Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Sasha Macmillen
Valencia, nestled in the east of the motorcycling haven that is Spain lies the final destination of the 2022 MotoGP Championship. The Ricardo Tormo Circuit, a ground of fairly modern origins but steeped in history in its own right, the now traditional last stop is always an emotional ride. 2022 will be no exception, as after 19 rounds only two riders remain in contention but only one can be champion.
Often described as a go-kart track the Ricardo Tormo Circuit is of the stop/go variety, a character that befalls many modern day racing tracks. 12 corners bend the track anti-clockwise, looping it around flat terrain with little to no elevation changes before turning on to the 800-metre start-finish straight.
The Ricardo Tormo circuit is notorious for its lack of natural overtaking opportunities, though it is not uncommon to see a move into the first curve of Aspar. This forces the riders to create their own opportunities, the phrase “rubbing is racing” is ever more true in this part of the world.
Going into the season’s finale the tale of how the championship has unfolded would rival any fictitious script and the journey of the two title protagonists is that of heroes. However there can only be one World Champion.
The Champion, Fabio Quartararo. Reigning and defending despite the odds “El Diablo” has throughout the year sought to retain his title. Seemingly on inferior machinery, Quartararo’s exploits this season could be classed as legendary, often maximising the potential of his machinery. The contrast between Quartararo and his Yamaha stablemates has been night and day but as so often is in motorcycle racing your best might not be enough and in Quartararo’s case a few mistakes can be really damaging. Whilst he held the championship lead mainly due to his consistency a few untimely mistakes from the Frenchman some of which resulted in DNFs cost the world champion his lead. His usurper, a former nemesis.
The Challenger, Francesco Bagnaia. Undaunted and valiant, Bagnaia’s title challenge began in earnest after many had deemed it impossible for him to be an honest contender, now he remains the only one. A story repeated numerously in articles and broadcasts and one that will continue to be retold for as long as men and women go racing. After crashing out at the Sachsenring, Bagnaia fell to 91 points behind Quartararo. From then on Bagnaia went on a historic run that saw him rise to first in the championship and after the penultimate round, the Italian holda 23 point lead. Bagnaia now stands at the precipice of the greatest comeback in motorsport history should he see it through.
For Quartararo, his championship hopes lay more in fortune’s hands than his own. A win alone would not suffice for the Frenchman as he’d need Bagnaia to score less than two points whilst he wins.
For Bagnaia one of his proverbial hands already rests on the championship trophy. A calm and calculated race from Ducati’s front man would see him put the other hand on the trophy literally. But there are no guarantees in MotoGP.
Come what may we await what is bound to be a historic day in Valencia at a circuit named after a legend, a legend will be born.