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.
Motorland Aragon, Spain
There has been a lot of death this year in motorcycle racing. At Mugello, Jason Dupasquier crashed and was hit by another rider during qualifying for the Moto3 race, and died in the early hours of the following morning. At Aragon, during the European Talent Cup race held at a round of the FIM CEV championship, Hugo Millán crashed during the race and was hit by another bike, dying as a result of his injuries. And yesterday, during the WorldSSP300 race at Jerez, Dean Berta Viñales crashed at Turn 2 and was hit by another rider, dying in hospital a few hours later. Dupasquier was 19, Millán was 14, Viñales 15.
The deaths – three teenagers in the space of less than four months – led to a great deal of introspection in the racing world, and concerns over what should be done to prevent this from happening again. A lot of people had a lot of ideas, but the thing that strikes me about these deaths is that, as good as some ideas might be, there are no easy answers.
Motorcycle racing is dangerous. This is a truism, but it is not often we get a reminder of just how dangerous it is. Sometimes, reality likes to rub our noses in it.
The one thing that all three fatalities have in common is that the riders who crashed were hit by bikes that were following them. Though an enormous amount of work has been done to make circuits safer, this is the one type of accident for which there are no simple solutions. A motorcycle traveling at speed contains an enormous amount of energy, more than a human body can absorb and survive.
This is true even at relatively low speeds. Dean Berta Viñales crashed on the exit of Turn 2 at Jerez, one of the slowest corners on the circuit. According to data from Brembo published before the weekend, WorldSBK riders brake to 65 km/h for Turn 2, meaning that Berta was hit by another bike probably traveling at less than 80 km/h.
The Moto2 race at Aragon may have been more sedate than the MotoGP outing, it offered up a tremendous exhibition of grit, while Moto3 threw up a number of interesting talking points.
Fernandez on another level
The standout take from Raul Fernandez’s 2021 campaign isn’t the blinding speed, or the five wins, the first Moto2 rookie to achieve as many since Marc Marquez in 2011. It’s his reaction to any form of adversity. Just as he did at Assen in June, the 20-year old bounced back from a crash in the previous race with an imperious victory at Aragon with the biggest winning margin on the year (5.4 seconds).
But this one was the most special to date. Just nine days before, Fernandez broke the fifth metacarpal bone in his right hand in a near stationary bicycle accident at his home outside Madrid. The hand was operated on two days later, and he arrived in Aragon admitting the injury was “bad news for fighting for the title.”
But aside from a moment in FP1 when he seemed to tweak the injury during a moment on the kerbs, Fernandez’s handicap never looked apparent as he confidently took control of the race from Sam Lowes on lap four. From there he never looked back, and trimmed his deficit in the title race to 39 points. Even team-mate and championship leader Remy Gardner held his hands up after the race. “I have to say, man, Raul was on another level with his pace. I couldn’t match that. He’s doing an incredible job. He’s a tough opponent.”
In the week before the Aragon MotoGP round, I confidently predicted that Marc Marquez would win his second race of the season. The race proved me wrong: Pecco Bagnaia took a stunning victory at the Spanish track, Ducati's first since Casey Stoner in 2010. But the race also showed that the confidence I had in Marc Marquez was justified.
For 15 laps, Marquez sat patiently behind Bagnaia, as the pair set a pace which no one else could follow. Then, the Repsol Honda rider started to inch closer to the Italian, nipping at the heels of the Ducati, putting Bagnaia under more and more pressure. And with three laps to go, he unleashed an all out attack, diving under Bagnaia at Turn 5, Turn 1, Turn 15. Bagnaia countered perfectly each time, finally clinching the win when the Spaniard ran wide in a last, desperate attempt to get past at Turn 12.
Pecco Bagnaia won the Grand Prix of Aragon. But Marc Marquez didn't lose it. He was simply beaten by the better rider on the day.
MotoGP standings after Aragon:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race at MotorLand Aragon:
Moto2 standings after the Aragon race:
Results and summary of the Moto2 race at MotorLand Aragon:
Standings after the Moto3 race at the Motorland Aragon circuit:
Results and summary of the Moto3 race at MotorLand Aragon: