MotoGP Reports: Bagnaia paints Misano red
Just over a week ago, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was still patiently waiting for that first MotoGP™ win. He was second in the standings and a consistent podium threat, but that box remained unticked. So he had the momentum, but could he do it again on home turf?
After another all-time lap record set on Saturday for pole, the signs looked good and the Italian bolted away immediately to make a solid bit of breathing space at the front on race day. But lap by lap, Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) brought the Jaws music and the Frenchman was glued to his exhaust by the final lap. Pecco remained impervious under pressure however, and the Italian pulled the pin to cross the line for his second win in a week – in some style on home turf.
Quartararo was forced to settle for second but takes a valuable 20 points, with the podium completed by another incredible ride: rookie Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) blasted through from P12 on the grid to third, making his first visit to the rostrum in the premier class and at the venue that saw him take his first ever Grand Prix win in Moto3™.
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As the lights went out there was nervy moment as the number 63 Ducati moved right on the limit, but not forward, and Bagnaia kept calm thereafter to take the holeshot from pole. The Italian put the pedal to the metal immediately too as teammate Jack Miller stayed second and the two gained some early breathing space. Quartararo duelled Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) for third just behind, before the Spaniard then fell early at Turn 14, although he was able to get back in it initially.
Bagnaia, Miller, Quartararo remained in an evenly-spaced top three, with Marc Marquez fighting Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) just behind. But Bastianini had something to say about that, the Italian rookie blasting through to pass first the Aprilia and then home in on the Honda. And he made it stick on first time of asking, taking fourth but as the podium fight pulled away into the distance… for now.
As Bagnaia pushed on at the front, Quartararo was homing in on Miller, aided a little as the Aussie headed slightly wide at Turn 13. By 14 to go the Frenchman was on the scene and sliced past, with the gap to Bagnaia up to 2.7 and Miller remaining on his rear wheel. It didn’t take long for the Yamaha to pull away and Bastianini to close down the number 43 though, the rookie gaining over two and a half seconds to take over in third.
Lap by lap, Quartararo was able to home in on Bagnaia as Bastianini was able to pull away from Miller. Marc Marquez had Aleix Espargaro and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for company in the fight for fifth too, but Miller held firm in fourth for the moment.
As the laps ticked down, the gap between Bagnaia and Quartararo did too and there was a frisson of tension for the race leader on the horizon: by four to go, El Diablo got within eight tenths and then half a second, making it game on.
The Yamaha kept pushing and pushing, gaining here and there and really tagging onto the back of the Ducati as the final few kilometres dawned. It was just over a tenth as the two crossed the line to start the last lap, with Quartararo setting his sights on victory. But he couldn’t make the move early and Pecco was impeccable through Curvone, stretching the gap back out and laying down the gauntlet with one final push. Could Quartararo go for a lunge? Not in the end, Bagnaia once again proving impervious under pressure, painting Misano red and taking his second win in a week.
Behind that duel, it was beauty from the ‘Beast’. Bastianini kept his stunning pace to the end, taking a comfortable third place. Comfortable is an understatement, however, as the rookie put together a truly stunning race on best lap record pace to take his first premier class podium, and on home turf to boot.
The fight for fourth became Miller vs Marquez vs Mir and it was a last gasp thriller. The reigning Champion attacked the number 93 first to move through onto the back of Miller, and the Suzuki then punched his way through on the Ducati at Turn 14. But both went wide and Marquez swept through into fourth. They stayed glued together but out the penultimate corner, Marquez just kept it in but Mir touched the green. So the eight-time World Champion keeps fourth, and Mir crossed the line fifth but is classified as sixth as Miller gains back that P5.
Behind that shuffle, Aleix Espargaro lost some ground and also lost out to brother Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) after a tougher last few laps for the former, with the 44 in seventh and the 41 in eighth. Ninth was another Sunday charge from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as the South African shot through from P17 on the grid, only four tenths off the Aprilia ahead by the flag.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completed the top ten ahead of Michele Pirro wildcarding for Ducati in P11, and he had Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) close behind after the Frenchman also did a Long Lap for having shortcutted Turns 1 and 2. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) scored some points in P13 and close behind the number 5, with HRC test rider Stefan Bradl and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) completing those points. Martin retired in the end despite rejoining, and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) crashed out with 10 to go.
Francesco Bagnaia: “I knew with the soft rear maybe I would struggle a bit but I tried to push like hell in the first two or three laps to open the gap, then on the last laps when I saw Fabio was recovering it was very difficult but I tried to push, in the last part the pace was quite constant. With the medium he was a bit better in the last part but we were incredible today, the team worked so perfectly and two victories in a row is incredible for me. I was struggling to win my first race, missing something, and now already two!”
MotoGP™ podium (Full Results Here)
1 Francesco Bagnaia – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – 41:48.305
2 Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.364
3 Enea Bastianini* – Avintia Esponsorama – Ducati – +4.789
Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) put in another stunner at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, taking his sixth win of the season and securing Rookie of the Year. But it was a pretty close run affair, with teammate and Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) taking second and four tenths off, hindered by a moment on a last lap charge for victory.
Any hopes Raul Fernandez had of an instant breakaway win after taking the holeshot were quickly dashed, going wide at Turn 9 as he tried to fight off a challenge from Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), but the Brit nudged ahead and led at the end of the first lap. There were also strong starts from Canet, Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) as they occupied the top five spots, with Gardner and front row starter Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) dropping a little further down the field.
