest.

They started the final lap with Bagnaia holding an advantage of just half a second. It would require something special from the reigning World Champion on the final lap, but as they came through the fourth and final sector Quartararo was closing and closing, just a quarter of a second away. But Bagnaia stood firm, withstanding the almighty pressure to take a vital victory in Jerez; a first for the Italian since the season-closing race in Valencia last year and a second for the Bologna factory in Andalucia in as many years. Quartararo’s third podium visit of the season saw him stretch out his Championship leader from nothing to eight points, however, with those 20 for second place proving very valuable.

Much like the duel for victory, the scrap for third took its time to come to life but when it did, it was a thriller. There were five laps left when Marquez made an inch-perfect move up the inside of Miller at Turn 5, and Espargaro behind knew he had to respond or risk seeing the Respol Honda clear off into the distance. And the Aprilia rider had an answer on the same lap as he braked hard and late into the final corner, heading through.

Marquez, meanwhile, was wide into the final corner and the front-end of his RC213V folded. But it wasn’t a crash, it was a number 93 classic: in true Marc Marquez style, he picked it up off of his elbow and continued on. Espargaro and Miller both swooped through to demote the eight-time World Champion to fifth though, and from there the Aprilia checked out, quickly pulling half a second out of Miller. But Marquez wasn’t done, risking it all on the final lap to take fourth thanks to a dive up the inside of Miller at Turn 8 in spectacular style.



Ahead of them, though, Espargaro was coming across the line to take a pivotal podium for the Noale factory. Not only does the Spaniard sit second in the standings, the rider eight points adrift of Quartararo, but Aprilia officially lost their MotoGP™ concession status after six long years. Behind Marquez and Miller in fourth and fifth was Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir in P6, the 2020 Champion coming into late contention but not quite able to find a move on the those ahead.

Nakagami eventually came across the line in seventh, four seconds clear of Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) in a slightly muted eighth. The erstwhile Championship leader picked off rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing), but the latter matched his best MotoGP™ result despite that in ninth. The final place inside the top ten went the way of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder.



Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) completed the points.

And so we head for Le Mans with a little chance to recharge, and Quartararo out in front in the Championship. He doesn’t arrive from the top step, however, so can the Frenchman fight back on home turf? We’ll find out in two weeks…


Francesco Bagnaia: “It’s a beautiful day. We struggled a lot at the start of the season, during the tests, and we never stopped working. I had the luck to race in Portimao. Even with the pain, I was able to fight to have the same feeling again as last year, and finally this weekend everything went well. I’m so happy. I’m so happy we are back at our potential, or more. Because, last year in this track, we were struggling more compared to Fabio – Fabio was unbeatable – and today, we have done an incredible job. So, I want to say thanks to all the people who have helped me this week with my shoulder problems, and I just want to enjoy today, and give a huge hug to my family at home, to my girlfriend that is at home with my little dog. I’m so happy.”



MotoGP Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 41’00.554
2 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – +0.285
3 Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) – Aprilia – +10.977


Moto2
One day after taking his first Moto2 pole position, Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Ai Ogura became a Grand Prix winner in some style with a brilliant ride at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España. The Japanese rider led all 23 laps around the Circuit de Jerez-Angel Nieto to finally, despite having a multitude of podiums and having fought for the Moto3 crown, take to the top step. His wasn’t the only performance deserving of high praise. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) had broken his left radius and a finger on his right hand just a week ago in Portugal, but clenched his teeth to finish second, ahead of Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team).

Ogura got the holeshot from pole, while Canet climbed from fourth on the grid to second place when he went around the outside at the first corner. Fermin Aldeguer (Lightech Speed Up) emerged third, ahead of Arbolino, Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), and Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team). Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) dropped back a handful of positions after he made contact with Chantra as field poured into the first corner.

Arbolino got past Aldeguer when they arrived at Pedrosa Corner for the first time, and the Spanish teenager soon found himself on something of a slippery dip down the order while Lowes began his fightback from deep in the top 10. Arbolino gained another place when he wrested second position from Canet as they ran through the stadium section on Lap 3, and when Lowes caught up to Chantra, who was still sitting just behind them, it became a five-way fight for the lead.

Even just by starting the race, Canet had showed his incredible determination, and he was not about to roll over in his bid for victory. Just after two unsuccessful attempts to reclaim second from Arbolino, he made a third stick at Turn 9 on Lap 6. Right behind them, Lowes pulled off the same move on Chantra to elevate himself to fourth position.

It wasn’t long, however, until a lead group of five became a lead group of three. Lowes was first to drop out of contention, sliding out on Lap 7 as he ran through Turn 8. One lap later, at the next corner on the race track, Chantra was out when he too folded the front end. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) then inherited fourth, having not long overtaken Vietti, and Aldeguer was back up to sixth. Then, on Lap 9, Jake Dixon (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team) tried to pass Aldeguer at the Lorenzo Corner (Turn 13), but became the next out of contention as he slid out and collected the number 54.

