Grand Prix of San Marino Review
Is the title fight still open?
The rain may have held off for the duration of the race, yet we still got a tight finish, with various riders coming and going as a result of tyre wear, as the title race becomes a 2 way affair.
As we thought might happen, the win for Bagnaia at Aragon has opened the flood gates for him, as he controlled this race, and held off Quartararo. Undoubtedly his mega first lap was what secured him the win, as from there he could run his own race, stretching the lead, before being caught by the Yamaha in the last few laps. Crucially, he had enough tyre left to get good exits, and defend in braking zones, so Fabio never really had a chance. Bastiannini was as impressive as Bagnaia today, possibly even better, as he is on a 2 year old bike, and was matching the leader’s pace for most of the race. This is a great sign for his future, especially as he looked after the tyres well. Miller struggled with his tyres in the latter stages of the race, losing him the podium, whilst Martin crashed trying to stay with Quartararo.
Considering how much he was affected by the Ducati’s in the early laps, Quartararo did have the best race pace overall, he just couldn’t find a way past the bullet of a Ducati. As he said himself, he will take just a 5 point loss, as we get nearer to the end of the season. However, he will need to be wary, in case Bagnaia makes any big gains in the next few races. Morbidelli had a much more difficult race compared to qualifying, possibly due to him still recovering from injuries. Between that and learning a new bike, there is still strong potential in the future for him. No points for Rossi is a disappointing way to end one of his home races this year.
This weekend wasn’t as much of a write off as Marquez claimed it would be, as he fought off Miller and Mir for 5th. This is rather impressive given his shoulder injury, and the amount of consecutive right hand corners here. Even better for Honda, is that Marc wasn’t alone in the top 10, as Pol was only a few seconds behind him, with Nakagami squeezing into 10th too. Despite this, we know there are still major issues with the bike in negotiating certain corners, which Marc in particular works around in his own way.
Normally 6th would not be a terrible result, although for Suzuki and Mir, it probably means they are now out of title contention. They had solid pace, and were coming on strong in the latter stages, but once again their starting position hampered them. Bastiannini did come past him to get the podium, however he had the power to pass people, which the Suzuki just doesn’t have. Arguably he should have got 4th, he was just outmuscled by 2 faster bikes in a straight line, yet even 4th would have meant a loss in the title hunt. Rins was ahead of Mir for the opening portion of the race, although not by much, until he fell whilst trying to catch the bike in front. That kind of sums up his year really, great pace, but just unable to bring the results home.
This was actually a bit of a weaker weekend for Aprilia, who were still able to achieve a top 10. Aleix was upfront early on, however, it seems he worked the tyres a bit too hard, as he dropped back into the clutches of the midfield later on. If he can end the season in the way he is going right now, it would be a great year for him. Vinales also did an excellent job, given his relative inexperience on the bike. Being just 6 seconds off your teammate in your 2nd race on the bike is very good going, and it looks as though it is coming to him which is the main thing. His one weakness, which has carried over from Yamaha, is the race starts, where he always ends up falling back massively. He cannot win a title if that keeps happening, its as simple as that!
Another weekend to forget for KTM, in a year as a whole that has been very up and down. They have been saved by Binder’s ability to race through the field in the closing 10 laps of a race, as he matures into a top class rider. What is shocking is that he then finishes over 15 seconds ahead of his teammates, who in the dry at least, are absolutely nowhere. I will say though, if they can get on top of the tyres for next year, watch out for them, as they have both great straight line speed, and a very compliant bike.
Another 5 points have been taken off Fabio’s lead, which isn’t much, however momentum is truly with the Italian, and one mistake could turn the title fight around, in either direction. As MotoGP returns to COTA, who knows how everyone will fair, on that long technical track!
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