2022 Motegi MotoGP Race Result: Remarkable Returns To The Rostrum, With A Hint Of Title Drama

A surprisingly bright Motegi greeted the premier class on Sunday but the 24-lap race wasn’t shaping up to be a lazy lie-down in the sun, with the rebellious outsiders on the front row and the title contenders spread throughout the pack by the heavy rain on Saturday. In the end the drama didn’t quite unfold in the way we expected, but Jack Miller won’t have minded for a second, the Australian making a fast start and soon dominating proceedings to secure an impeccable first victory of the season. The Ducati man became the sixth different winner in 2022, which unfortunately also meant the return of the dreaded shoey. Brad Binder did his first front row start justice with a last lap attack for second, which returned him to the podium for the first time since the opening night in Qatar. Jorge Martin added another Ducati to the podium, in another bittersweet Sunday for the Italian factory – but more on that later.

As a taster of things to come, the warm-up lap saw Aleix Espargaro shaking his head in disbelief and entering pitlane instead of taking his spot on the grid. There was little time to clear the confusion as the lights went off and Brad Binder’s lightning start stole the show, the South African taking the lead from poleman Marc Marquez into the first corner. A cautions Marquez allowed Martin to get past at turn two and the Pramac man went on to lead the way by the end of the opening lap, while Marquez continued his early struggles, encouraging Miller and Miguel Oliveira to sweep past as well. Marquez wasn’t the only rider losing ground early on, as fellow front row starter Johann Zarco dropped to seventh after a poor start, behind Maverick Viñales. Meanwhile, amongst the title contenders, Fabio Quartararo held station in eighth position, ahead of Pol Espargaro and Luca Marini, with Pecco Bagnaia climbing into 11th, ahead of a fast-starting Alex Rins and with Enea Bastianini also making up some places early on. The replays also soon clarified that an electronic problem had prompted Aleix Espargaro’s impromptu trip through pitlane to change bikes, the Aprilia man joining the race at the back of the field, eight seconds behind the leader.

Back at the front, Martin was untroubled early on, but Miller was making fast progress and was up to second by the third lap, attacking Martin just one lap later to take the lead. The two Ducatis had a slight advantage ahead of the factory KTMs and the Honda of Marquez, while Viñales dropped almost a second behind the four leaders in the early stages, holding back a sizeable group. The group included most of the title contenders, but outside of the top eight, with Quartararo unable to fend off Marini, while Bagnaia was under pressure from Bastianini in the early battle for 11th position.

By lap six, a rampant Miller had quickly extended a half second advantage over Martin, who in turn had almost two seconds on Oliveira, Binder and Marquez. Marquez’s soft rear gamble didn’t seem to pay off early on, the Honda man losing tenths here and there on the KTMs, but was under little threat from behind, where Viñales was struggling to close the 1.5 seconds gap to his compatriot and focused on fending off the Ducati of Marini. A tough lap eight for Zarco dropped the Frenchman down to 14th position, after running wide on a couple of occasions, allowing Quartararo to get back 8th place, but the world champion was at the helm of a feisty group including Pol Espargaro, Bagnaia, Bastianini and Marco Bezzecchi. Meanwhile, Aleix Espargaro was still outside the top 20 but not unrealistically far from point-scoring positions.

Back at the front, Miller kept the fastest laps rolling, building a buffer of over a second and a half over Martin by lap 10, which suddenly doubled one lap later, helped by a mistake from the Spaniard. However, Martin also had a two-second advantage over the friendly fire between Binder and Oliveira, with Marquez biding his time behind the familiarly orange machines. If there were few changes at the top end early on, the halfway point saw Marini overhaul Viñales to claim sixth position, while Quartararo was also closing in on the Spaniard and Bastianini and Bagnaia had joined the top 10 not too far back.

The next few laps weren’t particularly eventful at the front, with the top three men separated by significant gaps and Marquez sniffing around Oliveira but struggling to find a gap and presumably starting to struggle with his fitness as well. On the other hand, it was quite eventful for the Suzuki squad, with Takuya Tsuda’s machine catching fire on lap 12 and Rins retiring three laps later with some yet-mysterious tech issues – an unfortunate farewell on home soil.

With five laps remaining, it looked like we might finally get some more action in the battle for second, where Martin seemed to suffer and was dropping back towards Binder, as well as the fight for seventh, where Viñales was reeled in by Quartararo, and a familiar squabble for ninth, between Bagnaia and Bastianini, rising the tension in the Ducati garage once more. However, the first move came from Marquez, the Spaniard finally attacking Oliveira at turn nine to claim fourth with three laps to go, showing some surprisingly solid late pace to fend off Oliveira and Marini in the closing stages. Binder soon followed his example to demote Martin at turn one, at the start of the final lap, giving the Spaniard no chance to retaliate.

Miller was long gone by this point and the three podium men took the chequered flag with no more drama. Marquez secured fourth, some three and a half seconds later, while Oliveira and Marini traded blows throughout the final lap, with the KTM man eventually taking fifth. Viñales resisted late pressure from Quartararo to keep seventh position, although things were close to ending in disaster for the Frenchman, when Bagnaia saw a gap at turn nine and lost control very close to the Yamaha’s rear tyre. Bagnaia's last lap crash allowed Bastianini to inherit ninth place, with Bezzecchi rounding out the top 10. Although Espargaro benefitted from his rival’s late misfortune to climb into 16th place, he was over six seconds behind the final point-scoring position.

Although the title contenders had nothing to do with the fight for victory this time around, Quartararo’s lowkey race to eighth place allowed him to extend his lead in the championship to 18 points over Bagnaia, with Espargaro dropping 25 points back. Bastianini conceded only one point, but with a deficit of 49 points, he is running out of time to mount a proper challenge.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 43 Jack Miller Ducati 42:29.1740
2 33 Brad Binder KTM 3.409
3 89 Jorge Martin Ducati 4.136
4 93 Marc Marquez Honda 7.784
5 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM 8.185
6 10 Luca Marini Ducati 8.348
7 12 Maverick Viñales Aprilia 9.879
8 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 10.193
9 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati 10.318
10 72 Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 16.419
11 5 Johann Zarco Ducati 16.586
12 44 Pol Espargaro Honda 17.456
13 73 Alex Marquez Honda 18.219
14 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 19.012
15 35 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 19.201
16 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 25.473
17 49 Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 27.006
18 25 Raul Fernandez KTM 29.374
19 87 Remy Gardner KTM 29.469
20 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 43.294
Not Classified
  63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 40:52.9860
  40 Darryn Binder Yamaha 25:54.5960
  42 Alex Rins Suzuki 25:09.1440
    Takuya Tsuda   20:03.4460
    Tetsuta Nagashima   16:14.4690
Round Number: 
16
2022
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Comments

He smashed it. KTM must be (cautiously) drooling at their prospects for next year. 

Ducati dropped the ball with Jack for sure. They've got non stop issues with Enes already and he's yet to take the red.

I couldn't be happier for Jack. He's another rags to riches story and wears his heart on his sleeve. 

Totally agree ! They have no loyalty to any rider ..Pecco doesn’t win it soon and he will have same faith …letting Jack go was stupid …I know they realize it !!

Some people have very short memories. Enea has won 4 races so far this year on a '21 bike. Jack has won 1 race on the factory bike.

Enea isn't coming in to replace Jack, he's replacing Pecco and Pecco is replacing Jack.

^ Fun hatrat!

One race does not maketh a season. The Red rider moves look right to me.

A little bit of turnover keeps things fresh. Glad that Ducati saved a bit of (was Philip Morris) budget on riders too. Throwing cash at Rossi and Lorenzo brought public embarrassment and Duc frustration/disappointment.

Bastiannini reminds a bit of Vale, but calmer. Bagnaia is thinking alot. Later in his MotoGP trajectory. Good time to do exactly this change methinks.

(Watch how well Alex Marquez does after he adjusts next yr. See how compliant and happy Martin is now, pleased to remain at Pramac).

Even though tacky Parnat is on the grid with him tv posturing, I am cheering Enea!

POOR A.ESPARGARO. That hurts. Good thing he has a wiggly and forward pointed brain. He'll be fine in Thailand. 

