2022 Valencia MotoGP Race Result: A Fairy Tale Curtain Call

At last, the grand finale for the premier class closed an eventful season with a great day for the sold-out crowd in a bright and cloudless Valencia. The home support was rewarded with Spanish victories in all three classes and put a fairy tale ending to Suzuki’s final race in the world championship, with a fantastic victory for Alex Rins. The Suzuki man resisted a relentless charge through the pack from Brad Binder, who bookends his season with second places. They were joined on the podium by poleman Jorge Martin, who claimed his fourth trophy of the season. While there were countless stories to follow throughout the 27-lap race, the title decider rightfully hogged the limelight and the chequered flag eventually celebrated the first Italian world champion on an Italian bike in five decades. A feisty start and a cautious end to the race helped Pecco Bagnaia secure the title and Ducati finally got to unpack some celebration t-shirts for a riders’ title, after a long wait.

The final lights-out of the 2022 season prompted a brilliant start for Rins, who shot into the lead at turn one, closely followed by Martin, Jack Miller and Marc Marquez, who traded overtakes early on. Meanwhile, the title contenders quickly found themselves in close contact, quite literally, Fabio Quartararo and Bagnaia exchanging paintwork over a not-particularly-sensible first couple of laps whose only victim, fortunately, was a Ducati winglet.

Rins, Martin, Marquez and Miller had stretched a one second advantage by lap four, mainly due to the hair-raising exchanges between Bagnaia and Quartararo for fifth, the duo still having a sizeable group on their tail but being allowed to sort this out between themselves so far. Quartararo had the upper hand once again by lap five, leading the pursuit and dealing with a one and a half seconds gap to the leaders.

Back at the front, Rins and Martin seemed to be ever so slightly quicker in the early stages, while Miller had a go at Marquez into turn one on the sixth lap, the Honda man attempting to retaliate but ultimately allowing the Ducati to bring them back into the victory battle. Quartararo was also very steadily closing the gap to the leaders, while more determinately dropping Bagnaia, who was now under pressure from Binder. The KTM man made a move stick on lap nine, leaving Bagnaia into the clutches of Joan Mir and Miguel Oliveira, with a group including Luca Marini, Enea Bastianini and Johann Zarco another second back but unlikely to pose a threat to Bagnaia.

Rins, Martin and Miller carried on untroubled at the front, but Quartararo got some unexpected help when Marquez tumbled out of fourth place at turn eight. The Frenchman was left 1.7 seconds behind the leading trio with 17 laps remaining and although he was able to match their pace, the gap was not coming down at a particularly fast rate. However, there was suddenly a threat from behind, where Binder was setting a red hot pace, prompting Quartararo to find some speed as well, both riders closing onto the podium battle at the halfway point of proceedings. Three seconds behind, Mir had found a way past Bagnaia to claim sixth, the cautious Italian not particularly keen to retaliate and soon under attack from Oliveira as well. Bagnaia was then holding back an obviously faster Marini, who eventually lost patience and got ahead at turn four with nine laps remaining.

Back at the front, Rins had stretched a one second advantage with 10 laps left, a reasonably safe gap to Martin and Miller, who finally had company from Binder and Quartararo, the two having swapped places one lap earlier. While Binder soon attacked Miller for third, Quartararo seemed to lose steam and dropped one second behind the podium battle. He still got promoted one position when Miller crashed out with five laps remaining, but fourth was nowhere near the result he was after. Binder went on to harass Martin, but it wasn’t until the final two laps that he managed to find a way past the poleman, leaving himself with a six tenths gap to close if he wanted to challenge Rins for victory on the last lap.

A tense final lap saw Binder close in to three tenths of a second, but Rins defended beautifully to gift Suzuki one final victory. Binder settled for a still impressive second, with Martin taking the final trophy on offer. Quartararo’s charge faded in the closing stages and the Frenchman had to admit defeat in the title battle, with Bagnaia taking the chequered flag in ninth place. Oliveira, Mir, Marini, Bastianini and Franco Morbidelli were also part of the final top 10 of the season.

Once Bagnaia changes from damp leathers into a suit and tie, he will be joined at the awards gala by runner up Quartararo and Bastianini, who secured third after Aleix Espargaro was forced to retire early in the race.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 42 Alex Rins Suzuki 41:22.2500
2 33 Brad Binder KTM 0.396
3 89 Jorge Martin Ducati 1.059
4 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1.911
5 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM 7.122
6 36 Joan Mir Suzuki 7.735
7 10 Luca Marini Ducati 8.524
8 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati 12.038
9 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 14.441
10 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 14.676
11 72 Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 17.655
12 25 Raul Fernandez KTM 24.870
13 87 Remy Gardner KTM 26.546
14 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 26.610
15 49 Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 31.819
16 35 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha 88.870
17 73 Alex Marquez Honda 0.000
Not Classified
  43 Jack Miller Ducati 33:43.6930
  12 Maverick Viñales Aprilia 23:34.9340
  5 Johann Zarco Ducati 23:08.5810
  93 Marc Marquez Honda 13:50.8420
  40 Darryn Binder Yamaha 06:20.4270
  44 Pol Espargaro Honda 06:18.5050
  41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 05:09.8940
Round Number: 
20
2022
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Comments

Really happy for Rins and his team. With him at the front (and hopefully collecting a little bit of bonus $ from suzuki at the curtain call), I didn’t really care about the championship. 

that Rins would win. Well, I said it to somebody somewhere. :-)  Very, very pleased for him and the team. Suzuki itself, not so much. Oh well. Here's hoping Honda delivers something decent for Rins & Mir in 2023.

He really does have some of that 'x-factor', I hope the Honda does not bite him too badly before it can (hopefully) be turned back into a good bike.  Just take all the Suzuki chassis people over to big H!

Some excitement surrounding Fabio and Pecco early on, but that soon settled down into a predictable result.  I found it maddening that the TV coverage remained on them when nothing mattered by then.  So Suzuki's brilliant swansong transpired with almost zero coverage.

On to Tuesday... then the long wait till February.

Binder’s and Miller’s respective results could be an interesting preview of life at KTM next year. And hats off to Alex Rins, though I had kinda been hoping that Mir would also get his chance for a Suzuki victory this year. 

Safe to say that the 2019 rookie class is one of the greatest of all time. Mir, Fabio and now Pecco all get their names etched in history. Big congrats to to the young man who will be defending the crown next year, really well deserved. Just as big of a congratulations to Rins, hands down the guy I have cheered on the most since 46. I wish him nothing but glory in his next adventure with Honda. To the most beautiful motorcycle I have ever laid eyes on,  rest in peace, may you live in our memories forever...love ya blue! 

Lucio Cecchinello must be feeling like one of those op shop browsers who bought some dusty old thing for 5 quid only to find out it's an antique worth thousands. 

Honda/Marquez are the equivalent of Darth Vader for me, could never cheer for them, but I find myself in the invidious position of hoping for a better Honda next year for Rins' sake.  He seems more a bike whisperer than wrestler, subtly wooing the thing into something amazing rather than dragging it around by the scruff of the neck, I could watch him do laps alone all day.  

It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall in the HRC boardroom over the last few rounds, realising how much they paid for Mir vs how much they could have got Rins for. (insert here: chairs pushed back from the table, big breaths blown through puffed cheeks, and "Bugger!" muttered in Japanese)