2022 MotoGP Mid-Season Review | Top 5 MotoGP riders of the year so far

The sun is out and the big guns are out on the beach as MotoGP's summer hiatus gets into full swing... but at this mid-way stage, who are the standouts

Start of the German MotoGP

The summer holidays are here for the riders, managers and team personnel of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship but while some won’t have much time to relax, there are others able to enjoy a bit of time basking in the sun.

Indeed, though this year’s championship is far from over, it appears the dye is almost cast as to at least two of the riders that will contest the 2022 MotoGP title. While one - Fabio Quartararo - is no surprise, the other in Aleix Espargaro is wholly unexpected.

But who else has shone so far this season? Here is Visordown’s Top 5 MotoGP Riders of the Year so far.

1 - Fabio Quartararo

While very tempted to give Espargaro the nod here, we would be prioritising the ‘surprise’ element over the more telling facts of this year’s title race.

Indeed, while his credentials are certainly assured via his title of reigning champion, Quartararo has absolutely consolidated his status as the finest MotoGP rider on the grid right now.

After all, while a strong start to the season as rivals grappled with their packages ultimately allowed him to canter to a first title in 2021, the roles have been rather reversed this year as Quartararo battled to find his sweet spot on the Yamaha.

So difficult was this initially that Quartararo - who laboured to modest results outside the top six in three of the opening four races - entertained leaving Yamaha altogether.

However, even in those races as the Yamaha’s evident top speed disadvantage became clear, Quartararo’s dogged determination to counteract the deficit was a sight to behold. Indeed, his expert bike control and inch-perfect lines may not have been enough during the flyaways, a return to the more technical circuits of Europe have seen the championship swing back to him.

Moreover, the Frenchman’s efforts are more impressive still when you consider Yamaha’s three other bikes are barely able to get off the back row right now.

It’s what makes Quartararo’s wins in Portimao, Catalunya and the Sachsenring all the more impressive, because he’s doing it on what doesn’t appear to be the best bike on the grid…

2 - Aleix Espargaro

If you’d have popped money on Espargaro being a title contender come the mid-season, you’d be quids in right now.

Indeed, it’s hard to overstate the immensity of Espargaro’s emergence as a genuine race win contender in what is now his 13th season of MotoGP. 

A long awaited first win in Argentina finally got the monkey off his back, though it is fair to say this is a campaign built on impressive consistency - five podiums - than outright speed.

Ironically, you could argue Aprilia - helped of course by still having those free testing concessions, a benefit it will lose now - has come to the fight with a superior machine than Yamaha has. It’s quick in a straight line, handles sweetly and is (finally) reliable.

Then again, Espargaro’s pain-staking development work has been key to his and Aprilia’s lofty results this year. He may not be the ‘best’ rider on the grid necessarily, but it’s hard to believe anyone else could lap faster on an Aprilia RS-GP than he does.

Some ballsy rides have stood out - not least his run to fourth from the pack in Assen - and the Spaniard has always been ‘there’ at the front, unlike Quartararo at times. But when the Quartararo-Yamaha combination is working at its best, can Espargaro-Aprilia at its best compete?

That said, no-one is more up for the fight than a fizzing Espargaro... though we'll gloss over his Catalunya clanger.

3 - Enea Bastianini

Enea Bastianini could have easily topped this ranking if we were to consider our order after the French MotoGP.

There he notched up his third victory of the year on the privateer Gresini Ducati, a remarkable feat even before you consider how achieved each of those victories.

A master of playing the waiting game, Bastianini has proven he has some serious skills when it comes to tyre preservation and smooth riding. He demonstrated it during the second-half of his rookie campaign in 2021, though at the time it was unclear if it was him or the ageing but well-developed Avintia Ducati GP19 that was doing the work.

However, when he stormed out of the blocks in Qatar to take an emotional win for the rebooted Gresini Racing squad, it was clear the Italian just needed the right bike to show his abilities.

It meant each of his three wins were curated by him biding  his time in the chasing pack before forging forward late in the race. As such, he has led only 17 laps this year, but three of those were the all-important final ones.

It meant he was mounting a wholly unexpected title challenge until recently when a pair of DNFs and modest 10th and 11th place results in the last four races saw his campaign hit the skids.

Frustratingly for him, the recent form could cost him what looked like a shoo-in factory Ducati ride, but however the rest of the season pans out for Bastianini, he is surely championship winning material at some stage in his career.

4 - Brad Binder

Perhaps a surprising choice for our fourth best rider of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re overplaying his performances if you consider his efforts in isolation.

Indeed, save for his brilliant podium run in the Qatar opener, Binder has only cracked the top five once ever since.

And yet, he sits a lofty sixth in the standings, just on the cusp of the top five. Even the top three is only 21 points away.

It’s a measure of Binder’s exceptional consistency and an ability to wring the best from an iffy KTM package that has seen him complete some impressively steadfast performances that have kept the points ticking over.

It’s not a flash in the pan either. Binder was top six overall in 2021 too despite barely cracking the top six on race day, the South African hamstrung by an inconsistent RC16 bike and poor qualifying form, but negated by some stellar Sunday efforts.

The aforementioned issues are areas where he has improved in 2022, even if he remains well down on average compared with the riders he’s mixing with overall.

5 - Marco Bezzecchi

A timely podium just before the summer break solidified Marco Bezzecchi’s status as both one of year’s standouts and comfortably the most impressive of the five rookies competing this year.

Coming into MotoGP a bit overshadowed by the two riders that dominated him in Moto2 the previous year - Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez - Bezzecchi has been helped by having the well-sorted Ducati GP21 underneath him, allowing the mop-haired Italian to produce some fine rides in 2022.

Consistently the quickest of the rookie contingent in 2022, Bezzecchi was a star performer on home soil in Mugello. While the strange conditions in qualifying contributed to his front row start, he confidently led for several laps and kept fighting as the race progressed to land a top five result.

However, his fine ride in Assen - during which he kept his focus better than his more experienced rivals during a brief shower - represents the zenith of his young MotoGP career

Moreover, though Luca Marini - now in his third season of MotoGP - has taken a step forward in 2022, he is still being humbled by Bezzecchi.