The Winners and Losers of the Italian Grand Prix
Written by Andrew Lwanga, Edited by Elisabeth Brown
MotoGP's first visit to the nation of Italy in 2022 was nothing short of a thriller. For many of those who donned the Bel Paese colours the race went according to script. For some, even within the Italian fold, the script was a strategy.
As is customary, we look at the biggest winners and losers from last week's Italian Grand Prix.
Winner: Francesco Bagnaia
An Italian rider winning the Italian Grand Prix on an Italian bike was easily the biggest victory of the weekend. Despite a difficult start Bagnaia cut through the field with tamed aggression, taking the lead of the race with many laps to spare and remaining there until the end. “Pecco's” win also meant that the Ducati rider leaped to fourth in the standings and, whilst he's still a distant 41 points away from first, with more than half the season to go the title is well within reach. Bagnaia's win also meant that he's now one of only two repeat winners in the premier class alongside Enea Bastianini. Speaking of "The Beast,” his Grand Prix was not so grand.
Loser: Enea Bastianini
The thrill of victory and agony of defeat are two sides of the same coin for an athlete. After a win last time out in Le Mans, Bastianini had brought himself right back into championship contention. However, whilst looking like a possible podium and victory threat due to his late race pace, a character trait that precedes him, "The Beast'' suffered a lowside that saw his result turn into a DNF. With championship contenders Espargaró and Quartararo both finishing on the podium, Bastianini lost crucial ground making his title hopes on the satellite Ducati slimmer.
Winner: Fabio Quartararo
It was a champion's ride from the reigning world champion. Like "Pecco,” Quartararo was able to slice his way through the early front runners despite a very visible pace deficit to the Ducatis down the front straight. "El Diablo's" second place at the chequered flag also meant he finished ahead of all his immediate rivals, further increasing his championship lead and chances.
It was a nightmare weekend for the departing marque. Having not made an impression in qualifying both Alex Rins and Joan Mir, who are still without a ride for next year, crashed out of a second consecutive Grand Prix. The pair had had a very strong start to the season, with Rins trailing Quartararo by countback at one point as they were tied on points. However, a series of crashes has knocked what seemed the most consistent pairing in Grand Prix racing off championship contention.
Winner: Mooney R46 Racing Team
On the weekend where its founder was set to have his legendary racing number retired from competition, the VR46 academy pulled something off that could only be described as madness. The pair of Luca Marini and Marco Bezzechi put their bikes on the front row in qualifying behind surprise pole sitter Fabio Di Giannantonio. Predicted to fade away during the race to the fringes of the top ten, the pair put on a valiant effort that required the more experienced and championship contending riders to get inventive. Eventually both riders finished the race in the top six, the only team with both riders that high up the order.
Honourable Mention: Marc Márquez
Márquez suffered a highside during one of the practice sessions early in the weekend. Despite aggravating an injury, the eight-time world champion was able to qualify his machine for the race and finish in 10th despite effectively racing with one arm. Márquez will go to the US for surgery and his return date is uncertain, however, we all wish him a speedy recovery.
MotoGP treads on back to Spain to one of motorcycle racing's hallowed grounds at the Catalunya Circuit. Another twist awaits Quartararo's championship defense with old rivals returning into the mix and new ones content on knocking “El Diablo” off his pedestal. It is safe to say that the championship battle is only getting started.