Author: Myanna Wedes

The dominance of Ducati continues with a fourth straight victory in Misano for Pecco Bagnaia. The ride was dynamic by Bagnaia, and he made sure to be the one leading into the last corner although it was very close between him and fellow Ducati rider, future teammate Enea Bastianini. The two riders battled it out lap by lap after Jack Miller crashed on lap one and ended up in the gravel trap. The odds were in the favour of the Australian rider, however, one small mistake ended up being very costly although a relief no doubt for Bagnaia who had one less Ducati to battle as team orders are currently not in play. It will be interesting to see how the next races unfold with the riders signed under Ducati considering the gap to title leader Fabio Quartararo is smaller than what we thought it was going to be some races ago. It is all going Bagnaia’s way and luck is certainly on his side. 

The consistency of Miller came to end although he did display a renewed sense of confidence which could see him win again on a Ducati before the second ends. The one rider who is going to wreak havoc on both Ducati Lenovo factory riders is “The Beast” also known as Bastianini. He will fight every race to win, Bagnaia aware and not looking to have team orders actioned although Davide Tardozzi & Johann Zarco have encouraged them to ride with caution. The objective for “The Beast” is to win, he is there to do his job and perform. During the final lap, Bastianini made an error into turn four and this did damage his chances to go for a manoeuvre on Bagnaia although he almost had it with the slipstream at the end. It has been said by Bagnaia that he would look at team orders if it was say the last race and there was a handful of points required to win the title. There is a mathematical chance that Bastianini could be in with a chance if something was to happen with the leading competitors, so his choice to push the bike and Bagnaia is fair enough. French rider Zarco has been speaking with the Alma Pramac Ducati team and brand to which he feels everyone riding a Ducati must be clever. If there is an opportunity to win, Zarco is allowed to take it though making mistakes that could be costly to Bagnaia is something to keep in mind. 

Francesco Bagnaia #63: 

“Today was a really tough race. In the first few laps, I didn’t have any grip at the front or the rear, and I was afraid to push: I could feel Maverick very close, and I could only brake hard to try to put him in trouble and avoid him overtaking me. When the weight in the tank dropped, the grip improved, and I could pick up the pace and push to the end. We are now 30 points behind Quartararo, but the fight for the Championship remains tough, and we can’t afford any mistakes. We have to stay focused and think race by race.”

Enea Bastianini #23:

“I had a strange feeling with the tyres at the beginning, as they didn’t get into perfect temperature. From halfway point I was then able to find back the right feeling. I tried all I could until the end, first at turn 14 and then at the last corner I wanted to win, but I had made a mistake before and then towards the finish line Pecco closed the door shut and there was nothing I could do. It’s great to be on the podium with this livery and on such a special circuit for me.”

Jack Miller #43:

“After I managed to take the lead, I started to push to try and create some margin over the rest of the group, but on the second lap, I went a little wide, ended up on the kerb and crashed. It’s a shame, but these things happen in racing. I try to look at the positive side of this weekend: we were always competitive, and my feeling with the bike continues to be incredible, so I can’t wait to get back on track at Aragon to try again”. 

The two challenging title contenders of Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro did struggle throughout the Misano Grand Prix. It was not all smooth sailing for either rider and we feel the pressure is beginning to show for both although Quartararo did the best, he could with a bike that lacked speed and experienced front tyre pressures increasing to a point that his front tyre was consistently overheating. This limited his ability to go faster and harder, although fifth place is a quality finish as things could have been a lot worse. In comparison, A Espargaro did not look comfortable all weekend long in direct contrast to teammate Maverick Vinales who was very quick. There was a chance for Vinales to catch Bagnaia though it did not eventuate, and the Ducati rider managed to handle the pressure with ease. It is nice to see “Top Gun” back in action with a smile and racing hard with passion. He is a totally difference racer under the Aprilia brand. The race did not disappoint fans and featured spills, thrills, and heartache for others. Misano continues to be a race of passion, a reminder of Valentino Rossi and where Champions can be made! As the chequered flag was waved, it was 0.034s between first and second place.

Fabio Quartararo #20:

“It was a tough race, but it was actually one of the first races that I was behind another bike without a problem of the front tyre overheating or the front tyre pressure. I had more or less the same pace I had during practice. Of course, behind a rival I was struggling a bit more to make my pace than when riding alone. This fifth place is the position we deserved today. I had nothing more to give.”

