2022’s MotoGP season kicked off in style at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit on Sunday, with millions of viewers enjoying an unforgettable clash that subverted expectations from new fans to pundits alike.
As underdog Enea Bastianini clinched pole position to an emotional reaction from his crew and fellow riders, two other Ducati men found themselves tasting gravel, with a particularly nasty crash occurring at Turn 1 of Lap 12 at the MotoGP:
The manoeuvre that resulted in the crash was performed by last season’s title runner-up, Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia, riding for Ducati Lenovo Team. Taking a risky inside turn on Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin, Pecco’s front wheel buckled up, causing him to slide out and directly into Martin’s bike.
“Fear About My Life”
“I have a lot of pain in my right hand, so we will check it tomorrow in Barcelona,” Martin said. “I hope nothing is broken and we can race well in Indonesia. Actually, it was the first time I had fear about my life because I was really fast into the gravel between both bikes.”
The crash was damaging to Martin’s will as well as his body. The young upstart, who earned last year’s ‘Rookie of the Year’ award, and began the Qatar GP in pole position, lost his advantage almost immediately, only to crash at no fault of his own.
“I was expecting to fight for the podium, or even the victory today but the pace wasn’t there,” he lamented.
For Pecco, who is often touted as one of the ‘nicest guys’ on the grid, the risky overtake was uncharacteristic — a point noted by race commentators Matt Birt and Steve Day. The 25-year-old Italian immediately rushed to Martin after the crash, seemingly in worry and regret. After the race, he suggested that the crash was caused due to a technical error.
“So, it has been quite strange to have this front locking in this moment. I have just to say sorry to Ducati and to Pramac and Jorge.”
An Emotional Victory
While the race was a disaster for most Ducati racers, it was a crowning achievement for Enea Bastianini, who won his first ever MotoGP race. The moment was made even more special considering that he races for Gresini Racing MotoGP — a team hand-picked and built by Italy’s Fausto Gresini, a legendary two-time world champion who passed away last year due to Covid-19.
Surrounded by family and friends, Gresini’s wife Nadia Padovani, who took over Team Owner and Team Principal duties, broke into tears as Bastianini crossed the finish line while pointing at the sky in Fausto’s honour.
MotoGP returns two weeks later to Indonesia for the Pertamina Grand Prix, on 20th March.
(Featured Image Credits: Dorna, @MotoGP/Twitter)