Maverick is a GREAT teammate for Aleix. A bit like next yr's Red lineup, but Spain's duo is relatively lonely - two Black bikes in a swarm of Red (and dash of Blue/Repsol/Orange for flavor).

The Ducati program is mighty and still swelling. May be an era topper? Gigi deserves more praise. Amazing!

P.S. Suzuki in front of brass? Ass. Craptastic. Turd picnic. Shatrat.

Some of JM89’s comments suggest he’s not quite in his happy place at the moment. Should be careful not to bite the hand that feeds him. Could spell disaster in 2 years time…

I called it last night with my prediction that FQ would extend. AE bike swap and FB brain fade were the icing on the cake. One has to wonder about Pecco's mental fortitude at this point. The heat is on!

FQ is gonna stomp them next year …They have been beating him by using the power of the Desmo in qualifying . The 23 M1 seems a major step ….with all that FQ has remained pretty calm ….

I think it was a race with little preparation. Several riders having strange races. Fabio suffered too. The difference is that Pecco dropped it trying to get out of a bad move and Fabio finished. That was a race to finish for Pecco because of the lack of preparation. Don't worry too much about where, just bring home some points. Ducati need perfect weekends, well...good weekends. Jack on the other hand always goes well when the others struggle. Zarco does too normally but not today. Not a very normal race. Good on Pecco for avoiding Fabio. He could have took Fabio out, neither score, still behind but only 10 points. Less points left on the table so could still argue that it was a positive for Fabio but a lesser defeat for Pecco. He did the right thing.

Next year’s title is about the race for second. Nobody has stepped up with the consistency needed to take it MM next year (or any year where he doesn’t break himself). Yes, this race was a anomaly in many ways, but not a surprise that MM steps onto the bike in a weakened state and still finishes top 5. Despite all the hand-wringing about what a POS the Honda is, he didn’t appear to be wringing its neck to get a more-than-respectable finish. 

Maybe Yamaha puts some extra horses under Fabio next year, but I think a dramatic power increase means at least one spectacular engine failure during the season. I hope I’m wrong though—I don’t want to see a MM demolition job. 

Maybe he's mentally prepared, maybe not. He hasn't faced Márquez at his best since his rookie year. He has matured as a rider since then, but so has Marc. I hope we get to see them racing head to head next year.

Considering how their career trajectories have gone  since 2019, Marc has learned “there are consequences to riding over the limit”, where Fabio has learned “if I ride smart I’m fast enough to win the championship”.

^ spot on mtberio, good eye. 

Pecco error following Quarty. That was the pressure point! 

Aleix's 1st lap fuel saver button stuck on? Garage pressure.

Suzuki mechanical for Rins? Miller, Binder and Martin thriving? Unforced error crashes?

** That thing Bastiannini DIDN'T DO of out braking himself soon after a late race pass into no one to chase? Marc no errors, kept it tidy and smooth? Quartararo settling in for points full of Advil and focus?

Ding ding doom deedle-ing doom --- UNDER PRESSURE

I’d love to see Miller and Oliveira figure at the top of the order for the rest of the season, just to poke a stick in the eye of their respective employers. 

Gutted for Aleix. 

Strange comments about Bastianini & Miller.  Whilst i agree that Ducati have no loyalty to their riders, they are replacing Miller who has one race win with a rider who has four race wins this season.  Miller is a good second rider in a team but doesnt have the consistency to win the title.  Ducati are gambling on the fact that if Pecco cant get it done next year (or this year), Bastianini might be able to.  Miller rode very well but as mentioned before it was an unusual weekend.

I think you may well be right and that, in Ducati’s eyes, he’s a nice guy, Italian, pretty fast, but…. can he????

The mindgame is on, Pecco binned it by "stupidity" - his own! - Aleix lost it by "stupidity" - not his own! - and Fabio didn't look completely happy but got the maximum from a weird weekend. This could be a pattern that possibly will occure on the upcoming venues as well. Unpredictable conditions and outdated technical data for all remaining tracks except Valencia can likely bring the element of drama to the championship. By now i think it takes a crystal ball to predict this years champion correctly.

The thing that impressed me most - Binders racecraft - this guy is a rare animal! Sliding the rear to the outside and then carving under Martin to take second place was ... insane?