Aleix Espargaro #41:

“I’m satisfied with the result because I was unable to be particularly fast throughout the weekend. Even compared with Maverick, I just didn’t have the same pace on this track. I said at the beginning of the season that Austria and Misano would be complicated races for me. At the end of the day, I got through them, maintaining the same gap that I had over Fabio before Assen. Starting farther ahead would probably have given us a chance to do better but in the early part of the race I still managed to do some good laptimes. There will be more favourable weekends ahead and that’s where the championship will be decided.”

Maverick Vinales #12:

“We have grown, but we can’t stop here. We want to win! I had an extremely good pace today but I was unable to find the right space to overtake Bagnaia. He rode a perfect race without making any mistakes, whereas I started struggling a bit more at a certain point. Rather than crashing, taking points home and continuing to learn in view of the upcoming races was important. We’ll have our chance to make up for it. Aprilia is working brilliantly and I’m happy to have two days of tests here.”

In addition to the rider signings confirmed before the Misano Grand Prix, we also had Marco Bezzecchi and Mooney VR46 Racing Team confirm that they will continue out his two year contract and forge on together for 2023. The last piece of the puzzle which appears to be guaranteed although not confirmed yet is the re-signing of Luca Marini, who has been riding under his brother’s team. Whether the team will have the full factory Ducati Desmosedici next year remains to be decided. If the performance of Bezzecchi is anything to go by, we feel they will have the backing and support of the factory to have the top ranked machines. In terms of the test schedule completed, there was positive aspects shared by many of the riders including Quartararo, Bagnaia, A Espargaro and Marc Marquez who returned after being sidelined for some time. 

Let’s analyse the return of Marc Marquez first which is quite unbelievable considering the extent of his surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation program to be able to ride a MotoGP bike once again. Honda are very excited to have him back for many reasons: the fact he is the highest performing Honda rider so far in 2022 for the brand, his insight into fixing the bike, feedback on what is required to be competitive once again and of course ensuring he is capable of being fast. From the data we have seen, Marquez has not lost his speed and if anything, the sport, and bikes have become faster in his absence. The goal is to work at a fast pace though not go overboard because M Marquez needs to build up bike strength. When you look at his body, he is cardio fit and ready. However, he has not been on a MotoGP bike for some time and there are areas of the body where his physicality will be lacking. Therefore, mileage is key for M Marquez. The Spanish World Champion tested a pair of 2022 version bikes, a 2023 model and three different air intakes across the bikes to determine what is working best. 

The talk of the test was the Yamaha as it appears, Quartararo has found some speed for 2023 though it may be utilised in 2022. The discussions were significant regarding the Yamaha engine, plus a new chassis and aerodynamic pieces to try and bridge the gap to Ducati. From what we have heard and according to Team Manager Massimo Meregalli, the new chassis could be on debut as soon at the Gran Premio Animoca Brands de Aragon. Quartararo like M Marquez is the leading charge for Yamaha so they must build a bike around him otherwise risk losing out altogether considering they will be a smaller manufacturer on the grid in 2023. The testing of fairings and wings is also essential for Yamaha because they have lacked in this department when stacked up against Ducati and Aprilia. The French rider utilising the slipstream of the Ducati and new engine power was only 2 km/h down on the rival team bike which is a good sign of things to come.

Whereas the Ducati squad approached testing differently and worked on a chassis and new aerodynamics although with two riders mainly that being Bagnaia and Bastianini. Their testing schedule was different to Aprilia as well who worked around the clock with A Espargaro and Vinales to ensure their track time was utilised well. They tested a new chassis, aerodynamics with larger wings, and an extended surface area on the side fairings to achieve more mid-corner grip. The new chassis could also be on debut earlier than anticipated and follow a similar timeline to Yamaha. Unfortunately, the team leader A Espargaro ended up crashing which led to a broken little finger on his left hand though thankfully he will not need surgery. The choice to decide and evaluate on what is good and not so good for 2023 is high pressure because you must get it right. The key for A Espargaro is to analyse all the data in a relaxed state of mind because the grip levels during a test are high whereas in a race, they are a lot less. It was a different state of mind for Vinales who focused on race rhythm and with a goal to feel race ready, happy, and confident. Vinales feels the evolution of the bike is still improve and there is more to come. Finally, if you are a KTM fan, it was not great news in that they did not have a 2023 prototype bike at Misano, however parts for 2023 were tested by Brad Binder and Dani Pedrosa mainly. We really do hope the KTM factory will be competitive enough as Miller makes his way to the team next year and no doubt the workload will be high to be competitive early on into the season. 

