MotoGP Outcomes – 2022 MotoGP World Championship spherical 7

* Rookie

Enea Bastianini wins the French MotoGP at Le Mans to continue his dream season with the Gresini team, while Francesco Bagnaia crashed out of their victory duel with six laps to go.

After losing out to factory Ducati team-mate Jack Miller at the start, Bagnaia took the lead when the Australian ran wide, with Bastianini proving the only rider capable of matching the #63’s pace.

Bagnaia, on the GP22 factory machine, was seeking his second win in a row and Bastianini, riding last year’s GP21, his third victory of a breakthrough season.

Bastianini pounced with 7 laps to go, diving inside Bagnaia at the first chicane. Bagnaia instantly fought back, but ran wide a few corners later.

Much worse was to follow at the end of the lap when Bagnaia crashed out of second through the slow left-handers, signaling his second DNF of the season and yet another blow to his already flagging title hopes.

That mistake moved Miller to second place, while Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro and Yamaha’s home hero Fabio Quartararo fought over the final podium position to the chequered flag. Espargaro prevailed, for his third podium in a row.

Rain was a threat for race day but while the Moto3 GP was restarted due to a light shower, conditions were bright and sunny as the 27-lap premier-class battle got underway with a front row of factory Ducati riders Bagnaia and Miller plus Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro.

All riders chose the soft rear tire but there was a roughly equal split between the medium and soft fronts, while KTM riders Brad Binder, Miguel Oliveira and Remy Gardner made a late switch to the hard front.

France’s reigning champion Quartararo began the race from row two, but was seen as the rider to beat for pace if he could avoid being held up behind the likes of the Ducatis…

But the Monster Yamaha star, who began the race hearing his name cheered by the massive crowd of 110,000 fans and seeking to become the first home French premier-class Grand Prix winner since 1954, dropped all the way to eighth on the opening lap, sealing his fate as far as victory.

Bagnaia passed Miller when the Australian ran wide after a few laps, with Bastianini then forming an all-Ducati top three after a dramatic accident for Alex Rins.

The Suzuki rider bounced across the gravel trap on the outside of the fast furst turn, before being kicked from his Suzuki as it jumped over the kerbs at the chicane, sending Rins falling just in front of the leaders. Team-mate Joan Mir was thus the only remaining Suzuki, in fourth.

Meanwhile, after an early attack from Takaaki Nakagami, which allowed Marc Marquez to pass them both, Quartararo settled into the sixth between Aleix Espargaro and Marquez.

With 16 laps to go, Bastianini spotted Bagnaia escaping and promptly passed Miller to stay in contact with his Italian fellow, while Mir made it both GSX-RRs on the floor with a lowside at mid-distance.

That moved Espargaro and Quartararo to within one-second of Miller, but the Australian upped his pace to stay out of reach.

Quartararo’s fellow home star Johann Zarco, demoted from sixth to ninth on the grid by a penalty for ‘riding slowly and disturbing’ Pol Espargaro during qualifying, had early contact with Brad Binder, leaving the KTM rider without a wing.

The incidents ahead helped Zarco make gradual progress, the Pramac Ducati rider passing Marquez for sixth with 10 laps to go, which became fifth after Bagnaia’s exit.

No doubt disappointed to miss the podium, Quartararo was again the only Yamaha rider anywhere near the front, with team-mate Franco Morbidelli – who ran off track on his way to the grid – the next best M1 in 15th.

A nightmare weekend for the home Tech3 team was complete when both Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez crashed out in the early stages. Factory KTM’s Miguel Oliveira joined them on the DNF list with the damaged bike of Binder the only RC16 to see the flag.

VR46s Marco Bezzecchi was the top rookie in twelfth, with Bastianini’s team-mate Fabio di Giannantonio claiming his first MotoGP points in 13th.

Le Mans was the first event since the shock news that Suzuki intends to leave MotoGP at the end of this season.

The Italian MotoGP at Mugello will take place on May 27-29.


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