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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