Marc Marquez #93:

“After 100 days away, wow – these bikes are fast! It’s the same as when you arrive at the first test after winter, it takes you some time to adjust. It was really good to be back, to ride this bike again and to be with my team. Step by step I felt faster and more comfortable, but I need to work more to gain the strength for longer runs. I was able to try some items for Honda after a few runs because I was feeling good. Honda is working a lot, it’s clear. Our target today wasn’t times, it was to do 40 laps and understand our situation. We decided to stop early to try and ride tomorrow. Tonight, I will do a lot of work with physio, ice and stretching to help with the recovery of the arm.

It was a really successful test for me, especially because after such a long time away it was not easy yesterday. But today I started to feel the bike more and run at my pace, this allowed me to try some different components for Honda for the future. This was also good. The most important aspect was how the arm recovered between the two days and, ok I struggled at the end of today, but this is what the doctors and physios were expecting. Let’s see how the recovery in the next few days goes to understand what the next steps are.”

Pecco Bagnaia #63:

“These were two very productive days of testing: we tested several new features and Ducati engineers now have a clearer idea of ​​which direction to take to continue developing next year’s bike. In these two days we focused mainly on our speed in the corners and, in general, each test gave positive feedback and the feeling with the bike was excellent, as demonstrated by my constant and competitive pace with used tires. I am satisfied with the work completed in these two days and I can’t wait to get back on track next week in Spain. “

Jack Miller #43:

“This morning’s crash at Turn 4 was very similar to the one I suffered in the race and now we will have some more data to analyze to understand what exactly happened, since at that moment I had the feeling of having repeated the same maneuvers. of the previous lap. In any case, both yesterday and today we worked on different setup configurations, but we didn’t try new components. Now we will analyze the information collected in these two days to try to improve the bike even more in view of the next race scheduled in Aragón ”.

Fabio Quartararo #20:

“It was a good test. This morning we worked pretty well on the electronics of the new bike. In the afternoon we had fairings and wings to test. I’m feeling pretty positive about next year’s bike. The top speed looks good, so I feel super happy! It’s a great feeling. I got a great slip stream to set the 298km/h top speed this morning. But the average of the speed was also good, this is super important. So, I’m looking forward to having this engine in a proper race.”

Enea Bastianini #23:

“It was a positive test. We completed a lot of laps, we were quick and we also tried something set-up wise that improved the feeling with the bike. My personal quickest lap was set yesterday after 27 laps with the same tyre, so I feel very positive. We haven’t made huge steps forward, but we were already very so we only had to do some fine tuning. We are leaving Misano with great expectations for the last races of the year.”

Finally, we have some exciting news for 2023: 

  • Alpinestars has announced a new racing helmet for 2023; and 
  • There is a new compound set to be introduced in 2023 for the front tyre. 

There was a handful of riders that tested the front tyre during the Misano test. Pecco said it felt good though does not think it will be ideal in colder conditions. Quartararo felt it was a good step, Martin felt it was harder than expected and that it was a between in terms of the medium and hard. Vinales feels the medium tyre currently can be too soft and the testing of this tyre is vital to the progress for the team. He feels they need a stronger tyre to brake, and development of the Michelin rubber is vital for the sport. In terms of the new Alpinestars helmet, Andrea Dovizioso tested the Supertech R10 on day one of the Misano Test to provide all the feedback necessary to further develop the innovative design. Next up is Aragon and as the title race becomes closer, so will the battles, errors, highs, and lows!

About The Author

Myanna has an incredible grasp and knowledge of the sport in detail and continues to secure lead stories every week. She is in constant contact with team and rider media management. She is an admitted lawyer with two degrees and is currently writing a biography on Alan Jones MBE 1980 F1 World Champion. She is a fond lover of two wheel motorsport, predominantly MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3.