MotoGP: Enea Bastianini secures third victory of the season at Le Mans
Enea Bastianini is proving to be a genuine MotoGP title contender this season after storming to his third victory of the 2022 season at Le Mans.
The Gresini Racing star, who is the only rider to win more than a single race so far, stalked factory Ducati rider Francesco Bagnaia for several laps before making his move at the Dunlop Chicane at the start of lap 22.
Bagnaia responded immediately at turn six but it soon clear that his Italian rival had startled him. Bagnaia ran on at Garage Vert, leaving the door wide open for Bastianini to take the lead of the race. Moments later it was game over for Pecco, with the 2021 runner-up crashing at the final corner.
With clear air and nobody to challenge him, Bastianini cleared off into the distance with his now traditional late-race pace. The Ducati man crossed the line with an advantage of 2.718s over Jack Miller. Bastianini is now only eight points behind series leader Fabio Quartararo.
Bastianini and Miller were joined on the podium by Aleix Espargaro, who held off a late charge from Quartararo to seal his third consecutive podium. The Aprilia rider is four points behind Quartararo, who’s poor getaway was worsened after being pushed off-line by Takaaki Nakagami and Marc Marquez on the opening lap, after seven races.
Johann Zarco ensured that both French riders finished inside the top five on his Pramac Racing Ducati. Zarco had work to do after being handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Pol Espargaro during qualifying, dropping him from sixth to ninth.
Marquez crossed the line in sixth, but it was a tough weekend for the six-time premier class champion. The Repsol Honda rider started from 10th on the grid and finished over 15 seconds behind Bastianini. Like Yamaha, HRC would be in an even worse predicament without their star rider.
Nakagami was seventh on his LCR Honda, with Brad Binder crossing the line in eighth despite losing one of his front wings on the opening lap – the South African hit the back of Zarco’s Ducati. Luca Marini and Maverick Vinales completed the top 10.
Elsewhere, Suzuki’s miserable week continued following the shock announcement that the manufacturer plans to quit MotoGP at the end of the year. Alex Rins ran wide at turn two whilst in third place, and went through the gravel at high speed before eventually losing control and falling as he re-joined the circuit at the right-turn of the Dunlop Chicane (T4). Teammate Joan Mir crashed out of fourth spot at turn 14 later in the race.
Jorge Martin’s poor start to the year continued when he hit the deck at turn nine. It’s the Pramac Racing Ducati rider’s fourth DNF in seven races and with Bastianini continuing to shine, Martin’s factory Ducati dream is now surely at risk.
Rookies Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez both crashed their Tech3 KTM RC16s. Gardner fell at turn seven, whilst Fernandez, making his return from injury, crashed at six a few laps later. Miguel Oliveira confirmed KTM’s poor weekend by falling out of ninth place with only three laps remaining.
Round eight of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship takes place at Mugello on May 27-29.