2022 MotoGP Circuit of the Americas, Round 4

There was a bit of a kerfuffle when yellow flags came out at the end of FP3, interrupting hot laps for a number of riders and resulting in a Q1 featuring eight MotoGP race winners out of the 12. Q1 was mostly a non-event, with wonderkid Jorge Martin bitch-slapping the field on his way to an easy entry into Q2 with Alex Rins only slightly behind.

Q2 was pretty exciting for Ducati fans, as Jorge Martin took pole away from Jack Miller on his last flying lap (by 3/1000ths of a second!) with the big red machines occupying the top five slots on the grid, a scene we may see more often, courtesy of the genius of Gigi Dallig’na. The top five also included Pecco Bagnaia, who appears to have figured out the GP22, along with Zarco and The Beast . This was the first top five lockout in qualifying for Ducati since they entered the premier class in 2003. The fact is, none of the other teams even field five bikes, so if anyone is going to post five for five it’s going to be Ducati. The rest of the front three rows, the only guys with a real chance to win tomorrow’s race, were Quartararo, Rins, Mir and Marquez, who, at this point in his career, is looking like Just Another Fast Rider who will win at some tracks and won’t be a threat to podium at others. This is a rough sport.

For the record, sitting on pole in Moto2 tomorrow will be the great American hope Cameron Beaubier; Andrea Migno occupies the top slot in Moto3.

Here is a comment from loyal reader OldMoron who watched the race before I did:

Wow! Fantastic race. Waiting for Moto3 to start, but in no hurry as I’m still enjoying the MotoGP afterglow.

I needed a great MotoGP race to make up for the disappointment of Moto2. That was a good race, too. But I wanted better for CamBeaub. Oh well, very happy to the Moto2 podium, with most of them getting up there for the first time.

Don’t know what the heck happened to MM at the start. Would’ve loved to see him and Beastie cutting each other up. The consolation was watching Marc and Fabio going at it. Full credit to Quarty. The other Yamahas are nowhere. He’s riding the wheels off that bike. If the Yam is not stronger on the Euro tracks, they might lose Quarty next year.

Thank you, sir, for your loyal readership for 13 years. You are THE MAN!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

This will be the race people remember owing to Marc Marquez having a major technical issue at the start, falling from P9 to P24 in the first three turns. Any chance he had had of winning on Sunday was summarily dismissed. He then proceeded to slice up ts the field, with winning pace, on his way to a heroic P6 finish. A helluva lot of work for 10 points.

Jack Miller took the lead on Lap 1 and held it for most of the day, dueling first with Jorge Martin, who faded to a P8 finish as the Pramac Ducatis seemed to lose grip mid-race; Zarco, who was in the lead group for most of the first half of the race, finished in P9. Later in the day, Miller would have his lunch money stolen by new series leader Enea Bastianini, who has established himself as a legitimate title contender in only his second premier class season. One of the many things he has going for himself, in addition to being very gentle on his tires, is that he sits on a Ducati GP21, probably the best bike on the grid, certainly superior to the GP22. I expect Ducati will iron out the wrinkles on the 22 in time to make next year’s GP23 ferocious.

Alex Rins had an impressive weekend, overtaking Miller late on the last lap for a P2 podium, 2021 was a total disaster for the Spaniard (everyone should watch MotoGP Unlimited on Prime, the gritty documentary covering the 2021 season, warts and all), but he appears to have solved his Suzuki this year, finishing in the top ten in all four rounds, and lately on the podium twice. When he was coming up through the junior classes there rumors that, as a teenager, he was faster than #93, but his premier class career has been one continuous disappointment. Trailing series leader Bastianini by a mere five points in P2 for the year, he has established himself as contender in 2022.

Bastianini had a fabulous weekend, hanging around near the top of the charts during the practice sessions, and slotting himself into P5 during Q2 while Jorge Martin established an all-time lap record. He sat in P3 and P4 during most of the race, dispatched Martin on Lap 12 and Miller on Lap 16, taking the lead he would hold without too much trouble until the checkered flag waved. This gives him two wins in four rounds, leading a ridiculously competitive field. At 5’6″ he is the right size to compete in motorcycle racing. The world, at this point in time, appears to be his oyster.

