MotoGP with Boris – Fear and Fury comes to Misano

MotoGP 2022 – Round 14 – Misano

With Boris Mihailovic

I love watching races at Misano. Hopefully, one day, I’ll actually get to go there in person if I can persuade myself to leave nearby Tavullia, where I’d wish to walk in the footsteps of God for a while.

This year, Misano threatened rain, but provided glorious sun on race day instead. It was a little damp during Practice, which made it very exciting for the racers brave enough to essay slicks.

The weather was changeable for much of the weekend – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

Of course, Jack Miller was certainly brave enough – and hell almost. All the Ducatis were, and all the Italians were. The Rossi Academy boys all put on a blistering display of pace, and the Mooney VR46 team even put special paintjobs on their bikes which seared the eyes and made me smile.

The Mooney VR46 Ducatis were a bit out there… Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

But Maverick Vinales was also very fast. Ominously so. Maverick likes Misano. He’s won there in the past, back when he was less crazy. I’m thinking he is magnificently medicated at the moment, because he’s been near the pointy end for a few races now. His team mate? Not that much. The Captain, Aleix Espargaro, seemed to be struggling. Or back to his standard form…um, which is struggling. I did predict the wheels would fall of his championship bid after the summer break.

It was also Andrea Dovizioso’s last race. This made me a little sad. I have been watching Dovi almost as long as I’d been watching Valentino, and while he’d never won a championship, perennial bridesmaid that he is, on a good day, he was as good as it got.

You’ll recall he was one of the few who could hand Marquez his arse, and their battles were epic. But Dovi had had a year off, and when he came back on a satellite Yamaha to partner Binder Junior, his performance was less than stellar.

Andrea Dovizioso waved goobye to MotoGP – Image 2snap

The riders just seem to get faster year after year, and quite often less than a second separates the first 12 on the starting grid. It’s brutal, and Dovi, like Rossi, wasn’t getting any younger. He’s cashed in his chips and is walking away hale and hearty, from a sport that breaks racers like old bottles. Just listening on Saturday to Marc Marquez chatting to Carlos Checa and comparing his terrifying arm surgeries with Checa’s terrifying hip surgeries was an eye-opener.

And while on the subject of terror, the most terrified block in Europe that weekend had to be Kazuki Watanabe. Kazuki-san had been drafted in to replace Mir, who’d broken his ankle last round, and he looked a little spooked by the whole thing.

Kazuki Watanabe – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

One cannot blame him. He’d last ridden Misano more than a decade ago, and he’d never ridden a MotoGP bike. He was a solid five or six seconds a lap slower, and was the first rider I’ve seen lapped by the eventual leaders, in ages. Back-markers were once a thing, and they could make or break a race because the leaders had to get around them. Kazuki-san made sure he got right out of the way when Peco and the Beast came charging past.

Jack Miller celebrating pole position – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

Sunday’s grid was indicative of all of the things I have just mentioned. Jack was on pole, his first in long time. Beside him sat the Beast and Bezzecchi. Both of them had ridden Misano a billion times—and had possibly been conceived there. As had Luca Marini, who was starting back in the seventh.

Maverick was in fourth, Bagnaia in fifth after copping a three-place grid penalty for impeding Alex Marquez during FP1, though why anyone would care about Alex being impeded is beyond me. He’s not that quick anyway. Zarco finished off the front row.

Fabio Quartararo on the grid – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

Fabulous was back in eighth, and next to him sat Aleix. So the two blocks at the top of the championship ladder were not being quick in qualifying.

Misano gets underway – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

The front row of the grid was what made it to turn one in the order in which they started – Jack, Beast, and Bezzecchi. Behind them, gravel befell Zarco, Pirro, and Pol Espargaro, in Turn One, so that culled two Ducatis from the race and one HRC Honda (again).

The race didn’t last long for Pirro, Zarco and Pol Espargaro – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

Maverick found himself in fourth, and Jack found himself being ruthlessly pursued by the Beast. It was all too damn ruthless. Jack crashed out as did Bezzecchi, and the race was now leading the Beast, Bagnaia in hot pursuit, with Maverick and Luca Marini well in touch with them.

Miller capitalized on pole but was hounded hard early on – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

Everyone looked dangerous with intent. The Beast almost lost his front-end pushing very hard to make a break, which allowed Pecco to shoot past.

Morbidelli and Fabio Di Giannantonio also found the gravel and headed for the showers, while Fabulous was still finding his pace, and seeing the best way around Aleix Espargaro, who was flubbing about in fifth.

Morbidelli and DiGiannantonio

Maverick had found his pace. He passed the Beast viciously, looking every inch the Maverick of old. The one that used to win races. Then Marini started to close on the Beast, and Bagnaia went past Maverick, and suddenly, the Beast was the fastest man on the track. Fabulous sailed past a wide-running Captain, while Vinales was not letting Bagnaia escape, just like Marini was not letting Beast get away.

