Ducati was dominant at Mugello on Sunday as Lenovo rider Pecco Bagnaia secured the Italian Grand Prix victory for home honours.
Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo put up a stunning fight despite the M1’s limited power to claim second with Aleix Espargaro continuing his incredible 2022 run of form for a fourth consecutive third position. Further delight for the Bologna factory saw Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin set a new MotoGP top speed record having hit the traps at 226.2 mph.
A cool, cloudy but dry Mugello saw ten riders lined up on hard front Michelin tyres with five opting for the soft rear compared to the majority’s medium choices. A full Italian front row headed by a duo of rookies as Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio and Marco Bezzecchi shone at home alongside Mooney VR46 teammate Luca Marini and at the head of a five-strong Ducati train.
Marc Marquez launched for his last MotoGP race for the foreseeable future - due to impending surgery on his right humerus - from 11th on the grid. Repsol Honda teammate Pol Espargaro two places ahead with Gresini’s triple-winner Enea Bastianini slotting in between. Suzuki Ecstar seeming to struggle in Italy with Joan Mir and Alex Rins starting 17th and 21st respectively.
23 laps began with di Giannantonio maintaining his lead off the line before Marini powered through the opening corner, Bezzecchi third with Aleix Espargaro up to fourth over Quartararo as the lap unfolded. KTM’s Brad Binder’s lightning starts saw another outing as the South African ran seventh from 16th.
Bezzecchi took charge over his teammate on lap two with the reigning MotoGP Champion bettering his Aprilia rival with Pramac’s Johann Zarco battling the factory Ducati of Bagnaia for sixth.
Quartararo took a look on Diggia before the rookie struck back for the final podium position, the more experienced man repeating the move through the first chicane as Bagnaia did likewise on Espargaro behind. Marquez circulated in ninth over Bastianini with the second Repsol in the final points position. Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller’s challenging weekend worsening from 19th.
Quartararo was up to second on lap four as he dispatched Marini and sat in a Mooney VR46t sandwich. Bezzecchi pushing the pace out front as Bagnaia swept through for fourth. The factory Ducati setting the sector times ablaze with the podium in his sights.
Pol Espargaro’s short run came to an early end as the number 44 crashed out at turn nine, Aprilia test rider Lorenzo Savadori retiring at the end of lap five.
Bagnaia pushed through his championship rival for second position as lap six fired up, Bastianini beginning to pick up pace from eighth as Martin set a new top speed of 226.2 mph / 363.6 kph on the GP22 despite running 15th.
Zarco attempted a move on the Gresini rookie before both Diggia and teammate Bastianini struck back to demote the Frenchman to eighth. Mir crashing out at the first corner with eight laps done.
Bezzecchi continued to hold his own out front despite the demanding advances of the factory GP22. Rins completing the set for Suzuki at turn 12 as Bagnaia took charge down the home straight with Quartararo battling Marini for third. Di Giannantonio ultimately giving way to both Zarco and Bastianini as lap nine began.
Miguel Oliveira joined his Red Bull partner in the top ten as lap ten played out, the fading pole man dispatched with Marquez, heading the LCR Honda’s, half a second behind.
Quartararo finally captured the second VR46 rider down the hill into Scarperia, Marini scalping his rookie garage mate through San Donato as the next lap began and Bezzecchi found himself in fourth.
Bastianini advanced on Zarco for sixth as Marini and Bezzecchi tussled again down the straight, the rookie returning to podium contention through turn one next time around as Bastianini and Zarco joined the back of the leading group.
Further back, Takaaki Nakagami claimed Marquez as Martin and Maverick Viñales did likewise on his younger brother. Bastianini sliding out at turn four for his third crash on home soil to sit 28 points adrift in the title battle.
Espargaro blocked Marini through turn 12 as he advanced the Aprilia to fourth, Zarco looking to make his own challenge down the finish straight before the Italian struck back. While Nakagami bettered the remaining Gresini for ninth.
Zarco finally dispatched Marini for fifth with seven laps to go, Nakagami in the mix as he split the KTM’s at the tail end of the top ten with Espargaro through on Bezzecchi for the third.
Bagnaia held a one-second advantage as the race counted down. Espargaro a further 1.5s adrift of Quartararo with the Frenchman picking up the pace in the closing stages.
Four to go and Marquez dropped di Giannantonio out of the top ten. Miller running in the final points position and just a tenth off Alex Marquez as he looked to gain ground. Bezzecchi continuing to defend from Zarco in fourth as Bagnaia increased his lead out front.
The penultimate lap found one and a half seconds splitting each of the podium sitters as Bezzecchi upped the pace in aid to reel in the RS-GP ahead. Zarco breaking the rookie’s heart on the final lap as he dispatched him in the closing stages.
Bagnaia claimed victory in front of the adoring Italian crowd at Ducati’s home track with Quartararo and Espargaro joining him on the podium in second and third. Zarco leading the impressive VR46 duo home in fourth with Bezzecchi maintaining his dominance over Marini. Binder completed the top seven from leading Honda Nakagami with Oliveira and Marquez rounding out the top ten on the eight-time world champion’s potentially final race of 2022. A photo finish for 11th placed di Giannantonio 0.001s ahead of Viñales across the line with Martin, Marquez and Miller collecting the final points.