More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Down to Valencia: #TheDecider awaits after a tense battle for supremacy at Sepang
Bagnaia makes a huge statement under huge pressure to hold off Bastianini, with Quartararo pulling out a podium to keep the fight for the title alive
Sunday, 23 October 2022
There are few places like Sepang to play a match point. With the humidity hanging heavy in the air and the pressure of potential history just around the corner, lights out for Round 19 added an extra shot of adrenaline. And from there on out, the tension only rose. Two Ducatis, one with the World Championship on the line and another with an entire chess match to decide, escaped into the lead with enough breathing space from the rest to go toe-to-toe. And that they did. The winner, under intense pressure and taking a magnificent seventh victory of the season, was Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), with Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) just coming up short – after pushing his future teammate to the flag. Again.
Completing the podium and taking the title fight to Valencia was Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™). El Diablo bounced back from a tough Saturday to show exactly why he’s the reigning Champion, riding through the pain barrier to a seriously impressive third place to keep himself in it, 23 points back but setting up a final showdown in Valencia.
Bagnaia got the start of his life and braved it out on the brakes to slot into second from the off, gaining seven places to up just behind polesitter Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), with Bastianini already harrying the number 63 – and Quartararo looking for a way past Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). He found one.
Another big shift then occurred up ahead, with Martin suddenly sliding out the lead – giving that lead to Bagnaia. The title was tantalisingly close for the Italian, and Quartararo may have been third but Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was on a charge behind the number 20, with that plus Bastianini – glued to the back of Bagnaia – making anything possible.
At Turn 4 on Lap 11, another thunderbolt hit. Bastainini was late on the brakes, and through on Bagnaia for the lead of the race he went. Could he break away? The two remained glued together, Bagnaia losing no distance to his future teammate, as the sound of cogs whirring started to ramp up even further. Second sure seemed enough, but would it still be enough on Sunday in two weeks’ time?
The laps ticked down and just before six to go, Bagnaia hit back at the final corner to retake the lead – with Quartararo now looking ahead rather than over his shoulder. The Frenchman was catching the lead duo, with Bezzecchi dropping off the back off the Yamaha. With five to go the gap to from Bastianini to Quartararo was 1.6, and next time round Pecco also led by 0.4 as the number 63 stayed serene.
By two to go, the showdown was clear. Quartararo couldn’t gain too much more time but had a secure third in the bag if he kept it on track. And Bastianini had a serious shot at the win, glued back onto the rear wheel of Bagnaia as the final lap began.
Turn 4 came and went – the earlier passing point – and Bagnaia pounded on. The decisive moment then finally came at Turn 9 as Bastianini got a little close for comfort behind the number 63, losing some metres as he gathered it back up. And that was that, Bagnaia had enough to hold it to the line and takes a 23-point lead to the season finale after a magnificent seventh win of the season. Bastianini was just 0.2 away by the flag after making some statements of his own, with Quartararo doing a phenomenal job to end the race on the rostrum to still be in with a chance at keeping his MotoGP™ crown.
Bezzecchi couldn’t quite stay with Quartararo for third but the Rookie of the Year took another impressive finish in P4, carving out some room for himself too. Australian GP winner Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) took fifth, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) charging up to sixth by the flag and getting past Marc Marquez late on. Ducati Lenovo Team were also crowned Team World Champions after a tense day at the office!
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) did another Sunday classic for a solid eighth, ahead of Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing). After a tough weekend it was a tough Sunday for the number 41’s last stand in the title fight on his 300th start, and he was classified tenth after a penalty for an aggressive move on him was handed to Morbidelli. The Italian was forced to settle for P11 after 3 seconds were added to his race time, just ahead of Cal Crutchlow (WithU Yamaha RNF) after another impressive performance from the Brit. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) were the final point scorers, with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) off to a good start before a technical problem forced him into pitlane.
What’s 23 points between two of the best riders of their generation? One spectacular final weekend of the season, that’s for sure. Don’t miss #TheDecider as the Circuit Ricardo Tormo hosts in two weeks – with everything on the line and a Champion certain to be crowned.
1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 40’14.332
2 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – Ducati – +0.270
3 Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – Yamaha – +2.773
Have you ever done a better start in your career?
“No, never, it was incredible. All weekend, I missed all the sessions [practice starts] because in FP3, I crashed, and I didn’t; in Q2, I crashed, and I didn’t. So, I wasn’t so sure about the start. This morning, the two starts weren’t so good, but in the Barcelona test, we did something on the launch system that was good for us, because before, it was very difficult to have a good start, it was wheelie-ing a lot. I did like 23 starts in the Barcelona tests and from that moment, all the starts afterwards were perfect, and today was the best one. When I saw that the reflex on the lights was perfect and the release of the brakes was perfect, I just thought that I was overtaking a row. But then also the first braking zone was a bit risky, but useful.”
How much did the start help calm you down by getting you out of a tricky situation in the first two corners?
