Tuesday, December 5, 2023

MOTO GP: Another Season-long Championship Nailbiter!

Having absolutely been far more exhilarating vs. thee “Dutch Tsunami” show!


This year’s MotoGP Championship saw the introduction of Sprint races being held every Saturday, preceding Sunday’s main event, giving a maximum of 37-points on offer each of the twenty race weekends.


Yet with these extra races, came the chances for more riders injuries, which have occurred in droves this season!


Case in point is newly minted Werks’ Ducati rider Enea Bastianini, whose nickname is The Beast! Yet Bastianini was taken out by fellow Ducati rider Luca Marini in the season’s opening Sprint race at Portimoa, suffering a separated shoulder! Before Bastianini would have surgery for more broken bones later during the season!


While it seemed to Mwah that satellite KTM GasGas Tech 3 rider Pol Espargaro suffered the worst injuries of the year! Suffering multiple fractures during a scary accident on the first day of action in Portugal!




And then there’s the well documented maladies Marc Marquez’s endured this season, including some 27-plus crashes! Along with a broken hand all leading to His leaving Repsol Honda a year early to join His brother at the satellite Gresini Ducati squad next season…


As I don’t know if any MotoGP rider has escaped some form of injury this year? Due to the extra twenty Sprint races, which unlike Formula 1, seem to have an actual impact upon the Championship!


Thus it’s obviously been a far more fascinating and exciting season vs. Formula 1! With the two main title protagonists being reigning MotoGP World Champion Francesco Pecco’ Bagnaia, racing for the factory Ducati concern and riding with the No. 1 plate. With  thee “Martinator”, aka Jorge Martin proving a worthy rival on the satellite No. 89 Pramac Racing Duc’.


As Martin found Himself nearly two race weekends adrift pointswise of Bagnaia. Before whittling a 66-points deficit down to an advantage of plus seven following Round 15’s Indonesia Sprint race.


And what’s that ‘Ol Wide World of Sports iconic slogan about the Thrill of victory and the Agony of Defeat!


Since just 24hrs later while leading, Martin inexplicably crashed out of the lead! With Pecco’ sniffing Blood and taking an unlikely win to retake the points lead, vaulting 18-points ahead of Jorge!


Following a wild ‘n wooly weekend Down Under on Phillip Island. Where I missed All of the action, including Johann Zarco’s maiden MotoGP victory! As the Australian Grand Prix race was pushed forward to Saturday with the Sprint race on Sunday being cancelled due to inclement weather.


Presumably Bagnaia was content with Zarco winning, while finishing runner-up. Whilst Martin finished fifth, Seeing Bagnaia’s points lead mushroom to +27-points


Martin won at the next round in Thailand with Bagnaia third. Seeing Martin clawed back 16-points to bring the gap down to minus eleven following the Malaysian Sprint race. Before Bagnaia finished one place ahead of title rival Martin in third during Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.


As the two Ducati riders were locked into a fierce battle with just two rounds remaining, i.e.; Qatar and Valencia. With 74-points still on offer with Bagnaia leading by 14-points.


Saturday’s Sprint race at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar saw Martin go from fifth to P1 and win His eighth Sprint race of the season. Coupled with Bagnaia’s fifth place finish, Martin cut the point’s deficit to seven markers.


But once again in a repeat performance, 24 hours later things went horribly Pear-shaped for Martin! Starting fifth, Jorge suffered massive wheelspin when the flag dropped and found Himself in a lowly eighth! While Bagnaia went from P4 to leading!


Martin could only work His way up to sixth before His underperforming Michelin tyres saw Jorge finish a lowly tenth!


Meanwhile I love how Gresini rider Fabio di Giannantonio, then without a ride next year, due to Marc Marquez taking His seat. Ignored team “orders” to hold station behind Ducati’s Factory rider Pecco Bagnaia. And instead went for victory by passing Bagnaia, who then almost threw His points lead away!


As di Giannantonio held off the hard charging Bagnaia to claim His maiden MotoGP victory, while Pecco settled for second, taking a 21-point lead to the season finale at Valencia a week later.


Saturday’s Sprint race did little to fail for excitement, with Maverick “top Gun” Vinales leading from Pole. With Martin in third and KTM’s Brad Binder the “sausage” in the Italian Scooters’ sandwich, whilst Bagnaia ran behind…


With Jorge feeling pressure from Countryman Marc Marquez, Martin soon passed both Binder and Vinales for a lead He would not relinquish, while Maverick fell backwards to fourth.


Yet it was Martin and Marquez on the Sprint podium with Binder on the boxes middle step. With Vinales keeping Bagnaia in fifth, seeing the partisan Spanish crowd Happy over Martin’s ninth Sprint victory cutting the Championship deficit to 14-points.


Thus I was certain that the Championship’s points permutations would be discussed Ad Nausea, keeping us glued to them! Which if I’ve done my calculations correctly, Ci? Martin obviously needs to win and score the maximum 25-points. With Bagnaia finishing fifth and being equal on points, I believe Martin has more wins, ci?


Nope! Bagnaia led six wins to Martin’s four prior to Valencia, and therefore would need Pecco’ to finish sixth if He wins the race Sunday


Maverick Vinales gifted Bagnaia Pole position Sunday by ignoring a Black and Orange Flag and failing to stop immediately due to mechanical issues, dropping three places for the start.


Thus Pecco held the lead exiting Turn-1 with Jorge shooting into second from His sixth place start, seeing the two title protagonist in lockstep, Again! Yet Martin got sucked into Bagnaia’s Slipstream and almost took the pair out when being caught in the Aerodymanic vortex!


Martin was forced to run wide and dropped to eighth place some two seconds adrift! Before beginning His frenzied march towards the front. Yet on lap-6 Me Thinks? Martin misjudged His overtaking maneuver on Marc Marquez. With Martin plowing into Marquez’s rear wheel and sending the Honda rider skywards! Seeing both riders crashing out of the race, and thus the title fight was over.


And although the Box Score says Bagnaia won the race, it wasn’t as straightforward as that. Especially with both KTM riders making costly errors while running 1-2 ahead of Pecco! Whilst the star of the Show was Di Giannantonio who came from 11th to harry Bagnaia on the final two laps before settling for second!


Yet following the race, Di Giannantonio was assessed a three second penalty for low tyre pressure and dropped from second to fourth overall. With Johann Zarco and Brad Binder moving up one place apiece on the podium.