Sepang MotoGP Subscriber Notes: How (Not) To Win A Championship, And A Morbidelli Revival

Winning a MotoGP championship is hard. Arguably, the individual riders championship is the hardest title in the world to win. Apart from the basics – talent, and the opportunity to develop it – you also need to have persuaded a factory team with a competitive bike that they should sign you to race for them. You need the right people around you, and the right tools to take on the very best riders in the world, on the fast racing motorcycles ever built.

That last part, getting on a competitive bike, may be one of the hardest parts. Even with six factories and twelve seats (to be reduced to five factories next year), getting to join the right factory at the right time is tough. It is easy for factories to take the wrong direction, and go from being competitive to struggling. Yamaha's botched engine upgrade this year is evidence of that. Or Honda's radical update to the RC213V which has improved one weakness while removing the bike's greatest strength.

Then you have to go through an entire season of 20-plus races without making too many mistakes or getting caught up in the mistakes of others, without crashing and being injured, or without mechanical problems. You have to stay fit, stay focused, rack up wins when you can and points when you can't. And you have to control your nerves once you get close to finally wrapping up the championship.

On Saturday, it looked like all three of the candidates for the 2022 title had failed this latter test. Pecco Bagnaia had crashed out on his hot lap in Q2 and qualified ninth. Fabio Quartararo had mistimed his second run and was twelfth on the grid. While Aleix Espargaro had suffered chatter and a lack of acceleration to qualify tenth.

If any of the three had pretensions of glory, they would have to put in a championship-worthy ride on Sunday. If not, they would arrive at the last race of the season coming off the back of a decidedly lackluster performance, where they collected a handful of points and the differences in the title chase remained largely unchanged.

Pecco Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo did just that, shooting to improbable podiums from the third and fourth row of the grid. Aleix Espargaro faltered, though perhaps not entirely of his own doing. Bagnaia and Quartararo both rode the races of champions, and because of the points differential for the top five places, Bagnaia put one hand on the 2022 title. And it all came down to the start.

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year: 
2022
round_number: 
19

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Comments

Would have been great to at least see a small amount of Millers recovery from 20th.......

The video of Ciabatti talking about issuing team orders for Valencia was funny, a good laugh. The Ducati Corse fellas are having fun in the midst of all the pressure.

Thank you for the article and that link.

JMar crashing out of the 3 leading Ducatis is why he doesn't have a factory ride.  If JMar & EBas were more clever, they would have helped Ducati & FBag win the championship.

a fox or a box of rocks? No one cares about you when you're not winning. Were you doing the factory a favor or were you just too slow? Even more complicated here is what team are you working for? If you're the beast you best beat your future teammate, if you are Martin you just got overlooked by the factory so you are best served by beating the factory rider handily. Seems to me both guys went for it, both failed, and PB was the better rider on the day.

I think Hayden's thoughts allign with mine on this subject... https://www.superbikeplanet.com/team-orders-interesting-concept-if-i-am-...

yes, the factory should have been incentivizing EBas & JMar to help FBag win the championship... just like with Nicky, that conversation was suppose to happen before the race... I-talians, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory... Just for the drama, I was rooting for FBag in Sepang, but will switch to the improbable FQua in Valencia :-D

Hi! I'd really like captions on yr excellent photos, as stopping to work out who it is / where and when in the race interrupts the flow of yr magnificent prose ... not laying it on too thick, am I? Anyone else so inclined?

PW

The only one that *really* needs a caption is Bez with a scarf. In Malaysia. When it's hot. And humid.

"Ooo... is it cashmere or merino!?!"

Since childhood, our mothers/carers force us to wear scarves or to have one handy, just in case there's a bit of draft.

In the northern part of Italy, along the river Po (Pianura Padana), the weather is humid/muggy all year round. It's rarely windy but a little breeze, plus the humidity makes you chill a bit, hence the scarf.

We rarely get blue skies :)

Anyway, many of us get used to the scarf and in a way we make our necks more sensitive to temperature changes.

It's a vicious circle really :)

Massimo

….write up you might think it was a exciting race, however if it wasn’t for Enea’s one pass on Pecco this would just had been another boring 2022 race. 

with a rider basically just following another rider for the majority of the race, but you might have witnessed numerous passes for lead and side by side racing? If you did, you are referring to the Moto3 race. 

