MotoGP, Bagnaia and Nakagami better than Quartararo and Vinales in Photocopy GP

A double race on the same track is a new feature (and a necessity) of this championship. So as a result, it will be interesting to see if racing at the same track would reshuffle the cards on the table, or if the second would have been a photocopy of the first. Now, with the Spanish and Andalucia GPs behind us, we can say that both happened.

The weather conditions on the two Sundays were slightly different, at the first race the air temperature was 32°C, the asphalt temperature 53° and the humidity 41%, while on the second it was warmer: 36° air, 59° track and a lower humidity (29 %).

The first two positions on the podium did not change: Quartararo won and Vinales second. If the first time Fabio had taken 41’23.796 to complete the 25 laps of the Spanish GP, last Sunday he clocked a little less, 41’22.666. He was around a second quicker, but wasted no time in tussles or overtaking, and was in the lead from the start to the final lap. Where the Frenchman improved a lot, his fastest lap, going from 1’38.445 to 1’38.119, was better than Marquez in the first race.

However, all eyes were on Vinales, who had opted for the soft front tire on the first lap, while last Sunday, like all the other drivers, he had opted for the hard one. Maverick was actually faster, but only about a second, just like Quartararo, and indeed the gap at the finish was unchanged. Where the Spaniard was at a disadvantage was his fastest lap: Two Sundays ago he was second to Marquez in 1’38.445, but did not get past 1’38.752 in the second race. Vinales explained how being behind Valentino punished him, causing his tires to overheat and the data confirms this.

That Valentino Rossi made a decisive step forward is undeniable, but unfortunately it is not possible to compare the two races over the distance as he did not finish the first. You can check out his fastest lap, but it didn’t improve much, just three tenths (1’38.812 vs. 1’39.163), a sign that the crucial change he’s made to his race pace and tire management is as was clearly seen.

The same applies to Bagnaia, even if Pecco started from a much better starting position. In fact, the Ducati Pramac rider reduced his fastest lap by 3 tenths (exactly) in the second race and was only slower than Quartararo on that score at 1’38.499.

And Dovizioso? Here comes the painful reality… At the Andalucia GP, Andrea was 5.5 seconds slower than in Spain, a clear step back. A difference that cannot be seen in his fast lap, because his best performance in the two races was comparable. Certainly one of the reasons (but not the only one) for Dovi’s regression was his starting position: in the first race he started 8th and immediately went up to 6th place, in the second 14th and found himself in 10th place on the first lap.

In the absence of Marc Marquez it was Nakagami and Alex’s Honda that made significant strides forward. Takaaki, who finished just short of the podium, improved his race time by almost 17 seconds while Alex improved by more than 8. Her progress has been remarkable, even after the falls and retirements that marred her final position. While Alex’s step forward as a rookie is unsurprising, the Japanese’s is a sign of how much help is needed from HRC engineers.

Check out key dates from the two Grands Prix below.