The crowds packed around the Jerez Circuit were as lively as they were sizeable and created quite an atmosphere for Grand Prix Sunday. And they got their reward in the form of a tense victory decided on the last lap, when Pecco Bagnaia resisted a formidable Brad Binder to return to the top step of the podium and the top of the world championship standings. Binder had to make do with a second-place trophy and was joined once again on the podium by boatless teammate Jack Miller.
The race started with a major déjà vu moment, the two factory KTMs rockets off the line, leaving poleman Aleix Espargaro in their dust, followed by an incident at turn two that prompted a red flag before the end of the opening lap. This time it was Fabio Quartararo finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting sandwiched in between Marco Bezzecchi and Miguel Oliveira and taking himself and the Portuguese rider into the gravel. After the air fence was replaced and Oliveira was taken to the Medical Centre for a check-up, a 24-lap race restated from the original grid positions.
For the fourth time this weekend, we got to see Binder and Miller lead the way into turn one, this time followed by Jorge Martin, Espargaro and Bagnaia. The world champion made quick progress to challenge the two KTMs by the end of the opening lap, but his Pramac colleague had plans of his own to keep his fellow Ducati rider busy. A fast-starting Luca Marini slotted into sixth position, ahead of Dani Pedrosa, with Johann Zarco, Alex Marquez and Maverick Viñales making up the early top 10. Quartararo made a decent start the second time around, to knock on the doors of said top 10 but was immediately advised about a somewhat inexplicable long lap penalty for the incident with Oliveira. Meanwhile, Bezzecchi lost a couple of position at the start and would have to stage a comeback from 15th place.
Back at the front, Miller first attacked Binder at the final corner of the second lap, the duo keeping the Ducati squabble at arm’s length, half a second back. Bagnaia was just about keeping Martin under control, but the two still had a big group on their tail, including Espargaro, Marini, Zarco, Pedrosa, Marquez and Viñales. A cautious few laps dropped Pedrosa to the back of the group and although Quartararo was only half a second behind at that stage, he soon dropped to 14th position after completing his long lap penalty on lap five. Things then went from bad to worse, as a careless exit from the penalty loop cost him another long lap penalty a few laps later, which lost him even more ground to 16th.
Meanwhile, Miller had lost the lead of the race in the same place where he had taken in, Binder retaliating at the final corner on lap five and the Australian was soon under fire from Bagnaia, who deposed him of second at turn six. Miller seemed particularly unhappy with the close move but then got his revenge on another Ducati, sending Martin wide with a block pass at the final corner, dropping the Spaniard behind Espargaro. Once Miller reclaimed third, he found himself half a second behind the two leaders, but got some unexpected help when Bagnaia was told to drop one position for the move on Miller and it allowed the KTM man back through on lap eight. While Espargaro, Martin, Zarco and Marini held onto the podium battle, Pedrosa, Marquez and Vinales kept each other busy another second back, in the fight for eight, which Bezzecchi was pushing to join from 11th.
The hierarchy seemed to have settled for the next few laps, while the chasers were trying to stop Binder’s escape and Miller had fully bridged the gap by the halfway point of the race. Catching up and getting past were very different tasks and Miller bided his time for an attack, but still had Bagnaia breathing down his neck. The Italian saw an opportunity at turn 12 with 10 laps to go and eased past his former teammate. Although Martin seemed to slip back and created a bit of a bottleneck in the chasing group over the previous few laps, the Spaniard suddenly picked up the pace and rejoined the podium battle for the remaining nine laps. Teammate Zarco wasn’t too far back, now leading Espargaro, Marini and a recovering Pedrosa but the Frenchman’s race ended at turn five with eight laps to go. Before we could even watch the replay, Bezzecchi joined him in the gravel, where he immediately abandoned the lead in the championship. These incidents helped Quartararo recover some positions up to 12th place but progress beyond that was slow.
With seven laps to go, Binder still held a pretty comfortable seven-tenth lead over Bagnaia, Miller and Martin, while Espargaro was left one second back and in turn stretching a bit of a gap over Marini and Pedrosa. Bagnaia really picked up the pace for the final five laps, setting the fastest lap of the race and finally catching up with Binder while steadily dropping their other two companions. The Italian sniffed around Binder until making his move at the final corner to take the lead with three laps remaining and the sprint victor kept close but was unable to retaliate.