After four laps, the race lost Simone Corsi (MV Augusta Forward Racing) after an incident with Jorge Navarro, which earned the +Ego Speed Up rider a Long Lap penalty. But back at the front, Canet got the gloves off as he moved ahead of Raul Fernandez and set a race lap record in the process, while he soon had Lowes’ number to boot. A mistake from the Brit then let the number 44 through for the lead and Lowes dropped to third, with Gardner working his way back into the top four.
As the laps were chalked off, the front four formed a breakaway group and the Red Bull KTM Ajos began to find some pace, with Raul Fernandez eating away at Canet’s advantage until he eventually made what would prove the race winning overtake on Lap 15 at Turn 1. That prompted Championship leader Gardner to take action, the Aussie making his move on the outside of Lowes at the same corner.
Some small specks of rain threatened but it didn’t affect the on-track action, with Raul Fernandez soon responding to pressure from Canet with the first ever 1:36 lap around Misano. Despite his impressive speed, he couldn’t shake off the close attention of the men in P2 and P3 though.
In the closing laps, the number 25 looked like he’d finally pulled the pin and he extended his lead to nearly a second, but Gardner wasn’t done. Disposing of Canet on the penultimate lap, the Australian then began taking huge chunks out of his teammate’s time and we were set for a grandstand finish. The gap was down to less than half a second, and with a track limits warning not helping matters for Raul Fernandez it was game on.
Gardner was pushing to the absolute limit and setting up a move, but the decisive moment came at Turn 11. A wobble – at the scene of a crash last year – forced him from attack to defence, but he clung onto P2 and 20 crucial Championship points. Canet was forced to settle for third but took another podium, with Lowes fading slightly to fourth as Raul Fernandez took his incredible sixth win of the season.
Home hero Bezzecchi, on his fabulous pink-liveried machine, headed what had been a hard-fought group, the Italian holding off front row starter Augusto Fernandez as the number 37 was forced to settle for sixth. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) got right in that mix fighting for fifth and ultimately took seventh.
Vierge was a little further back in P8, but had some seriously close company from Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as the two crossed the line split by less than a tenth. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) made some good progress up to tenth on Sunday. Tom Lüthi (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP), Navarro, who served that Long Lap, Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) and Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) completed the points.
Moto2™ podium (Full Results Here)
1 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – 40’40.563
2 Remy Gardner – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – +0.402
3 Aron Canet – Inde Aspar Team – Boscoscuro – +0.569
Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) remains the man with the momentum in Moto3™ as the Italian took another home win, this time in the Gran Premio Octo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini as he made up yet more ground in the Championship fight.
Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia VR46) took another impressive second place, with Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) completing an all-Italian podium on the Riviera di Rimini. It was nearly an Italian 1-2-3-4 too as Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) had looked on for victory as the Italian disappeared in the lead, but a heartbreaker of a crash ended his chances of a near-certain win.
Fenati took the holeshot from pole, off like a shot with Antonelli in second and Migno duelling Foggia just behind, a reshuffled Italian armada at the front with Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) shadowing early on.
Fenati had the hammer down at the front though, setting a new best race lap with a few ticked off, and Antonelli was the rider on the chase as the two kept some clean air between themselves and the chasing group. But the number 55 was stretching his legs and his lead, with fellow Championship players Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) and Foggia all stuck in the second group.
Bit by bit though, Acosta was losing some ground and by 15 to go, the Spaniard was in the fringes of the top ten as Migno, Foggia, Masia, Garcia and Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) bolted on the chase behind Fenati and Antonelli. The latter then headed wide soon after though, slotting back into the group and leaving Fenati with a sizeable – by Moto3™ standards – gap at the front.
With 10 to go though, heartbreak struck. Fenati suddenly went down out the lead, the Italian sliding off into the gravel and rider ok, but a near-certain win gone from his grasp. That left Foggia at the front of what was now a fight for victory, and the Leopard rider took over in the task of trying to break away.
Six riders were fighting for three places on the podium, and for two it was also chance to gain huge ground on Acosta as the Spaniard fought it out for seventh in the second group. By a handful to go, Foggia had got it done and pulled out a small gap back to Migno, Antonelli, Garcia and Masia, with Binder having dropped off the back into a ride for sixth.
Onto the final lap, Foggia was in free air and just needed to keep it clean to take another victory, and a very different one to Aragon. Antonelli had got past Migno and only had to keep the hammer down and the door closed there too, and that they all did. Foggia crossed the line half a second clear for his fourth win of the season, taking back more ground in the title fight and tasting the top step on home turf once again. The tricolore delight continued as Antonelli held off Migno but both were back on the podium, making it an Italian 1-2-3.
The fight for fourth had some elbows further out, with Garcia and Masia nearly side-by-side over the line to start the final lap and the number 11 heading through. As Masia tried to hang in there there was a touch of contact, leaving him back in fifth and with no time left to get back on terms with Garcia. So the GASGAS rider took P4, Masia completed the top five, and Binder took P6.
Acosta managed to take seventh and limit the damage, with Carlos Tatay (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3), Stefano Nepa (BOE Owlride) and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) completing the top ten in a big group fight, Riccardo Rossi (BOE Owlride) in touch with them in P11. Just behind, another group of Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team), John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completed the points.
Moto3™ podium (Full Results Here)
1 Dennis Foggia – Leopard Racing – Honda – 39’17.002
2 Niccolo Antonelli – Avtina VR46 Academy – KTM – +0.565
3 Andrea Migno – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda – +0.817