2022 MotoGP – Race 18: Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix
Venue: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Phillip Island
Race Date: 16 October 2022
This continues to get interesting. After Japan, it looked like Fabio Quartararo was finally making his move in the Championship chase. His 8th-placed finish was hardly groundbreaking, but with Francesco Bagnaia failing to finish the race, it gave the Frenchman some respite from the white-hot form of the Italian,
The respite lasted precisely one race. In Thailand, it was Quartararo’s turn to blink as he finished in 17th. Worse for the Frenchman was that Bagnaia bounced back from Japan in style to finish third. That means that while Quartararo has podiumed in one of the last seven races, Bagnaia has finished in the top three in six of the seven with four wins. What looked to be a procession for the Yamaha rider midseason has increasingly looked like it is not the Ducati rider’s title to lose.
Also worth noting is that while a 16th and 11th in the last two races cost him, Spaniard Aleix Espargaro sits in third and is just 20 points off the top spot. If the two title leaders get too fixated on each other, then Espargaro will be there to slip past both.
1 – Jack Miller – 33/10
Having said everything above about Quartararo and Bagnaia, it is the Ducati of Jack Miller that is in the best form. Miller finished fifth at the last European race in Spain before picking up his first win of the season in Japan. He followed that up with a second-place finish last time out in Thailand. The timing is perfect for the Australian with this race in his homeland being on a circuit he knows better than anyone in the field. If he gets a good spot on the grid – and there is no reason he shouldn’t – Miller will be tough to beat.
2 – Francesco Bagnaia – 7/2
The gap between Quartararo and Bagnaia is just two points. That is astonishing, given that the gap at one point was a massive 91 points. That should tell you everything about the form that Bagnaia is in. Bagnaia has won half of the races that he has finished in 2022 – six of 12 – and if he gets around clean and without mechanical trouble,, then the season’s story suggests that he will be involved in the battle for the race win.
3 – Marc Marquez – 4/1
Five riders still have a chance at the title with three races left. Marc Marquez is not one of them, but he has every chance of being a factor in this race. Marquez missed eight races this season after surgery that rotated his arm by thirty degrees. This will be the fourth race of his comeback, with a retirement followed by fourth and fifth-placed finishes. It is remarkable that Marquez is even racing again this season – let alone competing at the front of the pack – but given his history, grit, and winning mentality, it wouldn’t be any sort of shock to see him win one of these final three races.