Bagnaia is BACK! Pecco holds off Quartararo as the duo break clear in Jerez

2022-05-06 09:35
Three tenths decide the duel as the 2021 title rivals go toe-to-toe in a tour de force in Andalucia
Sunday, 01 May 2022
It's the showdown that had been building all weekend: Ducati Lenovo Team's Francesco Bagnaia vs Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™'s Fabio Quartararo. The duel that captivated the Championship fight in 2021, and the duel that we were waiting to spark again in 2022. 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, only 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 - join us for the SHARK Grand Prix de France!
MotoGP™ podium L-R: Quartararo, Bagnaia and Aleix Espargaro
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

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."
The first win of the season for the reigning Champion also sees him lead the Championship
Sweeeeeet emotion
0.285 in a photo
Quartararo took second and extended his title lead
Aleix Espargaro took that key podium: the one that sees Aprilia lose concessions
Glory for Ogura as he takes maiden Grand Prix win at Jerez
The Japanese rider was the class of the field on Sunday, with Canet proving the toughest to take second place and Arbolino bouncing back for another podium
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).

Source: Dorna Sports

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