The world champion entered the final lap with an insignificant advantage but although Binder gave his all to find a way past, Bagnaia closed all the doors and claimed victory at the chequered flag. Binder and Miller had to admin defeat this time around, with Martin settling for fourth and Espargaro a lonely fifth. Marini held back Pedrosa for the second half of the race in the battle for sixth, while an unlucky Viñales had to retire from eighth position after his chain came off on the final lap. Marquez inherited eighth, with Takaaki Nakagami and Quartararo rounding out the top 10.
Bagnaia’s hard fought victory puts him back in control of the world championship by 22 points ahead of the unfortunate Bezzecchi. A nearly perfect weekend promotes Binder into third, 25 points back, ahead of teammate Miller, who has a 38-point deficit.
|12||49||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati||17.911|
Race direction ...
... seem determined to wreck the spectacle, don't they? As far as I could see, the only penalty they got right all weekend was the one for Fabio not completing his first long lap properly. The one for Morbidelli, initial one for Fabio, and the one for Bagnaia passing Miller were idiotic in my view. Oh well. Great racing in spite of it.
Sorry to say but the…
Sorry to say but the penalties are what people have been asking for. They are still asking for more now. How can Peco get a penalty but not Jack ? Well next time they'll both get one. What about something which is on the margins of what Peco did ? Well surely it would deserve something. Portimao, why did Marc get a penalty but not Mir or Luca ? Don't worry, both Franco and Fabio can testify to the result. The people who complained the loudest in the past are still the people complaining the loudest no matter which side of the fence a paticular incident leads them to. Most of the riders will still argue for advantage no doubt. It's very very easy to say everything is ok when things turn out ok. Here's a mad take on it...Franco got penalised because of a lack of action on Marquez's part. If Marquez had done what Martin did today then Franco wouldn't have a penalty. Apparently, some riders are suggesting that if you are 10th on the grid then tough luck don't try to gain too many positions if the chance appears. Brad missed that briefing but it's ok because it turned out ok.
Also, you can't sit there in the presser saying 'rules are rules' but then complain about Fabio being able to join the grid for the restart. The rules are, after all, rules. If the fact that Oliveira ended up in hospital changes that then get it in the rule book but make sure it's clear. The planet could not take the extra weight of RC having to judge on the fly. Isn't that what half of the world is complaining about already ? As usual, there is desire for RC to give a debrief on their decisions after each race but seeing as that will make zero difference to the results or the rage I cannot see any benefit. Oooh ! There is one benefit ! It would give us all more to write about, more to talk about and more to argue over. I'm still not sure if that is not the whole idea and everything is going to plan. More engagement.
Thankfully it was a great race without all that crap ? Unfortunately, it was possibly a better race because of some of that crap.
From what I could see, Pecco…
From what I could see, Pecco didn't even touch Jack, just stood him up like everyone has always done everywhere. If he hadn't raised his arm to apologize, probably no one would have even noticed?
Has Olivera been dubbed the official 2023 season punching bag or is he going for top honors in the wrong place at the wrong time award or what?
Why does the safety car driver tap his helmet in three sets of three? Is it a secret code? Is it just me or does the new theme music lack the inspiring driving punch of the former? I took me a while to adjust when they switched from are you ready boots so maybe it's just me?
In reply to From what I could see, Pecco… by Elisabeth Rightwrist
Totally agree. Peco's move…
Totally agree. Peco's move was an alarm call for a sleepy Jack. The new music is awful...i'd prefer almost anything else. How about....
Just need to swap the riders into the opening.
Where are the keyboard…
Where are the keyboard engineers that said KTM wasn’t going anywhere with a “steel frame”? Lol.
How about that Dani??!!
How about that Dani??!!
Dani beat the Hondas and after doing only one round he’s managed to put four of the Honda riders behind him in championship standings.
In reply to Legendary comeback! by Morgs
That old retired guy sure is…
That old retired guy sure is one fast SOB. Almost seems otherworldly...
Great rides by Pecco, the…
Great rides by Pecco, the KTM guys and Pedrosa. Great to see Dani battling in the front group all weekend.
Boring stats - grid pos 2 starters continue their podium streak - 8 for 8
Pecco leads the regular riders with an avg qual pos of 2.75, followed by Jorge martin (6.5).
