MotoGP: World Championship fight heads to Misano – Roadracing World Magazine
Rumble on the Riviera: Will Misano host another key showdown in the fight for the crown?
Bagnaia arrives after joining exclusive three-game winning streak Quartararo in his own serious statement to Spielberg
Monday, August 29, 2022
Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli has already staged crucial showdowns between championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), and the colorful Adriatic stage is more than just another. Bagnaia arrives after three straight wins and could become the first Ducati rider to do four, and Quartararo comes second after a truly breathtaking race; also Yamaha’s best result at the Red Bull Ring. Oh, and for Bagnaia, Misano is his territory…
The Italian showed incredible speed and won on the site before, this unmatched speed despite a bit of bad luck. But the Frenchman made for a close company, Yamaha is the most successful factory on the track and Quartararo also won the title on the spot last year, making it part of its history forever. So, will the two come face to face again, and could we see a real duel at the flag? We’ve yet to see the gloves come off between the duo, but the two are more than ready to rumble.
Elsewhere at Yamaha, Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) also has fond memories of Misano as he won there, and it’s a home venue, so he’ll be looking for more than his recent fights. Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF) will also want more points at a venue that should suit Yamaha, and there is a touching opportunity for Andrea Dovizioso on the other side of the RNF garage.
After the second-most starts of all time, wins on two different bikes and podium finishes on three, it’s time for Dovi to hang up his leathers. One of the biggest protagonists of recent years, the Italian has had a more difficult comeback with RNF but remains one of the most beloved and successful on the grid. Where will he end up when he retires?
For Ducati, meanwhile, the charge continues to push the word armada into Italian. “Pecco” has won three in a row, but his stablemates from Borgo Panigale are not left out. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was back on the podium in Austria and has been a constant threat up front lately, while Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) wants a bit more from the weekend.
Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) will also want to bounce back from his late crash at Spielberg, and he arrives from the Ducati 2023 decision made public. He will probably feel he has something to prove, and there could be another duel with Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). And speaking of the Beast…
The trajectory that took Bastianini to the Ducati factory team from next year began at Misano as he rushed to the podiums, his first visits to the grandstand before making a habit of visiting the highest step with Gresini. His record on the site also dates back to part of his career, and it’s home, and the pressure is off… so what can Bastianini bring to the party?
Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and his rookie teammate Marco Bezzecchi are also in good shape at Misano, and increasingly in good shape in the premier class. Marini is coming off his all-time best finish with a fourth-place finish in Austria, and Bezzecchi was again the top rookie at Spielberg. What can they do? Bezzecchi will also want to further distance himself from Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) in the fight for Rookie of the Year as the two Italians continue to be first and second there.
Now let’s move on to Noale. Austria was certainly a more low-key outing for Aprilia Racing, but that’s saying a lot when it was still a two-race multi-point weekend for Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales. By 2022 standards, they want a lot more. The Noale factory therefore hopes to be able to prove that it was a blow when we arrived in the Riviera di Rimini, and Aleix Espargaro will certainly want to return to this fight just in front for the podium as Bagnaia continues to close and Quartararo just pulls a little lighter at the top.
Viñales, meanwhile, may well be rubbing his hands at the thought of arriving at Misano. He has already taken pole and won on the spot, and that’s where the adventure began with Aprilia. Can he get back into this trend of rising results and fight for the podium again?
For KTM, the hunt for progress continues, but the Sunday exploits of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) got back on track in Austria as the South African grabbed seventh place. Binder’s returns – all the more remarkable as the number 33 often starts deep in the pack but has just one DNF so far this year – continue to impress, and team-mate Miguel Oliveira has also scored regularly good points from Mugello. The Austrian factory has a front row and podium finish in its past at Misano, but it’s more likely to be the top six and top five that prove the goal in 2022. Tech3 KTM Factory Racing rookies Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, as to them, look for some additional points on the Riviera di Rimini.
At Suzuki, 2020 world champion Joan Mir will be sidelined, so it will be up to Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) to lead the charge. The past half season has been tougher for the Hamamatsu factory (so far), but every new race weekend is a chance to get a result. It is also the occasion for the Japanese pilot Kazuki Watanabe, who replaces Mir just out of a podium at the Suzuka 8H, to try out a MotoGP™ motorcycle prototype.
Finally, the tough ride continues on track for Honda, but the positive headlines coming out of Camp MM93 certainly make for interesting reading. Now able to train on bikes and with constant rumors of a return to the track in the test following the San Marino GP, it looks like Marc Marquez has something to be positive about.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) is closing in on number 93 in the standings if he can also keep scoring, and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) is just three points away. Number 44 has fond memories of Misano from a podium last year too, with Marc Marquez leading a Repsol Honda 1-2. Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), meanwhile, will likely be looking for a solid finish and a good stepping stone for Aragon as well; one of the sites where he scored a superb rookie podium in MotoGP™.
There are enough stories to fill a library in 2022, and Misano will add another chapter to what has already been an incredible season. Be sure to tune in at 2:00 p.m. (GMT +2) for the Gran Premio Gryfyn di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, with everything you need for a Rumble on the Riviera!
MotoGP™ CHAMPIONSHIP: TOP 5
1 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – 200
2 Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) – Aprilia – 168
3 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 156
4 Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – 125
5 Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 123
Can Ogura keep his grip on the head?
The Japanese driver snatched the momentum from his rivals as the paddock heads towards Misano
After another twist in history, there is only one point between Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) at the top of the standings, and the Japanese rider leads. He also leads in style after a convincing second Grand Prix victory, ending Fernandez’s form. As the paddock heads towards Misano, the two will again be key contenders – but it’s also the home race of former championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), who now needs a results.
The Italian now trails by 26 points and has Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) on his tail, and there is the added complication of Jake Dixon (India GASGAS Aspar Team) as the Briton now has three podium finishes in a row, and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) fresh out of her superb race in Austria. There’s also Alonso Lopez (+Ego Speed Up) who continues to show serous speed. If that wasn’t enough, Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) also immediately returned to the front of the stage on his return from injury, narrowly missing out on the podium…
The Italians – including another appearance by veteran Mattia Pattini with the GASGAS Aspar team – will be hungry for home glory, but lately it’s been Spain v Japan. Who will reign in San Marino? See you on Sunday at 12:20 p.m. (GMT +2) to find out!
Moto2™ CHAMPIONSHIP: TOP 3
1 Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – Kalex – 183
2 Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – Kalex – 182
3 Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) – Kalex – 156
Is Sasaki a dark horse for the crown?
After making race history last time out, the Japanese driver is already fourth overall…
A few races ago, Moto3™ seemed like the GASGAS show, but after a recent rollercoaster of glory and a dash of disaster, everyone is talking about Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max). He won for the first time at Assen, he crashed out at Silverstone, winning two long laps and shaking off the charge from Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar team), but then he had something to prove at the Red Bull Ring… and he proved it.
As low as 24th at one point in the race, the Japanese rider came back from those two long laps to win, and what a great victory that was. He is now fourth overall and just a few points behind Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), who had a tougher Austria, and not so far from the top. Is it too late for a crown charge?
Garcia and teammate Izan Guevara won’t go down without a fight, but looking ahead, they need to start fighting back soon. Misano is familiar ground, Aragon has seen Guevara stun in the past with three wins out of three in JuniorGP™, but then we head into the breakaways and it could prove very good ground for former Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup champion Sasaki.
Before that though, there are also the home heroes this weekend to consider. Foggia will certainly be confident of good form given their past glory on site and at home. His compatriots will also tackle the task, and Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) shone on the Rimini Riviera. Can they retaliate?
Sasaki, former Misano winner Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing), David Muñoz (BOE Motorsports) and Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) all arrive with their own role, but the GASGAS duo and the local heroes are eager to fight back. See you for another Moto3™ show at 11am (GMT +2) on Sunday!
Moto3™ CHAMPIONSHIP: TOP 3
1 Sergio Garcia (Team Gaviota ASGAS Aspar) – GASGAS – 193
2 Izan Guevara (Team Gaviota GASGAS Aspar) – GASGAS – 188
3 Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) – Honda – 144