Barcelona MotoGP Subscriber Notes: How Fabio Quartararo Was Able To Dominate, A Costly Crash, And How To Count Laps

There are some tracks that somehow always seem to manage to produce drama. Sometimes, drama which affects the trajectory of a championship. Barcelona would appear to be one of those tracks.

Take 2006, for example. Loris Capirossi came into the Barcelona leading the MotoGP championship, tied for points with Nicky Hayden. At the start, his Ducati teammate Sete Gibernau took a line crossing from left to right in an attempt to gain places. Gibernau clipped the rear of Capirossi's bike, jamming on his front brake and causing it to cartwheel end over end through the pack. Capirossi was forced into Marco Melandri to his right, the pair of them going down and resulting in a massive pile up and forcing a race restart.

There were a couple of consequences from that crash. Capirossi escaped injury, but was battered and bruised. Unable to take part in the race, the Italian lost 20 points to Nicky Hayden, and limped through the next couple of races, effectively ending his championship challenge. And it was the incident which started the discussion about making brake lever protectors mandatory, though it would take until 2011 to get the rules pushed through in all three grand prix classes.

2006 would see another significant moment in the championship. At Estoril, Kenny Roberts Jr miscounted the number of laps in the race, and sat up on the penultimate lap thinking he had won after crossing the line first, ahead of Valentino Rossi and Toni Elias. By the time he realized and pushed on again, he had given up just too much ground to challenge the Spaniard and the Italian.

One to remember

Barcelona 2022 is going to be memorable too, in several ways. Including those which parallel 2006. There was a first corner crash which had a major impact on the championship. Although Pecco Bagnaia probably wouldn't have been able to stop Fabio Quartararo, he should have been able to get on the podium and limit the damage, rather than seeing his deficit rise by 25 points. And Aleix Espargaro's local knowledge betrayed him, using the scoring tower's lap count rather than his pit board, and celebrating a certain podium a lap too early.

  • In these subscriber notes:
  • How is Fabio Quartararo winning on a slow Yamaha?
  • Takaaki Nakagami wrecks Pecco Bagnaia's championship
  • How you know when a MotoGP race is finished, and why you make mistakes

But first things first. Fabio Quartararo rode as near a perfect race at Barcelona to utterly dominate the race. He got an outstanding start – an area the Yamaha has greatly improved in the past couple of years – then outbraked Aleix Espargaro to take the lead into Turn 1. From that point on, he did not look back.

He was over a second clear after the third lap, over 2 seconds clear by lap 6, and 3 seconds by lap 9, his progression pleasingly arithmetic. His lead was never in any doubt once he turned into the first corner ahead of Espargaro, and he cruised home – or could have, if he wasn't determined to stamp his authority on the 2022 championship – to take his second win of the season, and extend his lead in the championship to 22 points. With a little help from Aleix Espargaro, to be sure, but even without Espargaro's mistake, Quartararo's lead would have grown.

How did Quartararo win at a race where he was outgunned on the straight and where a lack of grip should have worked against him, and in Aleix Espargaro's favor? Two factors: the start, and the front tires on offer at Barcelona.

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God forbid Zarco would take any risks in risky situations. Might point out that bikes do make up 10+ places off the start, some lose as many too.

Thanks David.

Saw him do the same thing  in a AMA superbike race. It was his first race in the US and he didn't know about the last lap white flag. He saw a flag and slowed thinking he'd won the race, except he didn't.


Of any standing start motor race is the first turn. Doesn't matter if its club racing or MotoGP. Nobody just lets somebody by or stands up the motorcycle unless they are wide and running off the track. If the rider is on the inside like Taka, he has to commit and make the turn. In my observation, MotoGP 1st turns after the start are the most aggressive in motor racing. I don't think Taka should be punished further. 

Also noticed Mir started 16th and (yes 3 fell) was battling for 5th into T1. Pretty full on committed dive down the inside of Bez I think, or Marini can't remember.

Since they know to look for a checkered flag, start using a white flag to indicate the last lap too.

Do this in an AMA Superbike race. He saw the white flag and have never seen one before thought he'd won the race. 

I felt really gutted for Aleix as it's such a shame to ride a great race and lose 9 points like this. Very hard to recover mentally from such a mistake but I hope he will manage for the sake of the championship.

I have a vague memory of Pierre Francisco Chili making the same mistake as Aliex back in the day in WSBK. Or maybe I'm wrong...

He did this too, either in Moto 2 or Moto 3, it was just a sit up, not as bad as Aleix.

Waving to the crowd like he did will live on in our memories for a long, long time. It was great. 


Everyone everywhere winced. Ouch. The Aprilia brass that LEPT from the trackside booth and DARTED back to the garage while Asparagus was still waving his stalk - said it all. 

Could have been worse. They could have dropped him a position for going off track on the last lap.

Impossible to argue that there was any advantage gained though.

What a ride! There was no one on the same planet as him. The consistency of the laps. Even when the tires were supposedly going off, I think he was barely losing a tenth a lap. It is clearly him making the difference and the Yamaha does seem to be new Honda, a one rider bike.

I really hope and wish that Aprillia get someone really good onto the RNF team. As good as Aleix is, it just feels like he does not have that extra bit that Fabio or Pecco seem to bring on Sunday. Expectations were high but he did not seem to be able to get rid of Martin let alone go with Fabio. Speaking of which, I think Ducati should be moving Martin up instead of Enea B. Despite the results I think over the season Martin is going to come to the fore once they all are settled on the GP22 or at-least they should wait a little longer before they decide.

Let's look at the first turn incident at Catalunya mindfully and essentially. Spoiler alert, I think Taka is doing JUST fine.

Nakagami takes a bit of a grab passing on the inside and managing the braking. He was shooting into a target, and got pulled into a double pass overstretch. Look, this shit happens. Racers know, things can get dicey.

Does Rins have a legitimate gripe after TWO increasingly offensive Taka incidents? Of course. Bagnaia too, that can be the CHAMPIONSHIP winning points right there. Very serious business.

So, LCR Honda Taka ends up in a double inside pass approaching T1. As we all know, this is one of those "Gunfight" moments. 

I have watched this SO many times. Go watch it again yourself. Let go of all the narrative that others hand you via their perspective.
Motorcycle racing inherently involves hip checking. 
On my last racing suit, a lovely Dianese top shelf set of leathers. Held kangaroo gloves. Arai helmets. These leathers have rubber on the shoulders and hips, rear wheel rubber of a competitor. T1 rubber is the most common. I dive deep on the outside and turn in on to you. Your rear tire leaves rubber on my inside shoulder.
If I am on the inside, it is an uglier affair. I am taking your line forcing you to check up. It is a BLOODY KNIFE FIGHT. Who brakes last? You are laying on each other. This isn't ballet.

And once in a while, there is a wreck in T1. If I were Taka, I would have done EXACTLY the same thing. Cool gamble man. I once passed 4 riders on the outside in one move. There are such grabs. 
Rins deserves to be fookin pissed! And, Nakagami can make a mistake for glory. Asparagus? Tough to forgive THAT ADHD where is motoshrink farting 9 Points to the Blue folks!
Taka is alright by me. Keep your chin up Nakagami San.

Okay, let's all get this: when Taka went down, his FACE went on to Bagnaia's REAR WHEEL. ^ Read that 2x. We have never seen this before in the modern era.

This is a time to keep Taka in mind. Concerned about his spine and head, clinically. 

