MotoGP 2022–The Grand Prix of Portugal, Round 5

Hello, MOrons. I’ve taken the offensive comment by Steve Day and moved it just below this one. Please rake a look and reply to his comment as appropriate. You guys are the best.

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It’s now Saturday afternoon. All of the action from Friday and today is complete. As race day approaches, the weather is improving and the times are dropping. Friday was Crash Day for the Ducati contingent, as four of their six stalwarts ended up in the gravel. Marc Marquez set the pace on Friday in the wet, showing us again that he has a big pair. Alex Marquez and Luca Marini, of all people, passed from Q1 into Q2, leaving names like Martin, Bastianini, Rins and Bagnaia behind. Bagnaia was shaken, not stirred, by a big high side in Q1; it appeared he may have lost consciousness, and my guess is he will be declared unfit to race before the lights go out tomorrow.

Q2 was run in bright sunshine, the track almost completely dry. Plenty of yucks in the last few minutes. Alex Marquez, celebrating his 26th birthday, held pole with 4 minutes left in the session; he would end up in P7. In order, the pole sitter parade featured, Johann Zarco, then Quartararo for an instant, followed by Joan Mir, Zarco again, and Jack Miller. Pol Espargaro was left chewing asphalt with less than two minutes remaining; the yellow flag accompanying his off cost Quartararo, then Marquez, pole. Once the clock hit all zeroes, the fun really began, as Mir, then Aleix, then, finally, Zarco, put down fast laps, although none came close to challenging Bagnaia’s track record lap from last year.

Tomorrow’s race promises to be madness, with Zarco, Mir and Aleix on Row 1, Miller, Quartararo and Bezzecchi (?) on Row 2, the Marquez brothers and Luca Marini (??) on Row 3, and Pol Espargaro and the factory KTM boys on Row 4. Farther back in the pack and newsworthy are Jorge Martin (off the first row for the first time this year), series leader Bastianini in P18 (???) Lorenzo Savadori (what the hell is he doing here this week with both Aleix and Vinales running?) and Alex Rins, sucking canal water in P23. Perhaps Savadori is racing this weekend because the Aprilia team has been hoarding soft rears and had so many they decided to waste a dozen or so on the hapless Italian.

Despite the troubles they had on both Friday and Saturday, Team Ducati still placed four riders on the front three rows. Martin and Bastianini, both in the conversation for the title this year, will have their work cut out for them on Sunday. My Magic 8 Ball tells me to keep an eye on Joan Mir, #93 and Aleix, upon whom my money is riding for podium honors for Round


Sunday’s race saw Fabio Quartararo become the first two-time winner this season, having taken the lead from Joan Mir on Lap 4 and cruising to an easy 5.4 second victory over fellow countryman Johann Zarco, with Aprilia Boss Aleix Espargaro taking yet another podium in his happy season. The chase for the 2022 championship is tight as a tick after five rounds, Quartararo tied at the top with the suddenly formidable Alex Rins, who carved his way from P23 at the start to P4 at the end. Aleix sits pretty in P3, a mere 3 points separating him from the leaders, A suddenly mortal Enea Bastianini sits in P4, five points “in arrears”, as the Brits say, to Espargaro.

Buried in the footnotes to today’s race–

  • Pecco Bagnaia, who tried to break his collarbone on Saturday and came damned close, hanging tough on Sunday, starting from P25 and finishing in P8. He and Zarco were the sole bright lights for Team Ducati, Jorge Martin having crashed out around Lap 6 and Jack Miller, chasing a podium, sliding off the track on Lap 19 and collecting Mir in the process. Luca Marini did finish in the points, while Marco Bezzecchi, starting from P6, worked his way down to P15 at the finish.
  • Marc Marquez, starting from P9, got lost in the sauce early, worked his ass off all day, and just barely beat little brother Alex by 2/100ths at the flag for 10 points. What the hell is Alex Marquez doing fiddling around just behind the lead group(s)?
  • With Miller and Mir getting skittled late, everyone trailing them got promoted two spots. Marquez, who could have started on pole were it not for teammate Pol Espargaro bringing out the yellow flags in Q2, might as easily have finished in P8. He thumped his noggin on the asphalt again on Saturday, but his diplopia, which may be becoming chronic, did not appear.
  • The first 1-2 finish for French riders since the Earth cooled.
  • Miguel Oliveira, the Great Portuguese Hope, finished in P5 at his home crib, but his name was only called two or three times all day.
  • Fabio is starting to resemble former Yamaha pilot Maverick Vinales. He is dominant when running in clean air at the front, but unable to slice and dice his way through the field like Marquez, Rins and Bagnaia. Accordingly, I make him a long shot to take the 2022 title.
  • Valentino Rossi showed up at today’s race, the first time he has graced the paddock since his retirement at the end of last season.

Loyal readers of this column will notice a comment recently affixed (approved by me) to the post about Simon Crafar and Steve Day from last year, in which I cast some aspersion on both gentlemen. Simon, since then, has impressed me, especially when he is in the booth during practice sessions. But it’s Steve Day who took time out of his busy schedule yesterday to insult me and, by extension, the loyal readers who follow this column. This after getting tossed from the booth by Dorna or whoever. I expect you MOrons to respond to Mr. Day on my behalf, defending me from the slings and arrows, etc. Mentioning the fact that he resembles Flounder in Animal House would be helpful as well. If you choose to defend me, might as well do it below, rather than paging back through piles of gibberish. I hope Steve will see that he started a bit of a MotoGP shitstorm.

Next week Jerez. I attended the race there in 2010; it was one of those memorable Lorenzo moments.

Cheers.

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23 Responses to “MotoGP 2022–The Grand Prix of Portugal, Round 5”

  1. Michael H Coleman Says:

    Hello Bruce;
    Yes, let’s hope for a safe race with no ‘earth sky, earth sky’ moments.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fivespeed302 Says:

    My god, what a crazy start to the season. Normally, I am in the top 5% in my fantasy team. This year I am not even in the middle of the official league. From 5% to 60%. WTF? Don’t ask me who’s going to win because I have no friggin idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Buzz Says:

    Will Pecco finally get the new Ducati dialed in? Is the smart money on Olivera at his home track? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Like

  4. Bruce Allen Says:

    1. He’d better.
    2. Probably not.

    Seriously inquiring minds should focus, instead, on figuring out how they get all that water in those little fire hydrants.

    Like

  5. dmensch Says:

    Lots of columnists seem to think that the season will start to make sense after a few Euro races. I’m having my doubts since (almost) all the racers are so close, and it seems like getting the tires to stay in their very narrow optimum pressure/temperature sweet spot is looking like a weekly crapshoot.

    I’m torn- it’s fun to see different winners and podium occupants, but it seems more like real, professional racing when the finishing order has some consistency.

    Like

  6. Vrooom Says:

    I’d vote paradigm shift. There are a lot of fast guys, and they for the most part seem to be all capable of pretty similar lap times. If Marquez doesn’t have a problem starting, he’ll be a challenge to recon with. Enea and a couple of other guys on the Ducati’s will give him trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. paulevalence Says:

    No clue what will happen, but can’t wait to watch!

    Everyone appears to be mortal, earthlings though.. no clear Aliens ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Mad4TheCrest Says:

    This year I have decided to root for the factory Ducati boys and Mir, so on the one hand I hope the EU tracks return us to more predictability, but on the other hand that might hurt my ‘team’ by giving Fabio a boost. So, I am confused as to what to wish for – except for enjoyment. I will wish for that.

    Like

  9. No longer orange buell guy Says:

    What a wild ride for the moto 2 race. Really happy for Joe, but gutted for Cam.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. dmensch Says:

    Pedantic correction: “The first 1-2 finish for French riders since the Earth cooled”: Qatar II, 2021. I only remember because it was fun to see them both on the podium enthusiastically singing along to “La Marseillaise”! Reminded me of a scene from Casablanca.

    Correction to my previous comment about it being a crapshoot to wind up in the tire pressure/temperature sweet spot: my brother points out that it might take a funny setup to keep the tires alive, and some riders may be better at dealing with that particular bike feel. Maybe that explains why Bastianini and A. Espargaro are suddenly inexplicably fast?

    Like

  11. Spiff Says:

    I feel late to the game, had a busy weekend. Decent race for a run away. Feeling good for Aprilia. The are onto something. It is a shame they don’t want to pay Aleix. Glad to see Marquez buried in the field. I wish him no harm, and marvel at his talent, but definitely root for others. A couple of weeks ago I asked which would you rather be on, a new yamaha, new Suzuki, or an old Ducati. I would have said the Duck then, now I am thinking the Suzuki is going to come into it’s own. As you said Bruce, when things are right Fabio is unbeatable, but things aren’t alway right. Id love it if Binder could put it all together. Anyway, that is my download today. Also, I need clarification on the Crafar/Day thing. They messing with you?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Old MOron Says:

    Steve Day? He doesn’t comment on the Moto GP races any more. Where have you been? Why do you give him any thought?

    “Sunday’s race saw Fabio Quartararo become the first two-time winner this season…” No Bruce, that was his first win this season.

    I love you, man.

    Like

    • Anonymous Says:

      You caught me again. I was seriously pressed for time this weekend with extensive grandfather duties. The Steve Day column was originally posted in June 2018. And I had pretty much everything wrong about Fabio and French 1-2s and repeat winners, etc. Keep your red pencil handy. You, too, are an FOC–Friend of the Column. Cheers.

      Like

  13. FX Says:

    “Sunday’s race saw Fabio Quartararo become the first two-time winner this season” huh?

    One key difference I see with MV, Quartararo seems amazing on corner exit despite all other Yamaha riders claiming to have no grip…. MV did not like no rear grip.
    Seriously, how does he manage to have so much drive out of the corners given supposed lack of power? Apex speed sure, but either he’s really good at applying the throttle/adjusting his weight to have the tires bite or he’s got way better electronics than the other yams.
    This was already the case before, even when Franco was at the top Fabio would be faster on low grip conditions (except rain).

    Liked by 1 person

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