Sunday, 07 August 2022
For two Championship titans at the Monster Energy British Grand Prix, eight was the key number. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) held off Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) by just under half a second to become the eighth different winner at Silverstone in eight events, and Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was only able to take P8 despite emerging from his Long Lap penalty within the fight for the podium.
For Bagnaia that’s a 17 point gain in the standings, and with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) completing the podium it was a good day for the Borgo Panigale factory all round – with a Ducati now having been on the podium 18 races in a row too, the longest streak ever.
Off the line, polesitter Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) got the holeshot as he headed Quartararo early on, with the factory Ducati duo of Miller and Bagnaia taking up third and fourth respectively. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins was fifth on his Suzuki before he overtook Bagnaia on Lap 3 at The Loop, but both moved up on Lap 4 when Quartararo – who was sanctioned for his run-in with Aleix Espargaro at Assen – took his Long Lap Penalty at the last possible opportunity.
‘El Diablo’ was still second as he entered the penalty loop and resumed in fifth, behind Zarco, Miller, Rins, and Bagnaia. By then, Viñales was sixth and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) seventh, as a bruised Aleix Espargaro struggled to keep pace after his huge FP4 highside.
Zarco seemingly had a great shot at finally clinching a maiden MotoGP™ race win, but disaster struck when he folded the front and crashed at Vale on Lap 5. Miller then inherited the lead and while Rins went underneath the Australian at The Loop later that same lap, the Spaniard could not get the move done. He tried another pass at Vale on Lap 6 and was successful that time, putting the #42 GSX-RR at the head of the field.
Miller ceded second position to teammate Bagnaia exactly a lap later again at Vale, by which time Martin had charged up to fourth after blazing past Quartararo as they ran up the Hangar Straight moments earlier. The Spaniard went down the inside of Miller at Copse at the start of Lap 8 but ran wide on exit and had to get back into file behind the Ducati Lenovo Team rider. Viñales, though, was now well on the move, into the top five asmhe overtook Quartararo on the Hangar Straight on Lap 9.
Up ahead, Rins continued to lead but looked increasingly like the cork in the bottle. Bagnaia then struck to get past on Lap 12 at Stowe and Miller made it a factory Ducati one-two when he got underneath Rins at Village on Lap 14. Meanwhile, Viñales and Martin had been chopping and changing in the battle for fourth position until the former completed a decisive move on Lap 16 at Village. He wasted no time dealing with Rins, however, overtaking the Suzuki for third place exactly a lap later.
Village was proving a popular location for ‘Top Gun’, who passed Miller for second there on Lap 18, at which point he faced a 0.6-second deficit to Bagnaia. On Lap 19, he made yet another attempt at an overtake at Village, but this time could not make the move stick. Still, just 0.3 seconds separated first and second at the start of the 20th and final lap. Could Viñales win on a third different bike?
Not quite. The number 12 was wide through Stowe and Vale, ensuring Bagnaia just had the breathing space he needed to clinch the win – 0.426 clear over the line. Miller completed the podium, homing in on Viñales but not quite able to make it either.
The battle for fourth position raged all the way until the end. Martin was back into fourth when he overtook Rins on Lap 17, but then another threat emerged in the form of Enea Bastianini. The Gresini Racing rider qualified eighth and, despite losing a winglet in first-corner contact with Martin, was tucked in just behind him on Lap 19 after leapfrogging Rins. And the ‘Beast’ got it done, stealing the position from ‘The Martinator’ – his rival for the factory team seat in 2023 – on the final lap at Brooklands.
Martin therefore finished fifth and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came from Row 5 on the grid to claim sixth at the chequered flag, while Rins faded to seventh in the end.
Behind them came the top two in the World Championship, Quartararo and Espargaro, who found themselves in direct combat for eighth on the final lap. Espargaro outbraked Quartararo at Brooklands and while he could not pull up in time to complete the pass, ninth was still a heroic effort for the Aprilia rider who feared he might not even be able to race after his practice highside. Losing just a point to Quartararo was probably his wildest dream on Saturday evening.
Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) rounded out the top 10 in another impressive ride, with the rest of the points finishers being Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™). Joining Zarco as a retirement was Suzuki’s Joan Mir, who crashed out of eighth on Lap 15 at Stowe.
In the Championship standings, Quartararo is now 22 points up on Aleix Espargaro, but Bagnaia has closed to 49 points off top spot, and he’s third overall and top Ducati… guess where we head to next?
Ducati turf: the Styrian hills and the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Catch the CryptoDATA Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich from August 19-21!