To be honest, with respect, the passing was done before Taka braked, he never made a dive. Both Taka and Pol got good starts. Between them they pass Miller, Marini, Mav, Rins, Martin, DiGi and Zarco before touching the brakes. At that point they are level, Taka brakes a fraction later than Pol. I don't know if Taka was aware of exactly where Pol was but that's maybe the only pass he makes on the brakes. Rins brakes later than both or just brakes less but repasses both on the left. Only Taka can tell us why he swung to the left on the brakes. Seeking a better line for T1 maybe. Looking for a safe exit stage left because he's a bit too hot. No idea. Rins is there by now anyway so any exit stage left is gone even if Taka was aware of any of that. Pecco has to check himself up a bit as Aleix swings across his front wheel. Taka isn't trying to pass anyone, he just finds himself in that 'brown' area, too close and fast to pull up. Nowhere to go. Can't go left and there's nothing spare in the front to go right. Can't ease up on the front, too close.

I wonder if the Taka pile on is just a vehicle to give the stewards a message. If the riders want penalties handed out more frequently as a way of reducing levels of aggression that is their's they who carry the injuries. I do think if Taka was in the same position again, he would do things differently. I don't think he did anything unusal.

Looks like Nakagami hit the brakes before Quartararo, let off to swoop in and fill the gap in front of Pol, then got on the brakes hard lifting the rear (@40:43 on race video) with the tail wagging to the side. His bike was out of shape as he tried to avoid tagging Bagnaia. His bike was definitely yawing side to side before it all went south.

This isn't aimed directly at anyone on this site, but more holistically no one seems to care all that much for what Taka endured, but rather only about what mistakes he made.

The replays are absolutely brutal. MOTOGP. COM putting up "Multiple angles of Nakagami's crash!" didn't help things. I've second guessed whether or not it's just me overreacting but we don't see crashes like that generally. The impact with the wheel that sent his head flying backwards as it tore his visor off was just next level bad. With only a little imagination applied, and considering the images beaming around the world within minutes, this could have been very bad for the sport itself (on top of the obvious suffering with the guys directly involved). This would have had a larger impact than Sic's tragedy. The optics were a mickey hair away from being utterly horrific, and shades of Vinales and Rossi dodging a flying motorcycle by a whisker also come to mind.

Yes it's part the game and we've all been around long enough to see our share of the brutality the sport coughs up, but shit mate, Taka is so f'ing lucky and as an aside so is Dorna. 

For sure he's a lucky lad. The potential is there every race. Really happy he seems ok bar bruised and battered. Although it is never good to see a rider in peril like that, I also find it strangely satisfying to see more and more of them walking away over the years. I do wonder if what more can be done is being done quickly enough. It is a fair bet that Taka's injuries would be a lot more severe if it wasn't for advancements in helmets and suits etc. I raise a glass to that and to every life saved. We'll never know how many.

That was very close to being very gruesome indeed and on live TV. I also agree, I don't want to see it, I was furious at Dorna showing close ups of Sic's terrified girlfriend and his father straight after his crash, its bloody morbid. Luckily in the UK the BBC immediately cut away form Dorna's broadcast.

"Taka is alright by me. Keep your chin up Nakagami San"

Shrink,Taka is lucky to have a chin!

While Taka has a hisory of being that kind of racer (according to Merkel anyway) who gets into a corner and pulls the pin, I guessing it is nervousness, not suicidal. I too feel this was a racing incident, and Taka's injuries are probably going to do as much as a sanction in terms of attitude adjustment. I have had this thought. I should be afraid to mention it here, but I'm not sure it can be dismissed. I wonder how much of the backlash against Taka (and don't get me wrong it was a bonehead move), is racial? Kamikaze stereo type? We have a grid determined mostly by southern europeans. Group think runs silent and deep. Is he the "dirtiest" rider on the grid? (I loved that one google translate of Rins comments which translated dirtiest as "sluttiest?"). But really, is there a racial component to the backlash?

Fairly sure not and especially Franco wouldn't be a part of that yet he also complained about the stewards not doing anything. I think it's just general music from the riders/saftey committee, unfortunately Taka is 'it' right now.

