MotoGP 2022, Grand Prix Italia, Mugello, Ducati, Gresini, Francesco Bagnaia, Enea Bastianini, Chris Vermeulen

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This is not what Ducati thought it would arrive at the Italian Grand Prix.

This led the constructors ’standings, but most of all thanks to satellite rider Enea Bastianini, who was number three in the individual standings.

The young Italian is Ducati’s main contender and just eight points away from the championship leader after beating Francesco Bagnaia in a thrilling duel in France last season.

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It’s fun for neutral fans. For the factory team it’s another underwhelming result, with Bagnaia coming off the bike for his second retirement in years – and Bastianini is just too happy to insert a little bit of a needle into the sport’s newest emerging rival.

It’s combined to ratchet up the tension for the impending Ducati rider reshuffle for 2023, and no cauldron is bigger than that on the Mugello circuit good for the tension being stirred and simmered.

Both will stubbornly wave the flag for Ducati in the home races. Only one can appear in front.

BASTIANINI WITH THE MOMENTUM

Fabio Quartararo led the championship, but the Frenchman had no doubt that Enea Bastianini was the man I was rising to after his final win at Le Mans.

This is the 24 -year -old’s third victory this season to move up to third in the title standings and just eight points behind the defending champions.

“He did a really good job,” said former MotoGP race champion Chris Vermeulen Fox Sports. “To come out and win three grand prix, to be the only person to win more than one race this year, is absolutely incredible.”

And the signs were there last season if you look closely.

Photo by Jean-Francois Monier / AFPSource: AFP

“I feel like Enea knows how to ride a Ducati with these Michelin tires,” Vermeulen said. “We saw that last year when he had a two -year -old bike – he couldn’t pass or get a single lap speed from the bike, but he would be able to adjust the tires and stay consistent in the big races. Prix.

“He’s one of the best if not the best guy in the field that can do it. That’s just his strength.

“With a more competitive machine, he can be two in front or at least three rows of squares – and then look for him. Coming half a distance race he’s still banging out laps times equal to his best when someone else starts to fade two or three tenths of a lap. and where the real power lies.

“I’m sure all of you Ducati drivers will see what Bastianini does and how they can manage their tires and get the most out of it.”

Bastianini himself wants to hone his race management skills, especially after sending Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia to win the French Grand Prix two weeks ago.

“In the first part of the race I kept calm to see where I could attack Jack, [and then] I did, ”he said afterward.

“It was important for me to stay at the back of Bagnaia because I learned from him how to change some of the trajectories.

“I won with my head down, because I waited for the right time to attack Bagnaia and make him nervous. I’m glad he did.”

Photo by Jean-Francois Monier / AFPSource: AFP

And he’s not shy about injecting a small needle into the tension because of the Ducati factory driver’s choice for next season.

“Maybe I’m the annoyance [Bagnaia] most, because I’m Italian, ”he said.

“I read that he wanted to continue to have Miller as a teammate; Maybe I pushed him when he saw me next to him.”

The all-Italian rivals are back at the forefront

No one can escape if Bastianini is seen as a manufacturer’s bait, but at least he did from a strong position as he is not only Ducati’s main driver in the championship but also the most consistent player of the season.

And that, suffice to say, is not in Ducati’s plans for 2022.

“I think the general public Pecco Bagnaia will be Ducati’s main challenger for this championship and could be one of the favorites this season, and he’s the fourth Ducati driver in the standings right now,” Vermeulen said.

“Ducati is guided by a satellite bike on a one -year -old bike – Ducati would love to have a challenger in the drivers’ championship, but they wouldn’t be happy if it wasn’t a factory engine.”

Really the question is: what happened to Bagnaia?

Photo by Jean-Francois Monier / AFPSource: AFP

The 2021 champion runner-up is seventh in the standings and 46 points behind leader Quartararo, but he is only the fourth Ducati in that order, behind Bastianini, Jack Miller and also the stout Johann Zarco.

With only a win and a couple of other top-five finishes to his name, his season didn’t match the hype, and the crash to chase Bastianini and a pinched race lead was just a painful reading point. underwhelming first third of the season.

“You don’t win the world championship by making this mistake,” Bagnaia admitted after the French Grand Prix, counting points lost due to accidents and a slow start to the season. “I threw a lot of points.

“People who have points are better off if they don’t bother.”

But while a poor initial campaign isn’t bad enough to be a degree killer, his passion to make up for lost space threatens to ruin the campaign.

“It was a slow start to the season, but his mistake at Le Mans when he started getting closer was a big hit for the champions,” Vermeulen said.

“Realistically, he doesn’t have the speed of Bastianini, or maybe it’s close, but if he gets the second position and does the wise thing, I don’t think we’re going to go forward,‘ Oh, Bagnaia, what happened? ’.

“He’s going to have 20 points more. He could be fourth place in the championship and look like a real competitor.”

Photo by Jean-Francois Monier / AFPSource: AFP

But he came to the Italian Grand Prix, Ducati’s home race, only with more pressure to turn the season around just weeks after it looked like he was paving the way.

Bastianini, on the other hand, is a man who has momentum and is keen to push someone who can be his teammate next season.

“This weekend is going to be a lot more pressure than anywhere else,” Vermeulen said. “These guys have to be able to run fast, but the Italian riders on the Italian machines at Mugello – there’s no more pressure in the motorcycle world than that.

“It will be interesting to see how Pecco bounces back and can manage the situation.”

WHAT IS A FORMULATE GUIDE?

If this ends up being another duel between young Italians, there is no better place than Mugello and the Italian Grand Prix.

Not only is it home to two people – Bastianini’s hometown in Rimini is closer than Bagnaia’s Torino, for the record – but on paper it’s one of at Ducati District Circuit.

It’s flowing, technical and requires good traction, but most of all it’s fast, which should be music to the ears of high-horsepower, high-downforce Desmosedici.

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“This is one of those old school tracks, and I think everyone really enjoys it there,” Vermeulen said. “It’s a bit like Phillip Island – fast, flowing; it’s not a stop -start track, but there are tight hairpins.

“This got one of the longest straight tracks in all of the championships – the bike has reached 360 kilometers or so close to a straight downhill.”

But historically this is also a Yamaha circuit, and over the last 18 years, Japanese and Italian marques have split all but two race victories between them.

That’s because the layout also rewards cornering speed, and what Yamaha’s lack in horsepower makes up for is the ability to start out of corners.

Whether Yamaha will appear this year, depends on who you ask and when. Fabio Quartararo earlier in the season suggested Mugello would be one of the worst weekends because of the M1’s lack of power-although this was on another impatient, I-can-leave-Yamaha day near the start of the season.

He has made peace with his situation since then and has found a way to extract consistently high performance levels from the bike as long as he is not trapped in a gaggle of bikes at the end of the first lap. In clear air, he was an unstoppable force.

Photo by Jean-Francois Monier / AFPSource: AFP

“You might have to say that Fabio Quartararo is this year’s driver,” Vermeulen said, considering the context of the Frenchman. “He may not have the equipment under him, but that consistency makes him a champion.”

And before we consider some wildcards – if we still call Aleix Espargaró, number two in the standings and newly confirmed with Noale, the wildcard.

It’s a home race for Aprilia, after all, and the bike is a solid all-rounder that can muddy guide shape.

“It just seems like the bike works on almost any circuit, and it’s the only bike [that does], “said Vermeulen.” And get up to speed. I mean, we saw at Le Mans that Fabio Quartararo couldn’t hang out with him out of the corner. So he has done a really good job.

The following is a track that track riders love, which challenges the bike but also gives the riders room to make a difference – a combination that, combined with a good setting and a famous crow, is great for spectacle.

“It’s generally going to bring in a lot of guys and make the race close,” Vermeulen said.

“Mugello is one of those special tracks. If we get a really good grand prix, we can get six or eight people fighting until the last few laps of the race.

How can I watch?

The first training at Mugello starts on Friday at 17:55 AEST, and the second training at 10:10.

The third practice is at 5:55 p.m. on Saturday before the final practice at 9:30 p.m. before qualifying at 10:10 p.m.

The Sunday warm -up goes live at 4:35 pm on Sunday. Pre-race coverage resumes at 21:25 before dying off for the Italian Grand Prix at 22:00.