Malaysian MotoGP Race Results | Bagnaia slugs out victory, Quartararo clings on

Pecco Bagnaia prevails in an arduous fight for victory with Enea Bastianini to take big Malaysian MotoGP win... but Fabio Quartararo takes title to the wire.

Pecco Bagnaia - Ducati Corse

Pecco Bagnaia has moved tantalisingly close to the 2022 MotoGP World Championship title after prevailing in a nail-biting Malaysian MotoGP, but a hard fought podium for Fabio Quartararo ensures their battle goes to the wire in the Valencia season finale.

A high quality performance from each of the top three finishers, it was also an excruciatingly tense one as Bagnaia was pushed hard all the way by future team-mate Enea Bastianini in a battle that could ruffle feathers within Ducati top brass.

However, while it was Bagnaia that would come out on top of their wrestling match up front, a gritty run to third place by Quartararo keeps his title hopes - though now faint at 23 points in arrears - alive all the same.

In a race that began with all manner of permutations being jotted down for Bagnaia, Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro as they prepared to get away from vulnerable mid-pack grid spots in ninth, 12th and tenth respectively, it was the series leader that threw the gauntlet down off the line as he made light work of the bikes ahead of him on the run to the first turns.

Showing few nerves as he got on the anchors late to nose into second place behind hole-shot pole sitter Jorge Martin, Bagnaia found himself in what he might have considered a fairly safe Ducati sandwich with Bastianini also behind him.

Crucially, however, Quartararo was also away well, rising from 12th to sixth initially before quickly picking off Franco Morbidelli for fifth by the end of the opening lap.

Fifth became fourth for the Frenchman on lap five following a cheeky battle with Marc Marquez, putting him in a fairly comfortable position to take the title fight to the wire as he pulled away from the chasing pack, even if he was already staring down a 2.4secs margin to Bastianini in third.

Up at the front however, any hopes Bagnaia potentially had that Martin in front and Bastianini behind would adopt Ducati team orders without prompt were soon dashed as the Pramac rider galloped away into a 1.2secs lead, while the Gresini man in third was barely allowing any breathing room as he shadow boxed his stablemate at every turn.

However, the race would be turned on its head on lap seven when Martin folded the front of his GP22 around the long Turn 5 left-hander, sending both himself and his Pramac machine barrelling through the gravel trap and out of the race.

Lifting the title contenders up a position, Bagnaia now found himself with a more lucrative opportunity in first, ahead of Bastianini, with Quartararo rising a place to third but finding himself worse off in terms of points ceded in third place.

Regardless, the status quo wouldn’t be enough for Bagnaia to seal the title with a round to spare unless a rider could get on terms with Quartararo and demote him to fourth place.

That scenario very nearly looked like it could come to fruition though when Marco Bezzecchi broke clear of the busy chasing pack to begin hunting his Yamaha rival down. However, while he’d quickly get the margin down from 1.2secs to less than 0.3secs in the ensuing laps, it was a pace Bezzecchi couldn’t sustain once there.

Nevertheless, though Quartararo himself was unable to make significant in-roads to the Ducatis ahead, he at least had a grandstand view of the battle beginning to unfold between Bagnaia and Bastianini in front.

Indeed, while one might have expected Bastianini to tow the party line - particularly in light of his impending move to the factory squad next year - instead he was squirming around in Bagnaia’s tow looking capable of diving past but instead choosing to stay behind, albeit leaving a no doubt irritated Bagnaia little margin for error.

With a message seemingly to send ahead of their pairing next season, Bastianini duly delivered with ten laps to go as he pounced at Turn 4, sparking a cat and mouse with Bagnaia that was as entertainingly tense to watch as it was palpitating for the increasingly agitated Ducati management.

Nonetheless, Bagnaia was up for the fight and duly settled into an aggressive attack formation behind the Gresini rider reminiscent of their iconic battles at Misano and Aragon.

In the end, Bastianini would temper his fun after just three laps as Bagnaia pulled a fine pass at the final corner, albeit with little in the way of resistance.

From here Bastianini - though still a nuisance - didn’t attempt another overtake, allowing a relieved Bagnaia to chase home the flag for his seventh victory of the season.

Despite doing all he could, Bagnaia’s title aspirations remain on ice for the time being after Quartararo completed a similarly impressive ride back onto the podium to retain a chance in Valencia in two weeks time.

This time, however, the permutations are far simpler with Quartararo needing to win the season finale and hope Bagnaia doesn’t score at all.

Despite falling short in his attempts to get himself a podium and Bagnaia a title at the same time, fourth place marks another impressive front-running result for rookie Bezzecchi.

He was well clear of an entertaining tussle for fifth place that was eventually decided in favour of Australian MotoGP winner Alex Rins, ahead of Jack Miller, who put in a charging ride to grab sixth having run as low as 21st on the opening lap.

Marquez battled valiantly all afternoon before settling for seventh, ahead of Brad Binder and Johann Zarco in eighth and ninth.

An outsider for the title coming into the race, Aleix Espargaro’s tremendous bid for overall glory came to an official end with his run to tenth. After failing to make the same gains as his rivals at the start, an error dropped the Aprilia rider to 15th before a fight back to tenth.

In what has been a breakthrough campaign for the experienced Spaniard, he still has one big battle remaining at the Valencia finale with just a point to his favour over Bastianini in fourth overall.

Franco Morbidelli enjoyed his best race of the season in 11th, the Italian just missing what would have only been a second top ten finish of the year despite having to take two long lap penalties for a free practice infraction.

He headed home Cal Crutchlow in 12th, with Miguel Oliveira, Pol Espargaro and Raul Fernandez completing the points’ paying positions in 13th, 14th and 15th.

Elsewhere, Luca Marini suffered his first ever DNF in 37 MotoGP starts, the Italian stopped on lap one by his hole-shot device getting jammed, while Joan Mir fell while battling with Rins for fifth place

2022 Malaysian MotoGP | Sepang | Race Results

2022 Malaysian MotoGP | Sepang | Race Results | Round 19 / 20
PosRiderNat.MotoGP TeamMotoGP BikeTiming
1Francesco Bagnaia ITADucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP2221 Laps
2Enea BastianiniITAGresini RacingDucati GP21+0.270
3Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M1+2.773
4Marco BezzecchiITAVR46 RacingDucati GP21+5.446
5Alex RinsESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RR+11.923
6Jack MillerAUSDucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP22+13.472
7Marc MarquezESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+14.304
8Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM RacingKTM RC16+16.805
9Johann ZarcoFRAPramac RacingDucati GP22+18.358
10Aleix EspargaroESPAprilia Racing Aprilia RS-GP+21.591
11Franco MorbidelliITAMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M1+23.235
12Cal CrutchlowGBRWithU RNF YamahaYamaha YZF-M1+24.641
13Miguel OliveiraPORRed Bull KTM RacingKTM RC16+24.918
14Pol EspargaroESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+25.586
15Raul FernandezESPTech3 KTM RacingKTM RC16+27.039
16Maverick VinalesESPAprilia Racing Aprilia RS-GP+30.427
17Alex MarquezESPLCR Honda Honda RC213V+33.322
18Remy GardnerAUSTech3 KTM RacingKTM RC16+33.691
19Joan MirESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RR+41.838
DNFFabio di GiannantonioITAGresini RacingDucati GP21 
DNFDarryn BinderRSAWithU RNF YamahaYamaha YZF-M1 
DNFJorge MartinESPPramac RacingDucati GP22 
DNFTetsuta NagashimaJPNLCR Honda Honda RC213V 
DNFLuca MariniITAVR46 RacingDucati GP21