Perfect Pecco Back on Top with Win in Jerez!
Author: Myanna Wedes
The 2022 Jerez MotoGP did not disappoint and brought a fierce battle across multiple riders especially in the latter half of the race where Pecco Bagnaia was being chased by Fabio Quartararo and Jack Miller, Marc Marquez and Aleix Espargaro, all on the edge battling it out lap after lap! In terms of rider of the day, it must be shared in a 50/50 split between Bagnaia and Quartararo. Both riders were on another level in comparison to the rest of the grid finishing way ahead and putting in consistent lap times that showcases their speed, focus and overall performance level at a circuit that normally punishes those who are not willing to risk it all. We have to say that both riders knew what was on the line, more so Quartararo and both managed to exceed expectation. The winner of the day, Bagnaia, certainly is back on track literally and looking like a completely different rider. Obviously, the team and rider have found something that has enabled him to feel comfortable. We are all wanting to know what that is and are sure we will never find out! The start of the season it was all about being uncomfortable and now his persona has shifted, the riding style relaxed and he is very happy. The smile says it all and now we are even more excited to see what will take place between Bagnaia, Miller and the rest of the grid as the battles heat up. Bagnaia could find himself recovering points to be within reach of the title once again. With that said, we must watch and see how the Ducati performs at each circuit and if he really has found that sweet spot with the Ducati once again to stay at the top.
The concessions for next year are now gone for the Aprilia MotoGP team with the success of Aleix Espargaro making it another podium finish and certainly within contention for a title this year if this momentum continues. The look of happiness and exhilaration on his face was superb as he realised what had been achieved crossing the finish line. The Spanish rider did admit that Miller and Marquez did a fantastic job during the race though held him up as he felt his race pace was faster and then when he saw an opportunity, he pushed like crazy to ensure that he finished on the podium. The success of Aprilia is real and A Espargaro is reminding everyone that this is not just a spur of pure luck, in fact, it is the rewards of years of working hard and defying the odds with a team that when it did return to the sport of MotoGP, looked like it was going to be a permanent back marker. The leadership that A Espargaro has shown is a credit to his ability to race on the edge, adapt his riding style, the red-hot desire for success and the mental strength to never give up. There have been some serious dark days for A Espargaro and the sweetness of earning his right to be at the front is nice to see in a sport that is very cutthroat.
The save of the day goes to Marc Marquez. We all remember the numerous saves Marquez has had over the course of his career. With that said, this save into the last corner before the main straight was ridiculous. Marquez saved the bike from crashing using his elbow, knee and the crowd as they cheered loudly. The lean angle reached 66 degrees. Talk about defying the odds. The result of finishing fourth for Marquez was a reminder that he can still win and step up onto the podium. Of course, the Honda machinery needs to improve at a rapid pace so that Marquez can go elbow to elbow with Bagnaia, Quartararo and Espargaro without having the thought of crashing in his mind continuously. The crowd was incredible with bike parking at capacity, fans enjoying the sunshine and covid-19 almost being a thing of the past with the turnout to support the riders. All riders at the front were on the edge of the limit and the upcoming testing schedule at Jerez will be important as it will provide the riders with more answers to areas where they feel they are lacking.
Pecco Bagnaia #63:
"I am moved. The first victory last year at Aragon was certainly very important, but today's was even more beautiful and much more difficult. We come from a tough period in which, for various reasons, we have never been able to show our real potential, but here I knew that we were in the right conditions to do well. We have been working hard since Qatar, and finally, today, we arrived ready for the race. I pushed really hard and lapped consistently throughout the 25 laps. I'm proud of the work that has been done, not only with my team, which I thank but also at home with the Academy and my family!"
Fabio Quartararo #20:
“It was a really tough race. I tried to overtake Pecco on the first lap because I knew that staying behind him was going to be difficult for my front tyre. I tried everything, but he was really fast. I think the pace that we managed today was just insane. My front tyre was superhot, super high pressure. I couldn’t brake harder, but I could maintain that pace with him. I think the gap to the guys behind us was quite big, so both of us were really fast today. Congratulations to him. It wasn’t a real battle, because we didn’t overtake, but it was still an intense race. We enjoyed it a lot.”
Aleix Espargaro #41:
“I'm very proud of this milestone we’ve reached. We tackled a long path to get here, but we’ve finally done it! It was a fantastic weekend, but it wasn’t a simple race. In practice I was extremely fast, as well as in the warm-up session, but in the race I struggled a bit with a lack of grip. I didn't lose heart. I tried changing the electronic settings several times to overcome these problems and, in the end, I managed to improve. I was faster than Martín by a few tenths, but it wasn’t at all easy to overtake him, partly because it was a new situation for me. I had never been in the position to battle for a win in MotoGP. It was truly exciting, especially the last lap. I am extremely happy for Aprilia, for me, and for my family. We deserve it. I would like to thank again all the team, who is working hard in Noale and the Piaggio Group for the support. Now we’re leading in the championship, but we’ll just try to take advantage of this positive moment, continuing to have fun and keeping our feet planted firmly on the ground.”
Marc Marquez #93:
“Today I gave my maximum and achieved the maximum. I saved my energy through the whole weekend to be ready for Sunday because I’m still not in the condition to do a whole weekend at 100%. It’s the Spanish GP, I had to give it everything on race day. At one point in the race, I thought maybe the podium was possible, the key point was overtaking Miller and stopping Aleix because he was faster than us. This is what I tried to do but then at the last corner I lost the front and the rear but fortunately the Spanish crowd were there to pick me up and save the crash! We don’t give up; we keep pushing and now we prepare for an important Monday test.”
