How MotoGP's underdogs shed that tag in Argentina
Aleix Espargaro became MotoGP's newest winner in a thrilling Argentina Grand Prix in which he also proved the merits of the Aprilia project. After six years of hard graft, both parties have reaped the rewards they have long thought they deserved. But it was several key moments in that journey that led both to that momentous Sunday at Termas de Rio Hondo.
In the run-up to the Indonesian GP, after Pol and Aleix Espargaro crossed the finish line third and fourth in Qatar, separated by nine tenths of a second, the elder of the brothers was asked who was going to be the first of the two to win in the premier class. "It's going to be me", Aleix answered confidently.
Until last Sunday, Espargaro the elder had accumulated 199 races in MotoGP - while his brother had started 139 - without stepping on the top step of the podium. The Aprilia rider put an end to this streak, vindicating the hours of tireless work done by himself and Aprilia - the Italian marque finally leaving behind the label of 'losing team' that has haunted it since its return to the top class in a hasty manner in 2015 with Gresini Racing.
Reigning MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo had a 91-point lead over rival Francesco Bagnaia after the German Grand Prix, a seemingly impregnable gap to overcome in the remaining 10 races. But as the Frenchman struggled for pace with his Yamaha, Bagnaia stormed back into contention and swept to Ducati's first riders' title since 2007
After a run on Honda's 2023 prototype MotoGP bike, six-time champion Marc Marquez made his pessimism clear with his initial reaction. But the Japanese marque has made leadership changes behind closed doors - and a more representative bike promised for the Malaysia test in February could placate Marquez
While new MotoGP champion Francesco Bagnaia might not be the loudest rider on the grid, his calm exterior belies a steely backbone. His part in turning around Ducati's fortunes at the start of the year, when displeased with a new engine concept, shows the strength of his character
OPINION: Despite the superiority exhibited by the Ducati in 2022, the context in which Francesco Bagnaia became MotoGP world champion means that both the rider and the Italian marque merit the same recognition that the brand and Casey Stoner received after their 2007 title
OPINION: MotoGP’s fifth last round showdown of the modern era delivered a tense finale despite the predictable outcome, as Francesco Bagnaia ended 15 years of pain for Ducati. But as emotions ran high for the Italian marque, a final victory for a departing Japanese rival tinged the campaign’s conclusion with sadness
Since Ducati announced the arrival of Enea Bastianini to its factory team for 2023, the staging of the four-time race winner has strained the atmosphere within the Italian manufacturer, which has raised its guard in anticipation of what may happen between him and championship favourite Francesco Bagnaia
Yamaha's decision to dispense pre-season with the 2022 engine it had intended to use due to lack of reliability, the promises of improvement to Fabio Quartararo and the advance with which the rider market moves leaves the Japanese brand with less than six months to prevent the Frenchman from starting to look for a way out
OPINION: Francesco Bagnaia has put one hand firmly on the 2022 MotoGP world title after winning the Malaysian Grand Prix, and the permutations are weighted heavily in his favour heading to the Valencia finale. But as Ducati stands on the cusp of something it has longed for since 2007, the Sepang race also hinted towards a future problem…
Quartararo “didn’t expect” Yamaha’s early 2022 MotoGP struggles
Bagnaia wants Argentina MotoGP struggles “to be a lesson to me"