Jack Miller finished the day in P3 and on the podium, a frustrating outcome in a race he might have won if he had taken better care of his rear tire. He and teammate Pecco Bagnaia are in the midst of a forgettable year. And while Bagnaia still smells like a title contender (perhaps not this year but certainly in the future), it looks all but certain that Miller will lose his factory seat to Jorge Martin for next year. Whether Miller will accept a demotion to the Pramac team or seek greener pastures remains to be seen.

It seems likely that a good number of riders are going to change teams, and manufacturers, before next season. The Rider Most Likely to Abandon Yamaha is undoubtedly Fabio Quartararo, as the M1 can barely get out of its own way this season. Quartararo, riding like a demon, has amassed 42 points for the year. Morbidelli, Dovizioso and D. Binder have, between them, a total of 23 points. Dovizioso and Morbidelli are sucking canal water this year, with Morbidelli likely to leave Yamaha and Dovizioso likely to leave MotoGP altogether. It’s too early to tell whether Brad Binder’s little brother has anything going on. And, as an afterthought, the satellite Honda team (Takaa Nakagami and Alex Marquez) needs to be turned upside down and shaken hard; Marquez is hopeless, and Nakagami, the current Great Japanese Hope, isn’t getting it done, either.

Championship standings after 4 rounds:

1        Enea Bastianini       61

2        Alex Rins                56

3        Aleix Espargaro      50

4        Joan Mir                 46

5        Fabio Quartararo    44

6        Brad Binder            42

7        Jack Miller              31

8        Johann Zarco         31

9        Miguel Oliveira       28

10      Jorge Martin           28

Noteworthy is how Suzuki has quietly placed both riders in the top four. Rugged KTM pilot Brad Binder sits in P6 and must still be regarded as a title contender. We will learn in Europe whether Aleix Espargaro is a one hit wonder or a true contender after most of a decade spent as an afterthought. In two weeks the flying circus returns to Europe at Portimao, where it will begin the process of separating the men from the boys.

I’m out.

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35 Responses to “2022 MotoGP Circuit of the Americas, Round 4”

  1. Starmag Says:

    O.K. I’ll leave a comment.

    You tease!

    Like

  2. Prakasit Says:

    Let’s go Enea!!!.

    Like

  3. Buzz Says:

    Just woke up in Austin. The official bird is the construction crane here. I will head to the track shortly. It’s supposed to be a bit warmer today but nothing like the heat of insanity conditions when it was run here six months ago.

    Like

  4. Spiff Says:

    Marquez at the back of the 3rd row, a rough sport indeed. It all comes down to him trying to ride 5 days after breaking his arm. That and lots of good riders on current machinery.

    I’m calling 33 ends up in 8th.

    Is anyone else tired of the “waiting for a tow’? I am ready for them to stagger them out of the pits. If two guys want out together that would work as well.

    Like

  5. Spiff Says:

    Marquez at the back of the 3rd row, a rough sport indeed. It all comes down to him trying to ride 5 days after breaking his arm. That and lots of good riders on current machinery.

    I’m calling 33 ends up in 8th.

    Is anyone else tired of the “waiting for a tow’? I am ready for them to stagger them out of the pits. If two guys want out together that would work as well.

    Like

  6. Buzz Says:

    Excellent day at the track yesterday. It wasn’t too crowded which made it perfect for someone on a General Admission ticket like myself. Most of my years here I was invited into a suite on the front straight. My contacts decided to dump the suite and I became a regular attendee for the first time.

    I spent a good part of the morning sessions on the hillside near the esses. The re-paved portions of the track are better but there are still some unsettling bumps.

    For Q1 and Q2 I was in the Ducati island area which is now at the end of the front straight.

    I the way out, I saw a Nicky Hayden 69 hat on display and got a little weepy and bought it. Shocking what they charge for a 5 dollar hat but I had to have it.