I love an underdog, but unfortunately for Aprilia fans, their team just lacks that little bit needed to take a title. The errors have added up over the course of the season (mental and technical). 

Very happy to see Jack Miller take another victory!

Yes it was a weird weekend, lost practices, dry, wet and dry for race day. Conditions were the same for everyone. Jack made the most of his opportunities. Pecco not so much.

Such a disappointment for Aleix! That's racing I guess. Don't think Aprilia will make that mistake again. Big missed opportunity to catch up a bit on Fabio Q and Bagnaia. Aleix and Pecco both score zero.

Only two JMs racing, both on the podium. Get well soon Joan M1R.

Congratulations to the pole man Marc Marquez! And a wooden medal for fourth place.

Congrats also to KTM both the factory bikes in the top five! Go Brad!

Sayonara Suzuki super sad shortage of success. One bike burning brightly. Rins bins agin!  2020 fading away in the mirrors.

Miller's "plateau" seems fairly high Motoshrink. Good vibes heading to Philip Island.

If Miller stayed at Ducati, I could see him having a career similar to Dovi's. Perennial bridesmaid. Of course Miller has the heart that Dovi lacked, and conversely Dovi has the brains that Miller lacks, but their career arc could easily parallel. Ducati might be seeing this and trying to avoid it.

I don't know that having Enes taking points away from Pecco (or vice versa) is a better strategy. Once Jack's season derailed, he played rear-gunner to Pecco on numerous occasions and helped get him to where he sits on points right now. Enes has no such mentality and just looking at the body language in the garage and quotes from management says it all. They've got themselves chemistry issues already yet had no such problems with Jack. Tough one to call hey.

Will I be seeing you in Cowes or what?

Yes D999 I will be in Cowes in November for the final round of SBK.

Won't be at the Gp I'll have to work.

Luca, Luca! What a great controlled but aggressive race. As posted before, I am now a big fan--6th, eight seconds back from Jack, no drama but constantly moving forward. Strategy but also with the same heart (looking at you, mtiberio) as Dovi. Watch out for LM10.

Also, when was the last time there were no Japanese bikes on the podium at Motegi?

My feelings about Miller have changed a lot since the Jackass days. He’s so much more than just a good rain rider too. For me, he has taken over the role of “charismatic guy who appreciates the fans plus has smart insights” mantle from Valentino. Hope he does well at PI and even better next year in orange. 

fitness it appears that Yamaha is definately the worst bike. With MM gone and FQ posting results on the Yammy it was hard to tell but now it seems clear. FQ wants more power - recall MM from a few years back... Yammy may have found the extra top while retaining the character below which would be great but this developement direction seems 1 rider specific. Nothing wrong with that for winning titles, just carries extra key-man risk. Looking forward to seeing how MM leads development on the Honda and regains his fitness and what FQ can do with more power. 

Yamaha and FQ are showing themselves as the championship winning squad they are. This seems to be making up for the obvious deficit in the bike. Other teams should be taking note. 

Can't say Its not a familiar sight - a Piaggio product with an electronics problem. Fits the stereotype. Feel for Aleix.

Jack put on a clinic. Nice to see. Looks like he could still be competitive on the KTM if the team is having a good day. Consistency has been a real struggle for that bike. Rather wish he was going to Aprillia so he could rub it in a bit more :)

...since the Japanese manufacturers have been shut out of the podium at Motegi, as near as I can tell. Lots of Hondas on the podium during that period of course, Marc and Dani mostly. But I will guess it goes a lot further back, have to do more google digging.

How embarrassing for Suzuki to 1) quit, 2) lose Rins due to technical issue, and 3) see their wild card rider's bike burst into flames. Yamaha...well, they have Fabio, but still nowhere near the podium. And Marc carried the Honda flag with pole and a decent finish. No Kawasaki of course. But wow, tough showing for the country that has built so many great bikes for the last 50 years.

Full disclosure: I live in a country that never even built a gp bike for serious competition (sorry Kenny), has no riders in motogp, has no home WSBK races, and has only one gp race at a disintegrating track. Europe is ascendant in road racing.