The 2022 MotoGP calendar will feature a total of 21 races, starting in Qatar on March 6th and finishing exactly 8 months later in Valencia. The 2022 calendar sees further expansion of the number of races, as Dorna add new circuits and new countries to the schedule. For the Kymiring in Finland, that had originally been planned for 2020, but the pandemic put paid to that happening, either in 2020 or 2021. And the Mandalika Resort circuit on Lombok in Indonesia had been added to 2021 as a reserve circuit, but will now be raced on at the start of next season.
Can Marc Márquez win the championship this year? Has he left his return too late to catch up? How fast will he be on his return to MotoGP at Portimão? The answer to all of these burning questions is "we don't know", but that doesn't stop us from asking them. And from trying to make our best guess at what might have happened by the end of the year.
The best place to start to answer these questions is the past. We don't know how Marc Márquez will perform in the future, but we do know what he has done in the past. And by examining his past results, we can extrapolate in the hope of getting a glimpse of the future.
You also need something to compare Márquez' performance against. So I have taken the points scored by Marc Márquez in every season he has competed in MotoGP – 2013-2019, as crashing out of one race in 2020 is not particularly instructive – and calculated the average points per race, and what that would work out to if he were to score that average over the 17 races which (provisionally, at least) remain of the 2021 season. Points have been averaged for each of his seven seasons in MotoGP, as well as over his entire career.
Today, Dorna issued a press release praising the progress being made in the construction of the Mandalika International Street Circuit, the new circuit being built inside the Mandalika tourist resort on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini, Race Direction representative Loris Capirossi, and Dorna Managing Director Carlos Ezpeleta, son of CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, visited the Mandalika site to assess progress and the safety of the site.
During their meeting, the Dorna and FIM staff agreed a tentative schedule for events with representatives from the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) and the Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA). The plans for a World Superbike round in November were reaffirmed, subject to international travel being possible despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The parties also agreed to hold the inaugural MotoGP round at the circuit there in March 2022, with the option of a MotoGP test at the circuit during the Asian flyaways in October, should those races happen.
The Moto3 race at the Doha round will live on in the collective memory of race fans for a very long time. The fact that Pedro Acosta won the Moto3 race in Qatar at the tender age of 16 years and 314 days, becoming the eleventh youngest Grand Prix winner of all time, was remarkable enough. The fact that it was just his second Grand Prix made it even more remarkable, especially after Acosta finished on the podium in his first race.
But what Acosta's victory in the Qatar 2 Moto3 race will be most remembered for is the fact that the Spanish youngster won the race after starting from pit lane. Acosta, along with six other riders – Romano Fenati, Dennis Foggia, Sergio Garcia, Stefano Nepa, Deniz Öncü, and Riccardo Rossi – was punished for dawdling on the racing line between Turns 15 and 16 in the final moments of FP2, as they jockeyed for position looking for a tow to help them get through to Q2.
It was a breathtaking progression. The green light went on for the riders in pit lane a couple of seconds after the last rider had passed the line marking pit lane exit. Acosta slotted in behind Garcia as they fired away, but soon took over the lead. Acosta passed the timing loop marking the end of the first sector some 12 seconds behind Gabriel Rodrigo, who led the race at that point. By the end of the lap, he had cut the deficit to just over 11 seconds.
Cream always rises
The New King?
If you haven't done so already, remember the name. It's testament to how good, how dramatic Sunday's action was that Moto3's mad, 18-rider dash didn't get top billing. But this may well be looked back on as the beginning of something very special in years to come. At just 16 years and 314 days of age, Pedro Acosta not only won his second ever grand prix; he did so by producing one of the great Moto3 rides in modern times.
It was a performance that showcased so many attributes. Self-belief. Fighting spirit. Raw speed. Maturity. Nerve. Acosta's riding to bridge the gap to the leading group was exceptional. But the manner in which he sliced through the pack of experienced names before holding off Darryn Binder's late response was another level altogether. Every once in a while, a teenager comes along and does something so remarkable the whole paddock is talking soon after. Marc Márquez at Estoril in 2010 comes to mind. As does Brad Binder's exploits at Jerez six years later. It's fair to say both have gone on to bigger and better things.
One of seven names penalised for brainless riding at the close of Friday evening's FP2, the reigning Red Bull Rookies Champion had every right to assume the chances of backing up his opening night podium were gone. "Yesterday I saw everything a bit dark," he said of accepting the punishment for his indiscretion.
A few years ago Johann Zarco climbed to the dizziest heights and then crashed and burned in 2019. Now he’s the leader of the 2021 MotoGP world championship. It’s been quite a journey…
Sunday’s race may have been a heart-pumping 220mph dogfight but my highlight of the night was watching winner Fabio Quartararo giggling atop the podium, while runner-up Johann Zarco sang along to La Marseillaise.
Modern motor sport podiums can be humdrum affairs, as riders and drivers crunch the numbers through their brains, preparing for lengthy debriefs with armies of technical staff. They’ve had their fun, now the real work begins.
It has been a long, long stay for the MotoGP paddock in Qatar. The first group arrived in the first days of March, for the first MotoGP test starting on March 5th. Then another three-day test starting on March 10th. Then the Moto2 and Moto3 tests, from March 19th to 21st. A week later the first Grand Prix weekend, and the first races on March 28th. And finally, on Sunday, April 4th, the second round of the season at Qatar. The MotoGP riders have spent 11 days riding around the Losail International Circuit. The Moto2 and Moto3 riders a "mere" nine days.
Everyone is very, very over being in Qatar. There is nothing left to learn at the track, despite the incredibly fickle nature of the conditions created by the (media- and PR-driven) need to hold the race at night. For some teams and riders, there was very little to learn there in the first place. Was there anything KTM had learned that would be useful in Portimão and Jerez, I asked Miguel Oliveira. "Nothing. It was simple and clear," the Red Bull KTM rider responded, clearly interested only in going home after so many weeks away. He wasn't the only one.
MotoGP standings after Qatar:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Losail: