MotoGP 2022 Round Nine – Catalunya

The 2022 season is unfolding about the way we had hoped back in February. Five or six riders who present credible threats to podium each week. Major moves up and down the leader board based upon the rider’s ability to stay out of the gravel. Two weeks ago I was burying Pecco Bagnaia for crashing out of races too often; today he is right back in the championship conversation.

Had you tried to tell me that 2022 would finally be Aleix Espargaro’s year to win a premier class title for Aprilia back in February, you would have had trouble getting me to listen. What has emerged in 2022 is a few circuits which can be rightfully considered Aprilia tracks. So far, they include Argentina and Catalunya. There will be a few more–tweeners–neither Sachsenring nor Phillip Island. But their mere existence is emblematic of the order of magnitude-scale changes which have taken place with Aprilia during the past 18 months.

Friday’s practice sessions found both Aprilia riders–Aleix, and the other guy–sitting atop the combined sheet for the day. People are saying (I love using that, so lame) the Aprilia will be untouchable this weekend, perhaps causing more tightening at the top. All I’ve got by way of silly season stuff is Jack Miller heading to the KTM factory team to join Binder, with Miguel Oliveiras being shown the door. LCR Honda is going to do something; standing pat does not appear to be an option. Pedro Acosta may, in two or three months, demand a promotion to the premier class, further complicating things amongst the large herd of prospective KTM riders looking to move on up. Too many young, skillful riders; there’s a nice problem to have.

For the record, qualifying ended up with Amazing Aleix on pole, joined on the front row by Bagnaia and Quartararo. Row 2 includes Zarco, FDG and “Crash” Martin. Hard cheese for Marco Bezzecchi and Enea “Big Boursin” Bastiannini, who were unable to pass through Q1. One of our readers mentioned Maverick Vinales as a possible race winner today. He led the warm-up, passed through Q1, and will start the race from the middle of the third row. [Whence he will likely drop back to P18 before bravely fighting his way back to P10.]

Moto3 today was another good old-fashioned knees-up as my boy Izan Guevara, who recently turned 17, won going away after spending the first half of the race slicing and dicing with the likes of teammate Sergio Garcia, Tatsuki Suzuki, Dennis Oncu, and polesitter Dennis Foggia, who lost the key to his roller skates and had to retire. Suzuki had a nice day, slamming the door on series leader Sergio Garcia at the flag for P3 on the podium. When the dust settled, the top of the Moto3 standings YTD:

S Garcia 150

I. Guevara 134

J. Masia 103

D. Foggia 95

D. Oncu 82

A. Sasaki 75

These seasons in which teammates are fighting one another for the championship are extra fun. The drive they have to, above all else, beat their teammates ranks right up there with oxygen and a warm jelly roll. Last season it was fun to watch KTM studs Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner go at each other all year. This year it is grizzled veteran Sergio Garcia (age 18) and GasGas teammate Guevara (age 17). Young Mr. Guevara appears to be the real deal. Not to mention the remarkable debut of one David (Davin?) Munoz, who, riding as a substitute, placed himself on the second step of the podium at age 16. He created a legitimate look at the win with perhaps three laps left, but could not close the deal against all these other old men. BTW, if I weren’t so lazy, I would tranche these riders. What I can do is to designate Moto3 Aliens–Sergio Garcia, Izan Guevara, Dennis Foggia and Jaume Masia

Today’s Moto2 tilt was the best in recent memory, said the guy whose short-term memory is, well, a memory. Until he slid out unforced on Lap 11, it looked like American Joe Roberts was going to win his first Moto2 race. Later, series leader Celestino Vietti shoved hard-luck bridesmaid Aron Canet out of his way late on the last lap to take the win. Today’s race looked more like Moto3 with a big lead group and beaucoups lead changes. At the end of the day the top six riders in Moto2 were Vietti (133), Ogura (117), Canet (109), A Fernandez (96), Arbolino (89) and Roberts (86). A golden opportunity for Roberts and Amerian racing blown.

And, for the record, the Moto2 Alien set currently includes Celestino Vietti, Ogura, and Canet.

The Catalan MotoGP race today will go down in history as the one in which Aleix Espargaro, in the midst of a dream season, lapsed briefly into nightmare, having lost count of his laps, entering the final lap in the midst of the lead group, sitting up, blowing kisses to the crowd, while his rivals disappeared down the road, discovering, appalled, he had just given away nine championship points and a P2 for Aprilia, not to mention gagging in front of his homeys, while little brother Pol was finishing out of the points, some 46 seconds behind Quartararo. All in all, a terrible day for the family, who had probably made potato salad and fried chickens to celebrate their local boys making good.

