The iconic Phillip Island Circuit will once again set the stage for what promises to be another exciting battle this weekend (October 14-16) at the MotoGP´s Australian GP 2022, with the three title hopefuls will coming head-to-head for the leadership of the standings.
A lukewarm Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) still occupies the head of the table although his advantage on ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia (Ducati), second, has gone down from ninety one points (after Germany) to just two. A little bit further down comes Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) in third.
The Spaniard, with 20 points less than the Frenchman, will not give up his title hopes until the very end. Anything can happen on this magical but very challenging and treacherous track, where weather conditions usually play a major role. Besides, the local hero, Jack Miller (Ducati), will attempt to win at home´s event.
.@MotoGP is back in Australia. Phillip Island, with its particular layout and asphalt but also its changing weather conditions always strains #MICHELINPower tires. As always, they will allow the riders to push and give the passionate fans an exciting weekend. #AustralianGP pic.twitter.com/QYjhuysVM6
— Michelin Motorsport (@Michelin_Sport) October 11, 2022
Quartararo hopes to climb back up
It is hard to comprehend what has happened to ‘El Diablo’. He has been on free fall for the last few races and his cushiony advantage has now run out. Two weeks ago, he drowned in the Thai flood.
After the incident with Miller in the initial meters, he fell from third to a seventeenth-place finish in Buriram. That was his second blank race of the last three and he has only had one podium over the last seven.
Limited by the poor performance of his M1, the French pilot can’t find a way to raise his own performance. At the very least, the twisty configuration of the Australian track will -in theory- play in his favour. The old and very technical Philip Island Circuit, however, does not leave any room for error.
On top of this, the #20 is going to come against the ‘Ducati Empire’ on his own. Eight Desmosedici from four teams will join forces again to topple the Frenchman this Sunday.
Bagnaia: So close to the top
Ducati, on the other hand, has followed a completely opposite trend as demonstrated by the second and third places of Jack Miller and Pecco Bagnaia in Buriram, ahead of the Portuguese Miguel Oliveira (KTM).
Both riders arrive at the Australian MotoGP 2022 highly motivated, albeit for different reasons. The local idol, winner in Japan, will be hoping to celebrate his recent marriage with a great performance at home.
Meanwhile, his Italian teammate dreams of culminating a historic comeback up the table, a feast that is now well within his reach. The Italian team has smelled the blood, knows that Quartararo is weak and alone at the top, and wants to steal the lead of the world championship standings at the Australian MotoGP.
In order to achieve this, they will count on the invaluable help of the rest of the Desmosedici. In Thailand, it became obvious that the team from Borgo Panigale can count on the cooperation of the different Ducati riders.
It was there that Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) held back from passing Bagnaia, a gesture that Ducati thanked publicly by visiting the box of his satellite team after the race.
As for the third-placed, after scoring just five points in the last two rounds, his worst streak of the season, Aleix Espargaró is in desperate need of a good result if he wants to keep his title bid alive. For this, it is paramount that his bike recovers the performance it has lost lately.
The Marc Marquez factor
An unexpected guest, however, could crash into the title party. Spurred on by his fourth and fifth places in Japan and Thailand, Marc Marquez seems to be more himself every day.
The Spaniard has even declared publicly that he feels ready to fight for victory. If his high expectations are met, he may even become an involuntary player in the battle for the title. In any case, he is likely to be seen at the top of the race this Sunday. When it comes to the #93 everything is possible.
Images of MotoGP´s Australian GP 2022: Ducati Corse.