“For sure, when I passed the first two corners, I was more calm. I said, ‘Okay, now I can start to adapt my pace.’ Jorge in front of me was pushing a lot and, after two laps trying to follow him, I said, ‘This pace is too much for me.’ I calmed down and was just constant with my pace, and that’s it, that’s what I did. Jorge unfortunately crashed but I think this pace was also meaning more consumption of the rear tyre. In any case, he was doing a really good job. But, the most difficult part of the race was the part when Enea overtook me because I knew that Fabio was third, and today it was important to get as many points possible to arrive in Valencia and be more careful. So, I just tried to understand his pace and then when I saw that my pace was better than his, I just tried to be in front again and braked as hard as possible to prevent any possibility of an overtake. So, it was tough, really tough, but one of the best moments of the season.”
The Bastianini situation cannot be easy to manage…
“No, absolutely, but today my thing was that I was braking so hard. I was losing a bit in the long corners because he was using more lean angle with the bike and was closing the lines with more speed. I was losing a bit of time there but then my braking was very strong and in the last part of the race, it was the thing that let me win the race.”
How are you feeling going to Valencia with a pretty comfortable margin?
“For sure, it will be a different situation. 23 points, I’m just missing two, so I will have to finish 14th if he wins. It’s easy to say now, but it will be very tough because sometimes when you are careful, you have more trouble, you have more mistakes, you have more distractions. I will try just to do a normal weekend like this one, maybe with less crashes – because this weekend, I crashed too much – and be smart, for sure. To work well, to be in the front, and if I have the possibility to win, I will try to win again.”
Are you happy, or disappointed that you did not win?
“I’m happy about my race. I’m not really happy about the last part of the race because my traction was not really good, especially from the exit of the slow corners, and I tried to do all the best to try to overtake Pecco on the last lap, but it was impossible.”
When you passed Bagnaia on Lap 11, did you feel like you could gap him but just did not have the grip?
“At the start, I think my potential was to try to make the gap, but after two or three laps in front, something changed and I lost some confidence on the rear. After that, I was slower and Pecco overtook me again. I pushed really hard to stay really close to him and tried to overtake again, but, nothing.
Did you just sit behind him or did you not have the rear grip?
“I tried to overtake Pecco again on the last lap but it was a little bit dangerous. Sometimes we have to see also there are other questions, and he battles for the Championship, and it’s like this.”
Who do you think for the Championship; Bagnaia or Quartararo?
“I think Pecco will win the Championship in Valencia. He has a lot of points distance over Fabio. Fabio, I think, also had a good race today but I think it will not be easy for him.”
The main mission was to keep yourself in the fight for Valencia, wasn’t it?
“Yeah, I hoped it would not be victory for Pecco, of course, but at least we gave our maximum today. The start was the key point, [and] the first lap. We changed the strategy a little bit compared to Australia when I wanted to keep the tyre fresh for the end. Today, I just pushed myself quite hard at the beginning because our bike is not super-good at saving the tyre, so I had to push for three or four laps until I was in front of Marc, so it was pretty good and I’m happy to get that result today.”
Braking late the first corner was key:
“Yeah, and I saw Pecco was really good in the first braking zone, so I said, ‘I have to make something,’ because, if not, my title chance will fly away, and I did a great first lap. Even if now we were super-far away, I’m not giving up, and I want to finish in a good way in Valencia.”
How hard was it to keep Bezzecchi behind, given a pass would have made Bagnaia Champion?
“In the end, he was one-and-a-half seconds then he came back to three or two tenths from me, but I pushed like hell because, first of all, I knew that if he overtook me and Pecco won, he would have been World Champion. But, especially, I wanted a podium and I knew that if he overtook me, I could not overtake him back. So, let’s see how we handle it, but I’m pretty happy to at least bring the mystery until Valencia.”
How was the broken finger in the race?
“It was not a big crash, but a stupid crash. It was a normal crash but I just broke my finger and, of course, it was really painful but luckily Angel (Charte) took care of me yesterday afternoon so I want to say thanks to him. Of course, adrenaline is a great painkiller and also fighting for that kind of position. I think my finger was something else but as soon as I stopped, right now I feel pain the finger. It doesn’t matter because we gave everything and that’s what we wanted today.”
What are you feeling about going to Valencia?
“I will prepare myself like a crazy man because I know the only solution for me to fight there will be to win. So, it doesn’t matter, but I want to enjoy the Valencia race because I know it’s the last one of the season, and then we’ll see how we do. But I’m feeling like we have to enjoy the Valencia race.”
Arbolino earns dominant win as Ogura takes shock last lap tumble
The Championship leader is now Fernandez once again as the Spaniard takes fourth and Ogura crashes out when attacking for the lead
In an incredibly nervy showdown at Sepang, it was Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) leaving with a third intermediate class win in some style – and Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) leaves with the Championship lead once again. After Arbolino and Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) had escaped at the front, the Japanese rider and then-points leader decided to make an attack – and slid out on the last lap.
Arbolino was left with a sizeable lead ahead of another impressive podium for Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp), who now leads the fight for Rookie of the Year despite only joining the grid full time at Le Mans. Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) was a protagonist as he went elbow to elbow with Fernandez, the Brit eventually able to escape for another impressive podium.
After Arbolino and Ogura escaped, it was initially Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp) holding third but in the latter stages, Lopez was able to pounce. He was followed by Dixon not long after, leaving Fernandez to take on the nervy task of trying to pass the rookie on the final lap – without knowing Ogura was about to crash out.
That was the drama as the Japanese rider went for a move at Turn 9, and suddenly the number 79 was on the floor. That left Arbolino with time to wave to the crowd on the way to the final corner, then crossing the line over 10 seconds clear for an impressive third Moto2™ win.
Lopez was able to keep a fairly secure second after that, with Dixon dispatching Fernandez, then Gonzalez and taking another podium. Fernandez did make his last lap move on the rookie ahead, and takes a valuable fourth to give him a 9.5 point lead heading into Valencia.
Gonzalez still takes his best ever result in fifth, with Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) in P6. Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) impressed to take seventh, with Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) suffering a tougher day at the office in eighth, just getting the better of Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools SpeedUp).
There was drama on Lap 1 for Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as he collided with Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and they were out early on, both riders ok.
The title fight rolls on and Fernandez is back on top. It’s 9.5 points ahead of the final showdown in Valencia, and on the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider’s home turf. Tune in for more in two weeks as we decide the 2022 Moto2™ World Champion!
1 Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) – Kalex – 38’25.233
2 Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp) – Boscoscuro – +11.411
3 Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) – Kalex – +11.802
Tony Arbolino: “In my mind, I have it. I want to prove I’m fast, I want to prove I’m one of the best riders in this category, so this is what I have in my mind and this is what keeps me believing it. So, even if I’m out of the world title, I want to keep building the confidence and win races. This is my objective right now because I have no pressure, but anyway, amazing, amazing feeling. This is the work that pays off – like I always say in all my interviews, but this is like that. I want to thank this amazing team, this amazing family, I want to give this to them and to my family and fans who follow me from all around the world.”
McPhee paints a masterpiece at Sepang
The Scotsman stuns Sepang for an incredible first win since 2020, pipping Sasaki and Garcia
John McPhee (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) took an unbelievable win at the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia, making the perfect attack at the final corner to come out on top for the first time since San Marino 2020 – and from P22 on the grid. The Scotsman just pipped teammate Ayumu Sasaki to the line by 0.048, with Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) completing the podium after losing out late on.
Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) suffered some late drama, having to avoid Sasaki after the Japanese rider suffered a moment, leaving the reigning Champion down in P12.
After a freight train start, bit by bit a top six of Guevara, Sasaki, Jaume Masia (Red Bull TKM Ajo), Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), Garcia and Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) broke away at the front, but there was some decisive drama with four to go. Sasaki had a bobble on the main straight after overtaking Guevara, and the number 28 had to bail out and take some avoiding action, heading off onto the grass and dropping back. Meanwhile, McPhee had bridged the gap and was more than in the fight for victory.
That left Garcia leading Sasaki, Masia, Foggia, Moreira and McPhee, and starting the last lap the number 11 was holding firm ahead of Foggia. And then everyone overtook everyone all at once, or so it seemed, with the Leopard going for a move on the Aspar and then the rest of the lap largely two or three abreast. As the gaggle headed into the final corner, it was McPhee who pitched it to perfection, hugging the inside line and then tucking in for the final drag to the flag. Teammate Sasaki went toe-to-toe with the Scotsman but couldn’t quite make it stick, with McPhee taking an emotional first win since 2020 by just 0.048. Garcia takes third and another valuable podium, gaining points on Foggia too, as did Sasaki.
Foggia finished sixth in the shuffle, with Masia taking fourth and Moreira fifth. That concluded the front group after Guevara was forced to drop out of it earlier, and the second group was fronted by Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in seventh, just ahead of Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI), Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team), Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Xavier Artigas (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) – with Guevara next up in P12 a small gap back.
Heading into Valencia it’s Garcia keeping the advantage in the fight for silver – and the Circuit Ricardo Tormo is his playground. Tune in for more in two weeks as Moto3™ round out the season in style!
1 John McPhee (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) – Husqvarna – 38’04.589
2 Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) – Husqvarna – +0.048
3 Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) – GASGAS – +0.146
John McPhee: “I’m proud of myself for that one. That one, I had to dig so deep. It’s been such a tough season, such a tough weekend. Yesterday, honestly, I nearly went and stopped. I was just having so many issues and felt dangerous on the bike. So, just so happy for me, happy for the guys that have supported me. That one was for everyone that stuck behind me and supported me. One last win in Moto3™ and we’ve got one more opportunity in Valencia.”