Who won MotoGP’s 2022 phony war?
After just five days of official running across Sepang and the Mandalika International Street Circuit, preparations for the 2022 MotoGP season are now over. Here's what we learned from testing and who looks to have come out on top
As the fat cats with big wallets propping up MotoGP squads sip champagne and caviar as 2022 pre-season testing ends, the humble engineers behind a manufacturer’s success – and us less important journos - can begin pouring over data and caveats to make some sense of this season's first 120 hours of track time.
While last year’s pre-season phase resembled the meme of Spider Man pointing at himself, as cost-saving measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant all but Aprilia turned up to Qatar with basically their 2020 bikes, 2022 has brought a glimmer of normality. Those cost-saving measures were put in the bin and it was open (pre) season for manufacturers.
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
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