Vinales was hot to trot early on and looked like he might be in for a win… Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

For the next two laps, as Fabulous crept up on the leading four, everyone behind Bagnaia was riding faster than he was. Maverick’s pass on Bagnaia began to look inevitable.

Jack, meanwhile, had rejoined the race and was back in the 18th. We never saw him again, because this year’s telecast is woefully inadequate in terms of letting you see anything other than the front runners.

Quartararo started to appear in the picture but never really threatened for a podium – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

The Beast and Luca exchanged places twice, and while Maverick continued to lap faster than Pecco, he just couldn’t get around him. The race went into stasis for a few laps.

Marini was touch with the leading trio for a while – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

Eight laps from the end, the Beast decided his fuel load was light enough, and grabbed second from Maverick. His usual late race charge was on again. And he was certainly coming for Bagnaia, a mere 0.6-seconds ahead.

The two of them now left Maverick behind, while Fabuolus contended with Luca Marini for fourth spot. Unless Maverick fell off, there was not going to be a podium for either of them. I’m not sure Fabulous cared so much about that as he cared about finishing in front of Aleix, and extending his championship lead there.

That lead certainly could have done without Pecco Bagnaia winning the race, and the Beast was determined to make it so. I stood up to watch the last two laps. Hey was so close! But Pecco kept him at bay, and I figured there’s one lap to go, and the Beast will have a crack—and Pecco’s championship hopes may well end up in the gravel with both of them.

That would not have made Ducati happy. And I’m sure Enea Bastianini is not a fool. He came up so hard on Pecco six corners from the end, he had to jump on the brakes to avoid hitting him from behind, and that’s what probably cost him the victory. As it was, he finished a mere three-hundredths of a second behind his fellow Italian.

2022 Misano MotoGP podium
1 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – Ducati – 40’10.260
2 Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – Ducati – +0.034
3 Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) – Aprilia – +4.212

And now Pecco is second on the championship ladder. He’s had four wins in a row and looks to be in the form of his career. But Fabulous has never ridden better or smarter. He’s got a solid lead in the championship, and he knows what he has to do to grab the title for the second time.

Four in a row for Bagnaia – Image by Vaclav Duska Jr./2snap

As to whether he does it, we shall see. And we shall see the start of this at Aragon in two weeks’ time, before they load the whole circus on a bunch of planes head for our side of the world.

This year’s championship will most certainly go down to the wire.

2022 Misano MotoGP Race Results

position riders bike Time/Gap
1 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI 41m43.199
3 Maverick VIÑALES APRILIA +4.212
4 Luca MARINI DUCATI +5,283
6 Alex Espargaro APRILIA +10,230
7 Alex RINS SUZUKI +12,496
8th Brad BINDER KTM +14,661
9 Jorge MARTIN DUCATI +17,732
10 Alex MARQUEZ HONDA +21,986
12 Andrea DOVIZIOSO YAMAHA +29.276
13 Raul FERNANDEZ KTM +30,433
14 Stefan BRADL HONDA +31,768
15 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA +32.547
16 Darryn BINDER YAMAHA +41.857
17 Marco BEZZECCHI DUCATI +50.559
18 JackMILLER DUCATI +53.371
19 Remy GARDNER KTM +56.613
21 Kazuki WATANABE SUZUKI +1 lap
Not classified

MotoGP Championship Points Standings

position riders nat Points
2 BAGNAIA Francesco IT 181
3 Espargaro Aleix SPA 178
5 ZARCO Johann FRA 125
6 MILLER Jack OUT 123
7 BINDER Brad RSA 115
8th VIÑALES Maverick SPA 101
9 RINS Alex SPA 101
10 MARTIN Jorge SPA 94
11 OLIVEIRA Miguel POR 90
12 MARINI Luca IT 82
13 ME Joan SPA 77
14 BEZZECCHI Marco IT 68
15 MARQUEZ Marc SPA 60
16 NAKAGAMI Takaaki JPN 46
17 Espargaro Pol SPA 42
18 MARQUEZ Alex SPA 35
19 MORBIDELLI Franco IT 26
21 DOVIZIOSO Andrea IT 15
22 BINDER Darryn RSA 10

2022 MotoGP Calendar

date Grand Prix Circuit
06 March Qatar Losail International Circuit
20 March Indonesia Mandalika International Street Circuit
03 April Argentina Termas de Rio Hondo
10th of April Americas Circuit of the Americas
24 April Portugal Algarve International Circuit
01 may Spain Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto
15 may France Le Mans
29 may Italy Autodromo del Mugello
05 Jun Catalunya Barcelona-Catalunya
June 19 Germany Sachsenring
26 Jun Netherlands TT Circuit Assen
07 Aug Great Britain Silverstone circuit
21 Aug Austria Red Bull Ring Spielberg
04 Sept San Marino Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
18 Sept Aragon MotorLand Aragon
25th of September Japan Twin Ring Motegi
02 October Thailand Chang International Circuit
16 October Australia Phillip Island
23 October Malaysia Sepang International Circuit
06 Nov Valencian Community Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo