MotoGP Aragon: Bastianini wins Ducati battle after first lap chaos

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini secured his fourth MotoGP victory after a dramatic battle with fellow Ducati rider Pecco Bagnaia at Motorland Aragon.

The two Bologna riders were in a class of their own in the closing stages as they battled for domination over six seconds ahead of the fight for third. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro winning out for the final podium position at the expense of Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder and the second Lenovo of Jack Miller.

Bagnaia headed the Aragon Grand Prix grid ahead of the 23-lap race with the entirety of the field opting for hard front, medium rear Michelin tyres. Miller and Bastianini completed the Ducati lockout of the front row with reigning champion Fabio Quartararo lining up sixth, two places behind Aprilia’s title-challenger Espargaro. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez began his comeback race following his fourth round of shoulder surgery from 13th with 2020 Champion Joan Mir missing from the action completely due to his right ankle injury sustained in Austria.

Bagnaia maintained the holeshot over his teammate as the lights released the pack after a brief delay, KTM’s Binder storming through to second from tenth as Quartararo crashed out. The Yamaha collecting the back of a fast advancing Marquez - who claimed seven places by turn two. Suzuki’s Alex Rins narrowly avoiding the incident as he ran off track and returned to the action at the back of the field.

The drama continued as Marquez then collided, twice, with Takaaki Nakagami with the Japanese rider left in the middle of the packed track on the entry to the corkscrew. The RC213V spewing smoke before he retired into the pitlane at the end of lap one.

Back at the front Miller was through on Binder for second as Bastianini circulated just adrift of the podium places. Espargaro heading the Prima Pramac duo of Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco with Miguel Oliveira holding on to the back of the leading group on the second KTM. Mooney VR46’s Luca Marini headed LCR’s Alex Marquez on the edge of the top ten from a hard pushing Cal Crutchlow as he enjoyed his first race back on the WithU Yamaha. VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi, Tech3’s Remy Gardener, Rins and HRC’s Pol Espargaro sitting in the final points places after four laps on track. Maverick Viñales down in 18th after narrowly avoiding the stricken Nakagami in the earlier chaos.

Bastianini was back in podium contention as the race levelled out. Bagnaia holding a half-second advantage out front as Espargaro began to take a look at the South African in fourth. Oliveira attempted a move on Zarco as Bastianini made his stick on Miller for second. Binder the next to dispatch the Australian before Espargaro struck in quick succession.

The Gresini rider hit the front on lap nine after reeling in the factory Ducati. The GP21 attempting to pull a gap before running wide at turn 12 and gifting the lead back to his countryman. Bagnaia inheriting a seven-tenth lead in the aftermath as he immediately put his head down for more.

Rins was making his own moves further back as he attempted to recover from the opening lap chaos. The Suzuki up to 11th over Bezzecchi and Crutchlow with Viñales into the points in 14th.

Nine to go and Bastianini was back to challenging Bagnaia as the gap concertinaed around the half-second mark. Binder over a second adrift in a lonely third with Espargaro and Miller circulating together for fourth and fifth.

Rins was into ninth three laps later as his recovery continued. Marini two seconds ahead with six to go as the Suzuki maintained his charge while Espargaro repeatedly struggled to find a way though on Binder in the podium fight.

The late-race hunt began again as Bastianini sat two-tenths adrift of Bagnaia and still running low 1’48 pace. Four seconds now the gap to the man in third as the pair checked out completely.

Two to go and Espargaro was on the podium as he finally got though on the injured Binder at turn one. Miller hard on the duo’s tail as the trio circulated fractions apart while the victory battle raged ahead.

Bastianini was through to the lead as the final lap played out, turn seven sealing the deal with Bagnaia unable to return the move as his hopes of a fifth win in a row faded. The pair just 0.042s apart across the line for another dramatic conclusion with Espargaro completing the podium celebrations to keep his title hopes alive. Ducati celebrating its first trophy of the 2022 season with the Constructors title confirmed.

Binder collected fourth from Miller, Martin and a late charging Marini. Zarco settling for eighth, just 0.047s ahead of another impressive Rins comeback with Bezzecchi completing the premier class top ten. Oliveira, Alex Marquez, Viñales Crutchlow and the younger Espargaro claiming the final points from Gardner, Franky Morbidelli, Darryn Binder, Fabio Di Giannantonio and Raul Fernandez.

Click here for times