Beast Bastianini Wins Le Mans Grand Prix Beating Jack Miller & Aleix Espargaro!
Author: Myanna Wedes
The 2022 Le Mans MotoGP was a packed house with a humongous crowd, an absolute stand out for the sport and a record for sporting events in France. The fans arrived early, cheered loudly and made sure that both Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco knew they were watching on with hope that one of the local riders could win or at least step up on to podium. With that said, the race did not go to plan for either of those riders and it was a sensational display of speed, courage and performance that the “Beast Bastianini” took home the glory. The young Italian rider put immense pressure on title rival Pecco Bagnaia who buckled after making two mistakes, crashing out in a dramatic fashion allowing his two fellow Ducati team members to pass him and score first and second with Aprilia MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro securing third place over home grown hero Fabio Quartararo. It was a long walk back to the pit box for Bagnaia who looked distraught after realising title points were lost, a victory was gone and his teammate taking a step closer to him in terms of points. Sometimes the sport can crush your happiness with a small error. The temperatures over the weekend were extremely hot and it was a gamble on tyres for Australian rider Miller who decided to opt for a soft front and soft rear tyre. Miller had no confidence or proper quality feeling with the medium tyre, and it was the card he needed to play in order to keep pushing for a new deal with Ducati. Rumours are that he has also been linked to KTM. No doubt, Miller deserves to be re-signed, although Bastianini is on the hunt for his job especially since Jorge Martin has achieved yet another DNF. The score board is in favour of “The Beast”.
The Le Mans circuit was treated to some serious crashes, and it was a disaster weekend for KTM, although a wonderful weekend for Aprilia. The most consistent rider on the circuit at present is A Espargaro. Happiness, confidence and quality riding are on display each weekend with the Spanish rider as so was a shoulder camera to which we were all treated to some incredible on-board footage. We most certainly appreciate technology and the advancements that have been made allowing us to enjoy such a unique viewpoint. Watching A Espargaro at the start, changing gears, moving around the bike, the change in direction, braking and competing against other riders showcases why these riders are the best in the business. If you have not managed to capture a glimpse of the footage on board, be sure to watch it back as you will be treated to some seriously cool MotoGP riding. Overall, the Aprilia is becoming a dominant machine although teammate Maverick Vinales is still taking his time to become adapted to the bike and of course still not strong enough in terms of the overall race results. Vinales must crack the code to ride the Aprilia at its best because there are many other riders that want to succeed and will jump manufacturers if it increases their chances, not to mention two Suzuki riders who are currently as it appears jobless in 2023 due to Suzuki looking to withdraw from the sport.
Enea Bastianini #23:
“I’m surprised with this result, which shows the great work done by the whole team. This has been far from an easy weekend as I gave my mechanics plenty of work, but we gave it all on the track and this win is for all of us. We did well in finding the right moment to attack and we scored another key victory. Satellite teams can do really well in this championship, and we’ll continue to keep our heads down ahead of Mugello.”
Jack Miller #43:
"With the soft tyre, I knew I had to stay calm, and I tried not to push too hard at the start. After ten laps, I started to struggle a little, but towards the middle of the race, I understood how to ride the bike to manage the problem. I managed to catch up with Pecco and Enea, but they had a better pace than me. It would have been nice to have three Ducatis on the podium today, but unfortunately, Pecco crashed. I'm happy with this second place because it allowed us to gain a lot of positions in the standings, so now it will be important to continue like this to try to shorten the gap in the Championship further!"
Aleix Espargaro #41:
"What we are doing is unbelievable. Even here, on a difficult track and with a less-than-perfect feeling, I managed to finish on the podium, even closing the points gap behind Fabio. My pace was good today but as soon as I got close to the rider ahead of me, managing the front end became critical, so I tried to keep up without making any mistakes. I did just that, even when Quartararo caught up with me, changing my riding style a bit to make it hard for him to overtake. It is a great result. We’re in the battle for the World Championship and it’s a privilege for me to battle with these riders and at this extremely high level."
The two areas of improvement for Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez vary quite significantly. Quartararo is still lacking performance, the ability to overtake with confidence and feels as though risks need to be increased if he wants to defend the title. Whereas, Marquez is still developing the bike, looking for stability in the front end, the ability to push his bike to the limit when it matters the most, risking it even when he has had major injuries and not being just the top Honda but a podium contender and future winner of races in 2022. The frustration is real! Saving the bike from many falls is not ideal for the multi-World Champion nor Honda who dominated for so many years. In fact, the reality is that their bike is not up the standard it needs to be in order to push. The journey in 2022 for Marquez is character building and understanding how to shift the direction of the bike for it to be stronger and reliable. The question is, can it be done soon?
The biggest surprise of the weekend was Bagnaia crashing out of the lead. We thought he was rock solid, turns out he was not and the psychological games of Bastianini allowed him to send shockwaves towards Bagnaia forcing him to make not one but two errors and significant ones! The result may see the Italian rider mature faster than expected, whilst realising that if you want to be the best, you must handle the attacks from behind with precision. The self-inflicted mistakes were costly. The learning process will no doubt make him a better rider, with that said, Ducati are not the easiest to deal with when it comes to losing especially as the rider who was winning the Le Mans Grand Prix. The same feeling was shared with Remy Gardner. The KTM rider had a strong start and then made a mistake sending him over the handlebars and feeling sore. The Australian rider is dealing with a challenging bike, though proving his talent on track with remaining upright and finishing most races. This is vital especially if he wants to remain with the brand for a long time and build to step up to partner say Brad Binder who is certainly the leading KTM rider. Binder had a run in with Zarco early on and even with a winglet removed due to the touch, he still brought home the bike and as the highest finishing KTM with all three other bikes crashing. What a rider he is becoming, dealing with all sorts of issues as they arise on track and still finishing in the top ten. For those who want to know how the bike feels with a damaged winglet, imagine the bike not wanting to ride in a straight line, physically having to maneuverer the machine and completing this at high speeds, with fellow riders trying to chase you, pass you and upset the rhythm and not knowing how the tyres will react to the way the bike riders due to the aerodynamics becoming so unstable. Binder made the most of a very difficult situation just like Gardner did who also suffered the loss of a winglet.
Fabio Quartararo #20:
“I expected much better from this race. My start was not good. I had the pace of the top guys, but this was the best I could do. It was difficult to overtake, so we need to improve this. But I didn't give up. I nearly had a few crashes during the race, but I always give my 100%, in this case to fight for the podium today. We need to take more risks so I can defend my lead in the championship.”
Marc Marquez #93:
“I said yesterday that with a good race our position would be fifth, sixth or seventh and we finished sixth – even if our real position was ninth because there were some falls. It was a solid race at our pace, but it was a really long race and I wasn’t able to push towards the end. All we can do is keep on working, that’s the best way to improve for the future. My target is not just to be finishing as top Honda, it’s to be finishing on the podium but we are not there yet. There’s still more to understand in the next races to close the gap to the front.”
Pecco Bagnaia #63:
"Today, everything was perfect, until the crash! After going wide at Turn 8 and losing ground to Bastianini, I didn't think about going to catch him right away because I knew I was fast, but at Turn 13, I made a mistake and crashed. Today we lose 20 important points for the standings, and it becomes more difficult to recover, although the Championship is still long: we can't afford to make any more mistakes in the next races".
Remy Gardner #87:
“It was a very difficult weekend for us here at the French Grand Prix. We struggled to find a good pace or the right settings on Friday and Saturday, but today it seemed that we had managed to make a little step. Another rider closed the door under my nose, I did a high side, and retired unfortunately.”
Brad Binder #33:
“It was an incredibly tough weekend for us. It started in a difficult way in FP1 and I made a good step for FP2 but it was difficult from then on. In the race I fought hard and did my best. I lost my left wing early and after that life was tricky! The bike was super-unstable and I had to fight like hell. It was physically draining and took a lot more focus than usual to do the same job. Thanks to my team. They worked extremely hard and we did the best job we could. Now it’s time to look forward and get back to where we want to be.”
The next upcoming race is a home race for many with Mugello guaranteed to be packed out, Valentino Rossi fans cheering louder than ever as they formally retire the number 46 and various riders looking to take the crown standing on the podium, specifically Aprilia. A Espargaro will want the honours! We are very excited to see how that race unfolds with the World Championship battle between the top three so very close. Not to mention, the rest of the field closely tailing behind and if Miller can keep consistent, he could potentially keep jumping up the ladder and be in with the fight. “Thriller Miller” can do it and we know what he is capable of, the ball is in his court to return serve!
Latest Points Tally:
Fabio Quartararo = 102 points.
Aleix Espargaro = 98 points.
Enea Bastianini = 94 points.
Alex Rins = 69 points.
Jack Miller = 62 points.
Johann Zarco = 62 points.
Pecco Bagnaia = 56 points.
Brad Binder = 56 points.
Joan Mir = 56 points.
Marc Marquez = 54 points.Protect your Motorcycle. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.