9 different riders have been on the front row so far this season, with Pecco (3) and Martin (2) leading the way
34 DNFs across 8 races (13 from Sprints, 21 from full GPs) - Mir (5), Aleix (3) and Alex Marquez (3) lead that statistic. 20 of the 26 riders that have started a race this season have DNF'd at least once
Without the Sprint races the top 10 in the championship would be covered by 18 pts - from Bezzechi (51) to Binder (33)
Interesting number of DNF's
Thanks for those stats adding another level of intrigue. With 77% of the riders having a DNF so far it will be interesting to see how that runs out through the season. Same with the number of unfortunate riders missing rounds through injuries caused by others. If these turn out to be the norm then there could be merit in letting riders drop their worst (say) four results (2 sprint, 2 GP) and only having their best 36 of the possible 40 race results added into the championship ladder.
If the high level of attritions continues some riders might work out that they are better off trying to win the champianship playing it safe by just aiming to finish every race with points while letting others fight to win and risk DNFs or injury. That may become somewhat boring to watch.
In reply to Interesting number of DNF's by Morgs
More rules....I think that having to calculate to decide who is the champion would only make things worse. "To finish first, you must first finish" Dropping the worst results would only increase the risk; if riders get to drop a DNF, then why not go for 2 DNF's in a season. The guy who finishes top 5 every race would then be punished? I don't see how tha would be fair.
Why not decide on punishments in the safety commission, instead of RD. You would need a, say 2/3rds, majority for a punishment to be handed and this would allow the racers themselves decide how much risk is acceptable. After every race or spint, RD coulkd decide which incidents are up for debate and the the SC would decide if a punishment would need to be handed. The rulebook should then be clear about the punishment.
In reply to More rules by Riesjart
I wonder which way the…
I wonder which way the Ducati riders would vote if the vote hurt a rival manufacturer's position in the table....hmm.
In reply to I wonder which way the… by WaveyD1974
That's why a 2/3rds majority…
That's why a 2/3rds majority would be required....but yes, that is a risk. Anonimous voting might help. Also VR46 Academy riders voting.....but hey, I hear a lot of discussion about the RD decisions as well, and I cannot imagine that some of the punishments were issued for incidents, that the riders themselves thought were racing incidents....
In reply to That's why a 2/3rds majority… by Riesjart
I think riders will vote for…
I think riders will vote for sporting advantage. A 2/3rds majority would help for sure but too many potential 'block' votes, VR46 a good example. In the worst case you could be looking at the title tilting one way or another on the vote of a competitor.
In reply to I think riders will vote for… by WaveyD1974
Yeah that would be worst…
Yeah that would be worst case, but what are the chances of that happening? I agree this is not an ideal solution,, however, the current situation where the riders will become more and more reluctant to overtake, where overtaking already is difficult and rare. Race incidents should be that and the sandwich taht FQ20 found himself in was just that in my opinion. And I have seen more of those. The current way of dealing with them is just beneficial to the guy ahead who closes the door, whichever way he does it.
In reply to Yeah that would be worst… by Riesjart
I totally agree but I'm not…
I totally agree but I'm not too sure. Isn't the latest situation exactly what the riders have been asking for ? Race after race, too much aggression, there should be more penalties given, more consistency. What's the difference between Marc in Portimao and Fabio in Jerez ? Both put themselves in situations where avoiding the accident was impossible. If Fabio had been a little more cautious, braked a little earlier, he wouldn't have crashed with Oliveira. Exact same can be said of Marc in Portimao. There you go, more penalties for aggression and more consistency.
In my opinion the performance of the stewards is inversely correlated to the number of demands placed upon them by riders, teams and fans. It just isn't possible for a rider or team to have an unbiased opinion on an incident. They are lobbying for advantage. Short of asking a rider what happened or asking a team to provide data everything else should be treated as lies. No matter how 'honest governor' they may genuinely want to be, they cannot escape the conflict of interests due to being in competition.
My opinion is that stewards should be left alone to do what they please. Let the FIM give a very general direction. Sure there will be the odd bit of BS but it wont be anywhere near this level and don't forget, this is what they have been asked to do by the riders. Take the penalties on the chin and get on with it. So far they've only succeeded in making things worse.
In reply to I totally agree but I'm not… by WaveyD1974
I think the Marc and Fabio…
I think the Marc and Fabio are different situations.
The way I saw it Marc made a mistake due to the bike being unsettled, didn't/couldn't brake enough and skittled other riders.