Less than one second still covered the top three of Ogura, Canet and Arbolino at the end of Lap 13, which marked 10 to go, but on Lap 17 Canet had a big moment at Pedrosa Corner, allowing Ogura to skip several tenths of a second clear. With that, was the Japanese rider seriously started to pull away from the two rivals who had stuck with him for most of the race so far. Ogura’s margin was over a full second on Lap 18, and 2.7 seconds by the time he started the final lap.

When he took the chequered flag, the 21-year-old not only had his first victory in any Grand Prix class, but he also became the fifth brand-new Moto2™ winner of 2022. Canet finished 2.5s behind but held on through the pain barrier, and Arbolino was just over a second further back as he completed the podium with more consistent pace.

Fernandez finished fourth, and Marcel Schrötter took fifth after an entertaining battle with Vietti, which was settled when the German squeezed through a small gap at the Pedrosa Corner on Lap 18. Seventh went to Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), ahead of Portugal winner Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), Albert Arenas (Autosolar GASGAS Aspar Team), and Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP 40).

Alessandro Zaccone (Gresini Racing Moto2™) finished 11th for his best Moto2™ result yet by some margin, ahead of Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Stefano Manzi (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), the latter the injury replacement for Keminth Kubo. The other two riders to score points were Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP) in 14th and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing team) in 15th. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) finished 20th after an early crash while running in the top 10, and Aldeguer eventually retired after his incident with Dixon.

Another weekend and another new winner in Moto2™… it doesn’t get much more intriguing than that. Meanwhile in the World Championship, Vietti is now on exactly 100 points, but his lead over Ogura has been cut to 19. Can Moto2™’s newest race winner make further inroads next time, will the VR46 rider hit back, or will we get another new face on the top step? Find out at the SHARK Grand Prix de France in two weeks.


Moto2 Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – Kalex – 39’16.357
2 Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) – Kalex – +2.509
3 Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) – Kalex – +3.669


Moto3
Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) took his first win of the season in almost unbelievable style at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, the number 28 pulling off a stunner round the outside of the final corner to just pip teammate and Championship leader Sergio Garcia to the line. Garcia took the traditional route and dived down the inside to secure second, with Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) doing the same on Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM TEch3) to make it three podiums in a row for the COTA winner – and his first visit to the rostrum at Jerez.

Garcia got the launch from the front row, taking the holeshot ahead of Guevara as Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) moved up into third. The two GASGAS riders were off like a shot making a gap though, with Foggia then getting swallowed up in the early stages and Masia and Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) on the chase behind the leading duo.

It soon became a leading quartet, and with nearly 1.8 seconds over the chasing Öncü and Xavier Artigas (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP). But bit by bit they reeled the lead in, and they brought company in the form of Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse), having taken his Long Lap for causing a crash in Warm Up, as well as Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) – the latter despite having started from the back and having served a Long Lap, given for riding slow on the line in FP3.

Rossi faded from the group and then crashed out, rider ok, and Holgado also found himself left behind, but a leading group of six pushed on: Öncü, Masia, Guevara, Garcia, Sasaki and Artigas. Moreira, after exceeding track limits, was dropped out the group because of a Long Lap Penalty.

Into the final couple of laps, Öncü led Masia led Garcia, with Guevara in fourth and Sasaki and Artigas holding station. The first move came from Guevara, but by Pedrosa corner it was all change: Masia attacked Öncü, Garcia hit back against Guevara and Artigas passed Sasaki. Öncü took back the lead a couple of apexes later, and everything was going down to that final, classic Jorge Lorenzo corner.

Garcia headed down the inside and dispatched Masia and Öncü, and on any other Sunday that would have been another impressive victory from the Championship leader. But not today, with Guevara swooping round the outside of the entire shuffle to make a little last corner poetry. Right round the outside and first to the flag, it’s a first win of the year in what is fast becoming a GASGAS Aspar calling card in 2022: style. Masia just nabbed third from Öncü, with Artigas completing the top five another tenth back. Sasaki took sixth, but from the back and after a Long Lap, it was another impressive Sunday from number 71.

Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) won an all-Japanese duel against Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI) for P7, with Holgado beating Moreira to ninth. There was a small gap back to Matteo Bertelle (QJMotor Avintia Racing Team) vs Scott Ogden (VisionTrack Racing Team) in P11 and P12, with Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team), Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) completing the points.

Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) crashed out, and Joel Kelso (CIP Green Power) retired after getting caught up in the Warm Up incident instigated by Rossi, the Australian fit to try but pulling in.

After another poetic final corner from the GASGAS team, it’s time for Garcia to lead the pack to Le Mans… and Guevara now third and a little closer. After a tougher weekend for Foggia it’s now a 21-point deficit at the top, so it’s could be time for the gloves to come off. Tune in for the SHARK Grand Prix de France in two weeks!


Moto3 Podium (Full Results Here)

1 Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) – GASGAS – 39’19.873
2 Sergio Garcia (Gaviota  GASGAS Aspar Team) – GASGAS – +0.061
3 Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – KTM – +0.208


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