    I chatted with a couple of German guys in the hotel bar and it turns out they are Moto2 technicians who work on Beaubier’s bike.

    Like

  7. Spiff Says:

    Good to hear your having fun. Now that you are in general population I have an idea for you. Buy a ticket for the Mullet. Go up the stairs (or elevator up, and walk down) to a nice height and get a great view of 12-17, and a distant shot of 1-6. My favorite spot to watch a race.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Spiff Says:

    Marquez either crashes before the 3rd lap or finds his way to 5th. Notice he is wearing sunglasses now? He is not fit to be on the grid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Old MOron Says:

      Good prediction, Spiff!
      But I think Marc is fit. Look at his ride through the field.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Spiff Says:

        Yeah, I underestimated 93. That freaking guy knows cota. I still am concerned he isn’t taking enough time off. These guys ride through a lot, I always worry. I guess the juice is worth the squeeze.

        Like

  9. Spiff Says:

    Test

    Like

  10. Old MOron Says:

    Wow! Fantastic race. Waiting for Moto3 to start, but in no hurry as I’m still enjoying the MotoGP afterglow.

    I needed a great MotoGP race to make up for the disappointment of Moto2. That was a good race, too. But I wanted better for CamBeaub. Oh well, very happy to the Moto2 podium, with most of them getting up there for the first time.

    Don’t know what the heck happened to MM at the start. Would’ve loved to see him and Beastie cutting each other up. The consolation was watching Marc and Fabio going at it. Full credit to Quarty. The other Yamaha’s are nowhere. He’s riding the wheels off that bike. If the Yam is not stronger on the Euro tracks, they might lose Quarty next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spiff Says:

      Where would Fabio go? If he takes a Ducati, the Miller might be out. Enea will move to Pramac or the factory at this point. I think Zarco will be in the hot seat. Zarco to Aprilia satellite? Maybe a Suzuki satellite.

      If I were Fabio I would jump ship. Yamaha is not trying very hard.

      If Miller was out, maybe he could bump Olivera.

      Like

      • Old MOron Says:

        Ducati has four teams, so that’s a strong possibility. Vale’s team is intended for young, up-and-coming riders, so I don’t think Quarty would land there. That leaves three other possible Ducati teams.

        Factory Ducati
        They’re not going to let go of BaggyEyes, but Miller may lose his seat. Competing for that seat would be Bestie, Martin, and Quarty. I think it would go either of the first two.

        Pramac Ducati
        Pramac have openly declared that they will “do everything” to keep Zarco, so only Martin’s seat would be available assuming he’s promoted to the factory squad. Quarty would be competing with Miller for this seat.

        Gresini Ducati
        This is DiGia’s rookie year. I’m almost sure they will keep him for next year. If the Beast is promoted to the factory squad, then Quarty and Miller would be fighting his vacated seat.

        Ducati Summary
        If Quarty wants to move to Ducati, he’ll have to unseat Miller. I think he can do that, but he’d have to take a pay cut.

        Aprilia
        If PopGun starts his bellyaching, Quarty could easily unseat him. Aprilia’s desirability will depend on how good Aleix can make the bike look.

        Honda
        If Marquez the Elder retires, Quarty would definitely take his seat. Otherwise, Quarty is a good bet to take Marquez the Younger’s seat. Alex has done nothing but underperform since he joined the big league, but there are two factors cutting against his removal: Marc won’t want his little brother unseated, and Fabio will probably want a factory seat, not a satellite seat.

        Could Fabio unseat Pol? Yes, I think so. Factory squads are ruthless. It will depend on how Pol performs and how strongly Honda believe that Marc will not retire soon.

        KTM
        Herve has said that he likes to open doors for young riders, so the satellite squad is not a destination for Fabio. In the factory squad, I agree that Miguel is vulnerable. Quarty could easily unseat him.

        Suzuki
        They won’t abandon Mir yet, and Rins keeps his seat if he continues to perform as he is now. But if Rins falters in Europe, Quarty could pretty easily take his seat.