Fabio was between two riders and the gap he was in got closed up, contact was made but not through any errors, just the fact of all three being very close together.
In reply to I think the Marc and Fabio… by stumo
Either way, a little slower…
Either way, a little slower and they wouldn't be on the naughty step. I mean, what were they thinking ? It's almost as if they thought they were racing. I think Marc deserved a penalty because he was way way out there taking big big risks in close order. Fabio's looked very normal and unfortunate, no penalty should have been given. However, I think a lot of the people who want things clear, want the approach of a lawyer got what they asked for.
In reply to I wonder which way the… by WaveyD1974
Tardozzi is on record as saying he thought the penalties for Morbidelli and Quartararo were wrong. Good for him.
In reply to Well ... by larryt4114
You think he'd be saying…
You think he'd be saying that if it was Peco in Oliveira's place ? Things are always ok when it works out ok.
In reply to Interesting number of DNF's by Morgs
In recent years the key to…
In recent years the key to being in a position to fight for the title was the podium. If a rider finished 3rd in every race they would be there at the end and usually champion (2014, 2019 and 2020 a little different). Rossi was always on the podium, Marc always on the podium. I do not think the sprint race will change that in terms of points at years end. The winner will, I think, still have a points total roughly equivelent to finishing each race 3rd or somewhere between 3rd and 4th. However I do think the sprint race will change how a rider gets that total.
The sprint over a 20 race season has a potential points haul of 240 points out of a grand season total of 740 points. Roughly a third. That's huge. The sprint race leaves very little room for recovery from poor grid pos or lap one drops in position (except Brad). The weekend format allows little time to be clever. The rider who can use their tyres for explosive pace will do well regardless of late race pace. Good grid pos, decent start, attack like the devil and hang on as best as they can to the flag. In the sprint it's not too long until the flag. In the full distance race they may lose out in the final third of the race but a top 5 is in their hands and probably better. Relatively speaking, in MotoGP terms, a bike with a good base which allows the rider to go out on Friday and use the tyres up to and beyond what they are capable of without punishing the rider will win me thinks. A good chance of going straight to Q2. A good chance of getting on the first two rows. A good bike for the sprint and because of the grid position a decent result in the main race. I don't think taking it easy anywhere will do. The hooligans might have one third of the points. I think injuries will remain a risk just as they are in any other season. If there is an increase in injuries it will be the result of poor grid pos and the need to score anything in the sprint.
never cease to amaze me.
No better place to read about motogp.
Penalties; Fabio deserved…
Penalties; Fabio deserved them both.
I thought that Bagnaia's penalty with Jack was very unfair, as sad as Fabio's exit of the LLP was wrong it was sloppy sloppy of him. When Jack drifted wide he had lost the inside line and should expect another rider to shove their nose it. What Jack was really doing was brinkmanship; it's what they all try to do a little of....or a lot! Jack lost the inside line and knows it and in his interview, the fact that he's normally so honest almost halted his condemnation of Pecca - almost.
The one penalty that was right again was Fabio's first race crash. Sometimes gaps open and sometimes they close but the two men ahead of Fabio don't have mirrors and on the opening lap you can't hear another bike - just the overall racket and your own machine - and so Fabio had to back off earlier but didn't; there was no space. So that was lazy minded. If he hadn't been there, the outside bike would have leaned on the inside bike anyway! 3 into 2 doesn't go. So, what with Fabio not being "precise" enough on his long-lap-loop in a way the two penalties they got right were Fabio's.
How many rider's squeeze the brake early to avoid a little carnage - we'll never know. But the smart guys finish the races and see the accident before it happens. We used to rely on riders self-preservation making them see and seek space, a larger gap, safety but it seems currently, they are prepared to gamble on accidents and incidents.
Does the huge long season where recovery is possible providing results are good enough of course, add to this? 46+ races? You can afford to nudge and nurf a few, well that seems the attitude.
In reply to Penalties; Fabio deserved… by Taffmeister
I think in the sprints there…
I think in the sprints there's not much time to make progess and only points scored to top 11 for a big whole 1 point. If they can make progress in lap one then it might be worth it. Otherwise it's just a long run practice session.
How do the stewards arrive…
How do the stewards arrive at a decision? Unanimous consent? 2/3 majority? Does the chief steward have power to override full panel decisions?