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05 Sep, 2022 | 10:58 am
In a thrilling 27-lap encounter at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Francesco Bagnaia (Lenovo Ducati) ignited his title chase with a minuscule 0.034-second victory over his 2023 factory Ducati teammate, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Ducati) as the two Italians asserted their dominance on home turf.
Bagnaia was bulletproof in Ducati’s backyard as he took the lead from Bastianini on the third lap after polesitter and initial race leader, Jack Miller, crashed out of P1 on lap two. From there to the finish, Bagnaia was constantly hounded by the chasing pack, first from Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales and finally by Bastianini, whose infamous late race pace was on full display as the two Italians left Vinales in their wake.
On the final lap, Bastianini made a lunge at turn four and very nearly clattered into the back of Bagnaia, running wide and giving what looked like a race-winning advantage to his future teammate. Yet “The Beast” refused to give in and despite the mistake, produced the fastest lap of the race as he hunted Bagnaia down, coming up 0.034-seconds short in the closest MotoGP race finish for many years.
Bagnaia wrote two new records for himself at Misano. The win, his fourth in a row, is the first time an Italian has done so since Valentino Rossi in 2008 and the first time any Ducati rider has done so in the manufacturer’s history, placing him ahead of Ducati’s only World Champion, Casey Stoner.
Vinales eventually resigned himself to third place, his third podium in four races for the factory Aprilia team, as he headed Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati) in the Italian’s best ride of the season.
Fifth was a despondent Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) as the Frenchman lost another 14 points to the relentless Bagnaia in the title chase. Qualifying down in eighth, the World Champion eventually clawed his way up past Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) but couldn’t close down Marini, admitting he was “on the limit” for the entirety of the race.
Espargaro was sixth, losing more ground to Quartararo and Bagnaia in the title chase, ahead of Suzuki’s Alex Rins.
Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder was eighth but was involved in a nasty first corner collision in which he tagged Prima Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco, sending him crashing into Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda) and Ducati wildcard, Michele Pirro, taking all three out of the race.
Ninth was Zarco’s teammate Jorge Martin from Alex Marquez (LCR Castrol Honda) from Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) and Andrea Dovizioso, who signed off his MotoGP career with 12th place on the WithU RNF Yamaha.
Rounding out the points-scoring top 15 was Raul Fernandez (Tech3 KTM) in one of his best rides of the year, wildcard Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Idemitsu Honda).
The title race is now well and truly on as the series heads to one of Ducati’s happy hunting grounds of Aragon in Spain with Bagnaia now leapfrogging Espargaro up to second place, 30 points behind Quartararo, 211 to 181. Espargaro’s third on 178 with Bastianini fourth on 138.
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