        Like

        • spiff Says:

          Don’t you feel it is about time Suzuki and Aprilia go to four bikes?

          Like

          • Bruce Allen Says:

            Satellite teams for Suzuki and Aprilia are way overdue. They are only collecting a fraction of the data that the other teams are gathering, with Ducati capturing the most and having it show up in their results. Ducati has also been sharpest in talent spotting the lightweight vlasses, with Martin and Bastianini proving to be outstanding picks. Yamaha is scraping the bottom of the barrel with Dovi and D Binder. When I started covering MotoGP in 2008 they were la creme de la creme. Lin Jarvis may be living past his expiration date.

            Like

            • Old MOron Says:

              That’s an excellent point, Brucey. Lining up talent early is a strong benefit of satellite teams. Ducati, with its many satellites, can promise youngsters a seat in the big league and
              get them to commit early. KTM goes even farther. They have teams in Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP. Other OEM have complained that KTM monopolize young talent.

              I think that’s why Yamaha gambled on Dive Bomb Darren Binder. All the other talent is spoken for.

              Liked by 2 people

            • Spiff Says:

              Agreed on all of it.

              What has happened to Yamaha? I have a feeling Rossi’s lack luster farewell tour was more on the bike than him. Morbidelli is better than this, but it is going to end his career. At least Dovi and Binder have excuses. Fabio earns Alien status. When is the last time he passed someone on a long straight?

              Liked by 1 person

          • Old MOron Says:

            A satellite team is desirable because it helps to gather data for bike development. Since Aprilia’s and Suzuki’s bikes seems to be peaking right now, maybe they don’t have much incentive to gather additional data.

            And there are already 24 bikes on the grid. I think some of Ducati’s satellite teams would have to be dislodged. Don’t know how easy or difficult that would be.

            I would like to see it, but I don’t expect satellite teams for Ape or Zuk in the near future. Hope I’m wrong.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Spiff Says:

              I was under the impression that the goal was for each manufacturer to have 4 bikes on the grid. I like the idea, motogp is some of the “cleanest racing I’ve seen. Someone is probably cheating, but that racing. In a perfect world Id like to see 3 new bikes and one a year old from each manufacturer. Not only can the year old bike still perform (gp21) but it also keeps teams from losing their way. I just really enjoy the product at the moment. Innovation is encouraged within set rules. All the bikes are relevant and the talent is as deep as I’ve seen in any series.

              Btw, what do you think Pramac sees in Zarco? I have a feeling he is good at testing stuff in the real world, not just on test days.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Old MOron Says:

                In his interviews he’s always calm and thoughtful. Probably he’s the same way when he provides valuable feedback. I’ve always liked him. He can ride smoothly like Lorenzo, and he can barge anybody, like The Maniac Joe. Remember him? 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

        • spiff Says:

          Bruce, lets hope Millers greener pastures are orange. Fwiw, I think Honda is in the worst shape, you know except for Yamaha. Pol can’t put it together (on a bike I think he had a majority of input on, Marquez is in limbo, and as you said LCR is in shambles.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Old MOron Says:

    Moto3 was best race of the day, as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. No longer orange buell guy Says:

    Hey! You’re back. Glad to read these again.

    So disappointed in moto 2. Cam was doing pretty well staying upright even with gearbox troubles. Sucks that he crashed 3 corners to the end.

    I really enjoyed seeing Marc not win but terrorize the rest of the field with his absolutely dominant ride on his way to 6th. I’m looking forward to watching him and Enea tear it up this year. I’m also hoping that Bins can shed his rightfully earned nickname this year. If he can stay upright I see him being a title contender. He’s definitely faster than Mir on the days they both do well.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. spiff Says:

    Why do you think Pramac is so loyal to Zarco?

    Like

    • Old MOron Says:

      “We are very happy with Johann. We are convinced that he can stay with us and we will do everything for it. We always took the decision with Ducati, but we have a little influence and what we want, is to keep Johann. Of course it also depends on him, if he wants to continue with us, but I think it’s the case. We have very good relationship. We are very happy with him.”

      Liked by 1 person

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