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24 days ago
By motogp.com

Bagnaia: Quartararo's main rival in the title race?

The Frenchman admits Pecco’s recent form is a concern after the Italian made it two wins from two, cutting the gap to 49 points

After winning the Monster Energy British Grand Prix, making it two wins from two, is Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) now Fabio Quartararo’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) main World Championship rival? The Frenchman certainly thinks so.

Pecco’s Silverstone triumph was unexpected. The Italian played down his victory hopes on Friday and Saturday but produced what he described as the best race of his life to take a crucial 25-point haul away from Northamptonshire. Pecco now boasts more race wins than anyone in 2022 (four) but since his victory in Jerez, he’s either won the race or crashed. And it’s that inconsistency that’s seen Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) build up a sizable points advantage.

However, Sunday’s British GP didn’t go to plan for either Quartararo or Espargaro. The latter’s nasty highside in FP4 on Saturday afternoon casts doubts over whether Espargaro would be able to race, but thankfully no fractures were sustained and after a heroic Q2 lap put him sixth on the grid, Espargaro was in fact disappointed Sunday didn’t bring a little bit more than P9. 

 

Disappointed was one word to describe how Quartararo was feeling on Sunday afternoon. El Diablo got the perfect start to fire himself up to second, but Quartararo was unable to recover the lost ground after he’d taken his Long Lap penalty. The medium rear tyre choice didn’t work and the reigning World Champion only just kept Espargaro at bay at the chequered flag, seeing his lead in the title chase rise from 21 to 22. This, undoubtedly, softened the blow for Espargaro on a bruising weekend for the Spaniard. 

But Quartararo’s lead over Pecco was slashed from 66 to 49 points. Chatting after the race, Quartararo pinpointed Pecco’s recent run of form as a concern and labelled the Ducati star as the rider he needs to be keeping a close eye on, especially with the upcoming races historically suiting Pecco and Ducati.

FREE: The final laps from a Silverstone classic

“In the end I think we need to look at Pecco because he’s the one that’s really making the difference right now,” commented Quartararo. “The last two races. So he’s the one we really need to focus on and it’s not going to be an easy job, because no we’re arriving to race where, I wouldn’t say we’re struggling, but Austria with a lot of straights, Misano is a track where Pecco is always really fast, Aragon… so tough races coming ahead.” 

With eight rounds remaining in the 2022 World Championship, the title race has entered crunch time. Quartararo is right to be worried about Pecco’s form and the upcoming races, because Pecco won two of them last year in Misano and Aragon. He also won in Valencia, a race in which Ducati locked out the podium. 

The fact is, all three of the main Championship contenders are strong everywhere we go. It’s hard to imagine a venue left on the calendar where we won’t see Quartararo, Aleix Espargaro and Pecco fighting at the front. It’s going to be a fascinating tale to follow between now and Valencia. 

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