MotoGP™: Bagnaia takes stylish win as Michelin sets new records in Malaysia
Francesco Bagnaia claimed his seventh success of the campaign at the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia...
The Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana – final round of the MotoGPTM World Championship – saw Alex Rins collect one last victory for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR which has chosen to withdraw from the series. Second and third in sunny Spain were Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Ducati’s Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) who made it three different Michelin-equipped bikemakers on the podium. The biggest celebrations were arguably in the Ducati Lenovo camp, however, after Francesco Bagnaia succeeded in adding the 2022 Riders’ crown (Michelin’s 33rd in the premier series since 1973!) to the Manufacturers’ title secured by the Italian make earlier in the season .
More than 170,000 spectators flocked to Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo over the weekend, drawn by the prospect of a thrilling season finale, with Bagnaia and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) still both in contention for the Riders’ title.
And the fans were rewarded with yet another outstanding race which saw Rins leap from fifth on the grid to take control early on, chased by pole-winner Martin and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
Quartararo, who needed the win to stand any chance of defending his 2021 title, dropped from fourth to sixth at lights-out. He was then caught by championship pacesetter Bagnaia who only had to finish inside the Top 14 to secure the crown, even if the Frenchman did win.
With practically the entire field running on hard and medium MICHELIN Power Slicks front and rear, Rins looked strong out in front as the title contenders battled wheel-to-wheel in his wake, their machines even colliding on Lap 2 when the Italian’s Ducati sustained a little front aerodynamic damage.
As Bagnaia began to lose ground, Quartararo did all he could to close on the leading quartet – formed by Rins, Martin, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Marquez. It proved too much of an ask, though, especially with Binder charging his way up the order.
The South African ultimately clinched second spot after Miller and Marquez failed to finish.
With 10 laps remaining, it began to look safe for Rins whose confidence in the consistency and performance of his Michelins helped him to pull away from second-placed Martin. The Spaniard then shrugged off late pressure from Binder to claim an assertive, lights-out-to-flag victory, the perfect parting gift for Suzuki’s swansong race.
In the end, Quartararo had to settle for fourth, a result which handed the 2022 crown to Bagnaia whose risk-free run helped him to become Italy’s first premier-class champion on an Italian bike since 1972!
The year’s bronze medal ended up in the hands of Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) following the early retirement of Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro.
The 27-lap race took place in bright, sunny weather, with the air and track temperatures standing at 27°C and 32°C at the start. With just two exceptions, practically all the riders opted for hard and medium slicks front and rear to wrap up the campaign which saw the MICHELIN Power range provide further proof of its outstanding grip and versatility across an exceptionally wide spectrum of wet and dry conditions. The 2022 range effectively contributed to a high number of new race-lap, track and shortest race-duration records over the year’s 20 rounds.
With the year’s competitive action over, Michelin and the teams will remain in Valenica for a key test session as they prepare for the 2023 world championship.