So the podium included Fabio on the top step, Crash Martin on P2 and Johann Zarco P3. Joan Mir followed in P4, in front of Aleix, who would undoubtedly sack up and take responsibility for his obvious and inexcusable mistake. It would be better if he were a rookie or second year man. A rider with his experience; I suppose all one can say is that he clearly had a lot on his mind.

This was another of those Quartararo races in which absolutely everything went right–

  • friendly circuit, dry conditions
  • able to grab the lead early in the first lap and run unchallenged in clean air
  • terrible day for Ducati–Bagnaia DNF, Bezzecchi DNF, FDG DNF, EBas DNF
  • a once-in-a-career brain fart by one of his top challengers

Props to Crash Martin for showing us again why it is too soon to write him off. He strikes me as the second coming of Dani Pedrosa in a sport that favors small, light riders. And we are happy to announce the recipient of this season’s first Dennis Rodman Award, for hanging around the basket looking for rebounds and easy put backs, is Johann Zarco, the primary beneficiary of Espargaro’s momentary, imaginary side trip to Turks & Caicos.

The 2022 top ten after nine rounds looks like this:

Quartararo        147

Espargaro          125

Bastiannini          94

Zarco                   91

Bagnaia                81

Binder                   73

Rins                       69

Mir                         69

Miller                     65

(M Marquez)          60)

Suddenly, or nor so suddenly, the title seems to be Quartararo’s to lose. Aleix seems to have lost some of the magic we’ve come to expect from him. Same with Bastiannini, with DNFs in his last two outings. I read somewhere that a number of writers had written off Bagnaia until his win at Mugello, then put him squarely in the midst of the title conversation until today’s skittling, after which he has been written off again. (As it turns out, I read it at the top of this page.)

Lest I forget, our current crop of premier class Aliens includes Fabio, Aleix, EBas and Pecco.

This should be a week featuring lots of sharing from readers, given the unlikely nature of 2022. To me, it feels like an NBA game in which the opponent hits 11 of their first 13 three-pointers, and they have you by 14 at the half. My point is that I doubt everything is going to go perfectly well for your boy Fabio during the entire season, that he will not have one or two DNFs by the time they start putting up Christmas decorations in the stores. Once again, depending upon who stays upright and who doesn’t, the standings could easily look way different during the Asian part of the schedule.

As always, I’m still singing the same sad old song:

“Oh Lord, please let it get decided in Valencia.”

 

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21 Responses to “MotoGP 2022 Round Nine – Catalunya”

  1. Allison Sullivan Says:

    Pedro is a problem. Do they rush the guy up, and risk a debacle the likes of the Remy and Raul show this season? Or do they leave him in Moto2 and let him age like a fine wine, given that he’ll be there until 2024? Decisions, decisions. One also wonders what KTM ARE going to do with Remy and Raul, both of whom appear to be unhappy campers right now, although Raul has the sense to keep his mouth mostly shut.

    The second seat at LCR Honda has suddenly become a hot commodity, who knew? I can’t see Alex staying. I think Taka will for at least one more season, for no reason other than he’s pretty much paying his own way.

    I actually hope Enea doesn’t go to factory, but I think that’s the plan. That’s a shame, because as my friend says, the factory seems to be a bunch of raging a*******. Pramac would be a much more chill place to hang out, but I think J&J are pretty safe where they are.

    Alex Bins topped FP1 today? LOL. Sigh. Silly season just keeps getting sillier.

    Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Thank God for you Allison. One lousy reader–that didn’t come out right–willing to take 10 minutes to opine on the race. Where is my legion of deviants who are always happy to hand out observations? Or is it that my coverage this week, though brief, was exemplary in every other regard? Like, who could add to THAT? I’m going with this last one.

      Like

  2. Prakasit Says:

    Might we see Maverick winning this Sunday. I can’t help cheering for the head case.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      The announcers were jocking him a little, about as much as they jock the rest of ’em. Your boy didn’t disappoint. Started from P8, watched three riders in front of him leave the premises, and finished P7.