Australian fans will be proud of the race Miller rode. He was smooth, consistent and more refined than usual which is showing growth. It was not Miller’s weekend to win, and his teammate was far superior this time around. The most important thing for the Aussie rider now is to finish in the top five, look for as many wins or podiums as possible and continue chasing a new contract with a relaxed yet calculated mindset. At present, he appears to be handling the pressure well and this will certainly allow negotiations to be more amicable considering Jorge Martin crashed once again and is not looking like his normal self and Enea Bastianini struggling with race performance and crashing during the practice and qualifying sessions more often. Both of those younger riders want the main ride, and the pressure is stacking up upon their shoulders. The battle between Miller, Marquez and Espargaro did steal the main show lights from Bagnaia and Quartararo. It was excellent witnessing the change in lines, speed, direction and where the defensive lines are deployed in order to upset the rhythm of the rider trying to pass from behind. Ducati will be proud of both of their riders especially since Miller held up Marquez for twenty-two laps and did not buy into the tactics of the Spanish multi-World Champion.
Jack Miller #43:
"Knowing you have Marc Marquez behind you for 22 laps is definitely not an easy situation to handle, but despite the pressure, I feel I rode well today! I was with Pecco and Quartararo during the first four laps, but then I couldn't maintain the same pace. I gave it my all and tried to focus only on my race. Right from the start, I was having some issues keeping the right line at Turn 5 and in the end, Marc passed me there. After Aleix passed both of us, Marc and I had a good battle on the last lap. I'm quite happy: we fought for the podium and obtained a positive result, and with today's experience, we can only improve in the future. Congratulations to Pecco! He really did a great race".
When you look further down the grid, it was almost race over before it even began for Remy Gardner who lost a winglet early on into the race which made his bike very unstable, almost unbearable to ride lap after lap because aerodynamically speaking, his bike was the worst on the grid at that point in time. The Australian rider appears to be meshing well with his KTM machine as the races go on and timing is certainly key as he leads the team with fellow teammate Raul Fernandez declared unfit to race due to his wrist injury. Gardner just needs to keep putting in the work, learning, adapting and obtaining the results he knows he can achieve. It all stacks up in the long run. The remaining KTM riders of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira did what they could regardless of their rear tyre issues. Binder and Oliveira both had vibration issues which caused them to feel unstable and not able to fight at 100%. Sometimes, the race goes your way and other times, problems arise that make you salvage every point on offer as that is the best you can do. In a direct comparison, it was a troublesome weekend for Andrea Dovizioso who felt like he was racing on eggshells and a good weekend disrupted with a crash for Darryn Binder. The Italian superstar Dovi was an incredible racer with Ducati and right now he just looks deflated like how Valentino Rossi was with the Yamaha machine. At present, the only rider who can put the puzzle pieces together for Yamaha is Quartararo with both Franco Morbidelli and Dovizioso baffled by the issues and not being able to improve. Something must change soon otherwise the motivation levels for Dovi will dip and be at an all-time low whilst his teammate improves and is a rookie that jumped from Moto3. The crash this weekend for Binder was unfortunate as he was on course for a quality race result. The sun is shining for D Binder, and we certainly look forward to when he is in the mid of the pack closing in on the top ten shaking things up with the other riders. We must also say that if Morbidelli does not improve, he will also be on the chopping block with a ride seat up for grabs!
Remy Gardner #87:
“Today I lost my left front wing on the first lap, so I struggled the entire race to ride. It had a big effect and I was wheeling all the time. I was unable to go full gas on the straights so I did not have much fun today. You realize how much downforce these wings create when you are riding with only one because you get dragged by one side of the bike and it is really tough to control. I knew we would struggle a bit today, but I am sure that we could have done a much better race with two wings. Anyway, I hope that tomorrow we will be able to test a few new things to make some improvements on the bike.”
Andrea Dovizioso #4:
"I didn't expect a good race, to be honest. I didn't have strong front grip and I saw all the other riders around me struggling with that. It was very strange that nobody at all from the first lap straight braking in the middle of the corner and it was very difficult. It happened already in the past in Jerez, sometimes it is like this in the race. It's very strange, but when you see the lap times from the front group you are a bit surprised because without the grip, this was impossible. It's pretty bad, I expected to be able to push, but I couldn't from the first lap. So, I just tried to survive and finish the race somehow."
Darryn Binder #40:
"I’m super disappointed that I crashed. Honestly, I'm still more happy with this race than Portimao. I'd rather crash out of fighting amongst the other guys than riding around last. At least in this race in the first laps, I was able to fight with the other guys and I felt like I was faster. I managed to make a nice pass on Marini at turn nine and was just behind Morbidelli and I think I got a little bit too excited. Going into turn two, I didn't do anything too crazy, I had a little movement in the rear and the front closed. I wish I could have hung around a couple more laps and follow Morbidelli, but it is what it is. The grip was quite low today even in Warm Up, I felt I was doing a good job to getting the power down, I passed quite a lot of guys in the first laps already and I was feeling really strong. Overall, I feel like I know exactly what I need to work on. I'm really excited for tomorrow to try all sort of things and focus on these points and try to improve in that direction."
As the testing schedule unfolds in Jerez, next up is Le Mans in France in two weeks taking place from 12th May – 15th May 2022. We anticipate crazy weather like normal, fans packing the event out early and a dynamic weekend for Quartararo and fellow French rider Johann Zarco. We look forward to lights out at Le Mans soon!Protect your Motorcycle. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.