Le Mans might be famous for the 24-hour race but this weekend it was the centre of attention for a different reason as it played host to Round 7 of MotoGP 2022. The brutal track took many casualties, but Enea Bastianini, a.k.a The Beast, fought his way from P5 to pole. French riders Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco were not able to find a spot on the podium but pleased their fans with a respectable P4 and P5, respectively.
The race started with a fantastic launch by the two Ducatis of Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia with the Aussie shooting off into P1. It wasn’t the same for Quartararo who started in P4 but lost a few spots while Alex Rins made some good moves to climb up the ladder. But it only took half a lap for the Frenchman to start fighting back. We even saw the first contact between bikes in the second lap itself as Brad Binder lost his left wing due to contact with Johan Zarco. Thanks to his great launch, Miller was ahead of the skirmish between the top 10 riders.
It was a rather torrid weekend for the factory Suzuki team. The Japanese manufacturer has been in the spotlight after they announced that they would not participate in MotoGP after 2022. Things were looking good at the start of the race but quickly went wrong in Lap 3 as Alex Rins went into the gravel trap at the Dunlop chicane. While the Spanish rider managed to keep the bike upright through the gravel, he wasn’t as lucky as Zarco when he hit the tarmac again. The blue GSX-RR lost its rear as soon as it landed on the tarmac at an odd angle. Rins was racing in P3 before he had to retire. Then on Lap 14, Joan Mir slid off the track, losing out on a very crucial P4 in the race. The shoulder cam on Aleix Espargaro caught both Suzuki riders crashing.
Speaking of Aleix, the Spanish rider displayed another strong race this weekend. He started the race in P3, was overtaken but clawed back the position and held onto it while crossing the finish line. Aprilia are having a great season with their start rider jumping on the podium race after race. Maverick Vinales, the other rider for Aprilia, also showed some great late-race pace and finished in P10.
One manufacturer that was having an amazing time was Ducati. The Italian manufacturer has three bikes in the first three positions, with more following not too far behind. Jack Miller, who was leading the race for the first four laps was overtaken by his teammate Bastianini. Miller did a good job of defending his teammate till Lap 12 when ‘The Beast’ came for his position. Next on his list was the man riding in pole. Lap 21 was one of the most exciting ones of the race as this is where the top 2 contenders traded places with Bastianini coming out on top. The battle was probably too intense and Bagnaia made a mistake at Turn 13 and ended his race. It was heartbreaking to see the factory Ducati rider not only lose the podium position but also a chance of scoring any points so close to the end of the race.
Brad Binder put up a valiant effort and was the only KTM rider to finish the race. Despite starting in P18 and losing one of his front wings early in the race, he managed to score some points by finishing in P8. Jorge Martin of Pramac Racing could not finish yet another race as he crashed at Turn 9 during Lap 18, making it his fifth crash in the seven races so far.
8-time world champion, Marc Marquez found himself behind defending champion once again. The Spaniard was fighting with his RC213V the entire race and managed to get another Top 6 finish despite starting in P10. His teammate Pol Espargaro had a near miss as Miguel Oliveira crashed in front of him with just three laps to go.
While Fabio did not step on the podium this weekend, he still holds a lead of four points over Aleix Espargaro on the World Championship leaderboard. Four points behind him is Enea Bastianini after the fantastic performance today.
2022 MotoGP: French GP results (Top 15)
|1||Enea Bastianini||Gresini Racing MotoGP||41’34.6130|
|2||Jack Miller||Ducati Lenovo Team||+2.718|
|3||Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia Racing||+4.182|
|4||Fabio Quartararo||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||+4.288|
|5||Johann Zarco||Pramac Racing||+11.139|
|6||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda Team||+15.155|
|7||Takaaki Nakagami||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||+16.680|
|8||Brad Binder||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||+18.459|
|9||Luca Marini||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||+20.541|
|10||Maverick Vinales||Aprilia Racing||+21.486|
|11||Pol Espargaro||Repsol Honda Team||+22.707|
|12||Marco Bezzecchi||Mooney VR46 Racing Team||+23.408|
|13||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Gresini Racing MotoGP||+26.432|
|14||Alex Marquez||LCR Honda CASTROL||+28.710|
|15||Franco Morbidelli||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||+29.433|