WSB has given me my overtaking fix most of the year, along with Moto2/3. Tactics, pit box shenanigans and the points table see-saw are mentally stimulating to me, as is watching these craftsmen showing their skills lap after lap.

What I’m saying is that I appreciate motorcycle racing on a different level to you. It’s ok to not understand that.

Hell, I could even watch free practices from the side of the track all day long, seeing those guys braking sideways into a corner, hearing the engine and tires, watching them wrestle those beasts to go round a corner as quickly as possible. Poetry in motion

I'm still having trouble enjoying motogp as a "contact sport". But hey, to each his own. It's a lot better than the old days, when we'd lose riders on a somewhat regular basis. I'm glad guys like VR46, DP26, and JL99 got into retirement mostly healthy.

I blame it on old eyes, but I don't get when the commentators say "he's massively spinning the tire", or "his body language says he's going for it". I can tell when the bikes get out of shape, or get twitchy, of course, but the rest of it, hmm  Of course, I'm not watching in HD on a 80" monitor either, so...but neither are the commentators?

I think they're making it up now and then. When my local track opened, about 1980, there was no infrastructure at all and the announcer used a portable P.A. system with a couple of speakers while standing on top of a school bus. There was a small forest obscuring turns 2 and 3, and Pat would vividly describe all the action there from his post on top of the bus. He later told me he couldn't see a thing, just made it up to keep the flow going, lol.

It's a long way from the 800 days. The 800 days had overtaking. Too often the bikes were not close enough to overtake and the gaps grew from the beginning of the race to the end of the race. When they were close enough, they battled. These days the bikes are usually very close but at some tracks they struggle to overtake. We just had a great race in Australia and then they went to Sepang....a test track. A track which the teams have done more laps around than any other track bar the other usual test tracks. That often leads to boring races regardless of era.

…there were some good racing in the back but instead we got to see two Ducatis for 40 minutes, with the occasional shot of a Yamaha. 

Why still watch it?

It’s understandable that the focus would be on the title challengers. Same as last year, the year before, etc.

….I also enjoy it for the same reasons you were giving, however to call it good, exciting racing that’s a lie if it ever was one. 

So, it's all about semantics. I guess we could all agree it was tense. The championship hung in a balance for most of the race. It always will near the end of the season. One slip from Fabio and it was decided. One slip from Fabio or Bastianini and it would turn on its head. Some people may find that tension exciting. Therefore, they might describe the race as exciting.

You guys need to come back to reality with your race expectations. Stop comparing the entire season to the greatest races of the past. Most races in the past were boring too. It's the nature of racing.

….did anyone make the comparison you are writing about? Nice try at making things up though👍👍

Thanks again for putting all the words in all the right places David, and filling out the gaps in between what we saw and what happened...always a pleasure to take in your analysis.

isn't spelled right mr pernickety? The only ones I can see anywhere near the title are Morbidelli and David Emmett  and they seem to be correct

As someone whose grandfathers were Pasquale Altobelli and Penfillo Tiberii (changed to Tiberio at Ellis island). Whose fathers's name was Settimeo. I carry a deep psychological trauma to laziness when it comes to Italian names. I need to chill out. Where's that morphine?

Heartbroken but hopeful Fabio fan here. However this title comes down, I don't ever want to hear about how Ducati bought the title, or it was team orders, or any other reason that might indicate Pecco does not deserve the title (should he win it). Are the meds kicking in yet?

….until the fat lady sings 

Look what happened in 2006 when Rossi choked.  Even the organizers had bought Rossi colored fireworks and hopefully all the Uccios enjoyed the fireworks!

Has a far more informed opinion regarding what happened in 2006, and it makes more sense than a guy who was the apex predator of the class, the Marquez of his era, supposedly choking.

…..,why don’t you let the rest of us know why Stoner thinks Rossi choking was not an actual choke job?

It's an interesting read from an interesting guy.

He details his own rookie season being derailed by practicing/qualifying on one tyre....only for the Michelin to go "Sorry, not sorry, you're using this strange tyre you haven't turned a single lap on in the race".  No ifs, no buts, no maybe's. Not once, but multiple times. Hence a crazy first season of highs and lows, pole in just his second Motogp race on a privateer bike....and many crashes.  He admits to making plenty of mistakes but also being completely bemused by Michelin forcing strange tyre choices on the team, which contributed to the crashes.

From Stoner himself:

"The title had gone down to a final-race decider between Valentino and Nicky Hayden, with Valentino ahead by 8 points. Basically Nicky needed the most unlikely possible scenario - a Rossi crash - to win the championship that he had lead for most of the season until he was taken out by Dani at Estoril. Valentino was in great form that week and had qualified on pole by a couple of tenths of a second, with Nicky 5th on the grid, so it looked like it was Valentino's race to lose.

But as soon as the lights went out Valentino was in trouble. I was one of 6 riders to pass him on the 1st lap and if you watch the footage you can see how much he is struggling to even keep up with us. His rear and front tyres were just not working together and on lap 5 the front inexplicably folded and he went down, right behind me.  It is only my theory but I wonder if he was given a dud tyre. I don't know why anyone would have done that. There are a lot of commercial interests in the sport and there could be a hundred different reasons why it happened but I am convinced he was stitched up"

Now it's obvious you don't like Rossi, but the idea that the guy who had won 4 premier titles on the bounce before that, and 125/250 WC titles before that, would be feeling any nerves whatsoever.  Rossi knew he had the pace over Hayden, despite mostly mechanical DNF's and the odd crash ruining things, where Nicky was basically doing a Mir before Mir did, consistency rather than outright speed.  

Rossi, Marquez, Doohan, Kenny Roberts, Stoner, Rainey, Lawson etc etc were/are all great white sharks on track.  To suggest Rossi choked is to suggest a great white chokes on a seal.

But none of that will suit your narrative.

…, so he was given shitty tires because someone wanted Hayden to win the title, of course that now makes perfectly sense🤣🤣  Do you wonder why that theory never got any traction? At times even the greatest racers are plain wrong. Just look Rossi blaming the GOAT for “racing against me❄️😢” at PI 2015, when in the reality it was Iannone who “raced against” Rossi, and “ruined” his race. 

Sounds about right if you ask me. Given a dud tyre deliberately or just unlucky...same result. These things do happen. I would imagine he was nervous. I doubt that was new to him or any of the riders and I doubt nerves would cause him to ride in a very poor manner. Then again, we, they, are all human. Who cares ? It was yeeeeeeears ago and there was no nicer guy to end Rossi's run of titles than Nicky.

The total race time was basically identical to 2019, along with the fastest laps. Espargaro was actually slower down the straight this year compared to then.

Interesting article here.

….assumes everything was equal with the races compared to, of course anyone who has been around for awhile knows that’s not the case. 
Simon Patterson, is that you now selling your garbage to GPone?

Max Biaggi's team has quit Moto3 at year's end. 

Sounding like he may go join Razali at RNF as a Technical Advisor. WithU is no longer WithUs there, Biaggi may bring Sterilgarda and be shifting into bigger role. 

Really Needs Fasterbikes is on the gas. Oliveira will be too. Yamaha brass, you need a hard look in the mirror.

RNF seated Crutchlow just spoke harshly and clearly of having the very same "case of the Blues" that Quartararo experiences on the bike:

"The bike is the bike, the problem is we can only ride alone. This is our biggest problem. When Frankie was at the front of our group he just went across to the next group, but it's whether you're stuck behind people. Fabio rode the whole race on his own by the looks of it and he was fine. Great pace. Every time he’s won this year, Fabio’s been alone. We need to be able to ride with other people, but by the second lap of the race, my front tyre pressure was already so high. I just had to manage it to the end."

Cal is doing a private test at Jerez between Sepang and Valencia. He says the 2023 Yamaha engine has been through ‘four stages’ of development with the Test team and they are moving towards choosing which one is best amongst a few options. 

He didn’t sound all that positive. Reading between the lines with tea leaves, he might be moderating his hopes.

Think there is more to come of the bike in addition to a moderate power step? I don't. I think the front tire issue will remain for the sole inline 4 sweeping corner machine. It got left behind by squat devices, aero, and a very crafty bunch of Red people. With just two bikes next year and only ONE with a rider really doing the business on it?

The more one looks at the Yamaha, the more impressed you get with wee Suzuki. (Sigh)

Thanks Shrink - that certainly adds to our understand of the Yamaha situation. Unfortunately it reduces hope that the Blues are going to solve their problems with a simple addition of power.

Is the end of the inline four at hand? This might be the biggest question. Now we have ride height, aero and other tech anchors to throw in the direction of the Vs, they more or less turn now...

Adding some experience to any Aprilia box seems like a good move as things have gone to not so great in that box in the last few rounds - mechanicals and set up seem to be plaguing them at the moment.

On a different front - I really couldn't believe that people were critical of Dixon for racing Fernandez in that Moto2 race. People now want, what would amount to team orders outside of the teams involved, or do they just dislike overtaking? Mad. I guess they might be the same people who criticised Gardner last year, who, when leading the championship decided to take the conservative approach to the final rounds. That looks like much the smarter approach now, given the Ogura and Fernandez balls-ups in the last two rounds. 

Cheers Mutterers!

We are all on Motomatters, not T@itter, you seem to be most confrontational through this thread on lots of different topics Dieterly, give it a rest please 😊

….sure what you are talking about.  All of the opinions that I have expressed have before been voiced by for example Oxley, Huewen, Emmett, Marquez, or many other insiders.  But because I’m not one of the “established” posters here, then some of you don’t even take time to see what I actually write. 
 

For example, here’s something Oxley wrote about the 800’s, that I also pointed out, of course then someone had to disagree with me, just how it is almost every time I post something, even when you know I’m right.
 

 “”Perhaps more importantly, the 800s were rubbish at overtaking. Riders could no longer do what they did on the 1000s – brake deep, make the pass and exit on a torrent of torque – because as soon as an 800 dropped out of its powerband it was going nowhere. That’s why the 800 era was two-and-a-half years old before anyone managed to win a race with a last-lap pass. That was Valentino Rossi’s unforgettable final corner attack on Jorge Lorenzo at Catalunya in June 2009.“”

Dieterly dude, we love you. Disagreement leads to discussion. One handy rule....which I hope I've kept to but never sure and probably not...attack the substance of the argument rather than the character of the person making the argument. I don't always agree with Oxley either.

A bit like Casey - they both say it like it is, and give away insights that their handlers probably don't really like :)

Some people take it as whinging, and can't see the forest for the trees.

I just want Cal to help get the M1 competitive so that when Yamaha needs to call someone up to replace one of their riders and Cal isn't available - for whatever reason - Remy will get the nod to come across from WSB and fill in... the other Yamaha guys are going elsewhere so he and Cal will be the only two available Yamaha guys with MotoGP experience; a good place for Remy to be under otherwise poor circumstances.

You made me go look at Moto2 again Jerry. Here is a good video, 8 mins "Ai vs Agusto"...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KcQ7k6X2_HM

Ogura's crashing as an unforced error of pressure? Costly! Fernando crashed out recently too, but he already has a MotoGP ride and is on the front foot now. ^ Good video.

It shows the Dixon on Fernandez battling. It was racing, AND my view is that Dixon's hitting him multiple times was a bit much given that it wasn't a last lap for the podium situation. Technically rubbing is racing. Personally, I feel Jake deserves a small amount of measured criticism. 

Speaking of which, as race comments had to be removed by Krop to cultivate goodness of the site can you please see that as your long lap penalty   Dieterly?    (Sunday race report article, and under your "comment" were multiple people incl Krop giving you Track Limit Warnings (again) before he removed it all). Ignoring such comments rather than fueling them w attention may help folks.

Handfuls of us (me included) have let you know you were on the green paint over time. This is all friendly feedback for your benefit as well as our community.

Sincere thanks. Rejoin the race looking at zippering in with us and on the gas!

With the idea that the racing/contact in the Fernandez/Dixon dual was excessive, though YMMV on that issue. The idea being knocked around on social media though, was that Dixon should have just Fernandez through.

…..is racing is only acceptable if championship contenders are not being rubbed on? That’s a really screwed up opinion and I’m glad no one told Iannone before the 2015 PI race where he kept messing with Rossi (somehow Rossi for some unexplained reasons blamed Marc).

If Fernandez had been knocked off line then i'd agree with you but i didn't see that, i just saw aggressive overtaking (by both of them) that resulted in a bit of rubbing. 

Last lap or not they were both battling for position, the fact that Fernandez was going to a championship is immaterial unless he is forced off track or loses multiple positions.

^ It sure wouldn't be immaterial to those involved eh?

:)

Or some others incl me for instance - context and nuanced consideration? Just a tad much. I wouldn't do it to that rider nor allow it done to me without going and having a talk with them. Penalty? No. But without putting my hands on someone of course, they would get an assertive message from me both on and off track to ease their careless ego driven excess off one click. (I cheered for the Brit on his podium prev Round!).

Gòod riddance "polite era," and hooray for rubbing is racing. Plz don't hit the Champ from behind then make repeated contact until last lap please. 

:)

(Hooray, no more 2015 "discussions!")

…it was that Fernandez also put in some hard passes on Dixon, so why is it so bad for Dixon to do those hard passes? Or maybe you are happy with how the sea parted in Valencia 2015 when Rossi came through from the back of the grid after his well deserved penalty?

I’d like the view of others on this.

If Pecco had ridden a GP21 bike this season instead of the GP22, he would have wrapped up the title long ago.

- no GP22 development and teething issues leading to loss of points at the start of the season
- data available and limits known throughout the year
- even at the end of the season, the GP21 has proven to be as fast as the GP22 (at least in the hands of Enea)

Given that Ducati management literally apologised to Pecco about the amount of fiddling that was afoot with his ride early on, that seems a fair observation to me. The first 5 rounds were a mess, and Miller only seemed to dial his ride in about mid season. Pecco seems to need a stable platform and then he excels. Overall Ducati has been vindicated in the whole Best Bike on the Grid debate, but I think there is an intriguing question as to how much better, or whether, the 22 ride is better than the 21. 

Quick answer, there was no 2020 Duc (just a continuation of the '19). The 2021 was a big step. The 2022 is much the same, just an update.

The "full 2022" w the motor (Pramac, Marini) may be a disadvantage? It gets hard to split hairs and see bike vs rider.

I do not think Bastianini's bike was a large advantage or disadvantage relative to Pecco's. I think Bastianini is the real deal, as is Pecco. Both bikes are great and without identifiable weakness. One started sorted better but got less updates. The other didn’t need TOO much sorting and got it done, plus updates. Plus Team orders. 

Even fight?

Well, bigger consideration may be where each is on their trajectory as a rider. The Beast is on quite a climb. (Pecco started slow and low...on a bike that was at a huge disadvantage to these two bikes!). I DO think 2023 is a huge step forward for Ducati - integrated bikes all awesome and close to same. Look at the riders in their stable! Pecco is an Astronaut. We haven't seen enough of Bastianini to say. Bezzechi too now! 

Layers of the Italian onion...

Go Bastianini!

;)

Just to add a few things. The lack of consistency across the whole year for Pecco and Fabio has also given Bastianini a good showing in the points. Obviously, if everyone else is having a real s*** show then why would he be any different ?

However, as David has been keen to point out, since Jerez Pecco hasn't finished off the podium whereas Bastianini has been all over the shop in a very similar fashion to Pecco in 2021....hmmm worse than Pecco in 2021. Bastianini has 4 DNF, seven finishes outside of the top 5...plus his 4 wins and that a grand total of 15 races out of the 19 so far. Pecco has had only 2 finishes outside of the top 5. Pecco's big problem this year has been himself. When Pecco hasn't let his mind drift he's wiped the floor with the opposition. Yes, Ducati started the year a little bit muddled but compared to Pecco they have done a super excellent perfect job. How much of Bastianini's up and downs is due to the GP21 I don't know but...it was quite similar last year. 

It looks like Pecco is going to win it...but it is still a good example year of what not to do sitting together with exactly what to do.

Well, Bastiannini collected twice as many points as Bagnaia on the '19 Ducati, got his first podium in his 14th race, and got his first win on the '21 bike in the 19th. Bagnaia took 21 races to achieve his first podium, and 42 for his first win (on the '21 bike at the 13th race of the season). The Beast is clearly a quicker study. With more experience next year, he may dust up his teammate. Their recent battles have been tense, including the latest. But Bastiannini's crew chief Giribuola is leaving for KTM next year. We'll see how Bastiannini gets on with Rigamonti.

Not having the bike sorted has been mentioned for crashes and lower than expected results by both Bagnaia and Martin. When they go full blast and the bike does unexpected things, brown piles happen.