      Like

  3. dmensch Says:

    https://www.motogp.com/en/news/2022/06/03/marc-marquez-undergoes-successful-fourth-surgery/423871
    “The amount of rotation performed today was approximately 30 degrees of external rotation.” WOW

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Buzz Says:

    Someone spiked the football before reaching the end zone!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Buzz Says:

    Gotta admit Taka taking out Pecco with his face was a fairly bold move.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Old MOron Says:

    Fucking Fi-fi Roberts! Got my hopes up and everything.
    And Brucey, it would’ve been his SECOND win of the season.

    Moto 2 was the awesome. Neck tattoos ran slightly wide on the last lap, and Celestial made him pay for it.

    I’m still laughing at Aleix’s howler. I only wish it had been his brother. Well no, self-important crybaby Pol suffered a worse fate of being nowhere for the entire race. Fabio made it look easy today. Kind of boring to have him so far in front, but he deserves it for riding like a demon, El Diablo.

    What do we know about the silly season? Fabio has signed with Yam. BaggyEyes is with Ducati. Do we know Miller’s fate? I think everyone is saying that he’ll be on an KTM next year. I guess he’ll take Olivera’s seat. I think Binder is going to stay.

    What about the Hondas? What’s going on with that bike? Will anyone want to try to ride it? Did Honda build a bike for an alien who, due to injury, is no longer an alien.

    I predict Acosta will stay in Moto2 next year. He’s not looking that great right now. He probably has a long term agreement with KTM. He can wait in the junior varsity class while KTM get their bike sorted. Sure, Honda could offer him a lot of money to jump ship, but their bike looks like a career killer right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Starmag Says:

    El Diablo is pretty amazing. He reminds me of Lorenzo. Not as interesting or flashy as Marquez, but he’s smoothly working wonders with an under-powered Yamaha. He re-signed with them because they promised him more HP in 2023. Definitely the favorite for the title this year IMO and with more power in 2023 the sky is the limit.

    As for Aleix, no one would have picked him to be near the top at this point.

    BUT, to paraphrase “A League Of Their Own” THERE’S NO CRYING IN MOTOGP! I lost some of my growing respect for him for that crying jag he went on for a long time in the pits Jeez dude, man it up a bit! I get it, you fucked up in front of your home crowd, but still. Crying in front o your wife and kids? Making them cry? Yikes. He only lost 3 positions.

    Marquez’s surgery apparently went well. . He should sue his last doctor.

    How about Nakagami taking out Baggy with his HEAD?! Ouch. He’s going to need some Excedrin for that.

    Like

    • Old MOron Says:

      I don’t mind when certain riders crash without injuries.
      But yikes, Taka’s a good guy. Scared the mess out of me when he flew face first into Baggy’s rear tire.

      Like

      • Starmag Says:

        Rins was complaining just last week that Taka was the most dangerous rider on the track, then he takes out Rins and Baggy. Taka, other than his feelings I’m sure, isn’t hurt, but Rins broke his wrist. Rins has a bit of a black cloud hovering over him at the moment.

        Like

  8. Vrooom Says:

    I am still cringing at Aleix’s error. Ouch. Impressive how he dropped six spots and made up 2 of them in one lap however. Still those 9 points are going to hurt at the end of the season. Hoping Quartaro doesn’t become Marquez, just waltzing at the front of every race. Not sure Marquez is going to return? He’s rich and injured needing a fourth surgery, look to Casey Stoner for inspiration son.

    Like

  9. Buzz Says:

    They were cracking up on the Motgo PG podcast. You don’t go into celebration mode when you’re First Loser. You’re either first or you’re last!

    Like

  10. paulevalence Says:

    I planned on mentioning this earlier, but I forgot, then just remembered again today…

    Whoever did the post-race interviews was SO MUCH BETTER! than the other guy, Simon. I hope they stick with her! Even the riders seemed much more interested in answering her questions, like they were having an actual conversation instead of simply going through the chore of answering “how does it feel…”

    Like

    • Old MOron Says:

      And I planned on mentioning THIS earlier:
      Brucey’s idea for a Dennis Rodman award?
      Sure, why not.

      Let the record show that Zarco is the first recipient.
      I predict Cole Trickle will be a frequent contender. Riding around in 15th while people in front of him crash, he’ll cross the line around 10th place.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Old MOron Says:

    Wow, there are 22 spots on the grid, and only 8 of them have contracted riders. Only two races remain before the big summer break – when contract negotiations take place. I expect the next two weekends to be intense. Can’t wait!

    Like

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