Motor sport

Who can stop Ducati’s MotoGP behemoth?

Quartararo is anything but arrogant, so he squirmed in his seat when a reporter passed on the comment during the press conference from the podium.

“I feel like I’m at my best but I don’t want to be pretentious,” he said. “But it’s a nice compliment from Aleix [who just happens to be his neighbour in Andorra].”

Of course, Bagnaia’s (almost) victory from start to finish should not be overlooked. When you equal the records set by Casey Stoner, you can be sure you’re doing a good job.

The only other Ducati rider to win three consecutive MotoGP races is 2007 champion Stoner, who scored the treble twice, in 2007 and again in 2008. Granted, the Desmosedici is an infinitely better bike now, but the opposition is also stronger than it was a decade and a half ago.

Bagnaia was perfect yesterday, as he always is, except when he is not and he makes mistakes, like when he crashed at Le Mans and at Sachsenring (errors he accuses of having relaxed too much ).

Bagnaia’s boots after the race – new for every weekend and already a bit used


His current progress is a real concern for Quartararo, whose championship advantage is evaporating. If you do the math you will see that in three races Bagnaia have more than halved their points deficit, from 91 to 44. That’s a rate of 16 points per race and everything the Italian needs. to win the title is to score seven more points. in every race over the last seven rounds, starting at Misano, his home circuit, next week.

Front tire temperature and pressure has been one of the biggest and most controversial talking points in 2022, but hardly mentioned at the three tracks before the Red Bull Ring: Sachsenring, Assen and Silverstone. It’s not because the problem has been fixed, it’s because these three tracks are mostly fast and flowing, with minimal braking and slow cornering.

The Red Bull Ring is all about hard braking and slow cornering, so discussions of front tire temperature and pressure were back on last weekend and front tire choices depended on each driver’s strategy for the race. race.

Bagnaia and Miller were convinced they would run up front, enjoying the fresh air it brings, so they both chose soft front compounds. The soft gave more grip, so it was the safer option, although it was more squidgy, so it made the bikes less stable on the brakes.

All the other fast Ducati riders also chose the soft – Bastianini, Martin and Zarco – because they too had hopes of racing ahead. More surprisingly, Quartararo opted for the soft front end, even though he surely knew he would spend much of the race surrounded by scorching Ducatis, radiating massive heat to his front tire.


Bagnaia and Miller battle for cooler air to cool their front tires


Probably as well as Quartararo changed his mind about the grid, going from soft to hard. But that’s why it took him a while to reach his maximum pace in the early stages.

“I had a bit of a hard time warming up the hard front,” he said. “Then I was super aggressive and made a lot of mistakes but saved them.”

Bastianini, perhaps with an eye on the rising track temperature, also went from a soft front to a hard front on the grid. Unfortunately, his race ended early while he was in the lead group, when he dented his front wheel rim while rolling on a sidewalk.

The fact that both factory Ducatis used the soft front end explains why they battled for the lead so fiercely for several laps. The goal wasn’t just to lead the race for the sake of leading, it was to bless your front wheel with cool air, instead of baking it with the heat from the lead bike.

“To be sure we used the soft front tire even though it wasn’t the best because I had a lot of front lockout,” explained Bagnaia, who when Miller briefly passed immediately counterattacked to prevent your front tire from heating up.

“I already had a lot of movement up front, so I thought, ‘If I stay behind him, I’ll probably have too much pressure in the front tyre.’ So when he passed me, I tried to lower my lap times and open a gap.

And he did just that, leaving Miller to worry about Quartararo.