I think if anything he might suffer from a lack of "local" loyal fan voices in his defense. If you think about Cal for example he crashed a LOT on that Honda but there are plenty of passionate (and loud) Brits jumping to his defense. The percentage of fluent English speakers in Japan is pretty low (and that's fair enough) so he won't have the same level of vocal support/defense in English (or Spanish) moto-media. Certainly that would make it easier to pile on. 

^ Super happy how straightforward it can be to disagree. Tip of the hat to a well represented counterpoint!

Should have added, in my opinion, no further action required by stewards. I feel sorry for Pecco because he's coming on song in a big way right now but it's a bit late. He seems in a good moment to make a come back though. Who knows what will happen in

Objectively speaking, Nakagami's accident on Sunday was just another racing incident, and I can see why Spencer decided against penalties for Nakagami. Riders make mistakes while attempting overtakes. That's part of racing, and it always will be. Subjectively, the crash and it's aftermath is more complex. Nakagami made some desperate situations more desperate, while also undermining the entire rider's championship race by statistically eliminating Bagnaia. He enraged, Ducati, Suzuki, Dorna, Tardozzi, Suppo, Rins, Bagnaia, and a half dozen other directors, stewards, and agents in the sport. None of these people are small fish. One of these directors alone could probably send Nakagami down the road. Now he's facing the wrath of several. Freddie Spencer is not in a great spot either, as his decision not to penalize is viewed as incompetence or perhaps favoritism to his former employer. 

Ultimately, Nakagami is the victim of humanity's desire to oversimplify and overemphasize singular events. Every play in a football match matters, and failure are routine, but everyone blames the guy who misses the PK. Nakagami is not the reason Rins hasn't scored since being tied for the championship lead. Nakagami is not the reason Bagnaia scored poorly in the early rounds. Nakagami is not the reason Suppo is out of job next year, nor has Taka caused Ducati to fail for the last 15 seasons in the rider's championship. 

But who is going to tell the oligarchs to call off their dogs? MotoGP is a sport run by committee, and I doubt Nakagami will find a faction willing to exhaust the political resources to protect him.

Is Taka really the subject of a plot conjured out of nothing against him by opposing forces? Or is he a rider who showed reckless disregard for his own safety and that of others, who deserves to be treated as such? 

of riding erratically and crashing when under pressure (or not), so, perhaps not the best judgement in the world. I don't see why that shouldn't be taken into account when looking at this incident. Mir, for example, made up even more places on his run to the first corner but didn't bother anybody while doing so.

Tongue in cheek, which rider are you talking about? Off the top of my head that description covers at least half the grid.

Nakagami's problem is that he does not have the results to balance his mistakes.

Too often he has penalised himself by not delivering on good pre-race speed with good finishes and podiums.

This time his mistake penalised others as well.

I think they just like to have a light hand when possible, as they have in the past and hopefully in the future. Franco also complained about the stewards suggesting it's a general flavour coming from the riders safety committee with Taka simply being the 'man of the hour'.

Really carried a punch and fair bit of truth. The response to this incident did reek of emotional reaction from people with clout. All of these guys fall off and make mistakes, and the effects are generally judged to be random as long as the action wasn't either aggressive/reckless or deliberate. We can recall how angry Mir was when Miller took him out and then how quickly (and graciously) he admitted he had done the same thing himself. Those complaining need to come up with an alternative standard before they ask for the existing standards to be applied to edge cases like this. Besides the scare and injuries Taka received seem like punishment enough. 

The leathers/air bags do, don't believe the helmets do. Since Taka's head hit the back of Bagnaia's bike hard enough to knock it over, I have to believe he's seriously lucky not to have a broken neck.

He didn't actually physically knock #63 over - instead his head appeared to momentarily lock Pecco's wheel, and maybe release the rear ride height device? Pecco's suspension unloaded and when it loaded again he lost rear traction.