Marquez considers Bastianini 2022 MotoGP title contender, Bastianini less so

Enea Bastianini says his target for the 2022 MotoGP World Championship season remains top five overall despite rivals identifying him as a title contender

Enea Bastianini - Gresini Racing Ducati

Enea Bastianini has played down his newfound status as a surprise contender for the 2022 MotoGP World Championship following his outstanding race-winning performance in the season opening Qatar MotoGP.

The Italian powered to a convincing victory at the Lusail International Circuit on the year-old satellite Gresini Ducati GP21 to begin his second season in the top flight in convincing fashion.

A continuation of his headline-grabbing performances on the two-year old Avintia Ducati in 2021 - most notably his superb climbs to the podium in both Misano races - Bastianini’s breakthrough win came after an equally impressive showing in pre-season testing, four days of which were spent at the Mandalika Circuit that hosts this weekend’s Indonesian MotoGP.

With anticipated front runners Pecco Bagnaia, Fabio Quartararo and Joan Mir struggling for race pace in Qatar, Bastianini’s stock has risen sharply on the back of his success, to the extent the likes of Marc Marquez consider him a rival for the title.

However, it is a status the Italian - the 2020 Moto2 World Champion - is less comfortable with, maintaining his target is to crack the overall top five.

"This I don’t know,” he joked. “To win the title it’s difficult. I won the title in 2020 with the Moto2 and I’m here to win the title in MotoGP. 

"But for the moment I don’t have a lot of experience, even though in Qatar I managed the race in the correct way and now in Mandalika - new track for everybody and we have only done a test here - we will see in the championship. 

"My target remains the top five and this is a good target to have for 2022. I’m very motivated, but also I have to stay very concentrated because the MotoGP class is really difficult. 

"The gaps between more riders are so close. In this track between 0.2s we are 15 riders and it’s very competitive. But I’m motivated!"

As well as marking Bastianini’s first win in MotoGP, it was also a victory on Gresini Racing’s return to the class as a satellite effort and the Italian outfit’s first win since the 2006 Portuguese MotoGP. 

Perhaps most significant of all, the success was a first victory by a team with a female manager, Nadia Padovani having taken Gresini Racing over in the wake of her husband Fausto Gresini’s death a year earlier.