French MotoGP Race Results | Bastianini wins as Bagnaia cracks under pressure

Enea Bastianini romps to a remarkable third victory of the season in the French MotoGP after pressuring Pecco Bagnaia into a mistake and then a crash

Enea Bastianini - Gresini Racing Ducati

Enea Bastianini has hauled himself back into the heart of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship title fight after capitalising on a late crash for Ducati stablemate Pecco Bagnaia in the French MotoGP at Le Mans.

A third victory of the season for the Gresini Racing rider on the year-old Ducati GP21, the Italian produced another inch-perfect performance to consolidate his earlier victories in Qatar and the USA.

Similar in manner to those successes, Bastianini was an ever-looming threat to long-time leader Bagnaia, pressure that ultimately culminated in the factory Ducati rider crashing out of contention with seven laps to go.

On a day of high attrition, seven riders - including high-profile candidates as Bagnaia, Alex Rins and Joan Mir - hit the deck over the course of a physical race. However, it did nothing to take away from Bastianini’s win, the sophomore rider making the most of a good start that moved him from fifth to third, before methodically reeling the leaders in.

Initially headed up by Jack Miller, the Australian got the hole-shot over pole man Bagnaia on the drag into Turn 1 but a wide moment on Lap 4 at Turn 7 would invite his team-mate into the lead.

With Bastianini soon up to his counterparts to swell the lead group to three, a pass on Miller for second on Lap 12 was the catalyst for the Aussie to fade out of victory contention.

Allowing Bastianini to focus on Bagnaia ahead, the 2020 Moto2 World Champion’s skill of preserving his tyres into the closing stages of a race - a signature of his Qatar and USA wins - came into play as he continued to up the pressure.

Launching a first wave of attack at the start of Lap 21 of 28, Bastianini swept around the outside of Bagnaia at Turn 1 to nose into the lead. Despite holding his line through the tricky Turn 2/3 chicane, Bagnaia struck back into Turn 4 to move back ahead.

Bagnaia’s afternoon, however, was about to come to a messy conclusion, starting with him out-braking himself into Turn 6 and running off-track to cede the lead back to Bastianini, before low-siding out altogether at the final corner. 

A critical DNF for Bagnaia that could put paid to his title hopes even at this early stage in the season, his exit released Bastianini into a large lead over Miller he would protect to the flag for a famous third win of the year.

Miller held on for what would become a lonely second place to complete a Ducati 1-2 that will likely elicit mixed emotions from team bosses.

Aleix Espargaro completed the podium for his fourth rostrum visit of the year, the Aprilia rider consolidating his surprise title status to reduce the margin up top to Fabio Quartararo to four points, while Bastiaqnini is eighth points shy of the summit.

Despite the sell-out crowd, Yamaha’s Quartararo couldn’t reward French fans with a run to the podium after suffering for a stressful opening lap that had him bullied down to ninth at its conclusion..

He was lucky, however, to avoid a DNF when a wide moment at the final corner saw his Yamaha leaping over the kerbs. Landing into the path of Marc Marquez coming up the inside, the pair only just avoided contact.

On a frustrating afternoon for the Frenchman, though Quartararo’s progress in terms of raw speed wasn’t remarkable, he - like Espargaro, who also slipped back from his front row after a poor getaway - picked up multiple positions as a result of accidents ahead.

In addition to Bagnaia, Suzuki’s headline-heavy fortnight concluded with a double DNF as both Rins and Mir crashed from strong positions. Rins had been running third early on when he suffered a scary accident triggered by running wide at Turn 1 and skating across the gravel trap as he attempted to rejoin at Turn 2-3.

However, while Johann Zarco showed it could be done on Friday in practice, Rins folded front-end as he returned to the asphalt to come down fast and hard, but unhurt.

Mir, meanwhile, was in fourth when he suffered a low-side at the final corner in an incident Bagnaia would replicate a few laps later.

Their exits from lofty positions kept the classification fluid throughout with local hero Johann Zarco clawing his way back up to fifth place from a penalised ninth on the grid. On the other side of the garage though, Jorge Martin might have seen his hopes of clinching the factory Ducati ride over Bastianini next year scuppered after a fifth crash in seven races forced him out.

Marc Marquez scored a rewarding sixth place result on the Repsol Honda despite never looking terribly competitive, the Spaniard leading home stablemate Takaaki Nakagami on the sister LCR bike in seventh.

Brad Binder brought some much needed positivity to KTM with a gritty run to eighth, despite losing some aero in a clash with Zarco early on. However, there was disappointment for the manufacturer elsewhere with Miguel Oliveira, Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner all crashing out.

Luca Marini and Maverick Vinales completed the top ten, with Pol Espargaro a disgruntled 11th after losing positions trying to avoid Oliveira’s spinning KTM at Turn 3.

Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio di Giannantonio, Alex Marquez and Franco Morbidelli completed the points’ paying positions, the latter Italian leading a trio of Yamahas in the final three finishing spots.

2022 French MotoGP | Le Mans | Race RESULTS

2022 French MotoGP | Le Mans | Race RESULTS | Round 7 / 21
PosRiderNat.MotoGP TeamMotoGP BikeTiming
1Enea BastianiniITAGresini RacingDucati GP2128 Laps
2Jack MillerAUSDucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP22+2.718
3Aleix EspargaroESPAprilia Racing Aprilia RS-GP+4.182
4Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M1+4.288
5Johann ZarcoFRAPramac RacingDucati GP22+11.139
6Marc MarquezESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+15.155
7Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda Honda RC213V+16.680
8Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM RacingKTM RC16+18.459
9Luca MariniITAVR46 RacingDucati GP21+20.541
10Maverick VinalesESPAprilia Racing Aprilia RS-GP+21.486
12Pol EspargaroESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+22.707
12Marco BezzecchiITAVR46 RacingDucati GP21+23.408
13Fabio di GiannantonioITAGresini RacingDucati GP21+26.432
14Alex MarquezESPLCR Honda Honda RC213V+28.710
15Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M1+29.433
16Andrea DoviziosoITAWithU RNF Racing YamahaYamaha YZF-M1+38.149
17Darryn BinderRSAWithU RNF Racing YamahaYamaha YZF-M1+59.748
DNFMiguel OliveiraPORRed Bull KTM RacingKTM RC16 
DNFFrancesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP22 
DNFJorge MartinESPPramac RacingDucati GP22 
DNFJoan MirESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RR 
DNFRaul FernandezESPTech3 KTM RacingKTM RC16 
DNFRemy GardnerAUSTech3 KTM RacingKTM RC16 
DNFAlex RinsESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RR