GP500: Bastianini triumphant in a formidable meeting in Texas

The Beast regains the championship lead as Rins and Miller join the Italian on the grandstand; Marc Marquez produces an unreal comeback

Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) is now a two-time MotoGP™ race winner in 2022 as The Beast staged a Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas masterclass to reclaim the world championship lead heading for Europe. The Beast led home Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) as the Suzuki and Ducati duo dropped him on the final lap for P2 and P3; Rins’ success brings 500 magical podiums to the Hamamatsu factory in the 500th GP for Dorna, IRTA, FIM and MSMA.

The Beast on fire in the GP500, Marc Marquez makes a resounding comeback

When the lights went out, Miller took the best start of the Ducati leading trio on the front row and took the holeshot ahead of Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team). It was a nightmarish start from 9th place for Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), something went wrong for the eight-time world champion and at turn 1 number 93 was plumb last.

Bastianini then got the best Bagnaia for P3 on lap one as Martin raced to take the lead at the penultimate corner. Miller immediately fought back on the final corner and it was the Australian who took the lead on lap two. It was a Ducati 1-2-3-4-5, Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) retiring with Pecco for P4, with Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and the Team Suzuki Ecstar duo – Rins and Joan Mir – P6, P7 and P8 behind the Desmosedici quintet.

By lap 5, Marc Marquez had climbed to 13th place. Further down the road, Rins pounced on Pecco and Ducati’s grip had been broken on lap 6. On lap 7, Marc Marquez passed teammate Pol Espargaro at turn 12 and in doing so Marquez was in the top 10 – 0.6s from Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) in P8 and only five seconds from the lead.

Rins was an absolute fiend on the brakes in Turn 11 and the Spaniard knocked out Zarco on Lap 9. Crucially, the Suzuki man held the Frenchman at bay on the exit of Turn 12 as Rins clung to the tails of third place Bastianini. Rins dove inside the Italian at turn 11 on the next lap, but Bastianini was able to pull back on his GP21 rocket. Meanwhile, Marc Marquez had chosen Aleix Espargaro and had Quartararo next on his list, with number 93 setting the fastest lap of the race at lap 11 of 20.

What happened to Marc Marquez at the start of the race?

On lap 12, Bastianini passed Martin at turn 1 in P2, Rins followed Bestia to P3, as Miller opened up a 0.7s lead. Bagnaia and Mir got the better of Zarco, Mir then overtook Bagnaia on lap 13, as the front nine drivers down to Marc Marquez were separated by five seconds – and the latter, once again, completed the lap the faster in the race.

Everything was happening. Lap 14 saw Quartararo fight his way past fellow countryman Zarco, Marc Marquez then passed Quartararo on the back straight as Mir and Pecco fought their way over Martin. Second-placed Bastianini set the fastest lap of the race as Miller’s lead was reduced to 0.3 seconds. The front two had 1.4s in hand for Rins, who in turn had 1.3s for teammate Mir.

With five laps to go, it seemed only a matter of time before Bastianini took the lead from Miller. Sure enough, diving into Miller’s slipstream, Bastianini put his GP21 inside the red GP22, and Bastianini took the lead at turn 12.

Now, how would Miller react? Bastianini passed around three tenths and with three laps to go the gap was half a second. Rins was now 0.7 seconds behind Miller, Mir a second more, Bagnaia 0.8 seconds behind Mir, as Marquez and Quartararo pushed Martin to P8.

On lap 18 of 20, Bastianini extended his lead to one second and that famous late-race pace he possesses once again bubbled to the surface. Miller’s main job now was to keep Rins at bay. At the start of the last lap, Bastianini had 1.6 seconds in his pocket but Miller had only 0.3 seconds in Rins. Mir was 1.3 seconds off the podium, Bagnaia was a lone P5 with Marc Marquez and Quartararo battling tooth and nail for P6.

Turn 11, Rins’ favorite corner, saw the Suzuki man come out on top. But Miller snagged his Ducati on the straight and the Australian was back in P2. Miller was defending well but Rins had a great run at turn 18, and at turn 19 Rins was on the inside. Rins stopped him and turned to perfection, no turning back for Miller, as Bastianini rounded the final corner to win his second race of the season and claim the converted COTA crown. Rins produced a stunner to pipe Miller, with the latter enjoying his first grandstand of the season.

Everything changes in the image of the championship

Mir’s podium attack didn’t quite materialize in the end, but it’s a second consecutive P4 for the 2020 world champion, as Bagnaia finishes P5 from the front row. Marc Marquez produced a truly stunning response after a terrible start to claim sixth place, but it’s a case of what could have been for Marquez and Honda in Texas. Quartararo fought as hard as anyone to clinch P7, it’s not the result he would have been looking for, but with the next best Yamaha in P15 you have to feel that El Diablo are getting the most out of their package .

Martin slipped to P8 as the Pramac duo struggled in the second half of the race, with Zarco P9. Maverick Viñales got the better of Aprilia Racing teammate Aleix Espargaro as the Aprilias pick up P10 and P11 from P13 and P14 on the grid, as Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) comes home in P12 during a tough weekend for KTM. A tired Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) saw the checkered flag in P13, just ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) crossed the finish line in P15 but was demoted one place, giving Andrea Dovizioso (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) the last point.

Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) crashed, the former went to the medical center for a check-up.

What a way to celebrate 500 GPs on the Circuit of the Americas. Bastianini takes charge of the 2022 title race as we now head into the all-important European leg of the season – the Portimao roller coaster is ahead.

Top 10:
1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™)
2. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 2.058
3. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) +2.312
4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar Team) +3.975
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) +6.045
6. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) +6,617
7. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 6.760
8. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 8.441
9. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 12.735
10. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing) + 12.642

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