2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Start 6

MotoGP 2022 – Rnd 19

Sepang MotoGP Race Report with Boris

Well, that was tenser than an accidental meeting between two of your current girlfriends. As an actual race, it was less than thrilling. Phillip Island is a very hard act to follow.

As the second-last, and possibly deciding battle in a year-long war, it was magnificent, edge-of-the-seat stuff.

Rain had been predicted for race day, but FP1 was dry, and somehow, Brad Binder was atop the food-chain. Pol Espargaro was in the toilet. He was to be penalised three grid places for almost killing Zarco when he “returned to the track in an unsafe manner”.

Helpfully, Pol then proceeded to crash his brains out for the remaining Practice and Qualifying sessions, and I was wondering if Honda would need to start cannibalising Malaysian Fireblades for his fairings.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Fri Rain 1
Was a tad wet at times on Friday…

FP2 started wet, but was drying rapidly when Cal Crutchlow bunged on a set of slicks and sat himself at the top of the timesheets.

The world returned to normal in a dry FP3, after a strange occurrence which briefly saw Morbidelli at the top of the list. Pecco crashed out, and was denied a fast time.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Fri Morbidelli
Franco Morbidelli looked to have found his mojo….

So some of the big names had to go through Qualifying One to get to Qualifying Two, and things were still looking a little lop-sided as race day approached. Pecco, Marc Marquez, Jack, and Zarco were all flubbing about in Q1, until Pecco and Marc grabbed the top two spots which sent them to Q2. Jack had a brutal closed-throttle high-side to further add to his Phillip Island bruising, and landed himself in 14th on the grid.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang QP Miller
Jack Miller had a big high-side during qualifying and managed only P14

It was intriguing watching Fabio’s face as he watched Pecco make his way into Q1. Expressionless…almost. He sure knew what was at stake.

It was even more intriguing seeing Pecco’s girlfriend, Domizia, so massively stressed out she would not have looked out of place kneeling in front a statue of the Virgin Mary with handfuls of rosary beads. As it was, she was in the Ducati pit radiating angst like my old science teacher when I arrived to dissect the rats.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang QP Quartararo Hand
Quartararo had to resort to icing his hand between sessions

Fabulous had broken a finger on his left hand in a Practice session, so his 12th place on the grid was not a surprise. Pecco then crashed out in Q2, and was relegated to ninth on the grid. The Captain, who’d lost the wheels off his championship bus two rounds ago, was unable to get higher on the grid than 10th, so everyone who was playing for the championship was now in midfield.

2022 Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Results 1 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) - Ducati - 1'57.790 2 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) - Ducati - +0.456 3 Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) - Honda - +0.664
2022 Sepang MotoGP Qualifying Results
1 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – 1’57.790
2 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – Ducati – +0.456
3 Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – Honda – +0.664

On the first row sat Jorge Martin, who’d blasted a new lap record around Sepang, and put himself on pole. The Beast was in second, and Marc Marquez held third.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Grid Rins
Phillip Island winner Alex Rins was fifth on the grid – Image 2snap

Behind them sat Bezzecchi, Rins, and Marini – and Fabulous once again had an entire ocean of Ducatis to plough through.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Grid Quartararo
Fabio Quartararo on the grid – Image 2snap

Mathematically, if Pecco won, and Fabulous came fourth or worse, then Davide Tardozzi could open the box of T-shirts he’s been carting around with him all year, and we would have a new world champion. There were, of course, other scenarios which would see Pecco win, but that is the one that went on to apply during the race.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Start 2
Sepang MotoGP gets underway – Image 2snap

Pecco blazed off the start – he later said it was the best start of his career – and went from ninth to second by the first corner. Martin had the holeshot, while Marc sat behind him, followed by Morbidelli and Fabulous, who also managed a decent start.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Start 5
Sepang MotoGP gets underway – Image 2snap

Franki’s presence at the pointy end surprised and delighted me. But his Double Long-Lap Penalty did not delight him. He’d committed crimes against the racing line and he had to pay. And it cost him dearly. He’d looked ready to assist his team-mate Fabulous in any way he could. And just where the hell have you been all year, Franki?

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Start 6
Malaysian GP – Image 2snap

Martin quickly eked out a half-second gap on his chasers, while Aleix accelerated his way to the back of the field. Behind Pecco sat the Beast, and the more I looked, the more it seemed Pecco was holding the Beast up.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Start 7 Martin Bagnaia Bastianini Marquez
Sepang GP – Image Vaclav Duska Jr.

Fabulous was in a solid fifth, and had a crack at passing Marc, which he did, only to be passed back. But as one would expect of a reigning world champion, he made the next pass stick, and grabbed fourth.

This saw Marc fade into the clutches of Mir and Rins, both of whom were trying very hard to stay with the boys in front. But no-one was staying with Martin. He now had a one-second lead, and growing. Fabulous, in fourth, was another two-point-seven seconds behind Pecco and the Beast.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Start Martin
Jorge Martin was off and running hard early on

Bezzecchi was also starting to make his play and he’d moved up behind Mir and Rins, and all three were preparing to hose Marc.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Quartararo Marquez Mir Rins Bezz
Quartararo, Marquez, Mir, Rins, Bezzecchi

The Ducati pit was tightrope tense, but when Martin suddenly crashed out and gave Pecco the lead, that tightrope became piano-wire taut. Pecco’s girlfriend could not bring herself to look.

So Pecco led, the Beast followed, and almost three seconds behind him came Fabulous. Bezzecchi had passed Rins and Mir, and was now spanking Marc Marquez for fourth place.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Bezzecchi
Bezzecchi dispensed with the Suzuki pair and Marquez, then set about chasing down Fabio for third

If he caught and passed Fabulous, and Pecco won, Pecco would be crowned the champion. As Bezzecchi was also now the fastest man on the track, this looked to be a distinct possibility. There were careful smiles in the Ducati garage.

And every one of them was wiped off when the Beast passed Pecco, relegating him to second, and leaving the championship still within Fabulous’s grasp.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Bastianini Bagnaia
Bastianini leading Bagnaia

The Ducati pit became a hive of activity. All the Bologna myrmidons were having huddles, and meetings, and running to and from the monitors on pit wall. Even Gigi ventured out from his cave to consult with Tardozzi et al. Pecco’s missus was insane with nerves, and now praying.

And so it went for a whole lotta laps. The Beast led Pecco, Fabulous languished 2.7 seconds behind them – he was lapping as fast as they were (and sometimes a touch faster), but he needed to be going a good deal faster if he was to catch them before the end of the race.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Bastianini Bagnaia Flag
Bastianini, Bagnaia

His other problem was that Bezzecchi was closing in on him, and the Ducati garage was becoming ever more frantic with each passing lap. They’d been waiting for a title since 2007. They’d already secured the Manufacturers Championship, and would see the Teams Championship go to Bologna at the end of the race. But Ducati wants the Riders Championship. Bad.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Quartararo Bezzecchi Close
Bezzecchi started to monster Quartararo…

Five laps from the end, Pecco passed the Beast. It looked legit. The Beast later said he then found it impossible to pass Pecco. He seemed to have no trouble earlier on, but who knows? Maybe his tyres were going off. Yeah, that would be it, right?

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Bagnaia Bastianini Rear
Bagnaia and Bastianini

Six laps from the end, Fabulous started to creep up on them both. He’d managed to keep Bezzecchi at bay in a feat of riding prowess that cannot be understated – he was eclipsed only by Jack Miller, who’d ridden his way back to sixth pace after being back in 21st at one stage.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang 2snap Bagnaia Bastianini Quartararo Bezzecchi
Bezzecchi pictured here in fourth late in the race, while third placed Quartararo was closing on Bastianini and Bagnaia – Sepang GP – Image Vaclav Duska Jr.

But it was just too late for Fabulous to have a shot at second or even first place. Nonetheless, the championship is still live. Tardozzi may have cut the sticky-tape off the T-shirt carton, but he now has to take that carton with him to Spain – and hope that Fabulous cracks before Pecco.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Flag Bagnaia Bastianini
So near but yet so far from Quartararo….

It will be epic.

2022 MotoGP Rnd19 Sepang Race Quartararo Bagnaia ParcFerme
Quartararo and Bagnaia in Parc Ferme

2022 Sepang MotoGP Race Results

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI 40m14.332
2 Enea BASTIANINI DUCATI +0.270
3 Fabio QUARTARARO YAMAHA +2.773
4 Marco BEZZECCHI DUCATI +5.446
5 Alex RINS SUZUKI +11.923
6 Jack MILLER DUCATI +13.472
7 Marc MARQUEZ HONDA +14.304
8 Brad BINDER KTM +16.805
9 Johann ZARCO DUCATI +18.358
10 Aleix ESPARGARO APRILIA +21.591
11 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA +23.235
12 Cal CRUTCHLOW YAMAHA +24.641
13 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM +24.918
14 Pol ESPARGARO HONDA +25.586
15 Raul FERNANDEZ KTM +27.039
16 Maverick VIÑALES APRILIA +30.427
17 Alex MARQUEZ HONDA +33.322
18 Remy GARDNER KTM +33.691
19 Joan MIR SUZUKI +41.838
Not Classified
DNF Darryn BINDER YAMAHA 10 laps
DNF Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO DUCATI 10 laps
DNF Jorge MARTIN DUCATI 14 laps
DNF Tetsuta NAGASHIMA HONDA 16 laps
DNF Luca MARINI DUCATI 19 laps
2022 Malaysian MotoGP Results 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
2022 Malaysian MotoGP Results
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

MotoGP Championship Points Standings

Pos Rider Nat Points
1 BAGNAIA Francesco ITA 258
2 QUARTARARO Fabio FRA 235
3 ESPARGARO Aleix SPA 212
4 BASTIANINI Enea ITA 211
5 MILLER Jack AUS 189
6 BINDER Brad RSA 168
7 ZARCO Johann FRA 166
8 RINS Alex SPA 148
9 OLIVEIRA Miguel POR 138
10 MARTIN Jorge SPA 136
11 VIÑALES Maverick SPA 122
12 MARQUEZ Marc SPA 113
13 MARINI Luca ITA 111
14 BEZZECCHI Marco ITA 106
15 MIR Joan SPA 77
16 ESPARGARO Pol SPA 56
17 MARQUEZ Alex SPA 50
18 NAKAGAMI Takaaki JPN 46
19 MORBIDELLI Franco ITA 36
20 DI GIANNANTONIO Fabio ITA 23
21 DOVIZIOSO Andrea ITA 15
22 BINDER Darryn RSA 12
23 GARDNER Remy AUS 10
24 CRUTCHLOW Cal GBR 10
25 FERNANDEZ Raul SPA 10
26 BRADL Stefan GER 2
27 PIRRO Michele ITA 0
28 SAVADORI Lorenzo ITA 0
29 NAGASHIMA Tetsuta JPN 0
30 PETRUCCI Danilo ITA 0
31 WATANABE Kazuki JPN 0

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