Grand Prix of San Marino Preview
Can Bagnaia make it 2 in a row?
Normally a wet Friday means that not much is learnt for the weekend ahead, however with the forecast for more rain in the coming days, it was unsurprising we saw plenty of track action today!
There is a lot of change at Yamaha, with Morbidelli, not only returning to the series, but moving into the factory team, whilst Dovizioso takes his place at SRT. Both of them would do well to be in the low teens over the weekend, given how competitive this series is. As for Quartararo, this track should suit his bike more than Aragon, yet overhauling Ducati will be a tough ask. In the wet today, he didn’t really feature towards the sharp end, which would fit with the wet form we have seen from him so far this year. That means that he, and probably Rossi too, will be praying for a dry weekend ahead.
In the wet conditions, the Ducati riders seemed very comfortable, which has also be common this year, despite the fact that it is the most powerful bike, and the hardest to turn probably. If it does stay wet, Miller will surely be the favourite, as he is always a master in those conditions, like we saw at Le Mans. Otherwise, in the dry, Bagnaia is the man on form, and his home fans may be able to give him an extra few tenths as well. Zarco has fallen backwards it seems since the summer break, and quickly needs to turn it around. The championship is already lost for Johann, although a first win for him would feel like a championship!
Suzuki come into this weekend really needing a miracle to kickstart Mir’s title fight. They don’t have the one lap nor the race pace to put anyone else under any real pressure, and this could be another race where Mir ends up around 4th or 5th, scoring good points, but not gaining at all on Quartararo. Rins on the other hand is a bit of an unknown, since getting over his string of poor results, it has been a mix of podiums and low point scoring results. The key to which one ends up coming true, may be in how Saturday turns out for him.
Despite being probably the fastest rider at Aragon, Marquez is downplaying his chances at Misano, as he thinks his bike won’t work as well here, and his shoulder could be more of a problem. In the wet that could be a different story, so he will be another rider praying for rain. The rest of the Honda camp may be praying for 2022 to come around sooner, as it has never really clicked that well for any of them this year, and Misano isn’t looking too promising for them either.
If the race is wet, Lecuona could be a real dark horse, as his pace today has been astounding. On a drying track, he was able to go as fast as anyone, and has less to lose compared to those up front. Binder you would expect to be in a similar position, however he hasn’t been as spectacular as Iker today. Olivera and Petrucci have gone missing since the summer break, for Danilo this could be as a result of being fired from KTM, although it has had the opposite effect on Lecuona. If the clouds hold off on Sunday, Binder would be expected to produce his usual late race charge.
Friday has not been too bad at all for Aprilia, in fact Vinales seemed to have made a real step forward during the week. That being said, gains can only truly be measured when we know everyone is pushing. Both riders will probably be firmly in the dry race camp, as that seems to suit their bike better. You would hope that Maverick could be near to the top 10 in both qualifying and the race, with Aleix well inside there.
All eyes will be on the home riders, with Rossi getting close to retirement, and Bagnaia coming off his first win, looking to attack Quartararo for the title. However, on a tough track like this, with unpredictable weather, more than half the grid could spring an upset this weekend!
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