Rins wins in an emotional farewell for Suzuki, Binder storms to second, Martin completes the podium… and the tense finale to the Championship sees Bagnaia secure the crown and Quartararo go out swinging.
it was tense, it was close, it was emotional and it was a stunning finale for the 2022 season. As Ducati Lenovo Team’s Francesco Bagnaia took the crown with ninth place and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) came home fourth, it was Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who gave the Hamamatsu factory an emotional send off with a stunning final victory in blue. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) came to within one single point of the top five overall as he absolutely stormed to second, with Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) completing the podium from pole.
Rins qualified on the middle of Row 2 but made a brilliant start and led the field to the first corner, ahead of pole-sitter Martin and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team). Quartararo took a wide berth at the Turn 2 braking zone, emerging behind Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and in a battle for fifth with none other than Bagnaia. When Marquez attacked Miller for third on the opening lap, Quartararo squeezed his Yamaha down the inside of the Australian’s Ducati at Turn 8 as well, and he was up to fourth.
Miller hit back at the start of Lap 2, forcing Quartararo to pick up his YZR-M1 at Turn 2 with a pass which incentivised Bagnaia to also have a look. The title contenders made contact which pulled a wing off the factory Ducati in a sudden pulse of adrenaline, but Bagnaia was ahead of his key rival. It stayed that way until Lap 4, when Quartararo was down the inside at Turn 6 and back into fifth – but facing a task to catch the top four.
In said top four, Miller moved back into the podium positions when he passed Marquez on Lap 6 at Turn 1, before the eight-time World Champion crashed out altogether four laps later at Turn 8. In the meantime, Quartararo had shaken Bagnaia, who, due to some combination of caution and the damage from his contact with ‘El Diablo’, was on the fade. He had already been overtaken for sixth by Brad Binder when he gave Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) an easy position on Lap 13 at Turn 14.
Up the road, Rins was trying to break away but the rest of the top five was compressing, which was both good and bad news for Quartararo given he was running fourth with a KTM ridden by Binder catching up. The Frenchman braked as deep as he dared at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 18 to try and keep the South African behind, but ran wide and was picked off by Binder at Turn 2.
Meanwhile, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was also through on Bagnaia, and soon Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) was as well. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) then caught up to his future teammate too, and while there was plenty said ahead of the weekend, Pecco left a humongous gap at Turn 2 on Lap 22 to give it to ‘La Bestia’ and save himself any possible trouble.
It was more dramatic in the battle for the podium places, with Binder going past his own future teammate, Miller, on Lap 23 at Turn 2, then setting after Martin. Halfway around the lap at Turn 11, Miller’s last race with Ducati came to a premature end when he crashed out, handing over fourth spot to Quartararo again.
Rins had not quite been able to drop the field like he might have hoped, but was still nine tenths of a second to the good when Binder overtook Martin for second at Turn 4 on the penultimate lap. The South African threw a few more kitchen sinks at it but they would take the chequered flag 0.396 seconds apart as Rins delivered the final win for Suzuki in its current stint in MotoGP™, with Binder P2 and Martin getting home just over a second from victory. Quartararo was nine tenths further back after a valiant fight to the flag.
Oliveira would pass Mir for fifth, with the 2020 World Champion therefore classified sixth, ahead of Marini and Bastianini. Bagnaia found himself under pressure from Quartararo’s Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™ teammate Franco Morbidelli in the final laps but beat him to ninth position. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) finished 11th, ahead of Tech3 KTM Factory Racing duo Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner, then Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) in 14th and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) in the last points-paying position. Joining Miller on the list of retirements was Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) after a crash on Lap 16, plus both the Aprilia Racing entries of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales, both the Repsol Honda Team entries of Marquez and Pol Espargaro, and Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team).
Bagnaia can now celebrate his first MotoGP™ Championship crown, and Ducati’s first riders’ title in 15 long years, but before the off-season, we have the Valencia Test back at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo on Tuesday. Farewell to those off to pastures new, those retiring for a third time, those heading for the intermediate class… and good luck to everyone taking on new challenges next season. First, the Awards. Then, the tests. And then? Sprint races are GO. Join us in March as Portugal hosts the first Grand Prix of a new era… we can’t wait!
1 Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – Suzuki – 41’22.250
2 Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – KTM – +0.396
3 Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) – Ducati – +1.059
“Amazing amazing. You know, to finish the season with Suzuki leaving, we cannot finish better. I mean, P1, I’m so, so proud. I’ve learnt a lot with Suzuki in these years. Starting a new chapter in my life now but thank you guys. I’m so happy!”
Describe to us your emotions today:
“Yeah it was a tough race, especially on the left side of the tyre. I did my 100% but it was not enough today to fight for the podium or even the victory. A bit disappointed but congratulations to Pecco for his title.”
Was it all decided on the opening laps?
“Especially today it was hotter, and the front tyre on the left side was completely soft so that was part of the reason we lost the race.”
How has it been battling over the last few GPs?
“Pecco made an amazing second part of the season. We knew that the Ducati was the fastest bike on the second half of the season, well also during the first one, but he was the fastest of them so congratulations to him and I can’t wait until Tuesday to try our new bike.”
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