Bagnaia vs Bastianini: 0.034s decides the epic of Misano
Pecco becomes the first Ducati rider to win four on the spin as the battle for victory unfolds between the Italians
The 2022 Gran Premio Gryfyn di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini will be remembered for an epic battle between Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™). The two Italians battled it out in the closing stages and were eventually separated by just 0.034 seconds on the line as Bagnaia became the first Ducati rider to win four races in a row – a phenomenal reward. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) passed out late but held on to secure another hard-earned podium.
Bagnaia makes Ducati history after fending off 2023 teammate
From pole, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) escaped in fantastic fashion, as did his team-mate Francesco Bagnaia, as the Italian surged to third place. We then saw Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing), Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and Michele Pirro (Aruba.it Racing) fall out of action at Turn 1, fortunately all three were uninjured.
It quickly became a dramatic race of attrition as some of the early riders then crashed out on the second lap – including race leader Miller. The Australian skidded at turn 4 and a few turns later at turn 10 Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was on the ground. The two riders are unscathed, both reassembled. New race leader Bastianini then had a hairy moment at Turn 14 as the hottest weather of the weekend made life difficult for the premier class.
On lap 3 Bagnaia was leading for the first time and quickly following on Bastianini was Viñales. Further on, the first two in the World Championship – Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) – found themselves in P5 and P6. They were 0.8 seconds behind the leading quartet of Bagnaia, Viñales, Bastianini and Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).
After passing Espargaro, Quartararo set the fastest lap of the race on lap 7 of 27 and immediately began chasing the leaders. The Frenchman edged Espargaro by 0.7s, but then it was the Aprilia star who set the fastest lap of the race on lap 9, with the top six – up to number 41 – separated by 2 .2 sec. However, a poor lap from Espargaro on lap 12 saw the Spaniard slip three seconds off the lead and 1.6 seconds behind Quartararo.
As we covered the half race distance, the top four got stuck together. Bagnaia led Viñales, Bastianini and Marini, with Quartararo 0.7 seconds out of the intense battle for victory. One thing to note and watch out for were some track limit warnings for Viñales and Quartararo – caution for the pair was needed with 12 laps to go.
On lap 16 of 27, Bastianini was wide at turn 10 to allow Marini an easy pass on the inside. The Beast was straight back into the fast right-hander of Turn 11 as Bagnaia and Viñales started to pull up the wick. Meanwhile, Quartararo was losing ground in P5 and Espargaro was now two seconds behind the Yamaha man.
After that mistake, Bastianini slammed a 1:31.895 to bring Bagnaia and Viñales back. Was that famous end-of-race rhythm starting to surface? With eight to go, after some scruffy corners from Viñales, Bastianini made his way to P2 at Turn 1. The gap to Pecco was 0.6 seconds. Then it was 0.4s. Then it was 0.2s. Six laps from the finish, Bagnaia was overtaken by Bastianini but the latter received a track limit warning. Viñales was losing touch now and it looked like it was Ducati versus Ducati, Italy versus Italy, the 2023 factory Ducati rider versus the 2023 factory Ducati rider.
With four to go, the tension was palpable. With three to go, it was still Bagnaia’s advantage, but Bastianini was slightly quicker. Two more, it was like you were. Bastianini swarming, Bagnaia holding firm. And it all came down to the last lap.
Looking for an overtaking manoeuvre, Bastianini was braking late at Turn 4 and he was out of shape, narrowly avoiding contact. Was this race over? Not yet. Bastianini regrouped and by the time Turn 10 came the gap was down to zero. No passes came through Turn 14 or the final corner, but Bastianini snagged his GP21 on the exit and threatened to snatch victory from Pecco at the checkered flag. It wasn’t as Bagnaia won by 0.034s – an incredibly close finish between two phenomenal runners.
WATCH: First-round drama at Misano
Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro spend a quiet Sunday
Viñales finally finished 4.2 seconds from victory after looking incredibly strong for much of the race, with Marini retaining the P4 to equal his best MotoGP™ result – that’s two consecutive P4s for the Italian. Quartararo was unable to fight for the podium places as a P8 in qualifying proved costly, with the P5 being the best he could do at Misano. El Diablo’s gap has narrowed to 30 points in the overall standings, but it’s now Pecco who are their closest challenger after Aleix Espargaro finished P6 at Misano – 4.4 seconds behind Quartararo.
Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) finished alone in P7 as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) fought his way to P8, the South African led Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) at home in the top 10.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crossed the finish line in 11th position ahead of retired hero, Andrea Dovizioso (with the U Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ team). The Italian retires from MotoGP™ with a 12th place finish after a wonderful career as everyone comes together to say #GrazieDovi – he will be sorely missed in the paddock. Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing), Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completed the points.
Four consecutive victories; the first Ducati rider to do this in MotoGP™. Bagnaia closed the gap to 30 points on Quartararo with six races to go, as the top three in the championship are covered by 32 points towards Aragon – a track Pecco won last season.
1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 27 laps
2. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) +0.034
3. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) + 4.212
4. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +5.283
5. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) +5,771
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 10.230
7. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +12,496
8. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +14,661
9. Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) + 17.732
10. Alex Marquez (CRL Honda Castrol) +21.986